STAND's response to Proposed Zoning Guidelines

Responses to Claudia Cappio

In February (updated in March and April), Director of Planning Claudia Cappio released a set of recommended zoning changes and design guidelines for Telegraph Ave. (from 40th St. to the Berkeley border) and parts of the Temescal neighborhood of North Oakland.

Zoning regulations are point by point codes in the zoning law. Design Guidelines provide the guidelines, a kind of big picture overview for the area, with which the zoning regulations should comply. See link at end of zoning guidelines here for Design Guidelines.

---- STAND's Response to the City's Proposed SD Special District Combining Zone Regulations ----


Following are STAND’s responses to the City of Oakland Planning Staff's proposed SD Special District Combining Zone Regulations (which Staff revised in April 2007). As these are point-by-point comments, it will be useful for you to refer to Staff's proposal and accompanying zoning map revisions. To request a copy of these documents, e-mail city planner, Neil Gray, at ngray[at] You can learn quite a bit from just reading the documents here, however.

Portions from the proposed Zoning Regulations excerpted for response are in white.

STAND’s responses are in red.

17.101.010 002 Title, purpose, and applicability.

STAND’s Response: As a broad statement of the intent of these zoning changes, the list is insufficient. The following purposes should be added:

• Zoning is intended to make it possible for families of all sizes and make-ups to live in Temescal by ensuring that new projects provide a range of unit sizes and types.

• Zoning is intended to preserve Temescal’s existing rental housing.

• Zoning is intended to promote cultural and economic diversity in Temescal, including retention and creation of truly affordable housing.

• Zoning is intended to ameliorate the effects of global warming.

• Zoning is intended to ensure the eventual daylighting of Temescal Creek by prohibiting building on top of the culvert, ensuring that an adequate creek right-of-way is provided for eventual full restoration, and requiring developers to daylight the creek/culvert to some degree and incorporate it as a public amenity into the project.

Omitting “the cultural, aesthetic, and economic value of the structures and sites within the neighborhood with special importance due to historical association or basic architectural merit” removes important, defining language, particularly in regard to Temescal’s historic character. Without this more specific language, the statement of the intent is reduced to an empty catch phrase. The purpose should clearly emphasize the importance of preserving and building upon Temescal’s historic features as a way of enhancing the neighborhood’s distinctiveness and contributing to the commercial district’s economic vitality.

That said, we agree with the purpose, “to preserve and enhance the Temescal Corridor as a visually distinct neighborhood,” and want to underscore the importance of fostering development that contributes to this distinctness within the entire corridor. Breaking the corridor into four subareas in which different zoning is applied contradicts this stated goal of creating a visually distinct and unified neighborhood.

17.101.040 008 Design Guidelines.

“Conformance to the “Temescal District Corridor Design Guidelines” is required for either of the following types of projects: . . .”

STAND’s Response: All new buildings need to conform to the Temescal Corridor Design Guidelines.

17.101.050 010 Special regulations regarding nonresidential facilities on the ground level of principal buildings in the SD-TEM-4 subarea.

STAND’s Response: Why is ground floor commercial no longer required on Telegraph above 52nd St.? Why is it not required on Short Shattuck?

STAND’s position is that ground floor commercial should be required in all SD-TEM subareas. This is based in part on the community’s desire, in establishing C-28 zoning, to foster a consistent zone of mixed-use development along Telegraph Ave.; feedback we have received from residents in the short Shattuck and upper Telegraph areas; and with the understanding that as more intense residential development occurs along Temescal’s corridors, additional ground floor, neighborhood-serving businesses will 1) offer needed services to residents; 2) increase pedestrian use; and 3) contribute to the long-term vitality of the district.

