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MINUTES OF THE
PLANNING COMMISSION

SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES STRATEGY
STUDY SESSION

August 3, 2011

A study session meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Kerger at 6:30 p.m., Tuesday, August 3, 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

ROLL CALL

Present:  Commissioner, Benedetti, Sachs, Wallis, Vice Chair Viers, Chair Kerger

Absent:  None                        

Staff:     Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager; Luisa Amerigo, Recording Secretary

Audience: 13

 1. CALL TO ORDER                    

 2.  ROLL CALL

 3.  PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE

4.   POWERPOINT PRESENTATION OVERVIEW OF THE  SUSTAINABLE COMMUNITIES STRATEGY

David Early with The Planning Center/DC&E gave a brief PowerPoint Presentation on Sustainable Communities Strategy. Mr. Early stated that each Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) prepares a new section of the Regional Transportation Plan (RTP) called the Sustainable Communities Strategy (SCS), which is being prepared by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) to meet the Greenhouse Gas emission (GHG) target reduction.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Early who prepares the housing numbers. Mr. Early replied ABAG.

Debbie Chamberlain, Planning Services Division Manager stated that the numbers provided by ABAG are projections completed every two years and that the City has been commenting that these numbers are high especially in the City Center PDA and that we have other mixed use  areas in the City along transit routes that could accommodate development.

Chair Kerger thanked Ms. Chamberlain for clarifying that the housing numbers are coming from ABAG and not the City.

Commissioner Sachs stated that the Initial Vision Scenario (IVS) showed a potential 25-year growth pattern based on current regional plans and asked where the numbers fit in with the General Plan housing numbers.  Mr. Early replied that the numbers are not RHNA numbers but 25-year SCS numbers.

Mr. Early added that ABAG and MTC are looking at existing plans and projections. They are looking at the Initial Vision Scenario and into three other alternatives such as Core Concentration, Focused Growth, and Outer Bay Area Growth. ABAG and MTC will be doing an assessment of those five scenarios, and it is expected to be released in October.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that ABAG and MTC are looking into existing plans and projections and asked if Mr. Early was referring to the General Plan. Mr. Early replied yes.

Chair Kerger commented that there is a need for housing and it appears transportation is a low priority. Mr. Early stated that the only way we can have non-single user automobile transportation such as buses, rail, and BART is if we have higher density than we generally build in most of our communities. Many communities are built at densities of three or five units per acre and there is sufficient research stating those densities cannot support transit. Mr. Early added that we would have to begin by building a different kind of neighborhood and then servicing it with transit.

Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Early what should be the City’s goal as far as RHNA numbers are concerned. Mr. Early replied that the City’s goal is to watch closely what ABAG and MTC are doing and to create a goal that is reasonable that can support future growth under the IVS. 

Commissioner Benedetti asked what occurs once ABAG has this all finalized. Mr. Early replied that SCS lacks enforcement provisions it is a regional plan. There are more provisions in the CEQA exemption, which will benefit communities who want smart growth to occur. The Regional Transportation Plans (RTP) and RHNA are going to be in alignment with the SCS. Mr. Early added that there is no legal requirement that the General Plan be consistent with the SCS but there is a legal requirement that the Housing Element be consistent with the assigned RHNA numbers.

Commissioner Benedetti asked if RHNA numbers were going to be assigned whether or not you have PDA’s. Mr. Early replied it is an ongoing discussion. 

Commissioner Wallis asked if using less electricity and gas is part of the GHG strategy. Mr. Early replied yes.

Vice Chair Viers stated that Housing Elements have to be certified and asked if they are staggered or due at the same time. Mr. Early replied that they are staggered at State level but regionally they are due at the same time.

Vice Chair Viers asked if there was any economic consideration give to the PDA’s which have not moved forward based on the current economic situation. Mr. Early replied that he assumes that there will be an economic recovery and we will start building housing and that there will be new job growth.

Chair Kerger opened the public hearing.

Jim Gibbon San Ramon- stated housing, businesses and jobs need to be looked at on a regional basis to reduce GHG emission. Mr. Gibbon further stated that jobs are in located in Pleasanton and San Ramon but all of the housing is being built in Dublin. Mr. Gibbon added that smart growth and urbanization needs to be looked at as meeting the needs of the community and that Bishop Ranch is the driving force of transportation needs. By providing housing within the core areas of North Camino Ramon and City Center it would create a balanced community with jobs, housing and reduce transportation needs.  Mr. Gibbon also added that a vision for San Ramon is building within the core areas preserving the hills outside the City limits and outside the urban growth boundary. Mr. Gibbon stated that reactivation of the Open Space and Conservation Advisory Committee can be the catalyst to maintain urbanism, and urban growth boundaries.    

Saundarya Mehra Student Commissioner for Parks and Community Services Commission stated that San Ramon Valley Unified School District is having solar panels installed in eight of their schools by SunPower. Ms. Mehra added that the solar panels being installed 55- 60% electricity used would be carbon free, which is a positive way to promote sustainability and livability. Ms. Mehra added that she had attended the American Public Transportation Conference in Washington, D.C. which spoke about promoting sustainability, and livability and encouraging people to use public transportation.

Dave Hudson, San Ramon City Council – stated that he was pleased with the presentation given by Mr. Early. Mr. Hudson further stated that Contra Costa County has the largest affording housing numbers. Mr. Hudson added that the Cities of Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and including San Ramon have similar housing numbers and they will need to produce low-income housing. Mr. Hudson further added that he feels that SCS will be completed by April of 2013.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that Pleasanton and Dublin are both located in Alameda County and how does ABAG look at an area as a region when two counties are involved.

Chair Kerger commented she was pleased to hear Mr. Gibbon’s comments that the City’s PDA’s are focused on Bishop Ranch.

Vice Chair Viers thanked staff for the workshop and that the City has an excellent plan in place.                    

 5WRAP UP / NEXT STEPS
Chair Kerger asked staff what the Planning Commissioner’s next steps would be. Ms. Chamberlain replied that the workshop was an informal item for the Planning Commission and as staff receives updated information it would be forwarded to the Planning Commission.         

 6.  ADJOURNMENT  
There being no further discussion, Chair Kerger adjourned the meeting at 8:00 p.m.

Submitted by: Luisa Amerigo

           


 

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