Document Sample
					                                                                                                                                                                   CITY OF OAKLAND
                                                                                                                                                                    AGENDA REPORT

TO:                                              Office of the City Manager
ATTN:                                            Robert C. Bobb
FROM:                                            Community and Economic Development Agency
DATE:                                            April 9, 2002
RE:                                              A SUPPLEMENTAL REPORT ON THE PROPOSED ORDINANCE
                                                 AMENDING CHAPTER 17.136 (DESIGN REVIEW PROCEDURE) OF THE
                                                 OAKLAND PLANNING CODE TO CHANGE THE APPLICABILITY OF
                                                 NON-RESIDENTIAL SMALL PROJECT DESIGN REVIEW (002225)


On March 26, 2002 the Community and Economic Development Committee (CEDC) of the
Oakland City Council considered a proposed ordinance amending the Small Project Design
Review (SPDR) procedures of the Oakland Planning Code. The proposed ordinance will expand
the applicability of non-residential “small project” design review and authorizes the
implementation of the revised SPDR Guidelines adopted by the City Planning Commission on
February 6, 2002. The CEDC recommended approval of the ordinance and requested additional
information about specifics in the Guidelines relating to lighting, storefront door changes, and
noise impacts. The purpose of this supplemental report is to provide the CEDC with the
requested information. The information contained in this report is in addition to the information
provided in the March 26, 2002 City Council staff report and does not contradict or change the
proposed ordinance or any previously provided information.


There were three specific areas of concern the Community and Economic Development
Committee raised with the proposed SPDR ordinance and related Guidelines. The Committee
asked for further clarification as to how each issue is addressed within the Small Project Design
Review procedure. Following is a brief summary of the concern and the staff response for each

1.     Lighting (Dark Sky and Flashing Signs)
Councilmember Spees raised the question of how “Dark Sky” provisions are dealt with in the
proposed Guidelines. The “Dark Sky” initiative is concerned with limiting the amount of light
directed or escaping towards the sky from an energy conservation standpoint as well as reducing
the ambient atmospheric lights at nighttime. Councilmember Nadel also raised the question of
how flashing illuminated signs are dealt with as part of the Design Review procedure.

The current Planning Code does not have any specific regulations on “Dark Sky” standards or a
stand-alone section on lighting. The Small Project Design Review (SPDR) Guidelines, on a
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general level, stipulate that building light installations should not produce light glare visible from
the street, sidewalk, or adjacent properties and may not contain directly exposed bulbs
(Guidelines, p.10). Although these Guidelines were written before any knowledge of specific
“Dark Sky” standards, they are compatible with the intent of the “Dark Sky” initiative if those
standards are incorporated into the Planning Code. Based on comments from the CEDC, staff
believes that the photo example labeled (see Guideline 1.1.16e, p.10) “Select fixtures with
shielded bulbs to avoid glare” should be replaced to remove any possible ambiguity or
appearance of contradiction with “Dark Sky” policies. The intention of staff to make minor
layout and photograph improvements to the SPDR guidelines was stated to the Planning
Commission. As part of this process staff will replace photo 1.1.16e with a more appropriate
example exhibiting proper “Dark Sky” standards.

Regarding flashing signs, the Planning Code directly regulates flashing illuminated and moving
signs in commercial or industrial areas with respect to nearby residential areas. Section
17.110.030D (Buffering Regulations: Control on Artificial Illumination in Commercial or
Industrial zones) stipulates that all artificial illumination which is readily visible from residential
facilities is to be non-flashing and directed away to eliminate glare. Section 17.104.020C
(General Limitations on Signs for Commercial and Industrial zones: Special limitations near
boundaries of residential zones) further limits this by not allowing flashing illumination or
moving signs within 25 feet from any boundary of a residential zone regardless of whether it
faces or is visible from the residential zone.

The proposed zoning code update, expected to be completed by the end of 2003, will address
“Dark Sky” standards. Procedurally, of course, the SPDR Guidelines are governed by specific
regulations of the adopted Planning Code and all projects must be in conformance with the Code.
Checking design review applications for conformity to the existing code is the explicit duty of
staff planners.

