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February 1, 2011

A regular meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Sachs at 7:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 15, 2011 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.

A joint public hearing of the City Council and the Planning Commission of the City of San Ramon was held on February 1, 2011 at 7:04 p.m. in the City Council Chamber at City Hall, 2222 Camino Ramon, Mayor Wilson presiding.


Councilmembers: Dave Hudson, Jim Livingstone, Carol Rowley, Vice Mayor Perkins, and Mayor Wilson.

Planning Commissioners: Eric Wallis, Dennis Viers, Vice Chair Donna Kerger, and Chair Harry Sachs.


Planning Commissioner Jeanne Benedetti

STAFF PRESENT:  City Manager Herb Moniz, City Attorney Sheryl Schaffner,

Planning/Community Development Director Phil Wong, Planning Services Division Manager Debbie Chamberlain, and City Clerk Patricia Edwards.

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Planning Commission Chair Harry Sachs led those present in the pledge of allegiance.

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Public Hearing:  Planning the City’s Future – The General Plan 2030 (Update to the General Plan 2020) (GPA 09-400-001). Consider proposed amendments to 2020 General Plan.

Public Hearing:  Consider Proposed Climate Action Plan.

Planning Services Division Manager Debbie Chamberlain provided the report.  She reviewed the legal requirements and the purpose of a General Plan.  The General Plan establishes the City’s long-term objectives and policies and guides program implementation.  Measure G adopted by the voters in November 1999 outlined the procedures for developing and amending the General Plan 2020.  General Plan 2020 required voter review of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB) and Ordinance 197 in 2010.  Measure W fulfilled this requirement.  It included: a proposed expansion of the UGB on the east and west sides of the City; proposed an extension of Ordinance 197 to 2015; included the land use change and policies for development of the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan (NCRSP); included an Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element and Climate Action Plan; updated the background information and extended the Planning Horizon to 2030.  Measure W was defeated in 2010.  The City is still required to update the General Plan and include the modifications resulting from the 2010 Election.  The General Plan 2020 Update includes: an adjustment to the Planning Area; retraction of the UGB to the 2002 General Plan; expiration of Ordinance 197; addition of the Complete Streets Act required by AB 1358; minor text and map edits; the Air Quality/Greenhouse Gas Emissions Element required by SB 375.  The Planning Area adjustments reflect the spirit of the agreement with Danville and Contra Costa County.    

The only remaining Land Use Map Amendment is the NCRSP which is proposed to be redesignated as Mixed Use.  The NCRSP area is a potential Priority Development Area (PDA) and is part of the Sustainable Community Strategy.  Vice Mayor Perkins asked for an explanation of the significance of the PDA.  Ms. Chamberlain stated that it allows the City to pursue grant funding for infrastructure projects and shows the local commitment to complete a livable community for the transit oriented.  Vice Mayor Perkins asked what types of activities are expected in a PDA.  Ms. Chamberlain stated that a PDA would include primarily Mixed Use development, an urban setting, and transit-oriented development.  The goal is to have people live and work in the same area.  It includes retail, housing, office, and service commercial.  Cm. Hudson noted that this type of sustainable community strategy is required by SB 375.  The goal is to coordinate land use to achieve a reduction in vehicle miles traveled.  Mayor Wilson clarified that this is a Land Use Map Amendment for the NCRSP and does not mean that any specific development is planned for the area.  The Specific Plan is a separate process and will be done after the General Plan is adopted.  The Specific Plan will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and by the Council.  Ms. Chamberlain noted that the Specific Plan is a long term planning document.  The Service Commercial uses which are currently in the North Camino Ramon area will be allowed to remain.

Although Ordinance 197 expired in December 31, 2010, the City will retain its commitment to hillside preservation.  The City will add the Resource Conservation Overlay District to the Resource Management Division of the Zoning Ordinance.  This will carry forward the salient provisions of Ordinance 197 which include: application to properties over 500 feet; a 32 foot height limit; and vertical setbacks from the ridgelines. 

