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September 6, 2011

A regular meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Kerger at 7:05 p.m., Tuesday, September 6 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.


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

Absent:           None             

Staff: Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager; Ryan Driscoll Associate Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Luisa Amerigo, Recording Secretary

Audience:    93

1. CALL TO ORDER                    






6.1 Minutes from the July 19, 2011 Meeting.  Approved as written.

6.2 Minutes from the August 3, 2011 Study Session. Approved as written           




9.1 San Ramon Valley Islamic Center Expansion. Staff Report by: Ryan Driscoll, Assistant Planner                                                                                               

Ryan Driscoll, Assistant Planner gave a brief PowerPoint presentation and stated that the applicant is requesting a Land Use Permit to expand a “Meeting Facility, Public or Private” use to allow an increase from a maximum 325-person occupancy to 541 person occupancy for prayer services on Friday afternoons from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. Mr. Driscoll added that the “Meeting Facility” use has been in operation at the current location since September 1992.  Mr. Driscoll continued with the PowerPoint presentation and provided background information on San Ramon Valley Islamic Center Expansion at the project site.

Commissioner Sachs asked for clarification on the monitoring of the parking and vehicle queuing. Mr. Driscoll replied that he observed the monitoring with Deborah Fehr from the Engineering Services and did not observe any significant issues with vehicle parking or queuing of cars.

Commissioner Benedetti asked Mr. Driscoll how many people carpool verses non-carpooling.  Mr. Driscoll replied that he did not have a specific number.

Commissioner Wallis asked if any car counts were done during prayer services. Mr. Driscoll replied that a parking study counting the number of cars was not completed.

Commissioner Wallis further asked what was the percentage of spaces used during prayer services. Mr. Driscoll replied it varies from week to week.

Commissioner Wallis asked if there were any vehicle exceeding the queuing Northbound on Camino Ramon. Mr. Driscoll replied no and that the maximum number of vehicles was five cars.

Commissioner Wallis added that the Temporary Use Permit occurred during August when businesses are working at less capacity because of summer vacation. Typically more children will attend prayer services during the summer because they are out of school and less people are using the common area because of summer vacations.

Commissioner Wallis asked why was the Temporary Use Permit done in August as opposed to September or October when traffic from the surrounding office uses maybe higher. Mr. Driscoll replied that the applicant requested the Temporary Use Permit in August when they typically see a higher number of attendees.

Commissioner Wallis asked based upon the information staff has is the traffic impact for the rest of the calendar year September through June equal or less than what was seen in July or August. Mr. Driscoll replied that applicant would be able to answer Commissioner Wallis’s question.

Vice Chair Viers asked for clarification on Condition of Approval number 30, “one hour separation required between the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center building and the attached adjacent structure”. Mr. Driscoll replied that he has spoken to the San Ramon Valley Fire Protection District and since the applicant has approval from the Fire District to get a Temporary Use Permit and the Fire District has approved the building for the 541 occupancy and the applicant has no outstanding issues. 

Chair Kerger asked Mr. Driscoll what is the attached adjacent structure.  Mr. Driscoll replied that there is another tenant space.

Vice Chair Viers asked if that was another additional building the applicant had purchased. Mr. Driscoll replied no.

Vice Chair Viers further asked if the temporary signage was placed in the median area. Mr. Driscoll replied yes and that staff had visited the site with the Engineering Services staff and applicant to determine where to place the temporary along signage along Camino Ramon.

Chair Kerger commented that she had sat in the parking lot across from the Islamic Center for two of the Fridays to observe the flow of the traffic.  Based on her observation it seemed there were no problems and that she was disappointed receiving letters from the surrounding business owners. 

Noman Munif Board member of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center – stated that he had monitored the parking with Mr. Driscoll. Mr. Munif further stated that the services run from 1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m. on a weekly basis. The number of attendees during the Temporary Use Permit period varied from 500-520. Since the end of the Temporary Use Permit the number of attendees has fallen to 321 individuals. Mr. Munif further stated that during the trial run the highest number of vehicles queuing was five. Mr. Munif added they also have parking agreements with other church facilities and they had met with the surrounding Commons Office Park tenants and neighbors and had not received any complaints. 

