Monday, December 11, 2017

'Roundabout' proposed to slow traffic in front of Quarry Residential development

   RICHMOND - A proposed new traffic-safety wrinkle has been added to the Quarry Residential project proposal up for discussion Wednesday night when the City of Richmond Design Review Board holds a public hearing on the 200-unit project.
     The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the multipurpose room of city hall at 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The traffic-safety wrinkle - a roundabout traffic circle - is being proposed by the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development as an answer to repeated citizen concerns about the safety of Seacliff Drive.
Concept illustration of a roundabout on Seacliff Drive
     The proposed Quarry project has a single entrance and exit onto Seacliff Drive, a street numerous area residents have described as being manifestly unsafe.
     The roundabout idea is contained in a memo sent to the city planning department and members of the Design Review Board.
     "This solution would force all cars to slow down ... and would provide safe access to and from the property in all directions as well as a safe continuation route for thru traffic in both directions," the BCARD memo states.
     The issue of traffic on Seacliff was discussed at length at the Nov. 16 meeting of the planning commission. Planning commissioners indicated they favor hiring an outside consultant to study the traffic issue and various alternatives to make the road safer.
     The planners also said they wanted a more thorough analysis of the proposed rezoning - from Parks and Recreation to residential - reflected in the final Environmental Impact Report.
Proposed alternative entrance
     Another traffic safety alternative was also suggested by BCARD. It would be to have the entrance and exit from the project directly off Canal Boulevard (see photo at left), crossing city-owned land to get to the development proposed by New West Communities of Las Vegas.
     The Design Review Board will also be discussing the 316-unit Terminal One project on Dornan Drive.
      It will take up Terminal One prior to discussions of the Quarry Residential Project.
      For an earlier story about the two projects under review, follow this link:

Saturday, December 9, 2017

City DRB to consider Terminal One & Quarry housing projects Wednesday

   RICHMOND - The City of Richmond Design Review Board will be discussing two proposed housing projects in Point Richmond Wednesday night - Terminal One and Bottoms Quarry, also known as the Quarry Residential Project.
      The open-to-the-public meeting begins at 6 p.m. in the multi-purpose room of city hall at 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The 316-unit, Terminal One project  on Dornan Drive - which includes condominiums as well as single family homes - will be the subject of a DRB public hearing.
     The proposed project was the subject of a lengthy community meeting Nov. 4 at the Richmond Yacht Club at which a attendees expressed concerns about a number of environmental issues.
     A number of people also objected to the lack of parking along a public shoreline road which, if approved, will border a public park and pier.
LINK: RYC community meeting on Terminal One.

   The DRB will also hold a public hearing on the proposed Quarry Residential project off Seacliff Drive.
     The 200-unit proposal will require a rezoning from Parks and Recreation to a residential designation, a process that the City of Richmond is running in tandem with consideration of the actual project.
     Area residents have repeatedly asked that the developers or the City of Richmond to consider modifications to Seacliff Drive because of unsafe road conditions.
     At a city planning commission meeting Thursday, Nov. 16
traffic engineer Sam Tabibnia told planners the project will add about 1,400 vehicles to the existing 2,000 that travel daily on Seacliff Drive, most at 42-45 mph through the 25 mph zone.
    Much of the resident testimony that night - and at several other meetings about Seacliff traffic problems - centered on the need for a left turn lane into the proposed project.
    Support was also voiced for not having any ingress or egress directly off Seacliff. Requiring the project to use an alternative entrance from Canal Boulevard was suggested.
     Planning commission chair Marilyn Langlois that evening said she was concerned about considering a general plan amendment change while also reviewing the project, noting that there is property in other parts of the city properly zoned for residential construction with no need for a general plan alteration.
     "I am concerned that we are putting these two things together," Langlois said, adding that doing so might put the developers - New West Communities of Las Vegas - at an "unfair advantage" to other potential builders.
     Here is a link to the report on the Nov. 16 planning commission meeting:

Friday, December 8, 2017

Chevron wharf, new Point restaurants on agenda for PRNC meeting Wednesday

   POINT RICHMOND - An update on the Chevron Long Wharf Project and a look at proposals for two new restaurants in The Point, highlight the agenda for Wednesday's Point Richmond Neighborhood Council meeting.
     The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Community Center in Point Richmond on Washington Ave. It is open to the public.
     The Chevron project is scheduled to begin in early 2018 with improvements to lighting, seismic retrofitting and fire suppression installation on a loading platform.
     The project also will include pile driving while construction/reconstruction is underway.
     Many Point residents received a letter from Chevron in early November alerting them about the project and potential issues.
     Discussion of the wharf project at Wednesday's meeting begins at about 7:15 p.m.
     The wharf project was outlined at a May 2016 PRNC meeting. It is described in the minutes under Item 9 at the following link:

Chevron's Long Wharf
   The two restaurants are proposed by Nathan Trivers and will be discussed beginning at about 8:30 p.m. in a report by the Land Use/Design Review Committee.
     The LUDRC meets during the hour prior to the meeting of the full PRNC.
     Also on the agenda is a report (beginning at 8:15) by Sallie DeWitt, chair of the Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee for the West Contra Costa Unified School District.

