Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Estudillo/Bancroft Avenues Re-Zoning Update

Here is an update on the re-zoning issue along Estudillo and Bancroft Avenues that I have mentioned in earlier posts.

As background, City staff originally proposed to re-zone about 20 properties from their current designation of P or Professional office space (limited to 30 feet in height) to DA-2 or Downtown Area 2 (which includes mixed-use housing of up to 50 feet in height) in conjunction with the City's General Plan Update.
Many of us objected to the re-zoning as inappropriate in height, use and density for properties in or close to a residential neighborhood. Mayor Pauline Cutter heard our concerns and took action. As a result, staff modified their recommendation. 

In a memo to the City Council that was shared with the public last week, Cynthia Battenberg, the City's Community Development Director, stated, "Following community input, staff is recommending that the P Professional zoning for the Downtown East area (the approximately 20 parcels on Estudillo Avenue and Bancroft Avenue) not be changed to DA-2 Downtown Area 2. The proposed changes to the Professional Use Regulations would allow multi-family and mixed use residential at a density of 24 units per acre as a Conditionally Permitted Use (CUP) and the existing 30 foot height limit would remain. The staff report and tonight’s presentation has been updated accordingly."

I wanted to better understand the process that would unfold should a developer wish to demolish an office building on one of these 20 parcel and replace it with a multi-family, mixed-use residential building.  I sent an email message to Ms. Battenberg asking if a developer would have to take his/her plans to the Board of Zoning Adjustments (BZA) - with notice provided to the community - for a hearing at which the BZA would approve, deny or modify the plan? Such a review process is critical to ensuring the neighbors are aware of and their views are taken into account before any project is approved.

Ms. Battenberg's answer to my question is "yes." This is specifically what she stated:

"Multi-family development in the P Professional District is a conditionally permitted use ["CPU"]. Projects that require CUPs are presented to the Board of Zoning Adjustments for approval/denial. The BZA would also approve Conditions of Approval for a project. Project notification is sent to all properties within 500 feet of the site and interested parties. 

In the case of 1300-1380 Bancroft Avenue, notification would also be sent to the interested parties list that we have established that includes individuals who have provided input on the proposed Zoning Code revisions. Prior to the Public Hearing to approve/deny, a BZA work session would be held in order for the developer to present the project and hear feedback from the BZA and community. Notification would also be provided for the work session."

Thank you again to Mayor Cutter and everyone that stepped forward and spoke up concerning this matter. 

I recognize that some may continue to object to the revised staff recommendation. You have the right to speak out and let the City Council hear your views at upcoming meetings. I am supportive of the revised recommendation, though ideally I wish the property would be developed as for sale townhouses. 

You can learn more about the General Plan Update and review key documents at http://www.sanleandro2035.org 

The City Council will be reviewing the General Plan and Zoning Code changes at two meetings in July, starting on July 5th. The vote on whether to adopt the General Plan and Zoning Code changes will occur in the Fall.

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