Wednesday, September 27, 2017

Richmond City Council to consider paid parking, one-way streets in The Point

   POINT RICHMOND - A City of Richmond traffic survey & study of the Point Richmond Business District has just been completed, Point Richmond Neighborhood Council President David Schoenthal announced Wednesday night.
     The survey & study indicate that making Park Place a one-way street heading north and Washington Avenue a one-way thoroughfare going south around the triangle - along with instituting a diagonal parking scheme on both streets - is viable and should be pursued.
     "The city also recommends that we do paid parking," Schoenthal said.

     The news about the results of the survey reached Schoenthal just prior to the regular meeting of the PRNC held in the Community Center on Washington Avenue.
      He said he believes the next step in the process is for the results to be presented to the full Richmond City Council for action - possibly within the next month. The paid-parking recommendations are likely to be considered separately from the traffic pattern alterations.
     "Got some changes coming," Schoenthal said.
     Discussions about parking in The Point have been ongoing for months. In March, two city staff members outlined several proposals for re-striping the business district parking, instituting diagonal parking to increase parking capacity as well the idea of having paid parking.

     The PRNC also heard a report that the group's design review committee agreed in concept with a proposal from AC Transit to construct a restroom facility for bus drivers at the AC Transit bus stop at the turnaround of Castro and Tewksbury, adjacent to I-580.
     In addition to the locked restroom for AC employees, the proposal also calls for construction of bicycle lockers.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

PRNC to welcome two new board members Weds.; search underway for new president

   POINT RICHMOND - Two new board members will take their positions with the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council Wednesday night - Buzz Bayliss as first vice president and David Bleckinger as treasurer.
David Schoenthal
     The new members will take their spots at the PRNC meeting that begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Point Richmond Community Center on Washington Street in the Point Richmond Business District.
     The meeting is open to the public and scheduled to run until 9 p.m.
     At this month's PRNC meeting, the group is also expected to discuss the search for a new president.
     PRNC President David Schoenthal has announced he will be leaving the president's post and running for Richmond City Council.
     One person has already expressed interest in taking on the position.
     In addition to the shuffling of officers, the PRNC will hear a presentation about the impacts of sale of single containers of alcohol in communities. The presentation - set for 8 p.m. - will be made by Ryan Orihood, program coordinator for Discovering the Reality of Our Community.
     Also as part of the meeting, the PRNC Land Use/Design Review Committee will be reviewing a proposal from AC transit to construct a permanent operator restroom facility at the AC Transit bus stop at the turnaround of Castro and Tewksbury, adjacent to I-580.
     The restroom would replace a blue porta-potty currently on site.

Monday, September 18, 2017

Richmond-to-SF ferry to start next fall

   RICHMOND - The anticipated start of daily ferry service from Richmond to San Francisco for early 2018 will now be more likely beginning more than a year from now.
     "Project dredging is expected to begin in October," Ernest Sanchez, manager of public information and market for San Francisco Bay Ferry said Monday.
     "Construction of the land side portion of the terminal is expected to begin in January 2018.
     When that construction is done sometime late in the fall, ferry service is expected to begin.
     An earlier estimated time frame for beginning service - sometime in spring of 2018 - was discussed by Sanchez at the Dec. 6,  2016 meeting of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council.
At that time, Sanchez said the ferry service was planning three morning departures and four afternoon trips, leaving and returning to a pier near the Craneway building.
     Parking for about 360 vehicles is planned for the Richmond side.
     In San Francisco, the ferry will dock at the SF Ferry Building.
     "For now, this will be a peak commute service," he said. Initially, there won't be any weekend or midday service."
     The 400-passenger ferry that will be used for the SF-to-Richmond run has room for 50 bicycles, will offer food and beverage service, and make the trip from Richmond-to-SF (and back) in about 30 minutes.
      The ferry - named Hydrus - is already in service ferrying SF Bay Area customers until it's needed in Richmond.

Thursday, September 14, 2017

Seacliff Drive improvements - responsibility of City of Richmond or condo developer?

