Thursday, December 14, 2017

City DRB OKs Quarry Residential project - declines comment on Seacliff Drive traffic

   RICHMOND - The City of Richmond Design Review Board Wednesday night sent forward its recommendation for approval - from the design standpoint - of the proposed Quarry Residential project, a 193-unit housing development on Seacliff Drive.
     That approval recommendation now goes to the City of Richmond Planning Commission with a variety of caveats about colors, landscaping, retaining walls, windows, parking and general aesthetics.
     But in its approval the DRB did not address matters relating to traffic safety, a key issue among concerned Point Richmond residents since the project by a Las Vegas developer was first proposed last February.
     At the outset of a two-hour public hearing on the project, City planner Lina Velasco advised the board against considering traffic safety on Seacliff Drive in its deliberations.
     "It's not within the purview of the Design Review Board," Velasco said.
     A number of Point Richmond residents attended the meeting hoping the DRB would consider traffic safety, particularly because the design of the project shows Seacliff Drive as its main entry and exit.
     "It's common knowledge that the road is unsafe," said Jeff Vines, a member of the Brickyard Cove Alliance for Responsible Development. "To me, it's part of the design, how the entrance is set up."
    Vines outlined traffic safety alternatives that BCARD and other residents have suggested at several meetings of the Point Richmond Neighborhood Council, the city planning commission and the DRB at a study session in September.
   At a city planning commission hearing, commissioners indicated they were supportive of having the city hire an outside traffic engineer study the safety issues of Seacliff Drive.
     Vines urged the DRB Wednesday to include one of three safety suggestions as a condition of approval of the project.
Computer illustration of 'roundabout' on Seacliff Drive
     • The first would be to have all ingress and egress to the project come from the north, directly off Canal Boulevard crossing a small stretch of city-owned property. Residents and visitors to the Quarry project would avoid Seacliff Drive entirely.
     • The second would be to have a mini-traffic circle - a roundabout - at the project entrance instead of a simple intersection.
     • The third would be to install a left turn lane for traffic heading north on Seacliff Drive.
     Vines recommendations were supported by several speakers, including Gail Borque and Leslie Hicks.
     "It's very dangerous unless you implement one of Jeff Vine's recommendations," Hicks testified.
     Just how dangerous the former dirt road is was echoed by Borque.
     "That road historically was a dirt road. I don't know how much engineering was done when it was paved. But it's not safe," she said.
     Although the DRB declined to consider traffic safety, chair Jonathan Livingston said if the planning commission recommended any changes to the entrance, that part of the project would have to come back to the DRB for another review.
     The DRB Wednesday also held a two-plus hour public hearing on the Terminal One project.
     A story about that hearing can be found here:

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.