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CD SMART Downtown Station Area Planr Wry OF Agenda Item No: 4 a. Meeting Date: June 4, 2012 no I SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT Department: Community Development Prepared by: Stephanie Lovette 55C -- Economic Development h City Manager ApprovaI_kfi__!!:1___(_1�1 SUBJECT: Presentation of the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan (P10-002(CD)) RECOMMENDATION: Approve the attached resolution accepting the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. SUMMARY: The coming of SMART rail service in 2015 is an opportunity to build on the work that's been done to create a variety of transportation and housing options, economic stability, and community gathering places in San Rafael. The City of San Rafael received grant funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) to prepare two Station Area Plans for the areas around the future Downtown and Civic Center rail stations. These plans will set the stage to create vibrant, mixed-use, livable areas supported by a mix of transit opportunities, including passenger rail service. The Station Area Plans are a multi -agency collaborative conceptual planning and visioning effort between the City of San Rafael, Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit (SMART), Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD), Marin Transit, the Redevelopment Agency, the County of Marin, and the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM). Although titled Station Area Plan, this is a conceptual document that outlines a vision for the area and does not include environmental analysis or review. This is not a specific plan and will not result in changes to zoning or the General Plan. Subsequent work will be required to make these changes. The results of this planning effort are in the attached Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan Executive Summary (Exhibit 1) and Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan, available at www.cityofsanrafael.org/stationareaplans. Vision Statement. The Downtown San Rafael Station Area is at the crossroads of Marin, where people travel northl'south through the County and east/west to shop, to neighborhoods and to treasured open spaces. Some of San Rafael's most vibrant neighborhoods are just a short walk from the Downtown San Rafael transit complex: Downtown, Montecito/Happy Valley, Francisco Boulevard FOR CITY CLERK ONLY 1)I -- File No.: Council Meeting: /.20/2 - Disposition: - jC y o Z_ v -/7 �� /r SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 2 West and the Canal neighborhoods. At the heart of this area is a regional transit complex that fits seamlessly into the context of the surrounding neighborhoods and connects people to destinations throughout San Rafael, Marin and the greater Bay Area. Guiding Principles. Recommendations in the Plan are guided by the following principles: • Fostering a strong sense of place as the gateway to Downtown San Rafael. Recommended implementation actions include streetscape treatments, pedestrian amenities, artwork, public gathering spaces, restored natural features, and high-quality architecture and design. • Improving the street network and bicyclelpedestrian conditions to promote transit ridership. Recommended implementation actions include improving the pedestrian experience and addressing gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian network. • Modifying parking and land use regulations in the area to address the constraints that are hindering the development that supports the vision for the area. Recommended implementation actions include modifications to parking, height, density, and floor area ratio regulations to assist in enabling the kind of development envisioned for the Plan Area. The small parcels in the Plan Area cannot accommodate sufficient parking as part of individual development projects. Improved parking demand management, combined with strategies to enable some off-site parking such as the development of a new municipal parking structure, can play an important part in facilitating new development that implements the vision of a vibrant community in the Plan Area. • Improving conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users. Improvements include short, medium and long term ideas for improving these conditions, including the eventual creation of an integrated transit center complex with bus and train operations located within the same block. BACKGROUND: History. In 1996, the City Council adopted zoning standards to support transit -oriented development (TOD) projects in the vicinity of the Downtown transit station. These unique standards permit high densities (up to 72 unit/acre), heights up to six stories, reduced parking requirements (i.e., 1 space/unit) and special level of service (LOS) traffic provisions for Downtown. During the next ten years, hundreds of new housing units were built in Downtown. Affordable housing is required by zoning, and must be built as an integral part of a development. The TOD policies of San Rafael were recognized and highlighted in Smart Infill: a practical guide to creating vibrant places throughout the Bay Area (2008). In addition to the housing units in Downtown, the City has worked with the bike community to get more bike and pedestrian