Ms. Chamberlain reviewed the status of the pending El Nido Property General Plan Amendment and the Laborer’s Property project.  Mayor Wilson noted that the City will use the Westside Specific Plan to protect the hillsides of the Laborer’s Property project.  Ms. Chamberlain noted that the General Plan 2020 incorrectly designated the ridgeline outside the UGB which could be graded for development in the Laborer’s Property.  The correction has been made to the General Plan Update to indicate the correct ridgeline within the UGB which was intended by the General Plan Review Commission in 2002.  

Jason Brandman, representing Michael Brandman Associates, provided an overview of the minor changes which were made to the Climate Action Plan (CAP).  These included: a reference to the California Air Pollution Control Officers Association (CAPCOA); incorporation of the Complete Streets Policies; and an update of the policy numbering to coordinate with the General Plan.  He reported that the Bay Area Air Quality

Management District (BAAQMD) has informally approved the CAP.

Mr. Brandman stated that CEQA Guidelines provide options for additional

environmental review when changes occur to a project.  The CEQA Guidelines intend for additional review to acknowledge prior conclusions in a certified Environmental Impact Review (EIR) and assess the change relative to those conclusions.  This intent is to avoid lengthy and redundant review.  He stated that there are two requirements for use of an Addendum to the General Plan 2030 Final EIR.  The first requirement is that substantial changes have not occurred to the project and so major revisions to the previous EIR are not required.  The second requirement is that substantial changes have not occurred to the circumstances (baseline conditions) disclosed in the General Plan 2030 EIR.  The Addendum provides a description of the changes to the General Plan 2030 that occurred since certification of the General Plan 2030 EIR in July 2010.  The Addendum concludes that none of the changes alters any conclusions contained in the Final EIR.   

Mayor Wilson asked for more details on the planning area adjustment.  Ms. Chamberlain stated that Danville is looking to expand its Sphere of Influence (SOI) to north of Camino Tassajara to include the Blackhawk community, the northern part of the New Farms project and the Alamo Creek development.  San Ramon’s planning area will remain within the UGB on the east side the City.  Mayor Wilson noted that San Ramon is not planning any development in the Tassajara Valley.  

Planning/Community Development Director Phil Wong stated that the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan (NCRSP) is subject to review by the Planning Commission and by the City Council.  The General Plan only recognizes the planning effort for this area.  Mayor Wilson questioned the housing density for the El Nido General Plan Amendment.  Mr. Wong stated that the plans started at medium-high density and are now at the lower end of the medium-high density range which is four to nine units for the entire parcel.  This item will be reviewed by the Planning Commission and by the City Council.  Mayor Wilson expressed concern regarding the plans for the Laborer’s Property.  Mr. Wong stated that the current General Plan governs that area and establishes a maximum of 21 lots.  The City will pursue the spirit of hillside protection requirements.  Cm. Rowley asked if the provisions of Ordinance 197 will apply to the Laborer’s Property.  Mr. Wong stated that the Laborers’ Property must conform to the City’s hillside policies and ridgeline setbacks.  He noted that the Specific Plan process can take 8-9 months and then a Development Plan application and CEQA will need to be filed and processed.

Planning Commission Chair Harry Sachs asked about the hillside correction (Figure 8.3) and the notation that “This is a ridgeline which may be altered by grading.”  Mr. Wong responded that staff discovered the discrepancy as more detailed information became available.  Planning Chair Sachs asked if the ridgeline has to be graded for allowable development to occur.  Ms. Chamberlain responded that it does.  Modification of the minor ridgeline by grading to accommodate development on the Laborer’s Property may be allowed in exchange for an 83 acre park site further west on the property. 

Mayor Wilson opened the public hearing and stated that presentations will be limited to three minutes.

Roger Haymes, resident, stated that he wants government, and the City of San Ramon in particular, to stay out of science issues such as weather, green house, etc.

James Meese, resident, requested that any changes to the General Plan should be submitted to the voters.  He asked for a definition of “no substantial changes”.  Residents should continue to participate in the planning of the Valley.  He stated that many Valley residents want to confirm or deny changes in the Valley at the ballot box.

Bob Kilmartin, resident of Diablo, expressed his concern that the General Plan is part of “Agenda 21” .  He believes that AB 32 is bad for business and will force small business owners out of business.  He believes science, not government, should deal with the issue.

