Yesterday, I read a great post by dto510 about zoning on Telegraph in North Oakland. The planning commission will soon be considering updating zoning in Temescal, including raising height limits on buildings:
To fulfill the goals of the General Plan, it is absolutely imperative that the city bring its zoning in line with what private-sector developers want and need. Currently, every single project in the area requires a Conditional Use Permit to be feasible, primarily because developers need at least five stories to make money. A Conditional Use Permit requires at least one public hearing, and every such permit can appealed to the city council at a minimal cost to the appealing party. That creates huge uncertainties for developers, massively increasing delays and other “soft costs” that are then passed on to the condo-buyers…
The solution to this problem is to raise the allowed building heights at least up to what is already been approved, which is 57 feet. Ideally, the heights would be increased to 75 to 100 feet in at least some areas, which the market might build and would be appropriate for the 100-foot-wide streets throughout the area.
This got me thinking, and last night, as I walked down Telegraph from the bus stop, I realized just how odd the 1-2 story buildings looked. The disproportionality of the building heights to the size of the street is astounding.
Beyond aesthetics, Temescal’s businesses are rapidly growing, and Telegraph has become a major transit corridor, thanks to the new rapid bus line. This is only going to increase, once Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) is developed. If Oakland wants to become a more environmentally sustainable city, it makes so much sense to build dense housing in neighborhoods with established services and transit.
The real question is, why are groups like STAND fighting against smart growth, when it seems so clear that the neighborhood I’ve lived in for years is more than ready denser housing and more mixed use buildings?