Here is the full agenda:

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Festival of Lights set for this Sunday

    HILLTOP DISTRICT, Richmond - Temple Beth Hillel has invited the community to join its annual Hanukkah party Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. at 801 Park Central.
     There will be a traditional latke luncheon and celebratory candle lighting.
     The luncheon will begin at 12:30 p.m.
    Original arts and crafts created by Temple members and students will be for sale, including menorahs, holiday candles and presents from the gift shop.
     The family-oriented event will also include games, crafts and activities for children.
     For more information about the event, call 510-223-2560.

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Nov. Richmond Pulse story highlights holiday shopping spots in The Point

   POINT RICHMOND - The Richmond Pulse newspaper published a feature story Nov. 21 highlighting some of the businesses - and holiday events - in the Point Richmond Business District.
     The story focuses at what's being called 'Holiday in the Point' and emphasizes how buying local this holiday season supports the entire community.
     To read the article, follow this link:

Thursday, November 23, 2017

Point Richmond's 2017 'Turkey Shoot' event was a hoot for everyone - as usual

   POINT RICHMOND - The annual Point Richmond Turkey Shoot - a parade, music, some short speeches and a reading of a historic (and growing) poem, was a big hit again Thursday.
     And, of course, there was the imbibing of either Wild Turkey whiskey or non-alcoholic beverages.
     Mayor Tom Butt brought his goats, ukuleles were out in force and several hundred townsfolk turned out to march around the town.
     This year's Turkey Shoot also included a 5K walk-run-stroll in the hour or so before things got underway with the parade.
     Here a link to a short video of the events.

Friday, November 17, 2017

5 pm deadline for comments on draft EIR for proposed Quarry residential project

   RICHMOND - A 90-minute Richmond Planning Commission public hearing Thursday on the draft environmental impact report for the proposed 200-unit Bottoms Quarry residential project focused on two elements: a proposed general plan amendment and citizen concerns about unsafe road conditions on Seacliff Drive.
     And today (Monday, Nov. 20) is the deadline for public comments is 5 p.m. They can be submitted via email to Lina Velasco.
     The general plan amendment - being considered in tandem with review of the proposal - would change the designation from Parks and Recreation to medium density Residential.

Seacliff Drive Traffic Safety
   Traffic engineer Sam Tabibnia told planners the project will add about 1,400 vehicles to the existing 2,000 that now traverse Seacliff Drive daily. He said most of that traffic travels at speeds between 42-45 mph.
     Among recommendations for slowing vehicles down to the legal speed of 25 mph, the draft EIR suggests additional signs and narrowing the traffic lanes to 11-feet with three-foot shoulders.
     That lane-shrinking recommendation was uniformly opposed by members of the public who gave testimony.
     Jeff Vines, a member of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development testified that at a minimum a left-turn lane should be installed in front of the proposed entrance of the 200-unit development.
     "We (BCARD) strongly recommend putting in a left-turn lane," Vines said.
     Another speaker said the project entrance and exit should not be on Seacliff Drive at all, but off Canal Boulevard, crossing a small stretch of city-owned property yards from the Canal-Seacliff intersection.
     "It's the only solution that makes sense," Gail Bourque said.
     In comments after the public hearing closed, several members of the planning commission said they favor getting an outside traffic engineer to evaluate the dangers - and possible solutions - for Seacliff Drive.
     "We are cognizant this is a serious issue," commission member Andrew Butt said.

General Plan Amendment 

   The proposed change from Parks and Recreation to Residential was opposed by several speakers, most of whom pointed to an existing lack of recreational facilities and objected to removing any more potential recreation sites.
     "This is a perfect spot for a lighted baseball or soccer field," Kathryn Dienst testified.
     Dienst previously submitted detailed written objections to the rezoning to the city planning staff after the project was considered by the city Design Review Board. She recommended Thursday that the public get a chance to vote on the general plan amendment.
     "This is spot zoning and you should not approve it," she said.
     Another speaker - heavily involved in area youth sports - echoed the notion that recreational opportunities are in short supply.
     "Removing Parks and Recreation land is not a good idea," Dave Price said.
     Planning commission chair Marilyn Langlois said she was concerned about considering a general plan amendment change at the same time as reviewing the project.
     She noted there is property in other sections of the city already properly zoned for residential construction, with no need for a general plan alteration.
     "I am concerned that we are putting these two things together," Langlois said, adding that doing so might put the developers - New West Development of Las Vegas - at an "unfair advantage" to other potential builders.
     She recommended that city planning staff - and/or the developer - obtain a letter from the East Bay Regional Park District indicating that the park has no interest in developing the property for recreational uses.
     Commissioner Andrew Butt suggested that the draft EIR for the Quarry project should contain a review of the impacts of recreational use on the land as well as the proposed residential.
     "We need to look at some solid evidence, he said.

Comment deadline - Monday, Nov. 20

   Written comments on the draft EIR for the Quarry residential project will be accepted until 5 p.m. Monday by the city staff. The full EIR - which will incorporate comments from the public hearing, written comments and city staff comments - should be completed in early 2018. Following that, there will be more public hearings on the full EIR.
     A copy of the draft Environmental Impact Report for the project can be accessed here: QUARRY PROJECT EIR.
     Comments and questions can be directed to city planning staff member Lina Velasco via email here: LINA VELASCO.

Richmond Planning Commission

 - Michael J. Fitzgerald