City set to begin Sherwin Williams Development EIR. Take our Community Poll
It’s been nearly eight years since the paint factory’s demolition and subsequent soil remediation, and the Sherwin Williams Development Project is finally coming to life. After countless community meetings, committee meetings, Planning Commission Study Sessions & City Council Scoping meetings, the developers are ready to take the next big step in the process: The Environmental Impact Report (EIR).
The City of Emeryville will be the lead Agency and prepare the EIR for the project. The public is invited to submit comments regarding the scope of the EIR and issues that should be addressed as the document is prepared. Due to time limits mandated by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA), responses must be received within 45 days of when the Notice of Preparation was mailed to neighbors which would make the established cut-off January 30th at 5pm. Considerations submitted in regards to concerns about the environmental impact of this project after this date will not be considered.
Once the EIR is complete (anticipated to be early Summer), the City will send out an additional notice to inform the community that the EIR is ready for review and comment. An addition 45-day period community comment period will begin. This will be followed by a public hearing with the Planning Commission. The seven person Planning Commission will then vote and make a recommendation to the Council to approve or deny the project along with any conditions. The City Council will then hold a public hearing and make a final decision to approve or to deny the project.
The most recent City Council Scoping Meeting was held on December 2nd:
The 10.05-acre project site is generally bound by Horton Street to the east, Sherwin Avenue to the south, and Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the west. The future site of Horton Landing Park, owned by the City, is located immediately north of the project site, and a Novartis surface parking lot, the so-called “Rifkin Lot”, is located immediately to the northeast. Temescal Creek runs near the northern boundary of the site. The project site includes two parcels: one owned by Sherwin-Williams (8.59 acres) and one owned by the City of Emeryville as Successor Agency to the Emeryville Redevelopment Agency (1.46 acres).
The proposed project would divide the project site into new parcels and roadways and construct a mixed-used development. The project would include a total of 621,000 square feet of residential space (540 units) and 94,600 square feet of commercial space. In addition to the park and open space, the project would also include a children’s playground, an adult fitness space, and a central green within the Hubbard Circle. Ground level uses would include common space and commercial/retail uses. Because the site is over 5 acres, a planned unit development (PUD) is required, which would be adopted by ordinance and would govern the zoning of the project site. The project applicant is proposing two potential development options (Option A and Option B) that include the same level of total development.
Updates to the Plan
Developers SRM/Ernst & Thompson-Dorfman Partners have submitted two plans for the development. The biggest distinction between them is the consolidation of open space in Option A away from the railroad tracks. Most residents and Planning Commissioners have expressed a preference for Option A but it is hinging on a land swap with the state and the suit may not be resolved prior to the start of construction which is optimistically slated for this year. This would also require an amendment to the general plan.
Because the height and density exceed what is allowed “by right” in the General plan, the development will require a minimum of 100 “Bonus Points” to offset this. This elaborate bonus structure is outlined in our city General Plan Document. The developers have indicated they will satisfy this with one or more of the following:
35 pts. – Reuse of a significant building
35 pts. – Transportation Demand Management Program to promote walking, bicycling & transit use
15 pts. – Bicycle sharing
10 pts. – Bike lockers
10 pts. – Electronic transit information signs
10 pts. – Family friendly housing (5% of total units to be 3 bedroom)
20 pts. – 5% of non-residential parking to provide EV charging stations (residential is required)
There are a lot of variables that will impact the Park Avenue neighborhood & our City. Below are a few that our committee at 1500 Park have been advocating for. Are these things all important? Yes. Is it realistic for the community to get everything we want? Probably not, that’s why we’d like your help prioritizing these.
Traffic Circulation, Parking Management & Walkability/Bikeability: The development has the potential to overwhelm the few roads in and out of the area that is bordered by a bike boulevard and railroad tracks. Ample Bike Storage and Car/Bike Sharing resources are mandatory. Safe, bike and pedestrian thoroughfare is essential. The developers need to determine and provide as many incentives as possible for the new residents to use public transportation including advocating and even subsidizing a more direct route to West Oakland BART such as a new proposed Emery Go-Round route down Mandela Parkway. A plan for parking management will have to be specifically outlined and enforced.
Building Height & Density: We’ll need a certain density to support the retail we want, but don’t try to shoe-horn in more units than the limited access into the neighborhood can accommodate. The building heights should not engulf the open spaces in shadows. Taper the buildings away from existing structures with the highest points focused toward the north (Parcels C-2 and D).
More For-Sale Condos & Affordable Units: The developer has indicated a 100% rental development but would be “mapping” these for future conversions into condominiums when “the timing is right and the market will support it”. They have not provided any timeline or guarantees for this though. We want to create as many opportunities as possible for people to vest in Emeryville and create the continuity in residents that is necessary to build community.
Architectural Quality and Character: No “cookie-cutter” condo developments. Use of materials with integrity like brick, steel & concrete (No stucco). The developer has indicated the likelihood of multiple architects that would avoid monotony and hopefully make the development feel more organic. As much greenery as possible!
Locally Serving Retail: Emphasis on viable retail that serves local needs and adds to the culture of the arts-centered district (cafe’s, a wine-bar, bike shop, galleries). No “destination retail” like take-out food establishments and mattress stores that compound traffic and creates more car trips. NO CHAINS!
Advocacy group RULE has been lobbying developers for a Community Benefit Agreement but it is unclear of any progress has been met (I reached out to RULE for comment but was unable to get a response before this was published). Detractors of the CBA argue that they are not easily legally enforceable and that it’s the city’s job to advocate on such issues. It’s unclear how the recent election and the RULE endorsed council majority will impact the project. Councilmember Scott Donahue will have to recuse himself from voting on the project because of his living proximity so three of the four Council members will have to ultimately provide approval to move forward with the project.
The development team has consolidated its community feedback thus far into this matrix:
Community Input/Take our Survey
A scoping session for the preparation of the EIR will be held on January 27th at 6:30 p.m. at the Council Chambers. The public and public agencies are invited to attend the scoping session to provide comments regarding the scope and content of the EIR. Responses can be emailed directly to Planning Division Senior Planner Miroo Desai at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the poll provided below that we will consolidate and pass along. NOTE: The poll below has been created by The E’ville Eye to gauge the desires of the community and may not have any bearing on the final results of the project.
– Poll is Closed –
Further Reading & Resources:
The Sherwin Williams Preliminary Development Plan [PDF]
The 2014 CEQA Statutes and Guidelines [PDF]
An open letter to the Planning Commission from the Warehouse Lofts Committee →
Latest Sherwin site plans draw optimism … skepticism →
SRM Ernst selected to develop Sherwin Site →
The second Planning Commission Study Session was held on October 30th:
(All videos courtesy of Ken Bukowski’s EPOA YouTube Channel)