Design Guidelines for Temescal
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.
Following are STAND's responses to the City's proposed Temescal Corridor Design Guidelines. To see Zoning code responses, please see link at the end of this document. 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]oaklandnet.com. You can learn a lot just reading below, however.
Portions from the proposed Design Guidelines excerpted for response are in white.
STAND’s responses are in green.
Regulatory and Design Context.
STAND's Response: Correct grammar in first paragraph. This should read: “...That section states that conformance to these guidelines is required . . .
“The core commercial district in this area is on Telegraph Avenue between 49th and 52nd Streets. This core shopping district contains a concentration of historic buildings that reflect the design of historic commercial buildings in the entire area.”
STAND's Response: Temescal’s commercial center, if measured by the concentration of businesses and street/pedestrian activity, easily extends from 47th St. to 52nd St. (Think of the street activity generated by Lanesplitters at 48th St., Clausen House, located between 48th and 49th St., and the Temescal Branch Library at 52nd St.)
Meanwhile, Temescal’s defining historic buildings are found along the entire length of Telegraph, from 40th to 55th St. (Temescal Plaza/Walgreens, located between 50th and 51st St. and in the “core commercial district,” is not one of them.) While the oldest building, as stated, is the landmarked “Brick House,” there are dozens of historic structures outside the 49th to 51st St. segment that are representative of, and key in defining, the Telegraph Ave. corridor. North of 51st St., this includes the Temescal Branch Library (a city landmark and listed on the National Register), several Victorian houses on the east side of Telegraph that are unique in Temescal, and the Marshall Steel Cleaners (formerly Rollerland) complex on the west side of Telegraph south of 55th St.
South of 49th St., historic buildings include the former Bank of America (Bank of Italy) at 49th St., the two storefronts immediately south, Lanesplitters (formerly Fiorio Hardware) at 48th St., Hoopers Chocolates at 46th St., the many storefronts lining both sides of Telegraph from 42nd to 44th St., and the apartment buildings at 41st and 40th streets. The “modernized” facades of some of these and other structures, such as Reed Brothers Security between 44th and 45th streets, and Kelly Moore Paint and Mark’s Paint at 42nd St. might obscure their underlying historic integrity, but that integrity is intact.
These many historic buildings (which far outnumber the handful of fast-food restaurants and corner strip-malls found along this stretch of Telegraph), are what define the corridor’s historic character, not just those in the blocks from 49th to 51st St. This is supported by Design Guideline 2.3, which states: “To a large extent, the design vocabulary of the Temescal Corridor is defined by the commercial and residential buildings constructed in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries.” Therefore, we do not understand the rationale for dividing Telegraph, from 40th St. to Hwy. 24, and half of short Shattuck, into two different Height Zones, A and B, other than as a way to justify the five story projects that have been proposed for the SD-TEM Temescal Corridor Combining Zone.
The recommendation to conditionally permit heights of 55 feet on Telegraph outside the proposed "historic zone" also ignores widespread public opinion that the height on Telegraph should be limited to 45 ft.
The above aside, the core commercial district is described as the Telegraph stretch from 49th to 52nd St., while Map #7, “Proposed Lower Temescal Corridor Height Areas,” shows Area B as extending from 48th to 51st St. Why this discrepancy?
“Shattuck and the rest of Telegraph Avenue are characterized by a mix of historic and modern commercial buildings, apartments, and single family detached homes. As a result, the street lacks a coherent street facade appropriate for a major urban corridor. However, several historic buildings reflect the design characteristics of buildings in the core commercial district on Telegraph . . .”
STAND’s Response: We question this assessment and the implied value judgment in the statement that short Shattuck lacks "coherence." We would agree that it lacks "uniformity."
Objectives and Guidelines.
STAND’s Response: Objective 2 should be changed to read: “Provide a pedestrian oriented environment that also mitigates the increase in traffic, parking, and pedestrian safety impacts that new development brings;”
The following should be added as primary objectives of zoning in the SD-TEM Combining Zone:
Objective 6: Provide rich and plentiful experiences of nature.
Objective 7: Promote security and safety through design and a density level that fosters community, not anonymity.
Objective 8: Ensure that new developments do not diminish the quality of life currently enjoyed by adjacent residents and businesses.
Objective 9: Promote green building in new construction and rehabilitating existing structures.
“Each guideline in this document fulfills, in combination with other guidelines, one or more of the objectives described above. . .”
STAND’s Response: To this paragraph should be added: No guideline set forth in this document should undermine, contradict, or work against the fulfillment of any objective.
