Blogging Bayport Alameda

March 18, 2016

Hard work/live

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:08 am

Thought it would be a good time as any to review the work/live ordinance in Alameda.  As MI commented yesterday a 1000 sq ft work/live area wouldn’t allow for much “work” and — more likely than not — if the space is truly a maker type space even the craftsperson making custom made dolls would probably need more than 600 sq ft to (less 400 sq ft for a tiny living space) for workspace and storage for supplies and the finished product.  The likelihood of it being feasible to cram 270 – 1000 sq ft units and expect to find 270 custom dollmakers is pretty slim.

Unless of course you’re coming at the question from a position that these would be living units with “work” as a secondary use.  In the case, let’s review the ordinance which places “work” in front of “live” for a very specific reason.

At least one (1) occupant of each work/live studio shall maintain a current City of Alameda business license for a business located in that studio

But even though “work” is supposedly the primary use there is a limit to how much work can be worked on through limiting the number of non resident employees:

Up to two (2) persons who do not reside in the work/live studio may work in the studio unless such employment is expressly prohibited or limited by the use permit because of potential detrimental effects on persons living or working in the building or on commercial or industrial uses or residentially-zoned areas in the vicinity of the subject property. The employment of three (3) or more persons who do not reside in the work/live studio may be permitted subject to a use permit based on additional findings that such employment will not adversely affect traffic and parking conditions in the area where the work/live studio is located. The employment of any persons who do not reside in the work/live studio shall be subject to all applicable Building Code requirements.

So here are some of the rules that MI was talking about including requirements that interior walls be limited:

Not more than thirty (30%) percent or four hundred (400) square feet, whichever is greater, of the work/live studio shall be reserved for living space as defined in Section 30-15.3. The rest of the gross floor area of each work/live studio shall be reserved and regularly used for working space.

Areas within a work/live studio that are designated as living space shall be an integral part of the work/live studio and not separated from the work space, except that mezzanines and lofts may be used as living space subject to compliance with other provisions of this Article. Examples of ways to integrate the work space and living space in compliance with this section include, but are not limited to, the following:
Doors or solid walls between the work space and areas used for living space do not extend all the way to the ceiling, except for sanitary facilities and rooms used primarily for sleeping,
There is a single entrance to the work/live studio,
There are no walls separating the food preparation area from the work space,
Only the sanitary facilities and rooms designated for sleeping are enclosed and all other portions of the living area are not separated from the work space.

But here is the kicker that makes the number of units even possible in Building 8 limited:

There shall not be less than two thousand (2,000) square feet of lot area for each work/live studio.

Much like Measure A you must have one work/live unit per 2000 sq ft.  It’s not immediately obvious how large the lot size of Building 8 is.  It’s not 270,000 because that’s spread over three stories, there’s some parking around the physical building, but let’s just say, generously, that it’s 150,000 sq ft which I think is more than there is, at most, given the Measure A like requirement, there could only be 75 units.  It’s not immediately clear if the density bonus could apply to waive the lot area requirement, but between that part and the parking requirements (1.5 spaces per work/live unit) it becomes less and less of a desirable “flip” per Trish Spencer’s comments.


1 Comment

  1. sorry, as per my comment yesterday, you’d have saw dust on your food, but not on your bed. Maybe somebody should show some leadership here and draft a realistic work/live ordinance which is aimed at making them viable instead of impossible. Removing sq foot limitations altogether would allow for fewer spaces over all and therefore less cars wouldn’t it? The rules about number of employees could use some tweaking too, although you could make a rule that they all have to live in Alameda and bike to work.

    Comment by MI — March 18, 2016 @ 7:45 am

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