Approved Minutes of the September 17, 2018, Design Review Board Meeting
1. Call to Order and Safety Announcement. Design Review Board (Board) Chair Karen Alschuler called the meeting to order at the Bay Area Metro Center, 375 Beale Street, Yerba Buena Room, First Floor, San Francisco, California, at approximately 5:30 p.m., and asked everyone to introduce themselves.
Other Board members in attendance included Board Vice Chair Gary Strang and Board Members Cheryl Barton, Tom Leader, and Stefan Pellegrini. BCDC staff in attendance included Rebecca Coates-Maldoon, Andrea Gaffney, Ethan Lavine, and Walt Deppe. The presenters were David Burton (KTGY), Michael Duncan (SOM), Clay Fry (Studio FCF), Michael Gerrity (P3RE), Paul Houtz (Alameda Marina), Sean Murphy (Alameda Marina), and Angelo Obertello (CBG). Public comment via email was submitted by Lee Chien Huo (San Francisco Bay Trail Project). Also, in attendance were Kathleen Livermore (City of Alameda) and Chris Nicholas (resident of Alameda County).
Andrea Gaffney, BCDC Bay Design Analyst, reviewed the safety protocols, meeting protocols, and meeting agenda.
2. Report of Chief of Permits. Ms. Gaffney presented the report on behalf of Ethan Lavine, BCDC Coastal Program Manager:
a. The Commission briefing on how regulatory staff has been using the new Ocean Protection Council State Guidance for sea level rise, originally scheduled for September 20th, has been tentatively rescheduled to November 1st.
b. The Ocean Protection Council workshop for local governments to understand how to apply the guidance, originally scheduled for November 15th, has been postponed and will soon be rescheduled.
c. The tentative agenda for the October 15th DRB meeting will be Alameda Landing Waterfront Mixed-Use Development and Jack London Square Hotel.
d. The tentative agenda for the November 5th DRB meeting will be Monarch Bay in San Leandro.
e. No projects have been reviewed by the Commission since the last Board meeting. The Pier 22.5 Fireboat Station, Alameda Landing Waterfront Mixed-Use Development, and Alameda Marina Mixed-Use Redevelopment may be reviewed by the Commission before the end of the year.
f. Hanna Miller, Coastal Program Analyst, has left the BCDC to attend graduate school. Staff is actively looking to fill her position.
3. Approval of Draft Minutes for July 9, 2018, Meeting. Ms. Alschuler asked to change the word “designing” to “building” under the Board Discussion section on page 7.
MOTION: Mr. Leader moved approval of the Minutes for the July 9, 2018, San Francisco Bay Conservation and Development Commission Design Review Board meeting as revised, seconded by Mr. Strang.
VOTE: The motion carried with a vote of 5-0-0 with Board Chair Alschuler, Board Vice Chair Strang, and Board Members Barton, Leader, and Pellegrini voting approval with no abstentions.
4. Briefing on the Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer
a. Staff Presentation. The Board received a briefing on the Adapting to Rising Tides (ART) Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer, a part of the BCDC’s Adapting to Rising Tides Program. Ms. Gaffney provided a demonstration of the ART Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer, a newly-released online tool to help public planners, city officials, public agencies, community groups, students, and communities better understand rising sea levels.
b. Board Questions. Board Members asked clarifying questions and Ms. Gaffney further demonstrated the online tool.
c. Public Hearing. No members of the public addressed the Board.
5. Alameda Marina Mixed-Use Redevelopment (Second Pre-Application Review). The Board held their second pre-application review of a proposal by Pacific Shops, Inc., and the city of Alameda for redevelopment of the 44-acre Alameda Marina site at 1815 Clement Avenue in the city and county of Alameda. The proposed project would include maritime, marina, commercial, retail, residential, and open space. Public access improvements include construction of a new segment of the Bay Trail, park and hardscape plaza areas, reuse of existing wharves for passive and recreational public use, installation of a public floating dock within a historic graving dock, and other public amenities.
a. Staff Presentation. Walt Deppe, BCDC Coastal Program Analyst, introduced the project and showed the short video of the project site shown at the March 5, 2018, meeting and pointed out areas of interest. He reviewed the project and summarized the changes made to the design since incorporating the Board’s comments from the March meeting, which were
included in the staff report. He noted that the project proponents’ responses to the Board comments at the March meeting and the Sea Level Risk Assessment and Strategy memo were included in the meeting packet. He summarized the issues in the staff report including whether the project:
(1) Provides sufficient area and amenities to accommodate the expected level of use from new residents, employees, and visitors to this segment of the shoreline
(2) Includes the appropriate sort of amenities for the public at this location, and will feel inviting to the public
(3) Creates clear delineations between public areas and private development and resolves areas of potential conflict between these uses
(4) Provides adequate and appropriately sited public parking for the public amenities at the site
(5) Provides adequate public access areas with each phase of development
(6) No details have yet been provided about site furnishings, signage, planting, or lighting. Does the Board have advice on these amenities?
