Planning Commission Minutes
MINUTES OF THE
A regular meeting of the Planning Commission for the City of San Ramon was called to order by Chair Viers at 7:00 p.m., on Tuesday, July 16, 2013 in the Council Chambers 2222 Camino Ramon, San Ramon.
Present: Commissioners; Kerger, Sachs, Vice Chair Wallis, Chair Viers
Absent: Commissioner Benedetti
Staff: Phil Wong, Planning Director; Debbie Chamberlain, Division Manager; Lauren Barr, Senior Planner; Alicia Poon, Deputy City Attorney; Luisa Amerigo Recording Secretary
1. CALL TO ORDER
2. ROLL CALL
3. PLEDGE OF ALLEGIANCE
It was moved by Chair Kerger and seconded by Commissioner Sachs to nominate Vice Chair Wallis as Chair.
It was moved by Chair Wallis and seconded by Commissioner Kerger to nominate Commissioner Benedetti as Vice Chair. The motion passed unanimously.
4. PUBLIC COMMENTS OR WRITTEN COMMUNICATION: At this time, those in the audience are encouraged to address the Planning Commission on any item not already included in tonight’s agenda. If possible, comments should not exceed five (5) minutes.Joan Evans from the Senior Advisory Committee spoke about the need for affordable housing for senior citizens.
5. ADDITIONS AND REVISIONS
6. CONSENT CALENDAR
7. CONTINUED ITEMS AFTER CLOSING OF PUBLIC HEARING –None-
8. CONTINUED ITEMS – OPEN PUBLIC HEARING - None -
9. PUBLIC HEARING – NEW ITEMS
Lauren Barr, Senior Planner, gave a brief PowerPoint presentation stating that the applicant is requesting approval to construct a mixed-use concept consisting of 6 live/work units and 42 townhome units on the two existing commercial properties. The site is approximately 3 acres with parking that will be demolished to construct the new project.
Commissioner Sachs stated that the City Council concerns were connectivity, density and amenities and does the project fall within what used to be the prior Redevelopment Area. Mr. Barr replied yes but it is outside the Crow Canyon Specific Plan Area.
Commissioner Sachs stated that on the issue of connectivity there were discussions to gain access to surrounding neighborhoods and asked for clarification.
Mr. Barr replied that the applicant explored a few options speaking with adjacent residential properties in terms of potential easements to cross the property and those efforts were not successful. There was also difficulty relating to topography and potential security issues.Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Barr for clarification on the density of the project and was there any guidance given. Mr. Barr replied there were concerns that the project was too dense and that a reduce number of units should be considered and provide other amenities, either additional parking or more open space. The density ranges that were proposed under the General Plan were consistent with what was being proposed at the time.
Commissioner Sachs stated that $84,000 would be used towards a down payment for affordable housing assistance and asked how the dollars help potential applicants. Mr. Barr replied that it would help those who need help qualifying. A grant program could be set up with a cap between $10,000 and $15,000. You also would be helping 5-7 households which is equivalent to a 10% - 15% subsidy of the project.
Commissioner Kerger asked Mr. Barr if there were any vacancies in the existing building. Mr. Barr replied yes. Commissioner Kerger further asked since there are vacancies shouldn't’t the applicant be building a housing project and what are other alternatives for the property. Mr. Barr replied that the City Council had raised a similar concern and residential seems to be the best use since there is residential to the side and behind with a church below it. It serves as a density and a land use buffer for some of those other uses. Mr. Barr added that there is a demand for this type of housing product within the City. The consensus among the City Council members was that this would be a successful project that would sell well.
Commissioner Kerger stated that she is not a supporter of textured paving and had the request come from the Architectural Review Board (ARB). Mr. Barr replied yes and at the first review requested additional accents and textured paving. At the most recent review they asked for more continuity and connectivity between both the pedestrian and accent points.
Commissioner Kerger stated that the conditions for the Affordable Housing Agreement read that the program would be administered by the applicant and what would be the time period. Mr. Barr replied during the sale of the units. Mr. Barr added that based on the recommendation by the Housing Advisory Committee (HAC) and general discussions with the Planning Commission, there seemed not enough support on long-term deed restrictions because of the difficulties in funding encumbered properties as well as some of the management issues.
Commissioner Kerger asked if there was a Community Facilities District within the City. Mr. Barr replied no. We have a similar district in Dougherty Valley. There are also Lighting and Landscape Districts throughout the City that serve similar functions. This Community Facilities District is intended to bridge a gap that was created by the transition of the project from commercial to residential use. Commissioner Kerger asked Mr. Barr if this was part of the Covenants, Conditions and Restrictions (CC&R’s). Mr. Barr replied yes, it would be an assessment on the property collected annually through property taxes.
Commissioner Viers asked Mr. Barr for clarification on the live/work units. Mr. Barr replied there are three ground level units and business activities associated with the live/work units. These are office spaces that can operate a business and the primary living area is located upstairs.
Commissioner Viers asked for clarification on the retaining wall variance. Mr. Barr replied that the variance is associated with the utility areas on the tuck-under building pads. The utilities have been located to the rear of the utility areas to make way for the additional parking spaces between the buildings.
Commissioner Viers asked if the City Council had asked about similar projects in the area. Mr. Barr replied a similar project was located in Concord, and we looked at the Castle project on Fostoria Way as well as Rose Garden in Danville.