Commissioner Sachs stated that the Temporary Use Permit requested prayer services only on Fridays. Mr. Munif replied that the center is opened for prayer services during week but the sermons are on Friday afternoons.

Commissioner Benedetti asked Mr. Munif if any outreach was done with the Commons Office Park Association. Mr. Munif replied that the association is open to the Islamic Center making agreements with the business owners within the office park on parking.

Commissioner Benedetti added that as vacancies are filled all tenants are allowed a dedicated number of parking spaces and that she would not want to see on Friday afternoons the parking lot full and the worshipers would not have a place to park.

Mr. Munif stated that studies show that there is 35% to 45% available parking during the worship hours and we have worked out agreements with the surrounding tenants and feel we do not have a potential problem.

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Munif if an actual count of cars was done at the service and if not, did Mr. Munif have an estimate. Mr. Munif replied that counts were done during for the traffic study during the month of January where Dowling and Associates counted the number of cars parked verses available spaces. 

Commissioner Wallis asked if Mr. Munif if he had an estimate. Mr. Munif replied that there are using between 100-200 parking spaces assuming that most people are driving in as families and carpooling.

Vice Chair Viers asked Mr. Munif which church facilities where the parking agreements with. Mr. Munif replied they had written agreements with Canyon Creek Korean Church, Seventh Day Adventist Church, and a few verbal agreements with Valley Vineyard Church and a Roofing company.

Chair Kerger opened the public hearing.

Sheerin Khan San Ramon – stated that she attends the San Ramon Valley Islamic School every Sunday held at the Islamic Center. Ms. Khan added that she is thankful for a place where she can pray and is in favor of the expansion.

Shahrgar Abbasi San Ramon – stated that he attends the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center to pray and feels the center is a benefit for the worshipers and families. He estimates that carpools for services over the last year has increased between 10% and 20%.

Azmat Mulhtar San Ramon – stated that long-term equilibrium is sustainable and that the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center has been around for 20 years and hopes to continue to be around.

Pat Tuohy San Ramon representing the Commons Office Park Association– stated that the Association did not receive a notice for the public hearing. Mr. Tuohy further added that he as a property owner, did receive a public notice about the expansion of the Islamic Center this past week.

Mr. Tuohy further stated that he has concerns with the traffic and parking issues and the City should consider entering into a parking agreement with the Islamic Center. Mr. Tuohy added that the Commons Office park CC&R’s allocate 42 spaces to the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center use and that the City needs to enforce the CC&R’s  The CC&R’s also allow property owners to restrict 20% of the allotted parking spaces. Mr. Tuohy further added that the Planning Commission should consider suspending the approval of the Land Use Permit application until the parking issues are resolved.

Chair Kerger asked Mr. Tuohy for clarification that he received notice about the expansion of the Islamic Center only this week. Mr. Tuohy replied yes.

Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Tuohy would it ease his concerns if there were written documentation regarding the parking. Mr. Tuohy replied that he would have to speak to other property owners. Mr. Tuohy added that another solution is to simplify the 20% reservation regulation and reserve 20% of the parking spaces for each property owner in the park.  

Commissioner Wallis asked Mr. Tuohy what he estimates the average usage of the available parking spaces. Mr. Tuohy replied it varies from day to day.

Vice Chair Viers asked Mr. Tuohy if the Commons Office Park had extra parking spaces. Mr. Tuohy replied no.

Hena Mukhtar San Ramon – did not wish to speak. Chair Kerger read her comments into the record. Ms. Mukhtar stated that the Islamic Center is used for a couple of hours on Friday afternoons and on Sunday mornings.  Please make room for us in your hearts and in your communities.