(7) No details have yet been provided on the maintenance and management of the public access areas. Does the Board have advice on these topics?
(8) Takes advantage of the unique historical features in its design or enhances the public’s understanding of the site and its relationship to the Bay
(9) Provides clear connections for all users to the Bay from Clement Avenue, and otherwise maximizes the opportunities for the public to access and view the Bay
(10) Minimizes the potential for conflicts among pedestrians and cyclists within the shoreline open space area
(11) Designs the Bay Trail widths to adequately provide for the anticipated level of demand at this location and follows the best possible route through the project site
(12) Provides an appropriate and clear detour alignment for the Bay Trail at the Boat Hoist
(13) Considers potential adverse effects to the proposed public access improvements from anticipated sea level rise, and designs appropriate responses to achieve resiliency to, or adapt to, these conditions
b. Project Presentation. Sean Murphy, Alameda Marina/Pacific Shops, Inc., stated the planning board and city council have approved the revised plan. He provided an overview, with a slide presentation, of the proposed master site plan and summarized the changes made to the design since incorporating the Board’s comments from the March meeting.
Angelo Obertello, Principal, Carlson, Barbee, and Gibson, Inc., continued the slide presentation and discussed sea level rise.
Paul Houtz, Harbor Master, Alameda Marina, continued the slide presentation and discussed the dry boat storage area and Bay Trail interface. He stated the process of moving boats to and from the water is intrinsically interesting, hence most of the time Bay Trail users stop to watch the approximately five- to ten- minute process.
Clay Fry, Studio FCF, continued the slide presentation and discussed refinements to the proposed project since the last Board meeting. He showed a series of renderings that fade from existing to proposed to give Board Members a 3D view of what is currently there and what is proposed.
c. Board Questions. Following the presentation, the Board asked a series of questions:
Ms. Barton asked about sea level rise during the three phases of the project, including the three phases of the sea wall, and what is being considered if the project stalls. Mr. Murphy stated the projected total buildout for this project is approximately five to seven years. Each phase has its own protection. The interior areas, public access, and waterfront will be elevated simultaneously for each phase.
Ms. Barton asked about the drainage plan during phases that raise the land. Mr. Murphy stated new elevated outfalls will be constructed with each phase in similar locations as the existing outfalls. In the future, a pump system may be required to be implemented as an adaptive measure near the discharge to the Bay.
Mr. Leader stated the wooden wharf looks great and is in character but is large. He asked if there should be clues to the use of the wharf such as for market or sculptures.
Mr. Murphy pointed out areas on the Master Site Plan presentation slide and stated there have been discussions of using the area for a farmer’s market for sailors, swap meets, and industry shows. He stated the need to keep an open flex space so the harbormaster can utilize the area as he sees fit for the sailing community.
Ms. Barton asked about the percentages of types of boating. Mr. Murphy stated approximately 70 percent are sailboats and 30 percent are motor boats.
d. Questions for the City of Alameda. Mr. Strang asked the city of Alameda if they had any key issues they would like to share with the Board. Kathleen Livermore, Planner, city of Alameda, stated the city is concerned about the flexibility for the dry dock area. She stated the city would like to maintain the high-quality jobs in the area while having a good experience for residents and Bay Area citizens who may want to use the Bay Trail. She stated the planning board and city council unanimously supported the proposed project.
Ms. Alschuler stated a residential development partner has not yet been identified so there are no details of the buildings, but there were discussions about commitments made having to do with setbacks from Clement Street and other improvements to make it a more attractive and accessible site. She asked what the ground floors of the buildings would be like, particularly the larger apartment building since there are public ways on either side of it. She asked if the city had a set of guidelines in place that would give the Board comfort that the city was reviewing and watching over those kinds of things.
