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HAUSER "CREEKSIDE" RESIDENTIAL/MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT PROJECT

GLOBAL VIDEO SITE - 5132 TELEGRAPH

News in reverse chronological order

December 8, 2008: Planning Commission Approves Creekside Project After Changes

Despite opposition from the Rockridge Community Planning Council and STAND (Standing Together for Accountable Neighborhood Development), the Oakland Planning Commission voted 5-0 to approve the 102 unit Creekside Mixed-use Project. This project, slated for the former site of the Global Video store at the intersection of Telegraph and Claremont Avenues, has been “in the pipeline” for nearly two years.

For the past six months, RCPC, along with the FROG Park Committee, other community organizations, and property owners, has been participating in a stakeholder process organized by the project applicant, Hauser Architects of San Francisco. The process has led to some improvements: The project shrank from 117 to 102 units; one story was removed, reducing the building height from 65 to 55 feet; additional commercial street frontage has been added on Claremont Avenue; the faux creek and walkway have been revised to meet FROG Park concerns; more clearance has been added between the new building and the adjoining Claremont Towers apartment building, allowing those units better access to light and air; and arrangements have been made for evening valet parking to address potential parking shortfalls if, as expected, one or more restaurants occupy the project’s commercial space.

RCPC certainly appreciates these changes for the better. Nevertheless, the project represents one more insult to the existing zoning for the area and will add to the already congested local traffic and parking situation. Indeed, in approving the project, the Planning Commission was forced to adopt a “statement of overriding considerations” acknowledging that the project would cause “significant and unavoidable traffic impacts.”

While the City is requiring the applicant to prepare a transportation demand management plan intended to reduce traffic impacts, there are no requirements on what that plan must accomplish. RCPC proposed specific benchmarks for reducing the project’s traffic and parking impacts, but the Planning Commission brushed those aside. Only newly-appointed Commissioner Sandra Gálvez expressed concern about the project’s potential parking impacts. No other commissioner supported her concern.

This project approval represents one more setback in trying to enforce livable standards for the Rockridge area. RCPC is hopeful that the planned update to the zoning ordinance will put in place more desirable and predictable regulations that preclude the Planning Commission from disregarding the established standards for Rockridge.

November 8, 2008: The Creekside project will be heard by the Planning Commission on Wednesday, November 19, 6pm, City Hall. RCPC concerned about numerous variances for this project.Project applicant Hauser Architects has further redesigned this project, in part because the most recent proposal did not pencil out with financing agents. The revision increases the project’s bulk slightly by enlarging the size of the recessed fifth story, but keeps the project height at 55 feet. It also reduces the project from 103 to 102 units, while increasing the average size of the units.

The Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) for the project was released and may be found here. Hauser plans to request City approval of this newly-revised plan and consideration for approval of the EIR. The project is going to the Planning Commission for a formal public hearing and possible approval on November 19 (see Planning Commission agenda).

The RCPC Land Use Committee voted unanimously to recommend opposing the project because it fits neither the zoning nor the neighborhood. The RCPC board will consider that recommendation at its November 6 meeting. The final project plans will be presented at RCPC’s November Town Hall Meeting. Concerned Rockridge residents are urged to attend that meeting and the Planning Commission public hearing to have their say on this large and important project on the border of Rockridge.

October 10, 2008: RCPC concerned about traffic, parking, visual and shadowing impacts not included in DEIR. Latest project plan undergoing further revisions.

Hauser Architects' August 2008 Creekside alternative proposal is undergoing further revisions. To secure financing, the unit sizes will need to be increased although the unit count decreased of 103 will remain the same. The current 55' building height along Telegraph and Claremont Avenues will be retained, as will the increased setback from neighboring apartment building Claremont Towers. However, the Clarke Street frontage will likely be increased in height, which could increase shadowing impacts on neighboring Redondo Park.  Revised plans are to be released in the coming week.  Please check back for updated plans.

RCPC and other community groups detailed concerns about the DEIR analysis in their comment letters to the City. Among those concerns are: inadequate pedestrian mitigations, inadequate parking provisions, the unstudied “yield” intersection of 51 and 52 Streets, vehicle and pedestrian safety impacts at the 52nd Street/Shattuck Ave. intersection, "no impacts" on Redondo Park, and building shadow impacts on both Claremont Towers and the Park. For a fuller description, view the letters.

The City expects to release a final EIR, including responses to comments, by mid-November, and the project could go to the Planning Commission for public hearing final approval by late November.

September 21, 2008: DEIR comments due Sept. 29, RCPC seeks community feedback on latest proposal

 Written comments on the DEIR may be submitted to the City up until September 29.

Hauser Architects, the project applicant, is seeking support for its revised project design, which now includes 103 residential units plus first floor retail on Telegraph and Claremont.  Parking is to be accommodated through shared commercial and residential spaces, with valet commercial parking as a back-up solution.  The design incorporated a 20 foot wide walkway between Creekside and the adjoining approved, but not yet built, Civiq project, with a faux creek running through it.  While less bulky than the earlier design, the new project design still requires a major variance for height as well as variances for setbacks and shared parking.  RCPC continues to have concerns, but seeks feedback from the community about the acceptability of this alternative. 

September 10, 2008: Rockridge News DEIR released public comments due September 29, Creekside plans undergo revisions

The Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for this large mixed-use project on the Rockridge/Temescal border has been released. Copies are available at the City’s planning department (250 Frank Ogawa Plaza, Suite 3315) and may be viewed online on the City’s website. RCPC has also placed a copy at the Rockridge Library for residents’ reference.

Written comments on the DEIR may be submitted to the City up until September 29.

The Planning Commission held a public hearing to receive oral comments on the DEIR on September 3. RCPC reiterated its concerns about the project’s impacts on Rockridge, and asked that the City consider adding analysis of the new project alternative (see below).

Responding to input from a group of stakeholder representatives that had been meeting to talk about the project, the developer has come up with an alternative project design to address some of the community’s concerns. Project modifications include removing the project’s density bonus units and reducing its height by one story, increasing step-backs from the neighboring Claremont Towers apartment building, and including a “faux creek” along the walkway between this project and the already-approved (but not-yet-built) Civiq project.