Bill Clarkson San Ramon – complimented staff and the Planning Commission for their recommendation. Mr. Clarkson added that the number of letters received that were not in favor of the Islamic center disappointed him and that staff had no opportunity to review the letters. Mr. Clarkson further added that the applicant has been working on the expansion for quite some time and this should not come as a surprise.        

Faraz Sattar Board member of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center – stated that they received a positive reaction when an outreach was done and they had had heard no complaints. Mr. Sattar added that a traffic and parking study was completed and there has been no congestion.  He further stated that the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center would pay for striping to reserve spaces for other property owner and tenants.

Brian Stein-Weber Inter Faith – San Ramon Valley and Inter Faith Council of Contra Costa County Walnut Creek – stated that he is in favor of the expansion and that he believes that the parking issues are workable.           

Zara Saghir San Ramon – stated she is in favor of the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center.  Ms. Saghir added that enjoys going to school at the center and has had a big impact in her life.

Jim Gresham San Ramon Property owner 2270 Camino Ramon – stated that he is against the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center. Mr. Gresham further stated that his frustration is that his clients are unable to find a parking space. Mr. Gresham added that he owns the building in the Commons Office Park and having so many vehicles can result in a negative economic impact on businesses as well as detrimental impact on the value of all properties in Commons Office Park.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that the City has the ability to condition the Use Permit that the Islamic Center has parking agreements in place. An annual compliance can also be required to show the agreements account for the parking spaces and if they do not their occupancy numbers can be reduced.

Tariq Mosaddidi San Ramon – stated that he is in favor of the expansion. Mr.Mosaddidi added that he attends the center for the prayer service. Mr.Mosaddidi further added they have volunteers that monitor parking and no problems have occurred.

Rick Cordes San Ramon – stated that he is against the project. Mr. Cordes added that he and his wife own the property at 2276 Camino Ramon.  Mr. Cordes further added that he feels there is a parking problem with the Islamic Center when they hold services on Fridays. Mr. Cordes added that he would like to see the City support what the CC&R’s mandate. Mr. Cordes suggested that the Islamic Center could work with an off-site parking lot and transport the worshipers during prayer time.

Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Cordes if he owned his property.  Mr. Cordes replied yes. Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Cordes if he was in violation of the CC&R’s what were the penalties. Mr. Cordes replied the Board can enforce the measures in CC&R’s. Commissioner Sachs asked how long he has owned the building.  Mr. Cordes replied since 2005. 

Dan O’Connor Retired Lawyer Danville – stated that he is in favor of the expansion. Mr. O’Connor suggested that the Planning Commission revisit the CC&R’s because the Islamic Center has the rights to expand its center for prayer services.

Bushra Shalried San Ramon – stated that he is in favor of the expansion and that the overall expansion is an asset to the center.

Laura Selway Sanchez Walnut Creek – stated that the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center has been a contributing compassionate and valuable part of the community and she is in favor of the expansion.

M. Jawalid Board member Danville – stated that he is in favor of the expansion and feels it would be an asset for the center.

Axmat Muihtar San Ramon – stated that he is in favor of the expansion and assures that all the conditions will be met.

Akhlaq Khan San Ramon – stated that he is in favor of the expansion.  Mr. Khan added that he attends the center for prayer service.

Chair Kerger closed the public hearing.

Commissioner Wallis asked what is the estimated parking occupancy for the Commons Office Park.  Mr. Munif replied 55% to 65% maximum usage, which takes into account the current vacant spaces and expansion use. 

Commissioner Wallis added that a trial run should be done for September and the concerns of the other property owners need to be taken into account.

Chair Kerger asked Commissioner Wallis if he felt another traffic study should  be completed.  Commissioner Wallis replied that the consultants did their study back in January 2011, which was with a 325-person limit. Commissioner Wallis added that he feels that monitoring traffic during this month should be done but not a complete traffic study.

