The Emeryville Planning Commission held two public hearings and a study session at their June 25th meeting. Among these items was a contentious residential in-fill project on 47th Street, amendments to our city cannabis regulations, and a once-a-decade update to the Pedestrian & Bicycle Plan.
47th Street Homes (Public Hearing)
The owner of 1034-1042 47th Street were back in front of the commission for a third study session. The proposed residential in-fill project that would remove four existing single-unit homes and replace them with three duplexes, resulting in six total residential units at project completion.
The homes sit on a larger two-parcel property that currently contains 15 single-unit homes with access on three separate streets. This project would affect units facing 47th Street in the city’s Triangle neighborhood.
The proposed homes would range between two bedrooms and one bathroom with 798 sq. ft. to two bedrooms and two bathrooms with 1,150 sq. ft. Each home would include one to two parking spaces along with long-term bike storage. The home at 1038 47th Street would also be built with ADA specifications in mind.
Members of the public, during the public comment, questioned how family-friendly these units will be, whether the units could be saved with rehabilitation instead of being demolished, and whether the owner will keep the new homes in better shape than the existing ones.
The property owner confirmed the units do meet family-friendly guidelines, although not required to, and that the homes would be cheaper to rebuild than to rehabilitate. The owner also addressed a previous question from the community regarding affordability housing and stated that eight of the existing homes on the property were renting well below market rate with low to very low in come tenants with an average stay of 19 years.
Commissioners expressed concerns with affordability of the homes after being constructed, a point also raised by a member of the public, along with parking and tree removal concerns.
The commission decided in a 4-0 motion with two abstentions and one absence to recommend denial of the project application to the City Council with the commissioner’s concerns being forwarded to the council for their consideration.
Amendments to Cannabis Regulations (Public Hearing)
Commissioners considered amendments to existing Planning Regulations to allow cannabis manufacturing businesses in additional zoning districts and to reduce the buffer between cannabis sales activities and parks and other sensitive areas.
The proposed changes will allow applicants to operate a cannabis manufacturing business or cannabis sales activity in the Mixed Use with Residential and Mixed Use with Residential South zoning areas with a conditional use permit. The staff report stresses that “compatibility of any particular business with the surrounding area will always be assessed on a case-by-case basis.”
This proposed amendment comes as the Ohana Cannabis (FKA East Bay Therapeutics) dispensary would like to relocate across the street from its existing location, into the space currently occupied by The Broken Rack Sports Bar and Billiards, which is up for sale. However, the new location’s proximity within 250 feet of the Emeryville Greenway would prevent it from operating under existing planning code that establishes a buffer from cannabis businesses around parks.
In addition to the dispensary space, a separate restaurant space would be retained adjacent to the business.
The commission approved the motion to amend the planning code and the recommendation will now move to the City Council for consideration.
Update to the Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan (Study Session)
The City is required to provide an updated Pedestrian and Bicycle Plan once every 10 years, by state law. The current plan is due for an update in 2022, so the City has begun the process of updating the plan by first determining the scope of work for the plan consultants.
With input from the Bicycle and Pedestrian Advisory Committee, the scope includes building a map that will show a complete bicycle and pedestrian network in Emeryville, along with recommended policies and programs.
Staff requested input on the scope of work from Commissioners. The Commissioners responded with areas for the plan to focus on. Including wayfinding signage, bicycle connections in the Public Market area, and long-term bike storage.
There was no decision needed by Commissioners on this item.