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May Planning Commission Recap – $25M Supportive Housing Project, New Seasons Sign Permit, Sherwin Subdivision Map

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The May 27th Planning Commission saw several important projects on the agenda. Public hearing occurred on two projects, including the Sherwin Williams property subdivision map, and the permitting of signage for the New Seasons market. There was also a preliminary discussion involving the potential redevelopment of three properties on San Pablo Avenue at 37th for a proposed supportive housing project.

Director’s Report

  • City Council passed a second reading of an ordinance adding lead safety requirements to housing regulations
  • Council authorized a $1.4 million contract for the construction of the greenway between Powell and Stanford
  • The Council reaffirmed the 2012 pedestrian bicycle plan and adopted an update on its implantation which will allow the city to continue to be eligible for local and state funding for applicable improvement projects
  • On May 16th, the Council passed a first reading of an ordinance amending the municipal code provisions for the planning commission to specify that any commissioner who is absent from 33% of the regular commission meetings in a calendar year shall automatically be terminated from the commission
  • A special meeting of the Planning Commission and City Council was held on May 16th to get public comment from small business regarding their needs and concerns. Representatives from over 50 small business attended to provide feedback
  • Emeryville has been selected as a semi-finalist in the competition by the CA Arts Council to become a CA Cultural District

Public Hearing – Sherwin Williams Subdivision Map

The commission, with Commissioner Donaldson abstaining due to a conflict issue, unanimously approved a vesting tentative map for the proposed redevelopment of the Sherwin Williams property. The vesting map is part of the overall approval process, and is required to legally create parcels that can be sold by the developer.

As we have discussed in numerous articles over the past five years, the property consists of over 10 acres with five planned parcels and two new roads, one being an extension of Hubbard Street and the other a new 46th street. All of the development is consistent with the Sherwin Williams Project Planned Unit Development (PUD 13-001) that was approved by the City Council on November 1, 2016. For a recap, the parcels will accommodate:

  • Up to 500 residential units (85 designated “affordable”).
  • 18,000 sq. ft. of office space
  • 53 acres of public park/open space area on the City-owned property
  • Expansion of the Emeryville Greenway to connect to the planned bike/pedestrian bridge to Bay Street.

As mentioned above, a major factor in the City’s approval of this redevelopment was the planned public park/open space. However, both the City Council and the Planning Commission expressed concerns that the developer could run into issues, including delays and financial trouble, which could leave them unable to design and finish the park that was promised.

To ensure the City receives the promised park, the City Council will require the developer to procure a performance bond worth 150% of the estimated cost of the park. for a quick overview, a performance bond acts as a safety net for the City should the developer run into issues during construction. If the developer has financial issues or fails to meet certain requirements, the City would be able to call in the bond and receive the funds necessary to finish the park themselves. Next steps will finally include construction, which is set to begin in fall of [next] year and the estimated finish date for the project in 2021.

View the entire Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 10:40.

Study Session – Redevelopment of Properties at 3600, 3610, 3620 San Pablo Avenue

The highlight of the night came from the Planning Commission’s discussion on the potential redevelopment of three properties in between 36th and 37th street on San Pablo Ave, which are all owned by the same individual (former site of “Doug’s BBQ”). The project would essentially be bookended by the planned affordable development at 3706 San Pablo and the California Hotel affordable housing just on the other side of the I-580 overpass.

Supportive Housing is a combination of affordable housing and services intended for those experiencing homeless and other challenges such as addiction and mental health conditions. While Emeryville maintains an inventory of units designated affordable units and adds to this with every new development, they do not offer any supportive housing. Berkeley is also exploring the creation of Supportive Housing.

This study session was requested by the City Council, who conducted their own discussion of the development in their May 2nd meeting. A financial feasibility analysis at that meeting revealed a price-tag of about $25 million.