A.2. A prominent entrance feature facing either Shattuck or Telegraph Avenues;

STAND’s Response: Keep the requirement for both ground floor commercial and prominent entrance features facing Shattuck in both the SD-TEM-1 and SD-TEM-4 subareas for the following additional reasons:

1) As the proposed map (#6) is drawn, the SD-TEM-4 subarea already includes portions of the east side of Shattuck. Wouldn’t all projects in this subarea be expected to meet the same zoning requirements?

2) According to the map (#6), SD-TEM-1, which includes Shattuck Ave., from 47th St. to 50th St., is designated by the General Plan as Neighborhood Center Mixed Use, which is the same category applied to Telegraph from 40th St. to 52nd St. Why would areas with the same designation not have the same requirement of ground floor commercial/mixed use.

3) In public meetings with the developers of Temescal Plaza (Walgreens), the community was consistent in not wanting the project to “turn its back” on Shattuck Ave. As a result, the developer provided a Shattuck Ave. entrance to the post office, and the public art component was located on the Shattuck St. side of the development.

4) Historically, most of short Shattuck has been commercial, and more businesses, not fewer, are needed to support the existing businesses on Shattuck that are trying to survive.

5) Despite claims by developers to the contrary, a thriving Temescal business community can support commercial corridors on both Telegraph and Shattuck, as it has done in the past.

B. On Telegraph Avenue in the SD-TEM-4 subarea, . . . limited . . . Community Assembly Civic Activity, Community Education Civic Activity . . .

STAND’s Response: What are examples of Community Assembly Civic Activity, Community Education Civic Activity? Why limit them? Since certain activities can be prohibited or limited, can the zoning regulations also specifically identify uses that the community would like to encourage?

Overall, these proposed regulations seem to place an emphasis on retail. However, ground floor commercial along Temescal’s corridors should not be limited to retail or residential. Long-term sustainability of the neighborhood requires that other kinds of businesses, such as professional offices, also be located along these corridors. Having a wide variety of businesses on the corridors will provide a range of needed services and goods for district residents, create more local job opportunities, and further promote pedestrian use.

17.101.060 012 Maximum residential density.

B. The following table contains the maximum number of residential units allowed per lot for the each of the sub-subareas.

STAND’s Response: New projects above a designated number of units should provide for a range of family sizes by offering a range of unit sizes and types, from studios to three or more bedrooms, at percentages that mirror the city’s demographics as a whole.

Typo: remove the word “the”: “allowed per lot for the each of the sub-subareas.”

B. Note 2. The permitted density may be exceeded by not more than 10 percent for a lot that is either: 1) on a street corner, or 2) faces or abuts a public park at least as wide as the lot.

STAND's Response: STAND opposes density bonuses. However, to for the sake of clarification, how is width (of the park) defined? Would Staff apply this bonus to the Global site development with respect to the proposed Greenbelt extension?

B. Note 3. See 17.44101.016210 for a conditionally permitted thirty (30) percent density bonus for certain projects.

STAND’s Response: For reasons stated below, density bonuses should not be allowed under any circumstances. Instead, other forms of incentives (such as reduced transfer taxes) should be made available to developers in exchange for a meaningful level of public benefits. In no case should the provision of public benefits by a developer be traded for a height or setback variance anywhere in the SD-Temescal Corridor Combining Zone.

17.101.070 014 Maximum Height.

B. The following regulations correspond to the height map shown in subsection D.


Area designation on height map





Permitted maximum height

45 ft

35 ft

1, 235 ft

Conditionally permitted maximum height

55 ft

45 ft

1, 2, 345 ft

STAND’s Response: Additional height translates into additional density, which translates into additional impacts on traffic, pedestrian safety, on-street parking, air quality, lost views, noise, privacy, street maintenance, water, sewers, fire and police services, and global warming (buildings over four stories exhibit increasing energy deficiency). The more height permitted, the higher the cost of land, which compels developers to create more units to reduce the unit price—and so the spiral continues.