Commissioner Benedetti stated that she agrees with Commissioner Wallis that extending the Temporary Use Permit would allow staff to gather additional data. Commissioner Benedetti added that she would like information on the number of cars, carpooling and where the cars are parking during services. She added that the Temporary Use Permit can provide staff  with a better idea of the potential conditions of approval. Commissioner Benedetti suggested that the applicant meet with the Commons Office Park Association. 

Commissioner Sachs stated that the traffic study should have been completed during Ramadan. Commissioner Sachs added that the CC&R’s needs to be resolved and that an extension be given to the applicant to allow them time to negotiate parking agreements with the Commons Office Park Association.

Vice Chair Viers asked if the Temporary Use Permit is not extended does the current permit stay in effect.

Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager replied that the current permit would stay in effect.

Vice Chair Viers added that he is in favor of the project and that parking situation needs to be negotiated between the two parties and added that the Planning Commission cannot enforce CCF&R’s.

It was moved by Commissioner Wallis and seconded by Commissioner Sachs that the Planning Commission supports extension of a new Temporary Use Permit for expanded Friday afternoon prayer services until November 1, 2011 and the San Ramon Valley Islamic Center Board meet with the Commons Office Park Board and Association and return to the Planning Commission with a solution to the concerns with the CC&R’s. Furthermore, videos/photographs, and a vehicle count shall be provided during the expanded services.                        

Ms. Chamberlain asked for clarification that the Planning Commission is extending the Temporary use permit until November 1, 2011, which is a regular, scheduled Planning Commission meeting and would that be the next opened or continued public hearing on this matter before the Planning Commission. 

Chair Kerger replied yes and that it would be a continued public hearing and she encourages that a solution by November 1, 2011.

Ms. Chamberlain added that the meeting would be continued to November 1, 2011 as an open public hearing. 

AYES:   Commissioners Wallis, Sachs, Benedetti, Vice Chair Viers, Chair Kerger

NOES:  None



10.  NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS - None-                                          


11.1 I-680 Norris Canyon Road Direct HOV on and off Ramps Environmental Document/Project Report. By Lisa Bobadilla Transportation Division Manager Community Development Department

Lisa Bobadilla, Transportation Division Manager gave a brief summary and stated that tonight’s meeting to announce the start of the Environmental process for the Measure J I-680 Norris Canyon Road Direct HOV (High Occupancy Vehicle Ramps).

Susan Miller, Director of Projects of the Contra Costa County Transportation Authority stated that her agency oversees sales tax and projects and work with CalTrans to put projects in place.

Debra Dagang, Consultant Project Manager with Ch2MHill provided a PowerPoint Presentation and background history of the proposed project.  Ms. Dagang stated that there has been on-going efforts to close the I-680 HOV Lane gaps. Ms. Dagang further stated that the project goal is to provide direct HOV and express bus access to and from destinations in San Ramon Valley. Reduce weaving on I-680 and improve travel times for HOVs and express buses and to improve local and regional transit and HOV systems linkages.

Ms. Dagang added that Preliminary Environmental Analysis Report has been prepared as part of PSR (Project Study Report). Ms. Dagang further added that the property impacts the majority of the project will be within the existing City will be minor and temporary construction easements will be needed along the length of the project. The overall project schedule is estimated to take over two years to complete.  Ms. Dagang added that public meetings to update the community would be held and there will also be stakeholder outreach focus group sessions.

Commissioner Sachs asked if there has been any discussion about the HOV lane. Ms. Dagang replied not as part of this study but there has been talk in the Bay Area of looking at different corridors.

Commissioner Sachs stated that the Sunol Grade just added metering lights and has there been any discussion about adding metering lights to Bollinger Canyon Road or Crow Canyon Road. Ms. Dagang replied no.

11.2 Liaisons Assignments
Liaisons Assigned were discussed and assigned.

There being no further discussion, Chair Kerger adjourned the meeting at10:35 p.m.   

Respectively Submitted,
Luisa Amerigo  





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