April 24, 2013: S.R. & Umbrella Groups Monthly Meeting Notes

1. Whistlestop Development

Andrea Osgood, Sr. Project Manager, Eden Housing and Matt Guthrie, Forster & Guthrie Architectects, gave a presentation on the status of plans for the development of the current location of Whistlestop in conjunction with the development plans for SMART. The intent is to rebuild the facility to continue to provide existing services as well as add low-cost senior housing adjacent to the planned SMART train stop and platforms. Eden Housing has been tagged by Whistlestop to be the developer and long-term owner/operator. The current plans are very preliminary and deal primarily with general spacing and usage, but not detailed facade or design. It would include up to 5 stories and have some parking, several 500-600sqft, 1-bedroom, residential units, a rooftop facility with outdoor space and meeting rooms, the existing Whistlestop Cafe and an integrated design with the SMART platform/station. No timing was provided but would be very dependent on the timing of SMART development.

2. Plan Bay Area
Paul Jensen, Community Development Director, gave a presentation on the current status of Plan Bay Area and its inpact on the City. He handed out a Fact Sheet Summary to go along with his presentation. [NOTE: this has now been updated to include the full San Rafael Planning Dept. Staff Report for the May 6, 2013 City Council meeting.] Plan Bay Area is a regional planning effort involving several agencies, including the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), Metro Transportation Commission (MTC), and others. It is charged with addressing jobs, housing, transportation, climate change and greenhouse issues, land use and urban development. Paul pointed out that the Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) for San Rafael is the biggest controlling issue of Plan Bay Area. He pointed out that the allocation given to San Rafael (roughly 1,000 additional housing units by 2040) is actually less than is in San Rafael’s current plan (1,400 housing units). He also pointed out that, while the Plan Bay Area calls for a streamlined CEQA process, San Rafael is not obligated or required to do so. So, local control is not compromised. He also said that while a CEQA exemption exists for areas immediately surrounding transportation hubs (there are two locally – at the bus/train station between 2nd and 4th) and across from the Civic Center), that exemption is not mandated. He said that there will be more full review and description of Plan Bay Area at the May 6th City Council meeting at City Hall.

3. B Street Development
A development has been proposed at the corner of 2nd and B Street to replace the current structure. A formal application was submitted by the developer to the Design Review Board in response to concerns and issues the DRB had provided the developer at a previous hearing. The developer proposes a 41-residential-unit building with parking and a small commercial unit at the first floor corner. It is intended to be 4 stories with a brick and glass facade in the current plans. The units would be 1- and 2-bedroom units with 20% (6) affordable uints. The plans take advantage of a density bonus (from 30 units to 41) that is available under State law. The DRB will review the submitted plans in open hearings (yet to be scheduled). Following that, an EIR must be prepared and reviewed. Comments were made by the attendees that the submitted plans do not seem to have been adjusted materially based on the public comments made at the earlier hearing.