Land Use Update: Shops at the Ride (Safeway), Nautlius

Monday, November 16, 2015

Rockridge Shopping Center Redevelopment (AKA - Shops at The Ridge): Broadway and Pleasant Valley Avenue
Members of the community met with representatives of Terramar Properties on October 13 at the Rockridge Library. As those passing the site have noticed, work is well underway, especially on the new Chase Bank building (two-story structure near the Pleasant Valley entrance) and the new Safeway (further back from that same entrance). Plans are largely unchanged from those approved by the City, but there have been two design changes:

The building south and west of the new Safeway will now be one story, not two, and will now not have parking above. This is unfortunate because it means there will be two separate areas of structured parking, rather than one larger connected area. The reason given for the change was a lack of interest in the proposed second-floor professional offices.

The community center and management office have been moved out of the Phase 2 parking structure building to a spot across the entrance road from it. It will be a little more isolated, but not a big difference.

Plans are for the Phase 1 buildings (Safeway, Chase, and a new restaurant next to the quarry pond for Boston Market) to be finished and open next summer. After that, the old Safeway, Chase, and remaining retail building will be demolished, and the new entrance road and intersection (with traffic signal) on Broadway will be built. The Phase 2 buildings will be constructed as tenants are found to occupy them. Unfortunately, Terramar has not yet found a gardening store to replace the fondly remembered gardening department at Long's/CVS. If you have suggestions of where they could find one, call Catherine Nguyen at 925/738-1239.

Undergrounding of PG&E utlities will be going on in November, in advance of the holiday season. Drivers may expect some delays on Pleasant Valley and on Gilbert Street as work progresses. We are told that there will be no overlapping roadway work on the Merrill Gardens project across the street, so things could have been much worse. Please check the Terramar website at www.theridgeoakland.com for updates on construction activities.

Nautilus Project:Telegraph Avenue Between 51st Street and Claremont Avenue
This large (204 residential units, 33,000 sq.ft. retail) project on the Rockridge-Temescal border is moving forward in the City's administrative process. Between bicycle advocates enthralled by every apartment having a bike rack and committee members pleased with being able to approve a building with what they felt was an appealing design, the Design Review CommitteeÕs September 30 hearing on the project was little less than a love-fest.

Those few neighbors who showed up to complain that the project was out of scale for the surrounding single-family residences were brushed aside, as were those concerned about too much traffic on Clarke and Redondo Streets.

The project applicant has asked that the project be exempted from environmental review due to its being urban infill and close to two transit stations (the Rockridge and MacArthur BART stations). However, the project site is more than a half-mile from either station. It appears no decision has been reached yet on whether to grant the exemption request. If the exemption is approved, the project could come to the Planning Commission for final approval as early as next month.

With that in mind, the Land Use Committee reviewed the project at its October meeting. The committee believes that the project should not be exempted from environmental review, especially due to its proximity to the already-congested 51st and Telegraph intersection, which will be impacted both by this project and by the already-approved Merrill Gardens, Temescal Apartments, and Shops at the Ridge projects. Together, those projects will add literally hundreds of daily trips to the intersection and its nearby entrance to and exit from Highway 24.

Other concerns included the impact upon on-street parking from the developerÕs requested 50 percent reduction in required parking (reducing it to one space for every two apartments).

The committee recommended that the Residential Permit Parking program (RPP) be extended to the surrounding area, with permits to be paid for by the project applicants and project residents to be ineligible for permits. The committee also felt that if parking was to be reduced, the project applicant should pay for free or discounted transit passes for all residents, as well as for car-share membership for on-site car-share vehicles. Last, the committee felt that the project needed to recognize the risk of pedestrian-bicycle conflicts with this highly bicycle-friendly project and provide prominently marked bicycle paths both along the greenbelt extension to Telegraph and from Telegraph to the building entrance. Each of these recommendations will be reviewed and voted on by the RCPC board.

* If you have comments on the project, send them via e-mail to either landuse@rockridge.org or chair@rockridge.org.
* You may also send comments to Mike Rivera, the Oakland planner assigned to the project. His e-mail is mrivera@oaklandnet.com and his phone number is 510/238-6417.
* The Nautilus Group contact is Brian Caruso. His e-mail is bcaruso@nautilusgrp.com and his phone number is 510/213-6226.