June Town Hall: Development; DEIR

As a session dedicated to a review of the most effective ways to prepare written comments on the City’s Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR) for the College Avenue shopping center development, June’s Town Hall presentation attracted many Rockridge residents.

In addition, attendees heard a preview of Safeway’s new plans for the Rockridge Shopping Center (RRSC), located at 51st/ Pleasant Valley and Broadway.

RCPC Chair and Land Use Committee (LUC) Chairman Stu Flashman outlined the environmental review process that both Safeway projects will go through. He noted that the City is currently preparing a DEIR for each project, with the College Avenue Safeway EIR due out some time this summer. Flashman emphasized the importance of providing factual evidence to support the comments. For example, a comment that “this project will make a mess or traffic” will be ignored as unsupported opinion, but a comment stating that, based on personal experience, driving through this section of College Avenue now takes 10 to 15 minutes during evening rush hour, and that adding several hundred additional trips during that time will make a bad situation worse, would have to be responded to.

Flashman also outlined the major areas that the DEIR will probably cover, noting that traffic will probably be the main focus of the EIR. He noted that RCPC had received a $10,000 matching grant to hire technical experts to review the EIR. (see Land Use Committee Update)

David Zylstra of Safeway’s Property Development Centers (PDC) subsidiary had presented revised plans for the RRSC redesign at the RCPC board of directors June meeting, one week earlier. The redesign includes two story buildings with rooftop parking, relocation of the Safeway store to the current CVS Pharmacy store area, a large parking lot in front of the relocated Safeway and design changes to the area’s perimeter, most notably along Broadway and 51st/Pleasant Valley Road. The changes evoked concerned comments from attendees regarding traffic congestion in and around the shopping center.

The questions and discussion of the College Avenue Safeway focused on the DEIR release date and the commenting process.

In closing, Flashman recommended that Rockridge area residents and community groups review both projects and submit written comments on the College Avenue Safeway DEIR. Safeway will be presenting its plans for the Rockridge Shopping Center redesign at RCPC’s July Town Hall meeting. (See front page agenda announcement.)