Ms. Livermore suggested that David Burton answer that question. She stated there are future city design board requirements for approval of the specific phases.
Ms. Alschuler asked David Burton how the public access to the water will feel. David Burton, Executive Director, KTGY Architecture, and Planning Board, City of Alameda, stated there are detailed design guidelines built into the Master Plan that talk about the interfaces and setbacks. He pointed out setbacks along Clement Street on the presentation slides, where the buildings interface on public areas, and stated there are guidelines on how the public and private space will be differentiated.
Mr. Burton stated the townhouses and stacked flats have ground floor living space. The building at the main entrance at Shiller Street has ground floor retail and commercial space to interface with the public and has housing up above. The front of the building that faces onto the boatyard space also has ground floor commercial space with housing up above. Where there is more intensive public interface with the buildings, there is interaction there.
Ms. Alschuler asked if this would apply to the future design the buildings. Mr. Burton stated it would because it is built into the Master Plan.
e. Questions for the Landscape Architect. Ms. Barton asked the landscape architect about the approach to the plant palette – it is suburban rather than water’s edge. The landscape architect referred to the presentation slides and noted that there is a lot of pavement on the proposed site right to the edge at the boat storage and active commercial core. He noted that it is greener looking back toward Clement Street up the visual corridors that separate the residential blocks. The green seeps in from the street, which works with the city guidelines. The transitional edges, which work with Bay-friendly and coastal plant palettes, are greener because there are also bioswales and biotreatment issues. He particularly noted a 50-foot setback from the edge to the face of the buildings on a presentation slide(exhibit 14). He stated there is a layering effect that starts occurring along the edge.
The landscape architect stated there is concern about shade. He pointed to buildings on the presentation slides and noted that the design provides shade while ensuring all views remain uninterrupted. The proposed plant palette maintains and understands all of the hardscape and interaction interface issues relative to the marina.
Mr. Pellegrini asked if there would be a method for the future residential development partner to build something on the ground floor besides residential, if that was their desire, or if the future residential development partner would be limited to what has been described.
Mr. Murphy stated the Master Plan is the defining guideline for the mixed-use development and lays out the approved zoning. He pointed out locations on the presentation slides that interface between commercial and residential space and particularly noted a location where the residential space will intentionally be disconnected from the Bay Trail. He stated other private open space will be designed for residential use.
f. Public Hearing. Two members of the public provided the following comments:
(1) Chris Nicholas, resident of Alameda County, Commodore of the Island Yacht Club (IYC), asked about infrastructure to support the residents of the proposed project and how individuals will get to this waterfront area. He stated the IYC is in Building 14, which will not be refurbished because the costs are prohibitive. He stated the IYC looks forward to working with the developer to assure that clubhouse activities and small-boat access thrive.
(2) Ms. Gaffney read the written comments submitted by Lee Chien Huo, Bay Trail Planner, San Francisco Bay Trail Project. Mr. Huo stated the San Francisco Bay Trail Project appreciated the project proponents’ efforts to incorporate many of their suggested changes at the last DRB meeting. He further suggested that the project proponents designate a boat loading zone area and plan the permanent Bay Trail alignment around this loading zone to alleviate the impact and interaction of the proposed boat-loading hoist on Bay Trail users.
g. Board Discussion. The Board responded to the questions from the staff report as follows:
(1) Physical and Visual Access
(a) Is the proposed public access — in terms of area and the amenities provided — sufficient to accommodate the expected level of use from new residents, employees, and visitors to this segment of the shoreline?
Mr. Strang stated the Bay Trail goes out to the edge of the Bay at Harbor View Park, which is the only opportunity to take vegetation right to the edge of the water. He stated, if the Bay Trail were moved closer to the buildings, the park could go right to the water’s edge. The railing could be dropped down below eye level.
Ms. Alschuler agreed that a careful look at fencing and railings throughout the proposed project is important in this next round. Fencing should be avoided or made as low and unobtrusive as possible.
Mr. Leader agreed and stated the rendering at the bottom left of page two felt crowded at the access to the water. He suggested playing it up more and opening the width with pavement and a tree that reinforces that.
Ms. Alschuler agreed and stated the bottom left area is an important view because it is narrow.
Mr. Leader stated it would be nice if there were a system of these things that could work across the site to get the view and access out. Even along the old dry dock could have a little more force to the edges, although the uses are nice.