trips. The City has worked with the bicycle community on bicycle routes through the transit center area, using funds from a federal Nonmotorized Transportation Pilot Program grant. Specific general plan policies for this area include: NH -36. Netherton Office District. Transportation Hub. Use the Transportation Center to coordinate and facilitate the different ways people move to and around Downtown, including bus, rail, auto, bicycle and on foot. Include safe pedestrian and bicycle connections linking this area to the stores, services, cultural facilities, and recreational opportunities in other parts of Downtown. Expand connections from the Transportation Center to other parts of the City by: • Encouraging expanded bus transit, • Considering shuttle service to feasible locales when such service is warranted and can be funded, • Incorporating a rail station if rail service is initiated, • Improving walking and biking facilities, • Providing a safe connection to Mahon Path, • Facilitating the movement of commuters to and from the neighborhoods, and • Creating safer pedestrian crossings on Second and Third Streets. Page 2 of 8 SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 3 NH -36b. Transit Service. Support efforts by Caltrans, the Golden Gate Bridge District, the Marin County Transit District and other transportation providers to increase transit service at the Transportation Center. C -17a. SMART. Should voters approve funding of SMART commuter service, support the following design features within San Rafael: 1. Establish stations in Downtown and in the Civic Center that will serve as multi -modal commuter transit hubs. 2. Design stations and rail crossings safe for pedestrians and with minimal impacts on roadway traffic. 3. Support crossings at -grade through Downtown and strongly advocate for trains that are of a length that they avoid blocking traffic at an intersection. 4. Ensure that new development adjacent to the rail line is set back a safe distance and adequately attenuates noise. 5. Encourage high-density transit -oriented development in the vicinity of the rail stations. 6. Include noise mitigation as described in policy N-9 (Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit). 7. Provide a north/south bike/pedestrian path on or adjacent to the railroad right-of-way. Downtown Station Area Planning Grant. In 2009, City staff and staff from other agencies met to prepare and submit a Station Area Plan grant application to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission ("MTC"). The public agency partners for the Downtown Station Area Plan were the City of San Rafael, SMART, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, Marin Transit District and the Transportation Authority of Marin ("TAM"), collectively the Joint Project Team (" JPT). On May 3, 2010, the City Council authorized the City Manager to Accept and Expend a Grant in the Amount of $528,000 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for Station Area Plans for the Downtown and Civic Center San Rafael Stations, including $132,000 in matching funds for a total project cost of $660,000. $485,000 of the total project cost was designated for the Downtown Station Area Plan. $388,000 was designated from the MTC grant. Of the matching funds, the following amounts were dedicated to the Downtown Station Area Plan: SMART provided $41,000, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District provided $33,000, Marin Transit District provided $20,000, the Transportation Authority of Marin provided $2,000, and the City of San Rafael contributed $1,000. Citizens' Advisory Committee. In fall of 2010, the Citizens Advisory Committee on Housing and Economic Development (CAC) (formerly, Redevelopment Agency Citizens Advisory Committee) began their work as an oversight committee to the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan (Plan). Generally, the CAC met monthly to discuss a variety of issued related to circulation, traffic, housing, access and safety for all modes (train, bus, car, pedestrian, bicycle), connectivity, economic vitality, and parking. Between July 2010 and May 2012, the CAC worked on the Draft Station Area Plan at seventeen committee meetings; reviewed background data; participated in two walking tours of the area; hosted two community outreach workshops, and attended a series of presentations on the Draft Station Area Plan including presentations to the Boards of TAM and Marin Transit, the Transportation Committee of the Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District, and the San Rafael Design Review Board and the San Rafael Planning Commission. Partner Agencies and Joint Project Team. The public agency partners that applied to MTC for a Downtown Station Area planning grant were the City of San Rafael, SMART, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, Marin Transit District and the Transportation Authority of Marin ("TAM"), collectively the Joint Project Team (" JPT'). SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 4 The Joint Project Team was convened in 2009 by the City to assist with the development of the Plan. The JPT consisted of staff from the JPT agencies. City staff included representatives from Community Development, Parking Services, Public Works, and Economic Development. Prior to applying for the