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.