For these and other reasons, including widespread community opinion that favors a 45 ft. height limit on Telegraph Ave. and other Temescal corridors, the maximum height throughout the entire SD-TEM Temescal Corridor should be 35 ft., with an additional 10 ft. permitted when stepped back, when ground floor retail height is 12 to 15 feet, and when all other requirements of a Conditional Use Permit are met. These height limits, while less than what Staff proposes, will still allow a significant increase in density as the General Plan intends.

STAND believes that long-term, sustainable planning requires that no significant public benefit be sacrificed to any other significant public benefit. Where this occurs, the community eventually will be impacted in ways that will prove even more difficult to mitigate. Therefore, STAND opposes the use of a community benefit plan as a rationale for granting developers density and height bonuses, as these bonuses on balance will result in greater negative impacts.

STAND's Questions: Putting aside the question of height bonuses, how would the proposed height limits in either Zone A or Zone B affect any current development proposals in those areas?

Would the proposed height limits supersede R-70?

B. Notes: 1. A 30 foot maximum height is permitted at the setback line associated with any rear or interior side lot line that abuts a lot in the R-1 through R-50 zones. This maximum height shall increase one foot for every foot of distance away from this setback line.

STAND’s Response: Every effort must be made to prevent impacts on neighboring properties. To ensure this:

• A minimum 15 ft. setback from the property lines of adjacent lower density residential zones should be required.

• The maximum height of new projects where they face adjoining, lower density zones should be 25 ft. Neither a 25 foot maximum height nor a one-to-one stepback should be permitted if either fails to preserve existing access to sunlight for any adjacent residential property, when measured at the winter solstice.

• In addition to standard public noticing procedures, case planners shall be required to meet with adjacent or potentially impacted property owners and residents early in the planning process to review the range of possible impacts from the proposed development and to factor their responses into the Staff report for Design Review.

• Standard public notice procedures should include story poles placed on a project site to help neighbors and others evaluate the project's height impact. The City must include local community groups in its notification and put notices in local newspapers and community newsletters. In addition to noticing property owners, the City should notice all those who can reasonably be expected to be impacted by these projects, i.e., those living and working within one-half mile of the project. Staff reports must be made available at the time the 17-day notices go out.

B. Note 2. See 17.108.030 for allowed projections above height limits and section 17.108.020 for increased height limits for civic buildings.

STAND's Question: What are these allowances and limits?

C. 1. That construction over the generally permitted maximum height includes a stepback of at least ten feet from the base of the building. This stepback shall occur over at least eighty (80) percent of the building frontage that is above the minimum height;

STAND’s Response: STAND supports encouraging variation in building heights and would support a waiver of the stepback requirement from 20% of a building frontage only if the maximum height allowed, with a CUP, is 45 ft. Otherwise, this reduction in the stepback requirement from 100% to 80% would 1) undermine the reason for establishing a stepback requirement in the first place; 2) contribute to out-of-scale, bulkier buildings along the corridors; and 3) contradict Objective 4 of the proposed Temescal Corridor Design Guidelines, which states, “Build upon historic contexts to further unify Temescal as a distinct district.”

C. 2. That the scale and massing of the proposal create a visual transition to the height, bulk, and scale of buildings on adjacent lots. . . This transition is only required to buildings that reflect a stable neighborhood context such as “neighborhood defining buildings” as identified in Section 17.101.018, newer buildings, and buildings that implement the intent of a particular site’s General Plan land use designation.

STAND’s Response: The term “stable neighborhood context” is vague. What are examples of buildings that would meet this definition? What are examples of buildings that would not meet this definition? Why should a visual transition not be provided for every building?

C. 3. That the project provides at least one of the community benefits listed in sections 17.101.016C(1) through 17.101.016C(4).

STAND’s Response: The requirement to provide only one of the listed community benefits is insufficient, particularly when no impact fees required.

17.101.16 Development Bonuses

B.1. The development has a nonresidential floor area of at least .5;

STAND’s Response: Do you mean floor area ratio of at least .5?

