Alameda Point Explained: Where you come in
Alameda Point Explained: Where you come in
The city is in the midst of a massive planning effort at Alameda Point intended to prepare the city to consider actual development plans for the former Naval Air Station as soon as next year. It’s a departure from the planning efforts of the past decade, which were led by developers who had their own plans for the Point, but city staffers say it’s not an unusual tack for the city to take (Alameda Point Chief Operating Officer Jennifer Ott likened it to the just-completed city-led planning effort for Alameda’s former Auto Row, on north Park Street). City leaders hope to take title to much of the property – which the Navy still owns – by this summer, and environmental cleanup is slated to continue for several more years.
As part of its planning effort, the city is reaching out to a laundry list of government, business and community groups for their input, and also to the public at large. So what’s being discussed where, and when and how can you weigh in? To find out, read on. (Note: Timelines are approximate; we’ll update you as meeting dates where these items will be discussed are set.)
What’s happened already: The Planning Board – which is effectively vetting the planning documents to be presented to the City Council for its approval at the end of this year or in early 2014 – kicked off this latest effort in January, asking the public what potential impacts of Point development should be studied in an environmental impact report and approving a community engagement strategy. The Planning Board okayed a vision statement for the Point earlier this month.
May: Draft zoning ordinance amendment
What it is: The Planning Board will discuss a draft of the rules that will govern the types of development that will be allowed out in the six different subareas local planners have divided Alameda Point into. The former Navy base is currently zoned for manufacturing use, and Ott says the city will seek to redo that zoning to accommodate a mixed-use development containing housing, commercial and retail development and parks that is spelled out in the city’s 1996 Community Reuse Plan, the community-drafted and Navy-approved vision for redevelopment of the base.
Where you come in: City staffers have broken Alameda Point down into six subdistricts – residential, employment, historic reuse, open space, maritime and a town center. During this discussion, you'll have the chance to weigh in on, specific development types for each of the subdistricts – for example, whether you’d like to see apartment buildings in the residential area, industrial development in the employment zone or big-box stores in the town center (though that portion of the development will be the focus of a separate discussion; see below). People can also weigh in on whether roads and parks are in the right places. “It’s kind of like the first stab at the look and feel of each of these neighborhoods at Alameda Point,” Ott said this week.
June: Town Center precise plan – street and building framework
What it is: Next up is a study session intended to inform planning for a proposed Town Center, which city planners see as the key to revitalizing Alameda Point. The plan – which is being designed by a team of consultants whose contract the City Council approved on April 16 – will tell a future developer or developers what can be built in different areas of the Town Center. For example, the plan would spell out what type of development is permitted in different areas around Seaplane Lagoon, which could sport an industrial use near the MARAD ships and a promenade or restaurants elsewhere. It will also contain details like what types of buildings that will be permitted and what the streetscapes should look like.
Where you come in: City planners have some draft concepts for the proposed Town Center district, and they want your feedback on those, along with any ideas you may have about what should be built where. That feedback will be incorporated into the consultant-generated plan, a draft of which should be ready for the public’s consideration later this year.
June: Draft master infrastructure plan
What it is: Perhaps one of the least sexy but most important pieces of planning work that the city’s planners will be doing to support future Alameda Point development is figuring out where roads and utilities need to go and when – and also, where the money to pay for them will come from.
Where you come in: Ott says this presentation will be largely informational, though people can ask questions about the plan, and about how it will address things like sea level rise and shoreline stabilization.
July or August: Draft environmental impact report
What it is: Before a single house or commercial building can be constructed on the Point, the city has to conduct a study that analyzes environmental and other impacts the development could have. The list includes impacts on air, noise, traffic, wildlife and more. The report also examines the impact of alternatives to the proposed development plan; EIRs typically include a no-build alternative and an "environmentally superior" alternative.
Where you come in: Once the draft report is out, the public typically has between 30 and 60 days to weigh in on whether it adequately studied the anticipated Point development’s impacts on anything from traffic into the Tubes to the birds that use the Point as a migratory stopover. Your comments – and the city’s responses – are included in the final environmental report, and they could be the basis of further consideration or even project changes.
September: Draft town center precise plan
What it is: A draft of the aforementioned plan for the proposed Town Center at Alameda Point is expected to be ready for the public’s perusal in September.
Where you come in: You’ll have a second chance to weigh in on what should go where in the proposed Town Center, this time with the draft plan in hand.
October, November, December: Crunch time
What happens now: All of the planning documents that have been drafted over these past several months – the zoning rules, the Town Center plan, the infrastructure plan and the environmental impact report – will be considered by the city’s boards and commissions, and final edits will be made. The final versions will go to the Planning Board for their blessing before heading to the City Council for approval, which is anticipated to happen in December or in January 2014.
Where you come in: You can be a part of this final editing process by offering your thoughts on the planning documents at board and commission meetings and to the Planning Board.