Memo from City Manager to City Council regarding r Introduction of Ordinance Adopting the Alameda Point Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan, March 21, 2017
1. Draft Main Street Neighborhood Specific Plan
2. Staff Response to Comments
3. Internet Survey, Survey Results and Comments
5. Willdan Financial Analysis
The MSN Plan fulfills the General Plan policy objectives for a transit-oriented mixed-use, mixed income neighborhood with diverse housing options, parks and open spaces, neighborhood serving businesses and transitional commercial uses. The MSN Plan implements the vision through a variety of regulations, standards, and guidelines for both public improvements and private investment. The four major characteristics of the MSN Plan are:
I. Parks and Central Gardens: The MSN Plan establishes the Central Gardens as the center of the MSN Plan area, connecting a network of small parks and serving as the main gathering spaces for the different areas within the Plan area and reinforcing an agricultural identity already in existence.
II. Multi-Modal Network: The MSN Plan builds upon and continues the extensive planning work of the MIP and Town Center Plan to develop a balanced and comprehensive multi-modal transportation network for people walking, cycling, taking transit, and driving in the neighborhood.
III. Form Based Regulations: The MSN Plan provides specific regulations, standards, and design guidelines to shape the form of the public and private physical environment and the use of the land to create a transit-friendly, mixed-use neighborhood that is inclusive of a range of incomes and housing types, including “workforce housing”.
IV. Collaborating Partners and Phasing of Development: The MSN Plan provides phasing principles as guidance for future development of the area and recommendations for a phased development that will prioritize the consolidation and replacement of the Collaborating Partners housing.
The following provides a summary of each of the main components of the MSN Plan and includes responses to some of the City Council’s comments. A complete summary of responses to key Council and board and commission comments is included in Exhibit 2.
I. Parks and Central Gardens
The MSN Plan establishes the Central Gardens as the center point of the MSN Plan area. It serves as the main gathering, community park and event space and connects all of the open spaces through bikeways, multi-use trials, and pedestrian paths. The MSN Plan envisions the Central Garden as an active space with a variety of areas for informal play, active programming and a community garden element. The precise type and placement of park elements will be defined as part of a future development plan and design review process.
Tree-lined streets will connect the Central Gardens with the other two parks in the neighborhood, Pan Am Gardens and West Essex Park. Pan Am Gardens will have active park spaces, informal grass areas for multi-use and amenities, as well as additional urban agricultural spaces. The existing copse of trees in the center of the park will be retained. West Essex Park is a smaller open space area that can accommodate smaller community events and play spaces, such as tot lots, picnic areas, and benches.
The MSN Plan has been updated to encourage planting of native species of trees and flowering shrubs known to attract monarch butterflies and preserve existing sites based on comments in a letter from the Xerces Society that is concerned about their protection and possible classification as endangered. In addition, the Alameda Point EIR has mitigation measures that require the protection of any active autumnal/overwintering roost sites used by the monarch butterflies.
II. Multi-Modal Network
The MSN Plan creates a multi-modal street network that models best practices for safe movement through the neighborhood, with protected one- and two-way cycle tracks, bike lanes, multi-use trails, and non-motorized pedestrian/bikeways with direct connections to the Main Street Ferry Terminal and areas outside of the neighborhood. A shared street concept around three sides of the Central Gardens creates a plaza-like area inviting a continuous flow from the sidewalk to the park.
In response to City Council comments, the MSN plan also includes non-motorized paths that provide access from the Plan Area to Main Street and from Main Street trails and two-way cycle track to the Oakland Estuary waterfront, Alameda Main Street Ferry Terminal and other destinations. The Plan also now shows truck routes to ensure trucks can be accommodated within the proposed street widths.
III. Form-Based Regulations and Response to Planning Board and City Council Comments
The MSN Plan’s form-based regulations are designed to shape the form of the public and private physical environment and the use of land to create a mixed-use, mixed-income neighborhood that is pedestrian, bicycle and transit friendly and supported by parks and open spaces, neighborhood-serving retail and commercial and light industrial uses and diverse housing types that are affordable to a range of incomes. Major revisions to the Plan in response to Planning Board and City Council comments include changes related to affordable and workforce housing regulations (discussed further below), neighborhood design, and historic preservation.
• Diversity in Design and Neighborhood Character
The revised MSN Plan includes the following specific requirements and standards to create diverse and interesting neighborhoods
- Requiring a blend of building types, at least two on each block;
- Allowing internal streets and alleys within the grid to curve or turn to add interest;
- Permitting a variety of building heights from two stories in the Historic District up to four stories to create the desired scale, intensity of use and sense of place within the MSN;
- Inclusion of assisted living as a conditional use;
- Encouraging all mixed-use buildings fronting the Central Gardens to provide ground floor retail and commercial spaces to promote interaction with the park uses and to activate the area surrounding the park; and
- Requiring all new building or renovation projects in the plan area to comply with the City’s Universal Design and Visitability Ordinance, when adopted.
§ Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District Infill Guidelines
The MSN Plan is designed to ensure that new infill development and building placements are consistent with the character-defining features of the portion of the Naval Air Station Alameda Historic District (Historic District) that overlap with the Main Street Neighborhood and the Secretary of Interior’s Standards for Rehabilitation, specifically in regards to siting, historic materials, features, scale, massing, proportion, and landscaping. Based on comments from the Planning Board and City Council, the MSN guidelines now make clear that the Historic Infill Guidelines are limited to the replacement of the five existing non-historic buildings within the beehive portion of the Historic District and replacement of a small number of NCO Quarters at the east end of Corpus Christie Road. The guidelines do not facilitate new construction in and around the historic structures, except for where there is a missing element in the historic fabric.
IV. Consolidation and Replacement of Supportive Housing Community
One of the MSN Plan’s primary purposes is to provide the framework for the public and private realms of the MSN to enable the existing Collaborating Partners to consolidate their existing communities into a new supportive housing community that will meet the needs of its residents now and into the future. The approval of the MSN Plan with the Collaborating Partner’s preferred location included, will be the first step in a series of public processes to meet that goal.
The MSN Plan recommends a process and implementation strategy for infrastructure financing, disposition and development of the Collaborating Partner’s supportive housing community and other market rate development. The strategy would need City Council review, input and approval at multiple steps before moving forward. The steps would include:
- Negotiating a Disposition and Development Agreement with the Collaborating Partners for the development of the preferred location and the exact number of units;
- Conducting a feasibility analysis to determine the number of market rate housing units, consistent with the planning documents for Alameda Point, necessary to support the cost of infrastructure of the south of West Midway Avenue area, including the Collaborating Partner’s preferred site;
- Issuing an RFQ for developers to construct the required market rate housing and infrastructure; and
- Negotiating a Disposition and Development Agreement (DDA) with the market rate developer.
The Planning Board would review and approve the site-specific development plans and design review applications as described in Chapter 8 of the MSN Plan (Administration and Enforcement).
V. Increased Affordability and Workforce Housing
The MSN Plan is designed to provide housing for the full range of household incomes. The Planning Board and the City Council expressed the desire for the Plan to address more explicitly affordability and the inclusion of middle-income or “workforce housing” and to encourage its development. The revised Plan includes a definition of workforce housing and standards that require all new developments to include a range of housing types to address the needs of both “affordable” housing and “workforce” housing.
The term “workforce housing” has in the past referred to housing that is affordable to professionals in careers such as teachers, nurses, and others with incomes that have not kept up with the skyrocketing housing prices, but are above that which is required to qualify for deed restricted “affordable housing”. Below is a range of housing affordability definitions in the Alameda Municipal Code (AMC):
- Very Low Income Affordable Housing is defined by the AMC Inclusionary Housing Ordinance as housing that is deed restricted to households with an income of less than 60% of the area wide median income.
- Low Income Affordable Housing is defined by the AMC Inclusionary Housing Ordinance housing that is deed restricted to households with an income of between 60% and 80% of area wide median income.
- Moderate income affordable housing is defined by the AMC as housing that is deed restricted to households with an income between 80% and 120% of area wide median income.
The AMC does not include a definition of “workforce housing”, but the Housing Land Trust Fund of San Francisco Bay defines “workforce housing” as: “Affordable housing for households with earned income that is above the income limits for deed restricted or subsidized housing, yet insufficient to secure quality housing in reasonable proximity to the workplace.”
The housing crisis in the Bay Area has resulted in a limited supply of housing for middle income families and housing costs that are in excess of the standard 30% of income required by most mortgage companies. This workforce demographic sits in the middle of the income spectrum where affordable rental and ownership housing options are in limited supply, of questionable quality and/or offer limited space for a family.
To address the needs of households earning 120% AMI or less, the MSN Plan re-states the affordable housing requirements consistent with the Renewed Hope Settlement Agreement which requires that all new developments in Alameda Point provide 25% affordable deed restricted housing according to the following income categories:
o At least 6% for very low income (50% AMI)
o At least 10% for low income (80% AMI)
o At least 9% for moderate income (120% AMI)
To provide opportunities for households with a household income above that required to qualify for deed restricted affordable housing, the MSN plan requires at least ten percent (10%) of the units be designed to be affordable to households with a household income between 120% and 180% of area wide median income, to the satisfaction of the Planning Board. To achieve this requirement the development application shall include information about current and projected home sales prices or rental rates and the proposed unit design and size to justify and explain how at least 10% of the units have been designed to be affordable to the target household income levels.
To provide some flexibility, the Planning Board may waive or reduce the 10% requirement or impose a different development requirement for projects with certain characteristics, such as:
- Providing the required deed-restricted housing units or submission of a Density Bonus Waiver;
- Undue hardship caused by geotechnical or topographical constraints, historic preservation requirements or other site size or legal constraints;
- Conflicts with State of Federal regulations;
- Providing 100% of units to lower income households; and
- Other financial feasibility constraints.