planning grant, these agencies had not engaged in any coordinated effort to address the potential impacts of SMART in Downtown San Rafael. In fact, the initial grant preparation meetings were the first time that the staff from several of the agencies had ever met. From June 2010 to March 2011, the JPT generally met monthly to review and discuss the project elements. In addition to the Joint Project Team, a Steering Committee made up of executive level staff from each partner agency met bi-monthly for the duration of the project. Consultants. The work of the JPT and CAC was assisted by consultants Community Design + Architecture, Arup, and Strategic Economics for the Background Report, Alternatives Analysis Report, two Workshop Summary Reports, Draft Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan, and Final Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. The consultants were funded entirely by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission grant and the matching funds. ANALYSIS: Constraints and Opportunities in the Downtown Station Area. The visioning process began with a review of conditions in the area around the transit center. The constraints and opportunities may be summarized as: Opportunities Constraints Regional transit center Heavy traffic flow Developmento ortunities Small parcels under multiple ownership Proximity to Downtown On-site parking requirements Difficult pedestrian environment The Vision. The Vision which has emerged speaks to the desires of the community for a vibrant gateway district with a strong sense of place. The Vision identified six goals for the area: ■ Integrate rail and bus transit within the Plan Area ■ Provide a street network that supports the Plan's land uses, while balancing the needs of drivers, bus and rail riders, bicyclists, and pedestrians. ■ Enable pedestrians and bicyclists to safely & comfortably get to, around, and through the Plan Area. • Supply adequate parking for new housing and businesses while encouraging transit use, walking and bicycling. • Explore zoning changes to provide a consistent and connected urban fabric on both sides of the freeway. • Enable new transit -oriented development characterized by increased activity, a mix of uses, and a strong sense of place. The Executive Summary (Exhibit 1) provides an overview of how the Plan addresses these goals. Plan Recommendations. As a visioning document and a conceptual plan, the Downtown Station Area Plan is just the first step in seeing ideas become reality. The implementation ideas include short-term projects which can be timely opportunities or catalysts for other actions, generate tax revenues, or are manageable in scope with quick results. The short term projects include: ■ Extend building heights and FAR on focused areas east of Highway 101 ■ Provide wide sidewalks. ■ Install directional signage. • Facilitate re -use of Whistlestop site. Page 4 of 8 SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 5 • Improve conditions under Highway 101 — to pursue ways to install lighting and other improvements under 101 at Second, Third and Fourth Streets, and Fifth Avenue. • Complete bike network. • Install new traffic signal controllers. • Improve Third Street crossing at Tamalpais Avenue. • Tamalpais Avenue as "front door" to transit station. • Modify on-site parking requirements for new development. Longer term projects are included as well. However, these projects require comprehensive community dialogue, considerable engineering and extensive environmental review. Progress will be incremental, and depend on substantial grant funding. The longer-term projects include: • Relocate bus operations to SMART station block. • Build municipal parking garage. • Details on these implementation actions can be found in Plan Executive Summary (Exhibit 1). Public Review Process. The public review process included several presentations of the draft plan to neighborhood groups, the funding partners, the Design Review Board, and the Planning Commission. Comments from the various meetings were compiled and presented to the CAC for their review and direction. Partner Agency Presentations. The Downtown Station Area Plan was presented to Golden Gate Transit's Transportation Subcommittee on 12/15/2011, Marin Transit on 12/19/2011, and Transportation Authority of Marin on 1/26/2012. Presentations to Golden Gate Transit and Marin Transit were made by their agency staff and the presentation to the Transportation Authority of Marin was made by CAC Vice -Chair, Bill Carney. The following is a summary of the major comments made by the various board members and commissioners: • The SAP process was a good starting point to bring all transit operators together. The collaboration should continue with additional studies to address the transit operations issues identified in the SAP. • Regional bike connections are important. A viable east -west connection should be shown. • Whistlestop is an essential service provider and their needs should be addressed. • A congestion management program is needed for regional thoroughfares and freeway access. • As SMART's plans develop, it will be important to understand how pedestrians will interact with the Station Area and the design of the SMART right-of-way. • Assessment of changes to bus operations or locations due to SMART should