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  West Downtown Specific Plan (Proposed)

West Downtown
Specific Plan


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Citizens Advisory Committee
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Community Workshops



Next Public Meeting:
Citizens Advisory Committee
April 29, 2014
4:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Walnut Creek City Hall
Third Floor Conference Room
1666 N Main Street
Walnut Creek, CA

Contact Information:
Andrew M. Smith

Planning Division
1666 N. Main Street
Walnut Creek, CA 94596

asmith@walnut-creek.org
(925) 943-5899 x2213


Self-Guided Transit Oriented Development (TOD) Tour
Visit five Transit Oriented Developments (TODs) here in the Bay Area to see for yourself what might be possible near our own BART station! This self-guided tour will take you to the Pleasant Hill BART station (unincorporated Contra Costa County), the Redwood City Caltrain station, the San Jose Caltrain station, the Colma BART station, and the 19th Street BART station in uptown Oakland. At each location you can experience for yourself how homes, shops, and restaurants can be designed around walking, bicycling, and transit, while still respecting the surrounding existing neighborhoods.


What is the West Downtown Specific Plan?

The West Downtown Specific Plan will be a community-driven plan that defines a vision for the area and develops a regulatory framework for future development and public improvements. The Specific Plan Area is generally bounded by Ygnacio Valley Road at the north, California Boulevard at the east, Olympic Boulevard at the south, and I-680 at the west. Approximately one-third of the Plan Area is currently developed with residential uses (houses, apartments, etc.), one-third with commercial uses (offices, stores, etc.), and one-third with civic/community uses (churches, the BART station, etc.). Click here for a map of the Plan Area

This important plan will focus on making it easier to walk and bike between the BART station and downtown; and plan for new homes and businesses between Olympic Boulevard and the BART station, while preserving the Almond-Shuey neighborhood.

What has happened so far?

The City has assembled a 13-member Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) to be a voice for residents, businesses, and community groups, and to provide feedback for this community-driven plan. The CAC held its first of ten meetings on June 12, 2012, and will continue meeting through fall of 2014.

Also in June of 2012, the consultant team conducted a series of small group interviews with 27 "stakeholders" to solicit specific input on the proposed Specific Plan and the challenges and opportunities of the Plan Area. These stakeholders represented a broad cross-section of residents, business owners, land owners, service providers, developers, and community groups.

In July and August of 2012, City staff and the consultant team prepared a Plan Area Profile (1st edition - now superseded) (large file – 19mb) consisting of three main components: 1) an existing conditions report which analyzes a wide range of subject areas including land use, urban design, air quality, biology, cultural/historic resources, geology, greenhouse gas emissions, hazardous materials, noise, parking, public services (schools, police, fire, etc.), and utilities within the Plan Area; 2) an analysis of traffic and the existing transportation infrastructure within the Plan Area; and 3) a demographic and economic analysis of the Plan Area.

In August of 2012 the City hosted the first community workshop, which was attended by approximately 110 community members. City staff and the consultant team introduced the Specific Plan process, presented the some of the key findings from the Plan Area Profile, and facilitated a group exercise whereby those in attendance identified what they liked and didn't like about the Plan Area, what they would like to see change or stay the same in the future, and their key issues and desires for the Plan Area.

In September of 2012 the City was awarded additional grant funds to expand the Plan Area south from Mt. Diablo Boulevard to Olympic Boulevard, and in early October the City Council authorized this change to the Plan Area boundaries.

City staff and the consultant team updated the Plan Area Profile (expanded 2nd edition) (large file - 19mb), to include the expansion area, and held a special "catch-up" workshop in January of 2013 to give the community members of the expansion area an opportunity to provide feedback on the same subject areas that were covered in the first community workshop.

In February of 2013 the City hosted the second community workshop (third if you include the "catch-up" workshop mentioned above), which was attended by approximately 135 members of the community.  City staff and the consultant team provided a summary of the input received at the previous community workshops, and facilitated a group exercise whereby tables of 8 to 10 people each indicated on poster-sized maps of the Plan Area where they would like to see things change, and what that change should be (land uses, transportation/circulation, neighborhood character, etc.).

In July of 2013, the City hosted the third community workshop, attended by approximately 145 community members, for the purpose of reviewing three "alternative scenarios" (large file - 18mb) that had been created out of the input received at the previous community workshops. These alternative scenarios represented three possible versions of a preliminary draft plan. City staff and the consultant team facilitated another group exercise at tables of 8 to 10 community members chose which of the three alternative scenario they thought was the best starting point for a “preferred scenario” and then added items that they liked from the remaining two alternative scenarios, or new ideas altogether, so as to create their table’s own preferred scenario.  At their meeting a week later, the CAC considered the input received at the community workshop and provided initial direction to City staff and the consultants in order to create a preliminary rough draft of the preferred scenario.

Staff and the consultant then prepared the draft preferred scenario, which was then reviewed by the CAC at their August and October 2013 meetings. A major focal point for this review was the integration of transportation and land use (i.e. how the transportation network will interact with and respond to changes in land use / development). In relation to this key topic, staff and the consultant prepared a report analyzing the draft preferred scenario and its impact on traffic congestion through the year 2040. 

After making the final revisions to the preferred scenario, study sessions were held with the City Council and the Planning, Design Review, and Transportation Commissions in November and December 2013 for the purpose of providing an update and check-in at this major milestone.

In 2014 work began with the more policy-related aspects of the Specific Plan.  In February a fourth community workshop was held to discuss development standards (things such as how big and how tall buildings should be, how close/far they should be from sidewalks and property lines, how the Almond-Shuey neighborhood should be buffered, etc.), and how the streets should look and function (things like wide sidewalks, bike lanes or paths, on-street parking, trees, benches, gateway features, etc.).
 
What remains to be done?

The CAC will hold two meetings in March and April 2014 to discuss the topics covered in the February community workshop.  A Fifth community workshop is planned for May 2014 to collect input on affordable housing and anti-displacement policies, and this will be followed by an additional CAC meeting. These meetings will provide additional opportunities for community members to help shape and guide the creation of the proposed Specific Plan.

The community workshops (and associated CAC meetings) will be followed by a series of at least seven public hearings at the City Council, Planning Commission, Design Review Commission, and Transportation Commission, with final adoption of the Specific Plan expected in the spring of 2015.

Who is paying for the Specific Plan?

The preparation of the Specific Plan was made possible thanks to a $500,000 grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) through their Station Area & Land Use Planning Program. The City is also contributing $150,000 from its General Fund, plus staff time. Completion of this plan will give the community more certainty as to what the future will bring to the Plan Area, will make the City much more competitive in seeking additional grant funding to build new or upgraded infrastructure in the Plan Area, and will spur increased economic development by private land owners.

Who is working on the Specific Plan?

The Specific Plan is a community-led effort that will be based on input received through the community workshops and other public forums, and policy direction given by the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC). The project manager is Andrew (Andy) Smith in the City's Community & Economic Development Department, Planning Division. The consultant team is being lead by The Planning Center|DC&E, a California-based land use consulting firm with 35 years of experience in city planning. As part of the grant program, the City is also partnering with the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and the Bay Area Rapid Transit District (BART).

Where can I get additional information?
Click on the following links:
Citizens Advisory Committee
Community Workshops
Plan Area Profile
Community Involvement Plan

Contact:
Andrew M. Smith
Senior Planner
asmith@walnut-creek.org
(925) 943-5899 x2213

Alternate Contact:
Laura Simpson
Principal Planner
simpson@walnut-creek.org
(925) 943-5899 x2236