Ms. Alschuler stated there was Board consensus for the Bay Trail to loop further back ten to fifteen feet and to take this one opportunity for green spaces.
(b) Does the design include the appropriate sort of amenities for the public at this location, and will it feel inviting to the public?
(c) Does the design create clear delineations between public areas and private development? Are there areas of potential conflict between these uses and, if so, how could they be resolved?
(d) Is there adequate and appropriately sited public parking provided for the public amenities at the site?
Ms. Alschuler asked about the difference between public and visitor parking.
(e) Will adequate public access areas be provided with each phase of development?
(f) Does the Board have advice on site furnishings, signage, planting, or lighting such that the public spaces are inviting and enjoyable to the greatest amount of the public?
Mr. Strang agreed with Ms. Barton’s earlier suggestion that the plant palette at the water’s edge look more like it is landscape that exists along the Bay. He suggested using a buckeye, myrica, or toyon tree instead of the crape myrtle.
(g) Does the Board have advice on the maintenance and management of the public access areas?
Ms. Alschuler stated it is unclear who will maintain and manage the site. There are two recommendations for facilities kinds of districts: one that was talked about for maintenance and management and one that was talked about for adaptation for sea level rise. She asked if there needed to be two and stated who maintains and manages the public areas will need to be firmed up in the next round. She suggested someone who looks at programming of the space because the variety of uses and activities requires organization. This is a major transformation in Alameda that will set the pattern for everything else.
Mr. Strang agreed and stated someone who is set up to do storytelling for the present and the past would be invaluable.
(2) Sense of Place and Historical Interpretation. Does the design take advantage of the unique historical features in its design, or are there additional opportunities to enhance the public’s understanding of the site and its relationship to the Bay?
Ms. Barton stated there is a danger on sites like this of trying to make everything look historic. It is important to differentiate between what is authentically historical and what is new. New things cannot be added that look old because it changes the feeling. There is a historic fabric at this site that should be celebrated. It is okay to contrast the old to the new; in fact, it helps the sense of historic place.
Mr. Leader agreed that there should not be historical reproductions or mindless plaques. He suggested investing in a cultural consultant and historian to make a beautiful story that also feeds into the program and calendar of events for these great flex spaces.
Mr. Strang stated he likes the maritime and commercial core that includes an open space for different types of maritime programming.
(a) Does the proposed project provide clear connections for all users to the Bay from Clement Avenue, and otherwise maximize the opportunities for the public to access and view the Bay?
Mr. Pellegrini stated the need to be cognizant of the market realities of a project like this. He stated he has concerns about the substantial portion of the shoreline band that is being given over to private space. He stated the reason he was struggling with this is because there are many things that the Board is being asked to make long-term decisions about, such as sea level rise and the determination that it is okay to put a residential building within the shoreline band for the duration of the project.
Mr. Pellegrini stated it was brought up at the last review that portions of the shoreline edge condition feel more like they could be part of a quiet residential neighborhood. He asked if it makes sense to limit maritime uses into a smaller area on site. He stated he is struggling with the fact that the design precludes the vast majority of the shoreline band from adapting to public uses in the future. He suggested considering flexibility in terms of public uses to allow that public use to extend into the ground floor of the building. He stated he was nervous about giving over 50 percent of the floor plate to parking. This limits the interior of that building to interact with the exterior. He suggested that a more flexible mixed-use at the edge would be beneficial and could fill some aspirations to have a more publicly accessible site, particularly adjacent to the wooden wharf.
Mr. Strang asked Mr. Pellegrini where the opportunities would be to focus that. Mr. Pellegrini stated an opportunity would be at the wharf edge where there is a significant hard-edge space. He expressed skepticism about the grading dock at the last review and, if he had to choose between the two, he would say that the southern portion of the project could be more residential, but there is an opportunity for those active uses to spill out beyond the maritime use.
Ms. Alschuler summarized Mr. Pellegrini’s comments and suggestions as having to do with allowing a greater variety of ground floor uses.
Mr. Leader agreed with the interest, particularly along the wharf and along the central portion. He stated there ought to be more centrality about it and creating opportunity for public uses and changing the perception of the area. He stated, even if it is just facing the wharf, some piece of it has a more public life at the ground floor.
