Planning Board signs off on (most of) Del Monte plan

Planning Board signs off on (most of) Del Monte plan

Michele Ellson
Del Monte warehouse

A plan to build 414 new homes in and around an historic Del Monte warehouse all but sailed through the Planning Board on Monday, though Planning Board members voted to hold off on okaying a required traffic management plan until some fixes are made.

The City Council is expected to consider approving the project on November 18.

“Overall, this is a really well thought out, sensitive design,” Planning Board president David Burton said ahead of a series of 5-0 votes to move project plans forward (Board members Stanley Tang and Lorre Zuppan were absent Monday).

Some of the Del Monte’s neighbors said they fear plans to require its new residents to purchase or lease parking will push more vehicles onto streets where they said parking is already at a premium.

“Giving people the choice of buying a $30,000 indoor parking spot, a $20,000 outdoor parking spot or parking on the street for free, which do you think they’ll choose?” said Allison Greene of PLAN! Alameda, the neighborhood group that formed to address concerns about the development proposal.

But Planning Board members said they felt the plans are a critical element of their effort to reduce the amount of traffic the development will generate.

“We all have different ideas of what the appropriate number of parking spaces are,” board member John Knox White said.

By and large, residents who spoke Monday said they’re in favor of redeveloping the Del Monte, but some said they thought the plan contained too many housing units and should be pared down. In addition to parking concerns, many questioned whether the proposed plan to limit traffic generated by the development would be effective.

One resident noted that development plans for about 1,000 new homes are at various stages of consideration and development along a 20-acre stretch of the Northern Waterfront, while homebuilding at nearly 800 acres of Alameda Point is planned to be capped at about 1,400 new units. Another, Debra Arbuckle, said earlier plans for the building called for a quarter of the housing units now being contemplated.

Planning Board members said they supported the concept of a traffic management plan but that the plan as presented needs some tweaks. Knox White said he’s not comfortable with the idea of selling parking because it could force people to commit to driving and that he wants more of a sense of who will have access to the shuttles that will be provided with the development and how they will fit in with the existing Cross Estuary Shuttle to and from Oakland and another run for the Alameda Landing development.
The nonprofit transportation management agency created to oversee transportation spending for the development will ultimately encompass other developments on the Northern Waterfront, including the Marina Shores project and planned development at Encinal Terminals.

Some speakers question the utility of AC Transit passes residents of the Del Monte development would receive as the bus agency eliminated a line that once ran along Buena Vista Avenue. But an AC Transit representative said the transit agency is excited about the development and is interested in working with developer Tim Lewis Communities and the city to “provide a one-seat commute” to San Francisco.

Board members sought clearer language laying out the developer’s responsibility for building 55 units of housing affordable to lower income families. Knox White said the city had trouble getting developers of one project who were allowed to hold off on building affordable units to make good on the commitment.

And residents asked whether the city would be able to ensure completion of a planned extension of Clement Avenue, which will require the developer or city to acquire a piece of Wind River’s property and passage through another property owned by Pennzoil. City Planner Andrew Thomas said the city is in “active discussions” with both property owners and that Wind River is seeking appraisals on its parcel, though language in the city’s draft development agreement with Tim Lewis seems to suggest it could seek to take the property through eminent domain if negotiations end without a deal.

Tim Lewis acquired the five-acre warehouse, which sits at the corner of Buena Vista Avenue and Sherman Street, after its longtime owner, Peter Wang, went bankrupt. The homebuilder wishes to construct 308 lofts, townhomes and flats that range from studios to three-bedroom units, plus 30,000 square feet of retail space in the building and another 106 units adjacent to it. About two-thirds of the units in the building will be single-story and accessible to seniors and people with disabilities.

Thomas said the project is expected to cost $100 million to construct and will likely take two to three years to complete, though the draft development agreement gives the developer up to 15 years to build.

Housing advocates cheered the proposal, as did longtime Del Monte neighbors like Nick Cabral, who expressed eagerness to move forward with the project and said the costs to fix the building go up every time a development proposal there is delayed.

In addition to shuttles and bus passes, the development is expected to contain a cycle track and bike parking and to be pedestrian friendly, all in a bid to reduce car usage. Residents of market-rate units will pay $350 a year plus an annual cost increase for transit services, while commercial property owners will pay 55 cents per square foot.

The developer is also expected to commit $2 million in cash and services toward Jean Sweeney Open Space Park development, and another $3.5 million in parks impact fees, plus $1.2 million in development impact fees for infrastructure, public safety and other items.


Submitted by Paul Price (not verified) on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

Alameda is becoming a not so small town . IT Is Losing the One CHARM We Had Over All Other Bay Area cities. Forcing people to pay for parking to that extreme puts the Lame in Alameda.

Submitted by Shelia (not verified) on Wed, Sep 24, 2014

Bringing back the 19 bus would help. I loved that bus route & miss it everyday! What age is the senior housing, 55 or 62 & is some of it low income?