Jim Gibbon, resident, stated that General Plan 2030 is being presented in a modified form and stripped of the growth elements in the hills and in the Tassajara Valley.  The General Plan now deals with the Camino Ramon Mixed Use zoning change, elimination of commercial service in that area, and minor text changes.  The Camino Ramon zoning change comprises 95% of the General Plan update.  Without the Specific Plan recommendations in the NCRSP, the City does not have an EIR that is valid to describe what is intended for that area.  He stated that placing something on the ballot supersedes all procedures.  The residents voted down General Plan 2030 and added that re-erecting General Plan 2030 should be processed through an amendment not an update.  He added that the purpose of SB 375 is to bring in balance housing and jobs.  He contends that General Plan 2030 does the opposite.  The projections in the General Plan and the EIR state that, at build out, the City will add  18,000 jobs and 30,000 homes.  There is no place in the City to build these homes.  The NCRSP is a bogus concept which will only make the City more out of balance than it currently is.

Jim Blickenstaff, resident, stated that the NCRSP is a significant component of Measure W because of the significant increase in square footage.  The General Plan 2020 does not set the framework for that kind of expansion.  He believes that preparation of the NCRSP adds something new to General Plan 2020 and that the City is ‘sanitizing’ what was part of Measure W.  He suggested that the City stick with the original General Plan 2020.  If a change is needed, the voters should determine which issues have significance.  He questioned if the change to the ridgeline at the Laborer’s Property is actually a significant change to the General Plan 2020 and takes the ridgeline protection out of General Plan 2020.  Ms. Chamberlain stated that the corrections to the map from General Plan 2020 are beneficial to protect the open space outside the UGB. 

Kevin L’Hommedieu, business owner, stated that the three minute limit placed on speakers is insufficient to deal with the issues of air quality, housing, traffic, and wastewater.  He stated that the population and employment growth projections in General Plan 2030 are out of line with those estimated by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and that this is a significant discrepancy.  He asked what part of the community requested this amount of growth.  The defeat of Measure W demonstrates that the residents are not pro-growth.  He requested that the General Plan be placed on the November ballot for residents to decide.

Heather Gass, resident, submitted a copy of “Understanding Sustainable Development - Agenda 21 – A Guide for Public Officials” for the record.  She is concerned that the Council will implement climate based legislation and regulations in the midst of a recession.  Using the natural occurrence of climate change to develop legislation is alarming.  She is concerned that the federal government has overstepped its boundaries.  She stated that the CAP is not affordable and is not good for jobs and the economy.  She asked the Council not to support the United Nation’s Agenda 21 in the community.

Carlos Soria, representing Toyota Motor Sales USA,  stated that Toyota presented a proposition two years ago to expand its facility and bring jobs to San Ramon.  Toyota opposes the high-density Housing Element and the low income housing component which has been zoned for their area.  The Planning Department staff have not supported Toyota’s request to expand its facility.  They are currently looking elsewhere to move their facility because they cannot use their parcel for their intended use.  He opposes the Mixed Use proposed for the Toyota property and the elimination of the current zoning use.  Planning Chair Sachs asked if Toyota is actively looking at other areas.  Mr. Soria stated that Toyota is looking in the Sacramento and Fremont area.   Planning Chair Sachs asked how many people are employed at Toyota.  Mr. Soria stated that 90 people are currently employed.  Planning Chair Sachs asked for details on the employment opportunities associated with the desired expansion.  Mr. Soria stated that the expansion would cost $12 million and would allow 12 to 20 additional employees.  Mayor Wilson asked if the expansion would produce more revenue for San Ramon.  Mr. Soria stated that he could not speculate on revenue data.

Mike Stand, resident, stated his opposition to the CAP as part of Agenda 21.  He noted that a significant amount of California’s air pollution comes from China.  He believes that what is needed are controls to decrease pollution in China.

Tomar Martanovic, resident, opposed the CAP.  He stated that he will email his comments.

Bill Newman, Tassajara Valley resident, questioned the Implementation Policy 8.5-I-2 in the Open Space and Conservation section of the draft General Plan 2030.  He stated that this Implementation Policy does not support the Guiding Policy (8.5-G-1) under which it is found and will encourage actions which are contrary to it.  The Implementation Policy creates a seven year limbo for property currently under the Williamson Act.  He requested that this Implementation Plan be removed from the General Plan 2030.