Ms. Alschuler stated there is also the question of whether the ground floor will be equipped to be a place for festivals and events with water, light, and shade availability – that combined with a more flexible use on the ground floor.
(b) Does the design minimize the potential for conflicts among pedestrians and cyclists within the shoreline open space area?
(c) Is the Bay Trail, which ranges from 12 to 16 feet in width, designed to adequately provide for the anticipated level of demand at this location, and does it follow the best possible route through the project site?
(d) Is the proposed detour for the Bay Trail at the Boat Hoist appropriate and clear in its alignment?
Mr. Pellegrini suggested an improved detour route. He asked staff to work with project proponents on this issue.
Mr. Leader asked if there was a quicker detour loop around the hoist rather than going around the large parking lot.
(4) Sea Level Rise. What are the potential adverse effects to the proposed public access improvements from anticipated sea level rise, and what are appropriate design responses to achieve resiliency to, or adapt to, these conditions?
Mr. Strang stated the adaptation is to raise the Bay Trail by filling in a number of feet and there is a typical section through the Bay Trail. He suggested working that section through the entire project, although there are undoubtedly areas where that strategy may not work with the layout. It is a good strategy but it has a long way to go before it can be implemented. He stated adaptation strategies are only as good as neighboring sites’ adaptation strategies. He asked for clarity on how the Board should approach this issue.
h. Applicant Response. Mr. Murphy responded to the questions about the Bay Trail detour around the boat hoist. He stated it is important to understand that the dry boat storage requires 60 spaces with a secure fence around them. He agreed that the necessary detour path is fairly long but the detour path will not be often needed for those 60 boats except perhaps during a racing event. He stated there is a way to shorten the detour path by putting the detour path directly behind it.
Ms. Alschuler agreed and stated it is only five feet.
Mr. Leader asked if the hoist could be put next to the enclave.
Mr. Murphy pointed out a location on the presentation slides and stated one solution would be to remove this leg and put it there. He asked Mr. Leader if that addressed his other idea.
Mr. Leader asked if the dry boat storage could be reconfigured so that the hoist is sitting in a public area.
Mr. Murphy stated the idea is to maintain the 60 spaces while carving this up to essentially make this area a hoist dead zone only. This would invariably lose square footage of land and will impact a certain number of those 60 spaces.
Mr. Leader stated the Board likes the boat hoist, but it would be nice if the detour path could possibly be shortened.
Mr. Strang stated there was a question about furnishings and Mr. Leader had an excellent point about including cultural interpretive studies of this site. He stated a palette of appropriate materials would emerge to give the site character.
Mr. Strang stated the BCDC has made resources available on planting materials such as the Blue Greenway Planting Guideline.
Mr. Leader stated date palms have a more maritime feel than the type in the current design. He suggested drying out the landscape with less lawn. He agreed with including something to do with the ground floor and the limited zone facing the wharf.
Mr. Murphy addressed the shoreline band concerns expressed by the Board. He stated one thing to be mindful of is that a project like this addresses the critical housing shortage in the Bay and on the island and that a Master Plan has already been put into place. He stated his team would like to focus on those areas of the wharf and Harbor View Park to ensure they are interactive spaces but, at the same time, there is a unique opportunity to create open space, which is the water, and to activate it. He agreed that it will be activated with activities that are residential in their adjacency. Mr. Murphy stated the project proponents will respond to the Board’s comments and concerns and activate those uses within the shoreline band.
I. Board Summary and Conclusions. The Board did not summarize their conclusions. (Please refer to the Board Questions and Discussion.)
Board members collectively stated they do not feel they need to see this project again and asked staff to continue to work with the applicants.
6. Office Development at 3000-3500 Marina Boulevard, City of Brisbane, San Mateo County (First Pre-Application Review). Tom Leader recused himself from the discussion and decision-making with regard to this agenda item pursuant to Commission policy.