Commissioner Viers asked Mr. Barr if the Rose Garden project had parks, open space, or trails. Mr. Barr replied no, with the exception of the Concord project they all had small tot lot facilities and small seating areas and that the project in Concord was adjacent to a trail.
Commissioner Viers asked if more units could be built for live/work. Mr. Barr replied no because of the topography and grading that would be required. Commissioner Viers asked Mr. Barr if all existing trees have been retained with additional trees being planted and are the retaining walls being repaired and replaced. Mr. Barr replied yes.
Commissioner Viers asked if the church was still in favor of the project. Mr. Barr replied yes. Commissioner Viers stated that he is not in favor of deed restrictions and asked Mr. Barr if he viewed the project as an “infill” project. Mr. Barr replied yes and that environmental review relied on the fact that there was an existing development that sets a baseline and many of the aspects of this project improve the conditions. Stormdrain improvements will be done as part of this project that currently do not exist.
Tom Schultz –Acre Investment stated that the project is excellent for the area. The current building is currently underutilized, and not in good condition. The project will have its own Homeowners Association (HOA) to maintain its entire on-site infrastructure. No additional infrastructure will be associated with this project except for its new stormdrain line for existing infrastructure. The project is paying over 1.2 million dollars in fees to the City. The project has less environmental impacts than what currently exists, less traffic, cleaner stormwater, and reduced greenhouse gases. Mr. Schultz added that the biggest benefit this project brings to the City is that it will provide workforce housing to current residents and future employees.
Commissioner Kerger asked Mr. Schultz for clarification on the location of the stormdrain and where is it currently drains to. Mr. Schultz replied that there is one stormdrain inlet at the end of Ryan Industrial Court. All properties on Ryan Industrial Court drain onto the parking lot, onto the street and to the end of the road.
Commissioner Sachs asked Mr. Schultz for clarification on Universal Building Design. Mr. Schultz explained that Universal Building Design is mandated by the State and we have to provide fixtures, such as no turning doorknobs, to make the units more accessible for the handicapped or people with special needs.
Commissioner Sachs stated that Ryan Industrial Court is in need of an upgrade and when he met with Mr. Schultz, they spoke about potentially losing some units and providing more of a common area.
Mr. Schultz replied there are options on losing some units but he did not feel it was to the benefit of the project or the City and the project is appropriately sized for this type of use.
Commissioner Sachs added if there was a consensus tonight on not changing the unit count what could be added in terms of common area amenities. Mr. Schultz replied there are picnic and barbeque areas and possibly adding a small gazebo and benching throughout the project could be considered.
Commissioner Sachs stated that his concern is density and believes by removing two units that would provide more common area open space.
Commissioner Viers asked Mr. Schultz by eliminating two parking spaces does it create more open space and was he referring the tot lot area. Mr. Schultz replied yes.
Chair Wallis asked Mr. Schultz what was the size of the tot lot. Mr. Schultz replied 1200 sq. ft. Chair Wallis stated that the area is designated as mixed use and asked Mr. Schultz if he were allowed to build a new commercial building would that be a viable use.
Mr. Schultz replied no, Bishop Ranch controls the office market in San Ramon and the majority of tenants want to be in Bishop Ranch because of the proximity to restaurants, shopping and the freeways.
Jim Gibbon- San Ramon resident stated that the project has two features it intensifies the use by adding office, no retail square footage and no parking for that use. Mr. Gibbon added that the project gives no quality of life to future buyers.
Gabriel Araccheacdara – Acre Investment Company, LLC stated that he is in favor of the project and this project was created for people who can chose to live or not live here. This project fits exactly what the City wants and it will rejuvenate the area.
Ted Helgans – Acre Investment Company, LLC stated that he is in favor of the project. The project is the best use for the site and retail will not work here.
Commissioner Kerger stated that she was in favor of the project and feels that the inventory in San Ramon is limited and more housing is needed. She also likes the idea of enlarging the tot lot.
Commissioner Sachs stated he does not want to give up parking and feels if one or two units would be removed it would not hurt the project. This project is for potential first time homebuyers and affordable work force housing. Commissioner Sachs added that the project is a good catalyst site and could be less dense with more amenities. Overall, he supports the project and it meets the General Plan requirements.
Commissioner Viers stated that he is in favor of the project and feels it is the best use for the area since this is a Housing Opportunity Site. Commissioner Viers added he would like to see the project an all residential project and also feels that retail would not work in that area. Commissioner Viers added he would like to see two units be removed which would bring more open space to the project.
Mr. Barr replied that regarding that the allocation of funds, as part the discussion with the applicant we came to a breakdown that kept the City whole on the $1.25 per sq.ft. and had surplus funding for the down payment assistance program. If it is the desire, the Planning Commission to direct staff to potentially use that money to provide additional benefit for affordability based on the numbers that will be part of the Affordable Housing Agreement that the City will enter into with the applicant.
It was moved by Planning Commissioner Sachs and seconded by Planning Commissioner Kerger approving Resolution Number 06-13 approving an Addendum to Initial Study/Negative Declaration 12-250-003 and approving the proposed mixed-use development applications for 6 live/work and 42 townhome units located at 125 and 130 Ryan Industrial Court. With the noted discussions and directions from the Planning Commission regarding the use of affordable housing fees and the Revisions to the Conditions of Approval.
AYES: Commissioners Kerger, Sachs, Viers, Chair Wallis
10. NON-PUBLIC HEARING ACTION ITEMS
11. STUDY SESSION/COMMISSIONER LIAISON REPORT AND INTEREST ITEMS/STAFF REPORTS.