As you might have seen on my updates of the last post, we met our fundraising goal, raising $1407 to appeal the redesign of the McDonald’s on Telegraph and 45th. The incredible part to me was that we raised the vast majority of the funds in 26 hours! I was a bit concerned that it might be difficult to raise funds online after the successful crowdfunding efforts of The New Parkway and Awaken Cafe, but I think the success of all of these fundraising efforts show how invested Oaklanders are in our community and that we’re willing to financially invest as well.
Over the weekend, Max Allstadt and Josh Thorp drafted the appeal and did a very thorough job of it. Thanks to them and to John Gatewood, Christopher Waters, and many other ULTRA members for providing edits. Thanks also to John Gatewood for stepping up as the official appellant (and to the many co-appellants).
The appeal was filed on Monday. I encourage you to read the appeal in full, but if not, there are some highlights about why the redesign not only makes no sense but also does not comply with the General Plan and specifically the Land Use and Transportation Element (LUTE):
As stated in the General Plan Analysis of the Planning Commission Staff Report of December 1, 2010, the drive-through element of the current facility is acceptable only because it was established before the LUTE element of the General Plan was enacted. What is not addressed, however, is why it is acceptable that the property be redesigned to highlight this feature in particular—the new design insulates the entire property on all sides with drive-through lanes, making it impossible to enter on foot from either Telegraph Avenue or 45th Street without crossing one or more interior vehicle drives. It is not surprising that the proprietor would want to increase visibility and capacity of the drive-through element—at the December 1, 2010 meeting he estimated that drive-through traffic accounted for 70% of his business. What is surprising is that after meeting with select local groups including ULTRA (Urbanists for a Livable Temescal Rockridge Area) and in full light of current General Plan guidance, the Planning Commission has approved a new design that is actually more antagonistic to pedestrians, increases drive-through impacts on the neighborhood, and weakens the concentration and continuity of the shopping frontage. The appellants feel that this signifies a lack of discretion on the part of the Planning Commission on the most basic level.
Nicely said – not much to add there.
The appeal goes through several required findings by the Planning Commission and explains why their findings were inadequate. These are all worth reading, but I especially appreciate this one that focuses on how this decision will impact the future of the area:
Section 17.136.070 (B)-Regular Design Review Criteria, Nonresidential Facilities:
2. That the proposal will be of a quality and a character which harmonizes with, and serves to protect the value of, private and public investments in the area.
Adopted Planning Commission Finding of December 1, 2010
The remodeled project will enhance Temescal neighborhood’s appearance compared with to the status quo. The improvement will retain a restaurant business which draws customers to the Temescal retail area, providing an improvement in quality of materials, design and landscaping from the existing 1977 restaurant design.
Inadequacy of Planning Commission Finding
The character of the proposed design is inherently at odds with the goals of private and public investment in the area. Effectively, the design is a do-over of an existing use of the parcel which is in conflict with current LUTE element of the General Plan, which explicitly calls for pedestrian-oriented development in the area.
Telegraph Avenue is a “Growth and Change” corridor under the LUTE designation, but the proposed project does not offer significant growth. In fact the project presents a long-term liability for growth by allowing major investment in new construction of a design which is out of step with long-term goals for the neighborhood. There are long- term consequences for permitting this level of investment in a project which is profitable but underutilizes a 3/4 acre lot. Particularly, it can be expected that this low-density anti-pedestrian design will persist many decades into the future while the rest of the neighborhood grows around it in ways more consistent with the LUTE. In short, the project amounts to complete reconstruction of an anachronism.
Thanks so much to everyone who contributed by writing or editing the appeal or by contributing to the filing costs. The Council will hear the appeal sometime in the next couple of months and we’ll need your help again writing emails and speaking at the Council meeting. Until then, enjoy reading the appeal.