The Board held their first pre-application review of a proposal by Phase 3 Real Estate Partners, Inc. (P3RE) and Sierra Point LLC to develop an 8.87-acre closed landfill site on the Sierra Point Peninsula. The proposed project would include a life-sciences/R&D campus with three six- to seven-story office buildings constructed above a two-story podium parking garage, including commercial, restaurant, and fitness facilities, and additional surface parking. Public access improvements include a segment of the Bay Trail, outdoor recreational and lawn areas, an elevated open space on the podium, and other public amenities. The Board reviewed a different project proposal at this same site on August 11, 2008.
a. Staff Presentation. Rebecca Coates-Maldoon, BCDC Principal Permit Analyst, introduced the project and summarized the issues in the staff report including whether the project:
(1) Encourages diverse, Bay-related activities for a wide variety of users, and creates a “sense of place,” which would be unique and enjoyable
(2) Includes public access areas designed in a manner that “feels public” and makes the shoreline enjoyable to the greatest number of people
(3) There are several informal access points from the project site to the Waterfront Park Priority Use Area to the north. If the additional CEQA study reveals the potential for conflicts between public access uses and adjacent wildlife habitat, does the Board have any thoughts on siting, design, and management strategies to avoid or minimize adverse effects on wildlife?
(4) Includes appropriately-designed connections between the various public areas to connect people to and along the shoreline
(5) Creates a public invitation to use the elevated public open space for the stairs and ramp on the north side of the podium and the stairs on the southeastern side of the podium
(6) Includes opportunities to reduce conflicts between vehicle and public access use of the drive aisle and emergency vehicle lane at the eastern edge of the proposed property and the adjacent property and creates a sense of public invitation to the shoreline for pedestrians and bicyclists
(7) Includes public shore parking sited in an appropriate location
(8) Includes appropriately designed public areas to be resilient and adaptive to sea level rise
b. Project Presentation. Michael Gerrity, President, P3RE, reviewed the changes made to the design of the proposed site since the Board’s last review in 2008. He provided an overview, with a slide presentation, of the planning and project design process to date for the proposed project. He stated the proposed site provides a unique opportunity to complete the circuit of the San Francisco Bay Trail. He pointed out Bay Trail locations on the presentation slides where one of the original plans was to stop it at the property line and bring it out to the street. The current design is to continue the trail along the slough along the adjacent property out to the street.
Michael Duncan, Design Director, Skidmore, Ownings, and Merrill, LLP (SOM), continued the slide presentation and discussed the location, surrounding areas, site considerations, design, and architectural plans. He stated he was excited to be a part of the transformation of Sierra Point.
c. Board Questions. Following the presentation, the Board asked a series of questions:
Mr. Strang stated the current design is a huge improvement from the previous design. He stated he and Ms. Alschuler visited the proposed site yesterday. One of the questions that came up was about how the parking ratio was determined. He asked if the site requires two levels of parking and if it requires surface parking in addition to the two levels of parking. He asked if there would be shuttle service.
Mr. Duncan stated the parking being provided, at 1.85 per thousand square feet, is approximately half of what would have been provided under the original plan. This can be accomplished because life science companies tend to have a much lower density of employees to office space. The project proponents also plan to run an aggressive travel demand management (TDM) plan. There is an association in the area that runs shuttles to BART and Caltrain, which is well-utilized. He stated the project proponents feel confident with the amount of parking provided at the proposed site.
Mr. Strang asked if parking demand is anticipated to go down over time. Mr. Duncan stated the project proponents will implement strategies with the shuttles and other implementations in the TDM plan to accommodate today’s transportation needs, but the general expectation across the board is that parking demand will go down in the future as individuals look to alternative forms of transportation.
Ms. Alschuler asked about the intention of the surface parking lot, the number of spaces in the lot, and whether it is needed. Mr. Duncan stated the parking is needed. The number of parking spaces planned for the proposed project is currently light for this market. Shifting the buildings inland lost quite a number of spaces inside the parking garage, which led to the development of the surface parking lot. Nearby residents consider the parking spaces to be few so there is no opportunity to reduce the parking any further.
Ms. Barton asked about the responsibility of maintaining the fire lanes to the property lines at the northern end of the site. Mr. Duncan pointed out the parcel line on the presentation slides.
Ms. Alschuler asked how the landscape might change as the public open space area is approached. Mr. Duncan pointed out lawn and native grass areas and the bioswale area on the presentation slides.
Ms. Alschuler asked how there would be long-term confirmation about the tenants and users on the site. Mr. Gerrity stated the Centennial Towers Project was purchased from Jack Meyers, which abuts San Bruno Mountain. There are a number of public features that must be maintained via campus-wide Covenants, Conditions, and Restrictions (CC&Rs). There are rules and regulations about how individuals access them, but they have access and they are required to be provided access.
