This guest post was written by Joyce Roy, with an introduction from me. As a retired architect, Joyce has raised her sights (or sites?) to the whole city of Oakland and so has been active in advocating for better transit, the right development in the right place and the reuse of existing structures. She is an active member of ULTRA.
For the past couple of years, Oakland has been working on a long overdue zoning update. As John Gatewood explained in 2009:
As some of you know the city has finally started the Zoning Update for the commercial and residential areas of Oakland. This process should have started in 1998 when the city adopted its latest General Plan but, for a number of reasons, it did not. This lack of agreement between the General Plan and the Zoning is what has led to so many conflicts over new developments in Oakland. Our existing zoning is patchwork created over decades to respond to immediate concerns rather than long-term goals. The 1998 General Plan spells out where the city wants to focus growth in Oakland. To their credit the writers of the 1998 General Plan focused this “growth and change” on the major transit corridors in Oakland.
The Zoning Update is our opportunity to bring zoning, the details of what can be built where, in alignment with the vision of the General Plan. Updating the zoning to allow for the higher density envisioned in the General Plan will be one step in turning Oakland away from the path Detroit is on. Our city is at the heart of the East Bay. We already have the public transit infrastructure to support more residents using it. We were once a denser, more walkable city. We now need to update our land-use rules so that we can build higher density housing on our transit corridors to respond to how we live today so that we can rekindle the walkability and vibrancy we had 60 years ago.
After many hearings before the Planning Commission’s Zoning Update Committee (ZUC), the zoning update is coming before the Community and Economic Development Committee this week and the full City Council next week.
Here is Joyce Roy’s post about why you should attend and/or send emails about the zoning update:
Urgent need to support higher density along Telegraph and Broadway:
Most concerns have been resolved at the Planning Commission’s Zoning Update Committee meetings. But two points of contention may be the 60-ft heights along Telegraph other than the historic districts, which are 35-ft to 45-ft, and only 45-ft rather than 60-ft on Broadway between Whitmore and 40th.
From the staff report (warning – LARGE PDF):
Staff’s recommendation for Telegraph Avenue is consistent with citywide height mapping principals that applied a 60-foot height maximum on wide corridors that are adjacent to lower-density residential neighborhoods. This height limit creates an appropriate “wall” to contain the wide street space on Telegraph Avenue. The updated proposal also allows the density that fulfills General Plan policies encouraging development at major corridors to promote infill development, increase transit use, and revitalize retail districts. Regulations proposing a building stepback from the rear setback line of corridor sites will significantly lower the impacts of taller corridor buildings on adjacent residential neighborhoods.
Staff agrees that the same reasoning applies to Broadway, but staff needs to be able to show it has the support of the community. The City Council has the final say. So we must fight for a 60-ft height limit on Broadway and to maintain it on Telegraph by sending emails to councilmembers. It is very important that the councilmembers receive many emails. So even if you are planning to go to the meetings, send emails.
Please come to the meetings:
- Community & Economic Development Committee mtg: Tues. Feb. 8 at 1:45 pm in Hearing Room 1
- Full Council: Tues. Feb. 15 at 7:00 pm in the Council Chambers
Here are email addresses for the Council (the first four are on the committee, but I would advise sending to all):
- Jane Brunner <email@example.com>
- Patricia Kernighan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Nancy Nadel <email@example.com>
- Ignacio De La Fuente <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Jean Quan <email@example.com>
- Desley Brooks <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Larry Reid <email@example.com>
- Rebecca Kaplan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
- Libby Schaaf <email@example.com>
For more background on the process, please read an article on the zoning update in the Sierra Club’s Yodeler.