C. For projects in any SD-TEM combining zone subarea, the density and nonresidential floor area ratio bonuses described in 17.44.210B.5 may only be granted if a project contains at least one of the following community benefits. . .

STAND’s Response: A community benefit plan is essential and should be required by the city. However, as mentioned above, density bonuses of any kind should not be permitted; instead, other types of economic incentives should be established in exchange for developers providing a community benefit plan.

As also mentioned above, the requirement to provide only one of the listed community benefits is insufficient, particularly when currently the city does not require impact fees. STAND recommends that in addition to providing for a significant level of community benefits, developers should pay impact fees to fund local infrastructure improvements.

Additional types of benefits should include an on-street residential parking program that excludes residents of new project and is enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week; local creek and habitat restoration; and contribution to a land trust with the goal of daylighting Temescal Creek.

4.b. The fee or installation must contribute to either park improvements in the Temescal Neighborhood identified by the City of Oakland Office of Parks and Recreation or street improvements identified in the “Telegraph Avenue Pedestrian Streetscape Improvements Project” for Telegraph Avenue between 45th Street and Claremont Avenue.

STAND’s Response: Where it pertains to street improvements, priority should be given to those that specifically address traffic and pedestrian safety hazards in the immediate vicinity of the development.

4.c. The improvements must be approved by, and constructed to the satisfaction of, all applicable City agencies, including, but not necessarily limited to, the Public Works Agency.

STAND’s Response: For each project, public input must also be a part of the process that determines the appropriate kinds and levels of community benefits. The Planning Department also needs to have the resources to enforce developers’ implementation of community benefits packages as approved.

17.101.090 018 Special regulations for neighborhood character defining historic buildings.

A. Definition. A “neighborhood character defining historic building” means a building that has each of the following characteristics:

1. The building is in the Temescal District Zone (SD-TEM combining zone);

2. The building has been rated “A”, “B”, or “C” by the Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey;

3. The building has a number of desirable of several architectural elements that are common

to desirable buildings in the neighborhood.

STAND’s Response: Qualifying as a neighborhood character defining building should not require both 2 and 3, but either.

A.3. The building has a number of desirable of several architectural elements that are common to desirable buildings in the neighborhood. . .

STAND’s Response: This language is unclear. What does “a number of” mean? Who determines what a “desirable building” means? This could simply say, “The building has desirable architectural elements that contribute to the historic character of the neighborhood. . .”

What are some examples of other types of architectural elements that qualify?

A.4. The building can be feasibly incorporated into a development . . .

STAND’s Response: With the goal of preserving and enhancing Temescal’s character, all buildings that meet these requirements should be preserved, regardless of their perceived economic feasibility. Consistency with all policies of the General Plan should be enforced—including those found in the Historic Preservation Element—not just policies governing land and transportation.

That said, STAND questions how feasibility would be evaluated and determined. The process needs to be clearly defined and, in addition to requiring pro formas, involve community input and outside review, including by an independent preservation architect.

A.5. The building has distinctive and intact architectural detailing

STAND’s Response: What does “distinctive” and “intact’’ mean, and how will each be determined? “Intact” should also apply to details that are concealed but which can be restored or replaced.

B. Designation. The office of Oakland Cultural Heritage Survey . . . the Landmarks Board. The Planning Commission shall hold a public hearing on the proposal. The Planning Commission may designate as a “neighborhood character defining building” any facility, portion thereof, or group of facilities that meets the definition described in subsection A of this section.

STAND’s Response: Change “may” to “shall.” This should not be subject to the opinion or bias of a Commissioner(s). Designation should adhere to a set of clearly articulated criteria.

C. Notification Procedures

STAND’s Response: Does this section refer to noticing only in relation to character defining buildings? If so, there should be language in the zoning regulations that spell out the requirements for all public noticing.

All such notices shall be given not less than seventeen (17) days prior to the date set, as the case may be, for decision on the application by the Director, or prior to the date set for a hearing before the Commission, if such is to be held.”