Roz Rogoff, resident, stated her support of Toyota as one of the City’s best corporate citizens.  She does not want Toyota to move out of the City.  She suggested removing the southern part (Toyota) and the northern part (the businesses near Fostoria) from the NCRSP and rezoning the middle part of the NCRSP.  This solution would alleviate the

concerns of the property and business owners at both ends of the proposed plan. 

Anne Cavavos, resident, commented that the CAP is a good component of the General

Plan.  The CAP focuses on new development.  She is concerned that the San Ramon will not reach its target for greenhouse gas reductions by 2020.  She asked if an amendment could be added to the CAP which focuses on existing building and infrastructure.

Mayor Wilson closed the public hearing.

Cm. Hudson stated that the NCRSP incorporates legislative changes mandated by AB 32,

the Climate Action Plan, SB 375, and the Complete Streets Policies.  General Plan 2020 estimated a population increase of 11,100 for a total population of 96,020.  General Plan 2030 estimates a total population of 92,031.  General Plan 2020 had 34,365 housing units.  General Plan 2030 has 34,340 housing units.  Cm. Hudson summarized the key points of AB 32 and SB 375 and their impact on Land Use policy.  He stated that preparing a Specific Plan after the adoption of a General Plan is not uncommon.  In response to some of the speakers’ concerns regarding the application and use of science, he stated that the BAAQMD does use in its projections.

Planning Chair Sachs stated that the General Plan strives for compact smart growth land use.  The CAP tries to provide resources in land use planning and the opportunities for alternative fuel availability and electric charging stations.  He stated that there is nothing in the CAP which would cause a single business owner to redo the way in which they do business.  It is a framework for them to make choices about the way they do business to make it greener.  Effective land use planning can decrease vehicle miles traveled by locating jobs and housing closer together.  In looking at 2030, the City needs to provide the infrastructure to support the changes not as mandates but as incentives and opportunities.  The CAP provides a meaningful opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in San Ramon.  He stated the need to educate the public and provide resources so that the public can be a partner in achieving the CAP goals. 

Vice Mayor Perkins asked for information regarding the comment concerning the elimination of Service Commercial in the NCRSP.  Ms. Chamberlain stated that the Service Commercial General Plan Land Use Designation currently exists only in the NCRSP area.  She added that the NCRSP’s Mixed Use designation allows Service Commercial uses.  Vice Mayor Perkins read Item 4.7-I-4 of the General Plan 2030 (dated January 2011) which states that the NCRSP should “provide opportunities for the continuation of Service Commercial uses within the Plan area”. 

Vice Mayor Perkins questioned the difference in projections between ABAG and San Ramon and asked where the discrepancies are and how they should or could be rectified.  Mr. Brandman stated that inconsistencies exist because the City uses local projections.  ABAG utilizes a regional projection forecast.  The two planning processes are not contiguous.  Vice Mayor Perkins stated that it is hard to make decisions based on numbers which are substantially difficult.  Mr. Wong explained that, in general, the projections are different because the inputs are different.  ABAG uses different

forecasting methods as opposed to jurisdictional methods. 

Planning Commissioner Kerger noted that it is a common occurrence for ABAG to have different numbers and for other communities to disagree with ABAG’s projections. 

Cm. Hudson stated that only San Ramon retained the Growth Management Element after Measure J was voted in.  He stated that, although the numbers can be debated, San Ramon is providing a sustainable community strategy.  The Metropolitan Transportation Commission and ABAG are trying to synchronize the regional transportation plans with the regional housing numbers assessment.  He stated that General Plan 2020 moving to General Plan 2030 improves the balance of housing and jobs.  San Ramon does have the responsibility for a clean air plan.  It is part of a larger Western Climate Initiative which involves all nine Bay Area counties.

Mayor Wilson emphasized the need for the community to work together.  He encouraged residents to participate in the Planning Commission and City Council meetings. 

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At 8:45 p.m., there being no further business, Mayor Wilson adjourned the meeting.












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