Mr. Pellegrini asked the project proponents to walk the Board through the anticipated Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) route to access the top of the podium. Ms. Alschuler added her question about disabled parking. Mr. Duncan pointed out the primary ADA route and the disabled parking locations on the presentation slides.
Mr. Pellegrini asked about the strategies being explored for the landscaping on the podium and how a good landscape is expected to be maintained on top of the podium. Ms. Barton added her question about the amount of soil that is being provided for the plants. Mr. Duncan stated there is a curb edge that raises up and the whole area is mounded. The trees are at the edge at planter height. The site slopes down, which provides the opportunity to slope both decks down toward the water. This allows for extra height in the back with step-downs along the edge. The strategy was to use that extra height to add additional soil on the deck. He stated he could get the amount of soil to be used to staff but estimated the soil depth to be approximately five feet.
Ms. Gaffney asked if there is a seat wall around the edge of the oval. Mr. Duncan stated there is a seat wall around the edge to help create that needed depth.
Mr. Pellegrini stated the way it is being described is that the deck slopes so that there is additional soil depth as it moves towards the north edge of the project. Mr. Duncan stated that is correct. He showed further detail on another presentation slide.
d. Public Hearing. No members of the public addressed the Board.
e. Board Discussion. The Board responded to questions from the staff report as follows:
(1) Public Access Design and Sense of Place
(a) Would the proposed design for the public access areas (including the shoreline and podium-elevated areas) encourage diverse, Bay-related activities for a wide variety of users, and create a “sense of place,” which would be unique and enjoyable?
(b) Are the public access areas designed in a manner that “feels public” and makes the shoreline enjoyable to the greatest number of people?
Mr. Strang stated, with the grade change between the podium and the shoreline, the two-story garage has a big climb. It is an incredible space for the individuals who work there but individuals walking by may not know it is public. He suggested widening the ramps so the whole landscape becomes sculpted or making the landscape and building merge more. The fitness center opening to that level is a great amenity. It is a question of the grade change of 20 feet from the bottom to the top of the stairs.
Ms. Alschuler stated there may be space that could be rented out for things like conferences and research meetings. The more that could be seen that gives a clue that the space is public, the better to broaden the usual sense of what offices rent to or think about as a public space. She noted that the restaurant is tucked back away from the Bay Trail.
Ms. Barton asked if the restroom facilities were publicly accessible. Mr. Gerrity stated the public will be able to utilize the restroom facilities in the lobby, which will be fully staffed.
(c) There are several informal access points from the project site to the Waterfront Park Priority Use Area to the north. If the additional CEQA study reveals the potential for conflicts between public access uses and adjacent wildlife habitat, does the Board have any thoughts on siting, design, and management strategies to avoid or minimize adverse effects on wildlife?
Ms. Alschuler asked about the fencing material and stated the hope that it blends into the landscape. Mr. Duncan stated it is a mesh material.
Ms. Gaffney stated staff’s main concern is to balance the habitat with the prescriptive rights to the prior use area to the north. The 2008 recommendations were to put in a clapper rail fence to completely exclude human and dog populations from going into that area.
Ms. Barton stated there is space beyond the fire lane where vegetation is growing. She suggested including grid and wire fences with occasional posts, which can be four feet high at the most, to effectively blend into surrounding vegetation.
(2) Physical and Visual Access
(a) Are the connections between the various public areas (Bay Trail, public lawns, elevated open space, etc.) designed appropriately to connect people to and along the shoreline?
Ms. Alschuler stated the importance of having some indication of accessible public restroom facilities for individuals on the Bay Trail.
(b) Does the design of the stairs and ramp on the north side of the podium and the stairs on the southeastern side of the podium create a public invitation to use the elevated public open space?
Mr. Strang stated there is currently only a bumpy surface to get to the ramp. He suggested a smooth connection from the Bay Trail to the ramp for the disability community and making the bottom of the ramp two to three times as wide as currently designed so it becomes more a part of the landscape.
(c) A view corridor and public access pathway on the adjacent property align with the eastern edge of this property. Are there opportunities to reduce conflicts between vehicle and public access use of the drive aisle and emergency vehicle lane, and to create a sense of public invitation to the shoreline for pedestrians and bicyclists?
Mr. Strang stated if a 26’ fire lane is required, the paved portion should be narrowed to 8-10’ while the remaining required width could be engineered for fire trucks with a softer surface like turfblock cells filled with gravel. If a fire lane is not required then 10’ for emergency vehicles is sufficient.
