The City Council decided Tuesday to not approve a nine-unit residential project in the Almond/Shuey as currently planned. Instead, the council said the developer should go back to the Planning Commission and work on ways to provide more parking to residents on this half-acre site, at the Oakland Boulevard edge of the neighborhood.
The project involved nine homes that were to be built on an oddly shaped lot at the corner of Oakland Boulevard and Almond Avenue. Most of the homes would be detached, and on their own lots, including one that will consist of a duplex. Most of the homes are two-bedroom, ranging from two to three stories, and between 1,400 and 1,900 square feet. The project has been debated and discussed since 2004.
The Planning Commission approved the current plans, but not unanimously. Four commissioners praised the the developer for making several concessions and revisions to reduce its density (from 12 units to nine). Two commissioners said “no,” based on continuing concerns about insufficient onsite parking, access to the homes, and traffic issues.
With regard to concerns about density and parking, Almond/Shuey resident Tom O’Brien, who spoke at Tuesday night's meeting and has written about the project on his own website, says these “tightly-packed” homes are of a higher density than zoning permits in that neighborhood.
As I reported earlier this week, with a guest commentary by O'Brien, O'Brien has pointed out that each of these homes would feature a double-master bedroom design. As he writes on his website: “The developer has stated that one target market he has identified for the homes is young professionals who need to take in a roommate to afford their first home. Since it is reasonable to assume that a number of these homes will be occupied by unrelated adults, each of whom is likely to own a car - the neighbors believe that at least two parking spaces should be provided per unit. Throughout the hearings, staff has indicated that only 1.5 spaces per unit are called for, per the BART Proximate Parking
At Tuesday's meeting, council members also expressed concerns about the project's density and the parking issue, according to minutes from the meeting. Mayor Pro Tem Sue Rainey said the project looks "very crowded," while Councilmember Bob Simmons noted the neighbors' concerns about parking. He commended the developer for doing a fine job with a difficult site, but wondered if it is entirely consistent with the character of this historic neighborhood. Finally, Mayor Gary Skrel stated he is fine with there being nine units on the site, but said that 18 parking spaces should be a requirement.