    POINT RICHMOND - A portion of Seacliff Drive - from Canal Street to the top of the hill - needs repair and possibly a major roadway re-engineering to solve several serious vehicle traffic safety issues, citizens told the Richmond Design Review Board Wednesday night.
Bottoms Quarry condo project off Seacliff Drive in Point Richmond
     But exactly what should be done - and who should pay for it - will likely be debated in coming weeks and months.
    The comments came as part of a DRB study session on the Bottoms Quarry condominium project proposed by New West Communities of Las Vegas.
    In its current planning incarnation, the project would have about 200 multi-family flats in 15 buildings  on 6.3 acres directly adjacent to Seacliff Drive.  Originally the developer sought approval for 270 units.
    The project would have about 300 parking spots with a mix of garages and outside carports.
    As currently designed, the entrance and exit of the project would be located directly on a Seacliff Drive curve, a spot several speakers labelled as very dangerous.
    "Seacliff Drive is categorically unsafe in its current configuration," Jeff Vines of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development said.
    "It was originally a fire road, then an EVA access road and then - without further engineering to accommodate community traffic - it morphed into a full service access road to the Cove Community."
    Vines' comments about safety were echoed by numerous speakers including Point resident Beverly Galloway.
    "We need a wider road," Galloway said. "We need to make the hill safe enough for the rest of us."
City of Richmond Design Review Board
    Although the Bottoms Quarry condo project will have the most immediate traffic impact on Seacliff, Galloway and several members of the DRB suggested any fixes may also be the responsibility of the City of Richmond.
    "This road needs to get fixed properly," DRB member Michael Hannah said. "It's not like this is the last residential development in this area."
    Two other developments are poised to add vehicle traffic to Seacliff - Terminal One and Shea Homes. Shea Homes on the bay side of Seacliff Drive is under construction and will have 60 housing units. Terminal One developers are still working out environmental remediation details with the Bay Conservation and Development Commission. Construction on that 316-unit project on Brickyard Cove Road and Dornan Drive is expected to start sometime in the next year.
    In his presentation, Vines recommended that the Bottoms Quarry condo project not use Seacliff Drive at all but suggested the entrance and exit should be from an existing right of way to the north, connecting directly to Canal Boulevard. The land is owned by the city.
    Barring that, "access off Seacliff could happen if Seacliff is modified to provide turn and merge lands to allow safe passage for continuing traffic."
    Vines said BCARD believes a traffic engineering study is needed.
    "BCARD is prepared to, within reason, contribute along with New West to the cost of hiring a traffic engineering consultant to develop a preliminary plan and scope for modifying Seacliff Drive," he said.
   After the public's comments, Richmond City Planner Lina Velasco said a draft Environmental Impact Report on the condo project is expected to be done by the end of September. A 45-day public comment period will follow that.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Bottoms Quarry condo project up for review

   RICHMOND - The proposed Bottoms Quarry condo project on Seacliff Drive - a project of the New West Development Corporation of Las Vegas - will be up for discussion Wednesday, Sept. 13 at the City of Richmond Design Review Board.
     The meeting is open to the public and begin at 6 p.m. It will be in the multi-purpose room (basement level) at 440 Civic Center Plaza.
     The city staff contact for the project is Lina Velasco (phone - 510-620-6841, email: LINA VELASCO.)
     According to City of Richmond Planners, the project will consist of up to 200 condominiums - a mix of one, two, and three bedroom units. The buildings will be three stories with some four story elements with approximately 300 parking spaces.
     In earlier presentations to the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council the developers indicated that the project would have as many as 270 units.
    The project includes a recreation center, fitness center and swimming pool.
    "The Project may also include improvements to the right-of-way, including the addition of landscaping and lighting, and improvements to the San Francisco Bay Trail," the city staff review says.
    A general plan amendment to change the designation from Parks and Recreation to Medium Density Residential is also part of the proposal, as is a change in Richmond city zoning from Parks and Recreation to Planned Area District.
    The city is also considering letting the project exceed the legally allowed maximum building height.
    At earlier meetings a number of citizens repeatedly voiced concerns relating to safety issues of having the driveway for the project use Seacliff Drive for all outgoing and incoming traffic to the condo project.
   A link to the city notice of the Sept. 13 meeting is here: City to Review Quarry Condo Proposal.

The proposed Quarry Project, as shown on the current New West WEBSITE