“A method that achieves associated objectives to the same extent as a guideline may be considered in lieu of that guideline.”
STAND’s Response: It is important to leave room for and encourage innovative approaches to fulfilling the stated objectives; however, this sentence is ambiguous. Careful scrutiny will be necessary to ensure that 1) alternative methods actually do fulfill the stated objective(s), and 2) alternative methods will not undermine any objective.
Guideline 1.1: Create a sense of urban enclosure through limited front yard setbacks.
“Like a room defined by its walls, the Telegraph and Shattuck Avenue right of ways is defined by the buildings that enclose it.”
STAND’s Response: Grammar correction: should read, “. . . Telegraph and Shattuck Avenue rights of way are defined by the buildings that enclose them.
“A consistent series of building facades built near the sidewalk creates this wall by clearly communicating the edges of a street, focusing the eyes on the public realm, and creating a visually comfortable space. . .”
STAND’s Response: While this may be true for some, others experience this sense of enclosure as confining and uncomfortable. While street-fronting parking lots are to be avoided, a modulated “edge,” one that is punctuated with open spaces such as parks, gardens, and plazas (as these guidelines acknowledge), is essential to creating an engaging and comfortable street.
As described in connection with Guideline 1.2, below, STAND believes that ground floor commercial should be required in all SD-TEM subareas. However, should residential-only projects be approved, they should be required to have a 20 ft. setback from the public sidewalk to be consistent with existing residences on Telegraph and Shattuck, ensure a greater measure of privacy for residents, and provide a greater buffer from street noise and exhaust fumes.
“Small setbacks for buildings with ground floor residential activities may also be appropriate to provide for landscaped areas and projecting front entrance transition features such as stoops (see Guideline 2.1).”
STAND’s Response: Small setbacks for all buildings, whether residential or commercial, should be encouraged. Re-word this to say: “Small setbacks for buildings should be encouraged to provide . . .”
Front entrance stoops might be appropriate when echoing nearby, older residences, but they also can be gratuitous if residents never used them, such as when access to living units is through an internal parking garage, courtyard, walkway, or elevator.
Guideline 1.2: Site businesses on the ground floor building facade and facing the major street.
“Developments should include ground floor shops, restaurants, and market spaces adjacent to Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues . . .”
STAND’s Response: Change wording to “Developments shall include . . .”
“This guideline is critical in subareas 1 and 4 (the two areas between 1) the Berkeley border and 63rd Street and 2) 51st Street and 40th Street, respectively) because they are intended to become mixed use, pedestrian oriented retail nodes.”
STAND’s Response: Section 17.101.010 of the proposed zoning regulations states that projects only in SD-TEM 4 subarea are required to have ground floor commercial. This guideline, which states that both subareas 1 and 4 should have ground floor commercial, therefore contradicts proposed zoning Section 17.101.010.
Also unclear is why a portion of short Shattuck is lumped in the same SD-TEM 1 subarea as the upper stretch of Telegraph Ave. near Alacatraz, when ground floor commercial is not required on Shattuck. Additionally, if ground floor commercial is not required on this stretch of Shattuck, why has it retained its Neighborhood Center Mixed Use designation under the General Plan while remaining C-28.
According to the most recent revision of Staff’s proposed zoning recommendations, only projects in the SD-TEM-4 subarea would be required to provide ground floor commercial. STAND’s position is that ground floor commercial should be required in all SD-TEM subareas. This is based in part on feedback we have received from residents in the short Shattuck and upper Telegraph areas; from the community’s desire, in establishing C-28 zoning, to foster mixed-use development along both Telegraph and Shattuck; 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.
In addition, 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 local job centers, and further enhance pedestrian use.
Guideline 1.3: Place parking areas and parking podiums behind more active facilities.
STAND’s Response: Developers should be required to provide a generous amount of secure bicycle parking in vehicle parking areas or other easily accessible common spaces.
Guideline 1.4: Locate driveways and curb cuts on side streets, not Telegraph or Shattuck Avenues.
“Curb cuts off pedestrian and . . .”
STAND’s Response: Should read: “Curb cuts on pedestrian and . . “
Guideline 1.6: Integrate open space into the site plan.
STAND’s Response: Some of the bulleted suggestions listed here are unclear about whether they refer to private or public open space. The distinction is important and should be made clear in each case.
Suggestions that pertain to open space benefiting only those who live or work in a new project, while important, do not necessarily fulfill Objective 2 or Objective 3 as stated.
“Usable open spaces should also be oriented towards living units, windows, retail spaces,
and or balconies to promote social activity and provide security.”
