Blogging Bayport Alameda

February 5, 2019

A 2 story assisted living center in the hand…

Filed under: Alameda — Lauren Do @ 6:05 am

You know what I really don’t like?  I really hate when groups use CEQA as a cudgel because they are unable to get what they really want at the bargaining table.  This is not the first time that we’ve seen a union go after a hotel project because the hotel project would not agree to whatever sort of agreement that is being sought.  We’ve seen the hospitality workers union use CEQA and BCDC against a few projects in Alameda, but for this particular project near the Harbor Bay Ferry it’s the construction workers instead.

As an aside, the hospitality workers union just showed up against the Holiday Inn Express on Park Street to oppose the project because of “parking.”

And this, people, is why CEQA has such a bad rap.  It’s almost never used for what it was intended which is to identity and mitigate (if possible) against significant environmental impacts and almost always used to derail a project because someone with time and money doesn’t like a project.

Tonight, the City Council will be hearing two appeals of the already approved Marriott next to the ferry building.

Staff has already pre-empted some of the appeal arguments including the claim that the building is not appropriately sized for the area:

The project site is located within the C-M-PD, Commercial Manufacturing – Planned Development zoning district and designated as Business Park by the General Plan. The C-M-PD zone allows hotel uses and buildings up to 100 feet in height by right.

The appellant argues that the size of the project is “inappropriate” for the site, despite the fact that it meets all of the site development standards:

• The development standards allow for a 100 foot tall building, and the proposed building is 72 feet at its highest point.

• The development standards allow up to 120,257 square feet of floor area on this site, and the proposed hotel and restaurant buildings cumulatively include 119,990 square feet of floor area.

• The development standards require a 25 foot setback from the Shoreline Park property line, and the proposed project provides a 35 foot setback.

Conclusion: The proposed design is consistent with the requirements of the Zoning Ordinance, General Plan, and the Harbor Bay Planned Development.

Also the appeals claim that the City failed to take into consideration more environmental impacts, even though an EIR was already prepared and adopted.  From the staff report:

The proposed project modifications do not represent a “substantial change” to the project that would require major revisions to the EIR. The information in the record as a whole shows there are no new significant environmental effects or a substantial increase in the severity of previously identified significant effects associated with the proposed project modifications.

Despite the fact that the Business Park public roadway and park networks were built to accommodate 4.1 million square feet of commercial development and 100 foot buildings, due to regional and local market conditions, the actual amount of commercial development that has been developed in the business park is far less than the 4.1 million square feet originally planned (approximately 2.75 million  square feet), and many of the types of businesses that have been established in the business park (manufacturing and distribution) have not generated the numbers of employees originally envisioned from the planned office buildings, therefore the number of vehicle trips generated by the business park is far less than originally planned.

It’s sort of silly to ask for a whole new EIR when the whole of the Harbor Bay Business Park hasn’t even been developed to the extent that it originally set out to develop when the EIR was performed.

I bet the neighbors against this project are really wishing they had allowed the two story senior assisted living center to move forward.

10 Comments »

  1. Maybe the next step will be getting an “Open Space” initiative on the ballot.

    Comment by Mike McMahon — February 5, 2019 @ 7:43 am

  2. From what I’m hearing on NextDoor, the crux of the opposition’s complaint isn’t that the plan is not in compliance with the development standards, but that development standards themselves are outdated – specifically that the EIR is over 30 years old.

    Comment by Jason B — February 5, 2019 @ 7:45 am

    • EIRs don’t need to be updated if there isn’t a compelling reason to do so. The prepared EIR was for more square footage and more homes than was actually developed so the impact of this development is still well under the impacts analyzed in the EIR. All recent projects have been assessed under the old EIR, including two hotel projects. It would bring up an issue of fairness if this project is asked to meet a different standard.

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 5, 2019 @ 8:03 am

  3. Even if the business park hotel is approved, it still has to be approved by BCDC and there seems to be a genuine question whether it meets BCDC’s standards for setback from the shoreline….

    Comment by Jon Spangler — February 5, 2019 @ 9:33 am

    • If that’s the case BCDC should have let the City know before this process has gotten so far, it would be unprofessional and unethical to allow a project to get to this state if the intent was for BCDC to oppose all along.

      Comment by Lauren Do — February 5, 2019 @ 9:39 am

    • Developers are building what is supposed to be a very attractive and rather large hotel on the waterfront in Jack London Square. Literally right up to the water. BCDC shot it down, but only because it needed public access for the waterfront area, so the plan is being re-worked for approval. So I can’t imagine this one getting rejected, given that it’s set back even further at 35 feet and there’s already a public trail in front. I’ve found it’s rare for the BCDC to deny permits, and are often dragged in by NIMBYs to try and slow down a process. In fact, the NIMBYs got the BCDC involved for the McKay Wellness Center as well, but it’s set back 200 feet and behind 1 or 2 parcels.

      Comment by Jason B — February 5, 2019 @ 10:01 am

      • Jason, is that the NIMBYs, or the FOCCERs. ?

        Comment by JohnP.TrumpisnotmyPresident. — February 5, 2019 @ 12:24 pm

        • All FOCCers are NIMBYs but not all NIMBYs are FOCCers!

          Comment by Rod — February 5, 2019 @ 1:09 pm

  4. Bull Shit!

    A CEQA lawsuit is responsible for the only affordable housing built in Alameda in the last 30 years.

    The lack of a CEQA lawsuit resulted in the demolition of 200 affordable housing units in Alameda for fire fighter training.

    I hope the Union prevails.

    Comment by Gerard L. — February 6, 2019 @ 5:45 pm


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