2.      Storefront/Façade Door Changes
Councilmember Brunner raised a question about how entrance door changes are addressed in
the Guidelines. She specifically cited a situation where an applicant moved a main door from
the street-front to the rear of the business facing the parking lot which she believed was in
contrast to City policy goals of creating pedestrian-friendly commercial street-front

The Small Project Design Review Guidelines, as proposed, do not address the issue of placement
of entry doors. The Guidelines, however, do contain a storefront/façade design principle #2:
“Keep storefront/façade elements where they belong…in original location” (p.23) and the
Guideline 2.1.7 stating the need to “[p]rovide or retain entry vestibules…that add visual interest
to storefronts.” These standards, not addressed in the current Guidelines, have been added to the
proposed revisions to the SPDR Guidelines.

The standards, however, focus on changes to existing storefronts and civic buildings, but do not
necessarily address all issues associated with these improvements. For example, if an applicant
wished to make changes to the orientation of an entry door (such as with the Hollywood Video
store at 4881 Telegraph cited by Councilmember Brunner) or if the applicant wanted to build a
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new building with the major business entry off the primary street, he or she would normally have
to process the application through regular design review rather than Small Project Design
Review. In certain cases, however, a door change alteration may be considered compatible with
the SPDR Guidelines but only when specifically referred to in the Guidelines. All other changes
would need to be processed through the regular design review process

3.    Noise/Visual Impacts to Residential Areas Abutting Commercial Zones
Councilmembers asked for more detail on how potential noise and visual impacts at the rear of
commercial facilities are being addressed in the Small Project Design Review procedure.

These issues, initially raised by the Rockridge Community Planning Council at the Planning
Commission, were addressed specifically in the exemption section of the proposed Guidelines
and ordinance text. The Guidelines as a streamlined process are focused primarily on street front
alterations for non-residential facilities (including commercial, civic, industrial). Other types of
alterations or additions typically require regular design review. It is standard practice, in the
interests of streamlining the design review process, to provide exemptions for small alterations or
additions not visible from the public right-of-way.

The concerns of residents abutting commercial areas are valid and there are specific regulations
in place to address these. Noise, for instance, may come from different sources that an applicant
may install at the rear of building: e.g., refrigeration unit, a generator, loading dock, or outdoor
dining. In addition to conforming with the SPDR Guidelines, an applicant must also comply
with other sections of the Planning Code pertaining to specific development activities. Chapter
17.120 of the current Planning Code, (Performance Standards) deals explicitly with maximum
noise levels and times of the day when they are permissible in sensitive areas. While the real
impact of a proposed noise generating structure is hard to discern during the application process,
the burden of proof is on the applicant to show the specifications for noise where appropriate.
Further, an applicant must also demonstrate, through photographs, that all required buffering
requirements referred to in Chapter 17.110 (e.g., solid walls/fences of at least 5-1/2 feet height)
are in place between commercial facilities and residential properties. If the applicant is unable to
comply with these other standards in the Planning Code, then the project cannot be processed
under the SPDR procedure and would be subject to regular design review.

Most activities associated with commercial land uses that might generate off-site impacts require
a Conditional Use Permit (CUP). Through the CUP process, staff is able to place conditions on
projects that address the specific impacts. In the C-31 zone, which applies to College Avenue,
restaurants, group assembly, and truck-intensive uses such as wholesaling, warehousing, retail
business supply all require a conditional use permit. Moreover, any loading docks or off-street
loading facilities that would be associated with manufacturing uses are regulated by Chapter
17.116 (Off-Street Parking and Loading)—the minimum size allowed for such a loading dock is
540 sf’/14-ft. height and any installation would automatically require regular design review. The
exemptions for “loading docks” proposed in this ordinance is intended specifically for small
(van) loading areas associated with commercial businesses or civic establishments that are likely
to result in minimal noise impacts to surrounding areas and other sensitive uses.

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 In summary, in addition to the SPDR Guidelines, an applicant will still need to comply with
other regulatory sections of the Planning Code. Because the issues raised by the CEDC are
already covered elsewhere in the Code, it is not necessary to amend the Guidelines. Staff will,
however, make reference to these other sections of the Planning Code in the Guidelines.


Staff recommends that the City Council accept this supplemental informational report.

                                                Respectfully submitted,

                                                WILLIAM E. CLAGGETT
                                                Executive Director

                                                Prepared by:
                                                David Ralston, Planner II
                                                Strategic Planning



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