STAND’s Response: This word change, from “and” to “or,” subtly dilutes this requirement of developers to orient open spaces wherever these opportunities present themselves. We suggest this wording: “Usable open spaces should also be oriented towards living units, windows, retail spaces, and balconies, where they exist, to promote social activity and provide security.”
SECTION 2: STREET FACADES
“Proper site planning places facades with the most opportunity for architectural expression facing Temescal and Shattuck Avenues.”
STAND’s Response: Correct the typos. It should be “Telegraph”, not “Temescal” . . . Avenues.
Guideline 2.2: Create a human scale facade
“The term “human scale” refers to the use of architectural elements to provide a building that is proportionate to people, particularly at the street level.”
STAND’s Response: This concept is so important that it bears emphasizing. We suggest the following wording: “The term “human scale” refers to the use of architectural elements to provide a building that is proportionate to people. This is especially important at the street level. Human scale in relation to buildings is also important in facilitating social interaction and promoting community.”
Add to the bulleted list the following:
• Ensure that the building corresponds to a human scale from every meaningful vantage point, not just from the front of the building.
• Limit the height of buildings along Temescal’s commercial corridors to 35 ft., with a step back to 45 ft. as conditionally permitted.
“High quality details at the street level that contrast with the upper stories also improves the pedestrian experience . . .”
STAND’s Response: Typo; should read: “High quality details at the street level that contrast with the upper stories also improve
s the pedestrian experience . . .”
Guideline 2.3: Create facades build upon the Temescal Corridor’s historic design vocabulary.
STAND’s Response: Typo; should read: “Create facades that build upon the Temescal Corridor’s historic design vocabulary.”
“Neighborhoods with a strong context have a ‘design vocabulary’ . . .”
STAND’s Response: This would be less ambiguous if the word “visual” were inserted: “Neighborhoods with a strong visual context have a ‘design vocabulary’ . . .”
“• A significant architectural element such as a cornice at the top of buildings to create a visual termination;”
STAND’s Response: Add: “• A significant architectural element such as a high quality cornice at the top of buildings to create a visual termination;”
Guideline 2.5: Provide visual transitions to existing buildings that reflect a desirable context.
“Development should gracefully transition to adjacent buildings that are part of a stable and desirable context in a neighborhood.”
STAND’s Response: “Stable and desirable” can mean different things to different developers, case planners, and neighbors. A clearer set of terms, defined with community input, is needed.
Guideline 2.6: Integrate the facades of upper story front stepbacks into the rest of the facade.
STAND’s Response: What was deleted from this section of the March 1, 2007 draft of the Temescal Corridor Design Guidelines is significant. It included the following language: “New development should have a building scale consistent with the height context on Shattuck Avenue and the traditional storefront district between 49th and 51st Streets on Telegraph Avenue and a 45 foot scale in other areas where there is a weaker height context.”
This is one of the key points STAND and its supporters having been making. Was it our questioning of how this statement could be made by Staff and then immediately followed by their call for increased height, albeit with a stepback, that caused Staff to delete this language from the previous draft?
We believe it is a clear statement, correctly reflects the widespread community view on the issue of scale along Temescal’s commercial corridors, and relates directly to Objective 4 of the proposed Temescal Corridor Design Guidelines, which states, “Build upon historic contexts to further unify Temescal as a distinct district.” For these reasons, this passage should be reinstated.
Guideline 2.6: Integrate design elements to achieve a coherent facade composition
STAND’s Response: The above two guidelines have been assigned the same number.
SECTION 3: CORNER BUILDINGS
Guideline 3.1: Orient buildings on corner lots to the intersection and public street fronts.
“These elements should be considered for developments on corner lots, particularly at major intersections.”
STAND’s Response: The addition of the phrase “Éparticularly at major intersections” minimizes the need for buildings, where they are not at major intersections, to adhere to these guidelines. Was this change in meaning intentional? If so, why? If not, then this qualifier needs to come out: “These elements should be considered for developments on corner lots.”
“• Designing a prominent architectural feature at the corner of the lot nearest the intersection such as a tower, projecting architectural element, public art, or other feature.”
STAND’s Response: Add to this: “. . . projecting architectural element, public art, or other feature such as a plaza or greenscaping.”
Given the widespread concern in Temescal about excessive heights of buildings, the height of a corner “tower” element should never be permitted to exceed the maximum height allowed by zoning.
SECTION 4: SIDEWALK AMENITIES
“Ample sidewalk width is a key element of making a pedestrian oriented neighborhood. Fortunately, both Shattuck and Telegraph Avenues both already provide ample sidewalk area for pedestrian passage . . .”
STAND’s Response: Correct typos so that it reads: “Fortunately, both Shattuck and Telegraph avenues
both already provide . . .”
How wide are sidewalks on Telegraph and Shattuck? Do they change in width? What width is necessary for a sidewalk to be considered “ample?”
Guideline 4.1: Place plazas and provide small ground level setbacks adjacent to sidewalks and retail spaces (all subareas).
STAND’s Response: Add the words: “. . . small ground level setbacks and small and larger parks adjacent to sidewalks . . .”
Planning documents should clearly specify whether plazas and other ground level setbacks are public or private property, and any conditions of, or limitations to, public access to them.
“Plazas and small ground level setbacks to accommodate outdoor cafes adjacent to the sidewalk can improve . . .
STAND’s Response: Change as follows: “Plazas,
and small ground level setbacks to accommodate outdoor cafes adjacent to the sidewalk, and pocket parks can improve . . .
“. . . Note, however, that too many plazas in a neighborhood can detract from the definition of the street and dilute the activity needed for a successful plaza. Therefore they should only be located at major activity nodes and intersections. . .”
STAND’s Response: We question both of these assertions, especially if plazas and ground level setbacks have different uses (gardens, cafŽ seating, public art, etc.). Are there examples of where too many plazas along a commercial corridor are problematic? We suggest that you leave these sentences out.
The goal should be to ensure that public plazas and/or green spaces are plentiful.
“Consider the following to design a successful plaza:
• Orient building elements such as main entries, lobbies, windows, and balconies to face a plaza;
• Place plazas
at near major intersections;
• Provide comfortable benches and other seating opportunities that promote human interaction; . . .”
STAND’s Response: Why was “near” substituted for “at” when “near” is vague and open to interpretation, while “at” is clear?
“• Protect plazas from the wind;”
STAND’s Response: Delete “the”. Add “and noise.”
Guideline 4.2: Provide a variety of pedestrian experiences and amenities at the sidewalk in front of a development.
STAND’s Response: In the bulleted list of possible features, add:
• Distinctive and abundant landscaping;
• Public seating areas such as ledges, broad stairs, planters,
and benches, outdoor cafes, sunny areas, and other places where people are likely to want to relax, read, or socialize, or connect with nature.
SECTION 5: TRANSITIONS TO LOWER DENSITY ZONES
“Many of the parcels on Telegraph and Shattuck Avenues back up to lower density residential zones. This creates a potential for new development to create disruptions in scale and impacts to the sunlight and privacy on lower density streets. . .”
STAND’s Response: Add these words: “. . . This creates a potential for new development to create disruptions in scale and impacts to the sunlight,
and privacy, air quality, noise, views, parking, and traffic on lower density streets. . .”
“Even with the mitigations described above, new development on the Temescal corridor will still have an impact on some properties in lower density residential zones. The case review planner must carefully balance the intent of the General Plan to encourage denser development along the City’s corridors with impacts on neighboring properties.”
STAND’s Response: While the intent of the General Plan is to increase density along designated corridors, and provides formulas for calculating maximum allowable density, the General Plan also states that the formulas are not entitlements and that they must be balanced with other factors specific to a given location. Because every effort must be made to prevent impacts on neighboring properties, and to ensure that Objective 5 is met, the following should be added to the appropriate sections of the zoning and/or design guidelines:
• A minimum 15 ft. setback from the property lines of adjacent lower density residential zones shall be required.
• The maximum height of new projects where they face adjoining, lower density zones shall be 25 ft., with one foot of stepback required for every one foot increase in height.
• 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.
SECTION 6: PRESERVATION OF NEIGHBORHOOD DEFINING BUILDINGS
Guideline 6.1: Provide high quality and authentic rehabilitation of the facades of neighborhood defining buildings.
“As much as possible, rehabilitated facades should be repaired and elements replaced to their original form. . .”
STAND’s Response: “As much as possible” is vague. Delete this phrase, so that it reads: “Rehabilitated facades should be repaired and elements replaced to their original form. . .”
• Facade restorations should be done by contractors who are skilled and experienced in building restoration.
STAND’s Response: Add the following: “• Facade restorations should be done by contractors who are skilled and experienced in building restoration and green building technologies and materials.”
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STAND's Response to Proposed Zoning Guidelines
Appeal Points 4801 Shattuck
STAND Mission Statement——— Standing Together for Accountable Neighborhood Development
Standing Together for Accountable