STAND’s Response: Decisions regarding a character defining historic building should not be at the discretion of the director but should go before the Planning Commission.

E.2. That it is not economically feasible to preserve at least the fac�ade of the neighborhood character defining historic building. Demonstrating this infeasibility may require analysis of a financial pro forma of the project

STAND’s Response: As mentioned above, STAND urges that all character defining historic buildings be preserved, regardless of the perceived economic feasibility. Economic incentives offered to developers should be created to help achieve this.

Ways of demonstrating infeasibility other than through pro formas need to be defined. Community input and outside review, including by an independent preservation architect, should be part of the process.

To promote green development in the City of Oakland, where a request is made to demolish a portion of a neighborhood character defining structure, an additional requirement for the granting of a conditional use permit shall be that materials from a demolished structure are re-used and/or recycled — for example, by a non-profit — and the value of any tax write-off is donated back to the non-profit.

F. Upon the granting a conditional use permit, . . .

STAND’s Response: Should read: Upon the granting of a conditional use permit, . . .

STAND opposes the granting of density bonuses or conditional use permits to increase height in exchange for any type of preservation of neighborhood character defining structures. Other economic incentives must be identified and offered instead, such as a reduction in transfer taxes or development fees (which STAND recommends the city implement).

17.44.210 B.2. The minimum requirements for usable open space may be reduced from one hundred fifty (150) square feet per dwelling unit to one-hundred (100) square feet of group open space per dwelling unit

STAND’s Response: The requirement for usable open space should not be reduced this significantly. Instead, the usable open space requirement should be reduced to no more that 130 square feet., and no substitution of group space for private usable open space should be permitted. Instead, for each unit there should be a group AND private open space requirement. There should be a minimum 75 square feet of private open space for each unit.

17.44.210 B.3. The total amount of required parking for the project may be reduced by up to twenty-five (25) percent

STAND’s Response: Reduced parking shall not be permitted without the following requirements: There shall be an on-street residential parking program enforced 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, that excludes residents of new projects; OR it can accurately and independently be demonstrated that on-street parking impacts of a new development will not change on-street parking demand within a two-block radius of the project; AND the developer contributes to a public transit fare subsidy program for project residents; AND the site becomes a location for the Car Share (or comparable) program.

17.44.210 B.4. The maximum height of the project may be increased to 55 feet or the maximum height allowed by any applicable height map, combining zone, or combining district, whichever is less

STAND’s Response: As we have stated, additional height translates into additional density, which translates into additional impacts on traffic, pedestrian safety, on-street parking, air quality, lost views, noise, privacy, street maintenance, water, and sewers, and fire and police services. For these and other reasons, including strong community sentiment that favors a 45 ft. height limit on Telegraph Ave. and other Temescal corridors, the maximum height throughout the entire SD-TEM Temescal Corridor should be 35 ft., with an additional 10 ft. permitted when stepped back, when ground floor retail height is 12 to 15 feet, and when all other requirements of a Conditional use Permit are met.

17.44.210 B.5. The permitted density and nonresidential floor area ratio may be increased by up to thirty (30) percent, but shall not exceed any maximum density and/or nonresidential floor area ratio allowed by the General Plan. This increase in permitted density and/or nonresidential floor area ratio cannot be used as the basis for a height variance.

STAND’s Response: This should clearly specify the maximum density and/or non-residential floor area, i.e., one unit per 450 square feet of lot area. The General Plan density of 261 square feet of lot area is a 42% increase in density over the one unit per 450 square feet maximum density in the C-28 zone. STAND supports a lower density limit because it encourages larger unit size and a more diverse mix of unit types.

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Design Guidelines for Temescal

Appeal Points 4801 Shattuck

STAND Mission Statement——— Standing Together for Accountable Neighborhood Development

Standing Together for Accountable Neighborhood Development
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