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| West Downtown Specific Plan (Proposed)|
|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 seven meetings on June 12, 2012, and will continue meeting through the end 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In July and August of 2012, City staff and the consultant team prepared a Plan Area Profile (1st edition - now superseded) (large file – 19mb) consisting of three main components: 1) an existing conditions report which analyzes a wide range of subject areas including land use,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.).
Under the direction of the CAC, staff and the consultant team are now working to create several "alternative scenarios" out of the input received at the community workshops. These alternative scenarios will essentially be different versions of a preliminary draft plan. The next main task in the planning process will be for the community and the CAC to narrow these alternative scenarios down to a "preferred scenario", which in turn will be used as the basis for creating the draft Specific Plan.
What remains to be done?
There will be four additional community workshops throughout the process where community members can help to shape and guide the creation of the proposed Specific Plan. The community workshops and Citizens Advisory Committee (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 December, 2014. The Specific Plan work program spells this out in greater detail.
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 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?