include the impact of increased travel time of bus patrons. San Rafael Design Review Board. The Downtown Station Area Plan was presented to the Design Review Board on January 18, 2012. Comments from the Design Review Board included: • Likes overall intent of the Plan; the Plan represents an excellent direction for San Rafael. • Need to look at increased heights carefully; concerned about 66' height at the entrance of Fourth St as well as heights on east side of freeway, heights should transition into neighborhoods and upper floor set backs should be encouraged. • No automatic height and FAR bonuses; Planning Commission and Design Review Board should have discretion in approvals. • Plan should encourage the existing charm of Downtown (eclectic, architecturally diverse) through good design guidelines. Planning Commission. The Downtown Station Area Plan was presented to the Planning Commission on January 10, 2012. The Commission provided a mixture of policy level and site specific recommendations based on their experience and expertise. ■ The Commission members agreed with the Plan's desire to improve the pedestrian and bicycle experience and connections in the Plan area. The commission members felt that that SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 6 Tamalpais Avenue is the lynchpin of the plan. The Commission also expressed a desire for better non -motorized connections to the Canal neighborhood and therefore supported improvements under Highway 101. The Commission supported the multi use path south of Second Street and pedestrian improvements under Freeway. The Commission was concerned about pedestrian safety while crossing Third Street and about the 101 crossing contained in the Canal Paseo concept. The Commission members suggested that it may be necessary to sacrifice a specific pedestrian crossing to provide for overall pedestrian improvements. The Commission suggested that the City increase enforcement of traffic rules to improve pedestrian safety. ■ While supporting additional pedestrian/bicycle improvements the Commission members also acknowledged that Second and Third Streets are important regional arterials and supported traffic capacity improvements. ■ The Commission stated that existing bus operations and riders should not be compromised and the weather protection for transit users is important. The Plan area must work for transit users, otherwise ridership will decrease. The Commission supported the consolidated transit block concept, but was concerned about capacity to house the busses on the new site. ■ The Commission supported increased residential uses in the Plan area although there was some concern about residential units in close proximity to the freeway. ■ The Commission cautioned about an overreliance on retail uses in the Area. ■ The Commission supported parking policies: shared parking, car share, lower parking standards (parking maximums instead of minimums). Some members of the Commission were concerned there is not enough parking for transit users. All agreed that a parking structure under freeway would be good utilization of that space. ■ The Commission supported height and FAR increases but did not agree that increased height on the west side of the freeway was the only way to achieve a "gateway" to Downtown. Suggestions included using trees and landscaping to create a pedestrian -friendly environment and a caution that new development does not create isolating "walls" to the rest of the Downtown area. ■ The Commission recommended adjusting the proposed FAR and heights east of 101 to address the concerns of the Montecito Area Residents' Association. ■ The Commission agreed with the Plan emphasis on Whistlestop as a unique and important building to the area. ■ The Commission suggested that form based zoning may be appropriate for the area. Citizens' Advisory Committee Review. The Plan that the CAC is recommending for adoption by the City Council is the result of their work with the community and their deliberations on the issues raised during the community outreach. At its meeting of February 2, 2012, the CAC assessed the information obtained from the community meetings, the presentations to the JPT agencies, and the San Rafael Design Review Board and San Rafael Planning Commission. The CAC also invited additional public comments from the community at the February 2 meeting. Members of the public expressed concern over parking, building heights, pedestrian safety, bicycle connectivity, and the use of the Whistlestop site. The CAC made several recommendations including the exploration of residential parking permits, scaling back of the proposed height increases, enhanced pedestrian safety measures on Third Street, a variety of options for bicycle connections, and a broad vision for the Whistlestop site. ■ Residential Parking Permits. SMART does not plan to provide parking spaces for its users at the Downtown San Rafael Station. Several residents from the Montecito Neighborhood expressed concern about commuters parking on residential streets near the station. The Plan recommends that the City investigate the need for a residential parking permit program in the Montecito neighborhood. SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 7 Height limits east of Highway 101. The plan contains recommendations for pedestrian improvements