The overall goal of the redevelopment is to add much-needed affordable housing units for the City, and to include a permanent space for the Emeryville Citizens Assistance Program (ECAP) to continue providing food and other community services. The proposed new space for ECAP would include a larger food storage area, a kitchen, administrative office space, and an indoor food distribution area. The bottom level would also include parking for residence. The chart below illustrates the three main scenarios that are being discussed:

Scenario 1 Scenario 2 Scenario 3
Resident Population Supportive Housing Families/ Low Income Families/ Mixed Income
Residential Units Below Market Rate* Market Rate








Average Unit sq. ft. 465 sf 886 sf 886 sf
ECAP sq. ft.
Other Community Services
5,188 sf 1,598 sf 3,624 sf 0 sf 3,624 sf 0 sf
Parking Spaces 16 spaces 26 spaces 26 space

Scenario 1 –
Supportive Housing: In this scenario, the housing would consist of supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals. The ground floor would include an expanded ECAP space, other community services, a parking garage and 39 residential units averaging about 465 square feet per unit on the second and third floors. The other community services could include a health clinic, employment/job training services, counseling services, navigation center, or other services targeted for formerly homeless and low-income populations. Alternatively, this space could be additional area for ECAP.
Scenario 2
– Low Income Family Housing: In this scenario, the housing would serve low-income families. The ground floor would include an expanded ECAP space, a parking garage, and 35 affordable residential units averaging about 886 square feet per unit on the second and third floors. Because of the larger parking garage, there would be no room for other community services on the ground floor.

Scenario 3 – Mixed Income Family Housing: In this scenario, the housing would serve families of various income levels. The development program includes the same uses and configuration as Scenario 2, except that this scenario includes a mix of 17 affordable and 18 market rate units to test whether inclusion of market rate units improves the development economics of the site. This has implications for parking requirements, as discussed below.

ECAP representative Bobby Miller was on hand and spoke on behalf of scenario 1. “It’s the one scenario that most closely provides the space needed for ECAP’s food pantry.” Miller is the brother of Nellie Hannon who is a former Emeryville Councilmember and founded ECAP 30 years ago. The property’s owner spoke on behalf of capitalizing on the opportunity for a taller development with more units, parking and other community amenities.

After a general discussion of the preliminary report, a majority of the commission favored scenario 1 that would include supportive housing. Multiple commissioners highlighted the lack of any kind of supportive housing not just in Emeryville, but the entire bay area.

Commissioner Barrera expanded on this issue:

“There is tremendous demand for housing of all types…the demand for housing for the homeless is so evident and we see it every day…so for the City of Emeryville to actually take the step of bringing to life a project like scenario 1 would be a tremendous reflection of the City’s progressiveness and initiative in the social sector.”

Discussions on the redevelopment are still in the preliminary stages and the next step will be for the City Council to review the commission’s comments and continue reviewing the possible scenarios.

View the entire Planning Commission Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 1:12:15

Public Hearing – New Seasons Market Sign Permit

The commission also reviewed proposed signage for the New Seasons Market at the Emeryville Public Market. The commission scrutinized the plans for visual character, architectural compatibility, neighborhood consistency & visibility.

Three of the seven proposed signs would be illuminated, one of the illuminated signs would include their tagline “The friendliest store in town”.

Comments from the commission included scrutiny if the signs would be visible from residents windows and it was determined to be acceptable distance and brightness. The signs would also include adjustable dimmers should they be found to be a nuisance. “I think they look attractive and I don’t think their too obtrusive,” noted commissioner Donaldson. The commission unanimously approved the resolution 6-0 (Keller recusing himself because of residential proximity).

View the entire Staff Report →
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at 57:30

This story and others made possible through the contributions of our supporters.
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Christopher Bennett

was born and raised in the north bay and now lives on the Emeryville/Oakland border in the Longfellow neighborhood with his wife and two cats (Sherlock and Watson). When he's not writing, Chris works as an attorney who assist engineers and professional consultants navigate their contracts and related business issues.


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