Blogging Bayport Alameda

April 19, 2016

Mixing it up

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

Because Alameda is moving “too fast” in the development front, meaning that it has been impossible for the current Council make up to put the kibosh on recent projects, Vice Mayor Frank Matarrese sought to have staff and the City Council to “evaluate” the Mixed Used zoning regulations.

Of course just because something is zoned as mixed use doesn’t mean that a developer can just plop down a mix of just any uses, there are lots of requirements before any ground can be broken.  From the staff report:

MX zoning district requires that prior to development of the site, the property owners/developers must prepare a “Master Plan” for the property for review by the Planning Board and approval (by ordinance) by the City Council.  To approve a Master Plan, the City Council must find that the Master Plan is consistent with the City of Alameda General Plan, and the purposes and standards of the MX Zoning District. To ensure that a Master Plan provides a mix of uses, the MX District requires that the Master Plan includes at least three different uses, one of which must be open space.

And most importantly, because all anyone really cares about is the housing aspect:

Regarding the type and mix of uses permitted in the Master Plan, the City Council has full discretion to determine the right mix of uses on each site, including the number of housing units and the amount of commercial development.

Staff does point out the issue with the mixed used designation, which mostly comes into play when a vocal constituency is super suspect of City Council staff and assume the worst:

The “downside” of the MX District’s flexibility is its lack of certainty and direction regarding current community expectations and objectives for each individual site. This lack of explicit development standards can result in uncertainty for the property owner, existing users of the property, neighbors of the property, or others concerned about the future of a site. A lack of certainty and a clear understanding of community expectations and development standards at the beginning of a master planning process can also lead to an inefficient use of private and public resources and public anxiety and concern about the wide range of potential outcomes.

And the conclusions:

Based upon the analysis above, staff concludes that:

•   The City of Alameda has a variety of land suitable for mixed use development. These areas are governed by several zoning districts.  The MX Zoning District is appropriately applied to only large, non-contiguous, waterfront sites that require customized, site specific mixed use master plans.

•    Given the limited number of sites zoned MX in Alameda, any changes to the MX zoning adopted in 2016, would govern the planning efforts for only three properties in the City: Encinal Terminals, Alameda Marina, and Shipways.

•    An effective master planning process for any MX site begins with a clear understanding of community objectives and expectations for the site.   These objectives can then be articulated and implemented through planning and development standards and requirements in the site-specific Master Plan.

To begin the planning process for Alameda Marina and Encinal Terminals, staff recommends that the City Council review and discuss the community planning goals and objectives for each site.  During the review of these goals and objectives, the City Council may also identify specific goals or objectives that should be added to, or amended, in the City of Alameda General Plan or AMC to ensure a clear statement of public expectations for each Master Plan.

Given that the mixed use zoning regulations already lend an awful lot of control to the City Council already to dictate what gets built in these zones it will be telling to see what additional specifics the City Council wants to add to the regulations.


1 Comment

  1. The web page for the agenda report is working now

    Comment by MP — April 19, 2016 @ 10:22 am

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