under 101 and for increasing the height and FAR limits on the east side of 101 along Irwin. The CAC believes that the Plan area requires strong edges and an integrated street fagade similar to the central part of Fourth Street to draw pedestrians through the barrier created by 101. The CAC initially recommended a 54 height limit and 1.5 floor area ratio (FAR) along both sides of Irwin Street between Second Street and Mission Avenue and on both sides of Fourth Street between 101 and Grand Avenue. The Design Review Board, Planning Commission, and the Montecito Area Residents Association (MARA) all recommended scaling back the area due to the potential light, shadow and privacy issues on the residential properties. The CAC felt that it was important to have the additional height and FAR on the east side of 101 but wanted to minimize the impact on the residences in the eastern part of the neighborhood. Therefore, the Plan includes the CAC recommendation for a 54 height and 1.5 FAR on the west side of Irwin Street between Mission Avenue and Fourth Street, both sides of Irwin Street between Fourth and Second Streets and the south side of Fourth Street between Irwin Street and Grand Avenue. Pedestrian Safety at Third Street. The CAC felt strongly that improvements should be made to prevent jaywalking and enhance pedestrian safety for people transferring between the bus and train stations on Third Street. Recommendations included pedestrian barriers to prevent jaywalking, coordinated bus and train schedules to allow ample time to transfer, real-time information to let passengers know transfer times, and enhanced crossing treatments for Third Street crosswalks. Bicycle Connectivity. The Plan recommends a variety of bicycle improvements and recommends assessing the feasibility of additional improvements throughout the area to enhance bicycle connectivity. The CAC received several suggestions from the Marin County Bicycle Coalition that were integrated into the Plan. Whistlestop. In May, Whistlestop representatives made a presentation to the CAC regarding the use of their building. They explained the constraints to the building given its proximity to the train station and expressed their strong desire to stay at that location, which is owned by Whistlestop. Representatives presented a concept to the CAC that involved full usage of the site's zoning and included space for current Whistlestop programs and services, additional office space, and housing for seniors and people with disabilities. The CAC recommended that the site be integrated with the SMART train station platforms, as well as with loading activities on Tamalpais Avenue. They expressed a desire for the site to provide an active, welcoming point of arrival to Downtown San Rafael and to create an attractive link to the Fourth Street retail core. Next Steps. Staff recommends the City undertake the following implementation actions: 1. Pursue grant funding opportunities to achieve the Plan Vision including analyzing the more specific impact of SMART on the road network, traffic and parking. a. Staff recommends the City pursue grant funding for infrastructure improvements and technical studies related to specific infrastructure improvements and prioritize grant applications based on the prioritization in the Plan's implementation strategy matrix (Chapter VIII). b. The Transportation Authority of Marin, Metropolitan Transportation Commission and Association of Bay Area Governments indicate that there may be upcoming grant opportunities to implement station area plans. 2. Incorporate some of the Plan recommendations for inclusion in the next update of General Plan 2020. Specifically: a. Review parking regulations and consider making changes to encourage more efficient use of parking spaces. SAN RAFAEL CITY COUNCIL AGENDA REPORT / Page: 8 b. Consider allowing increased height limits and FAR on certain blocks adjacent to US 101 to match existing requirements in nearby areas. c. Explore removing maximum density requirements for residential uses near the station. 3. Continue working closely with partner agencies on implementation. ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW: The Plan sets forth a vision for the area around the future SMART Station and it identifies areas for future study. As the City Council is only accepting these documents with the completion of the work of the Citizens' Advisory Committee and directing staff to consider the recommendations for future plans and projects, the document is not subject to CEQA review as this vision is essentially a "planning and feasibility study" it is exempt from CEQA Section 15262. In future implementation actions, CEQA review will be conducted as required by State law. FISCAL IMPACT: There is no direct budget implication of accepting the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. Subsequent implementation of the Plan's programs will require staff time for grant applications and project management. As the majority of the Plan's ideas are for infrastructure improvements, the Department of Public Works will most likely be the lead agency for implementation actions. The City Council will review and approve any grant funding and staffing allocations as opportunities become available. OPTIONS: ■ Accept the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. ■ Modify