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: