July 2019 Planning Commission Recap: Homeless Shelter Proposed for San Pablo Rec. Center, Elimination of Parking Minimums

Published On August 16, 2019 | By Christopher Bennett | News & Commentary, Planning & Development

The Planning Commission had a full agenda at their July meeting. Highlights included an initial study session to discuss the removing of minimum parking requirements for new buildings. They also held a study session to review a proposed temporary family homeless shelter at the Robert Savage Recreation Center at 4300 San Pablo Avenue.

Commissioner’s Report:

  • At their June 4th meeting, the City Council approved the operating budget for the next two fiscal years
  • At their June 18th meeting, the City Council reappointed Commissioners Barrera and Keller to the Planning Commission for 3-year terms. Commissioner Hidalgo, who’s term ended this year, did not seek reappointment. The Commission will have a vacancy until the City Council appoints a replacement

Public Hearing: Local Hazard Mitigation Plan

The Commission started the night with a review of a proposed amendment that would add the local hazard mitigation plan as an appendix to the Safety Element of the General Plan.

The need for a local hazard mitigation plan is based on the Federal Disaster Mitigation Act of 2000 (DMA 2000), which requires that all communities establish a mitigation plan as a condition of receiving federal funding through the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, Pre-Disaster Mitigation Grant Program, and the Flood Management Assistance Grant Program.

The local mitigation plan must be updated every five years, and Emeryville’s initial plan was approved by the City Council in 2009. The City’s 2019-2024 plan update has been reviewed by the California State Office of Emergency Services (Cal OES) and FEMA. It is now eligible for final approval pending adoption by the City Council/Disaster Council as an amendment to the General Plan.

The plan was unanimously approved by the Commission.

View the Entire Staff Report
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at [9:36]


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Study Session: Elimination of Minimum Parking Requirements

The Commission had the opportunity to review an ordinance amending the Planning Regulations to eliminate the minimum parking requirements.

The City’s current off-street parking requirements were adopted as part of the new Planning Regulations, which were enacted by Ordinance No. 13-001, which took effect on March 7, 2013.  The off-street parking requirements provide for a range of allowable parking spaces for each use, from a minimum to a maximum, based on an “estimated parking demand”. The minimum number of spaces required is 33% less than the estimated parking demand, and the maximum number of spaces allowed is 10% more than the estimated parking demand.

For example, office uses have an estimated parking demand of 2.4 spaces per 1,000 square feet. The minimum requirement is 1.6 spaces per 1,000 square feet (33% less than 2.4) and the maximum number of spaces allowed is 2.64 spaces per 1,000 square feet (10% more than 2.4).  All parking requirements (minimum and maximum) are reduced by 50% in the TH Transit Hub Overlay Zone, and local-serving uses having a gross floor area of 5,000 square feet or less are exempt from parking requirements in the NR Neighborhood Retail Overlay Zone. The parking minimum may be reduced or waived, and the maximum may be increased, upon the granting of a conditional use permit by the Planning Commission.

The elimination of the minimum parking requirement, while still allowing property owners and developers the option of providing parking if they choose to, is consistent with the General Plan concept of reducing dependence on automobiles and promoting alternative modes of transportation. General Plan Guiding Principal 5, “A diversity of transportation modes and choices,” states:

“The General Plan fosters and provides incentives for alternative transportation modes, including transit, car/vanpooling, bicycling, walking, and telecommuting. Residents will be able to access stores, offices, the waterfront, or regional transit networks without needing a car. Land uses capitalize on Amtrak, AC Transit, and Transbay bus lines, and proximity to BART, and are integrated with the Emery Go-Round that extends to within walking distance of most locations. Bicycle paths link housing, activity centers, and recreational amenities, and are buffered where feasible from automobiles to further safety.”

Several members of the Commission voiced their concern with removing the minimum requirements without having reliable mechanisms to monitor the situation moving forward. As Commissioner Donaldson said,

“I am concerned about provision of parking at this time, we are obviously at a time when transit is changing, and transportation is changing, and people are making different decisions, but my concern is about small businesses that rely on customers that come from somewhere else that doesn’t have transit on there end.. So I am just wondering if there is a mechanism to support some shared parking that would keep people coming to Emeryville if they want to support our businesses.”

While there was some concern from the Commission, several of the members also voiced their support for the proposed change as it directs the City closer to its goal of reducing the dependency on cars. Commissioner Keller summed it up:

“I think this is the direction we need to go. It is a little bit surprising, and a little bit difficult to swallow for some people… and I feel the City of Emeryville is to the point where we have the mass transit we need to make the change we are making here.”

The City Council will review the Commissioner’s comments and discuss how to move forward.

View the Entire Staff Report
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at [27:55]


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Study Session:Temporary Emergency Family Shelter

The Commission finished the night with a review of a proposed “temporary emergency shelter for families” at the former City Recreation Center located at 4300 San Pablo Avenue.

The applicant, East Oakland Community Project, is a homeless services agency in Oakland that has been providing shelter and services to homeless populations, including families, for almost 30 years, proposes modifying the existing portables at the site for a family center providing both an office space for homeless services and a temporary emergency shelter for families.

The portables have been on the site since 2012 when they were moved from “Site B” on Shellmound Street. They had been used to temporarily house the Emeryville Police Department while the station on Powell was upgraded.

The relocated portables replaced the existing portables at 4300 San Pablo that had been used to house the Recreation Center and had reached the end of their useful life. The relocated portables continued to house the Recreation Center, where after school programs and summer camps were located until 2016. Once the Emeryville Center for Community Life  opened, these programs moved to the new facilities at ECCL. Since 2016, the portables at the site have been intermittently used for the Senior Center flee market, storage, and have periodically been used to hold meetings for the Friends of the Emeryville Senior Center.

The new proposed facility includes offices for Family Front Door (FFD), which connects homeless families to community resources. Families are first screened by phone and then come to FFD offices by appointment; assessed families are matched to resources as they become available. All families staying at the proposed family shelter will be assessed and assigned through FFD, which will also function as the intake waiting area for the shelter.

The proposed shelter will also provide up to 72 beds designated for 20-25 families with supportive services for these families. Supportive services provided on-site include Early Head Start Home Base, which provides comprehensive home visits to families with children under three years old; support for school aged children through Community Education Partnerships, which will provide learning and academic enrichment for children living at the shelter; and daytime staffing for adults including on-site housing navigation (case management) and employment support.

Several members of the community voiced their concerns about the potential noise, parking, litter and public safety issues. “Until I see the program happen and implemented and they actually do what they promise, I [have] reservations,” noted one speaker who identified herself as a ten year resident.

Several Commissioners, including Commissioner Thomson also voiced their desire for the applicant to put effort into these concerns:

“this is absolutely a need for the community at large… I do think the question about nuisance and safety are real issues, but they may be city-wide issues, and not related to this program, but this program will absolutely highlight these issues, so I do think it is important that a lot of care is taken to address the concerns.”

The Commission will have another opportunity to review the project prior to voting on the request at their August 22nd meeting.

View the Entire Staff Report
Watch the staff presentation and subsequent commission discussion above at [1:23:50]

About The Author

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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