Ms. Alschuler agreed that individuals would want to go right to the Bay.
Mr. Pellegrini suggested including a reasonable site line between the users in the building and the Bay Trail to ensure that the Bay Trail is not tucked behind a visible site line.
Ms. Gaffney asked if the east side driveway access matches the grade of the sidewalk path. Mr. Duncan stated there will not be a grade change between the properties.
(d) Is the proposed public shore parking sited in an appropriate location?
Mr. Strang asked if there is an option to move the parking spaces on the southwest corner of the site closer to the water. Mr. Duncan stated the parking was placed in this location because it was an area that was quickly visible to the public. Also, there is a service entrance there and the idea was to separate the parking from the service entrance.
Mr. Gerrity added that there are also public parking spaces on the adjacent site at 5000 Marina Blvd.
Ms. Alschuler stated, while walking there and thinking about the character of the Bay Trail in that section through there, it seems that the edge of the Bay Trail is tight with scary spaces hidden behind cars. She asked if those parking spaces needed to be built immediately. She suggested that the parking spaces on the slough side could be monitored to see if those spaces are needed. It would improve that edge for that experience and make it feel like visitors are really meant to stop there.
Ms. Alschuler stated another idea would be to add parking spaces periodically along the edge of the slough with expanded landscape to help individuals feel that they could be seen for safety and make it feel more comfortable on that edge. She stated the importance of landscaping and screening on the side of the wall, which is currently two stories of blank wall.
Mr. Strang stated, if the parking demand were to go down, the westernmost row of parking could be abandoned to landscaping or turf blocks with gravel in the cells to make a softer edge there. Also, taking out a couple of parking spaces would allow a more continuous row of trees.
Ms. Alschuler stated the space that is at the end is going to be markable if enough individuals can get there to see it and use it. It is open 24/7 so it could be important for the restaurant and café to be open on the weekends and evenings. With all the individuals who work in this area, it could become a real place to be and be seen, which will bring the public in more.
Mr. Pellegrini agreed with the suggestions for the parking treatment on the western side.
Ms. Alschuler asked the Board to resolve what they want to recommend for public parking. She asked how the Board feels about its location.
Ms. Barton stated she was okay with walking a distance to get there.
Mr. Strang stated he was okay with the distance for visitor parking but asked to consider including disabled parking spaces closer to the water.
Ms. Alschuler agreed with Mr. Strang’s ideas on the use of materials in the parking area and to slow individuals down.
Mr. Strang suggested that the fire lane and any of the parking could have softer surfaces or unit pavers. The turf block pavers are a good idea. He suggested filling them with gravel instead of plantings because it would be hard to keep them green.
(3) Sea Level Rise
(a) Are the public areas appropriately designed to be resilient and adaptive to sea level rise?
Ms. Alschuler asked staff if they ran the Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer online tool for this site. Ms. Gaffney stated they did.
Ms. Barton asked how much of the public area would still be available during a mid-century sea level rise event . Ms. Gaffney stated most of it would still be available. The small upper left-hand corner is the only area that floods.
Ms. Barton asked to what year and conditions the Bay Shoreline Flood Explorer online tool was run. Ms. Gaffney stated it was run to the year 2070.
Mr. Pellegrini asked if it is likely that the permit would require access to the podium level. Ms. Gaffney stated it would be included as part of the package.
Ms. Alschuler stated the area looks like a place waiting for a water taxi because there are so many users with the intensity of employees. Mr. Gerrity stated the Bay Trail connects down to the Oyster Point Water Taxi Ferry. The Bay Trail is a perfect use case for that.
Mr. Strang stated the proposed project could be a prototype for what this kind of landscape should evolve into.
f. Applicant Response. Mr. Gerrity responded positively to the Board’s discussion and suggestions. He stated the project team will take the Board’s comments into consideration and will come up with an improved design.
g. Board Summary and Conclusions. The Board did not summarize their conclusions. (Please refer to the Board Questions and Discussion.)
Board members collectively stated they do not feel they need to see this project again and asked staff to continue to work with the applicants.
7. Adjournment. There being no further business, Ms. Alschuler adjourned the meeting at approximately 9:00 p.m.
Bay Design Analyst
Approved, as corrected, at the
Design Review Board Meeting of October 15, 2018..