the proposed Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. • Return the document to the Citizens Advisory Committee for reconsideration. ACTION REQUIRED: Adopt Resolution accepting the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. EXHIBITS: 1. Executive Summary of the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan 2. Letter from Whistlestop dated May 23, 2012 3. Letter from Montecito Area Residents' Association dated May 30, 2012 4. Letter from Marin County Bicycle Coalition dated May 30, 2012 RESOLUTION NO. 13353 RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN RAFAEL TO ACCEPT THE DOWNTOWN SAN RAFAEL STATION AREA PLAN WHEREAS, in 2004, the City Council adopted General Plan 2020, which included a number of policies related to the two planned Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit ("SMART") rail stations in San Rafael, to be located in Downtown and at the Civic Center; and WHEREAS, staff pursued grant funding for planning the areas around these stations consistent with General Plan 2020 policies and programs including: G -23b Grants, NH -88a Transit Oriented Development, NH 88b Safe Walkways and Bikeways, NH 36 Hetherton Office District, C17 Regional Transit Options and SMART, C18 Local Transit Options and C20 Intermodal Transit Hubs; and WHEREAS, in 2009, City staff and staff from other agencies met to prepare and submit a Station Area Plan grant application to the Metropolitan Transportation Commission ("MTC"). The public agency partners for the Downtown Station Area Plan were the City of San Rafael, SMART, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District, Marin Transit District and the Transportation Authority of Marin ("TAM"), collectively the Joint Project Team ("JPT"); and WHEREAS, on May 3, 2010, the City Council authorized the City Manager to Accept and Expend a Grant in the Amount of $528,000 from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission for Station Area Plans for the Downtown and Civic Center San Rafael Stations, of which a total of $388,000 was for the Downtown Station Area Plan; and WHEREAS, the JPT partner agencies provided grant matching funds in the amount of $97,000. The City of San Rafael provided matching funds of $1,000, SMART provided $41,000, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District provided $33,000, Marin Transit District provided $20,000, and the Transportation Authority of Marin provided $2,000; and WHEREAS, the City Council appointed the Citizens Advisory Committee on Economic Development and Affordable Housing, formerly the Citizens' Advisory Committee on Redevelopment ("CAC") which represents neighborhood, business, and property owners in San Rafael, including the Downtown, to work with the community to develop the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan and to advise the City Council on such Area Plan; and WHEREAS, between July 2010 and May 2012, the CAC worked on the Draft Station Area Plan at seventeen meetings; reviewed background data; participated in two walking tours of the area; hosted two community outreach workshops, and a series of presentations on the Draft Station Area Plan including presentations to the Boards of TAM and Marin Transit, the Transportation Committee of the Golden Gate Bridge and Transportation District, and the San Rafael Design Review Board and the San Rafael Planning Commission; and WHEREAS, consistent with the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Guidelines, the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan has been reviewed to determine appropriate environmental review. As the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan is a planning study that would not result in any actions to change or amend City policies or municipal code regulations, it has been determined that this project is exempt from environmental review per CEQA Guidelines Section 15262 (Feasibility and Planning Studies); and WHEREAS, on June 4, 2012, the CAC presented its recommended Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan to the City Council. NOW, THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of San Rafael accepts the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of San Rafael does hereby thank the CAC for their extensive work on the Plan. BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of San Rafael does hereby direct staff to consider the Station Area Plan when making future amendments to General Plan 2020 to incorporate relevant policy objectives and programs and to pursue implementation of the Station Area Plan as infrastructure grant funding and staff resources become available. 1, ESTHER BEIRNE, Clerk of the City of San Rafael, hereby certify that the foregoing Resolution was duly and regularly introduced and adopted at a regular meeting of the City Council of said City held on Monday, the fourth day of June, 2012 by the following vote, to wit: AYES: COUNCILMEMBERS: Connolly, Heller, Levine, McCullough & Mayor Phillips NOES: COUNCILMEMBERS: None ABSENT: COUNCILMEMBERS: None ESTHER BEIRNE, City Clerk Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan Executive Summary This project is funded in part through the Metropolitan Transportation Commission's Station Area Planning Program. The preparation of this report has been financed in part by grants from the U.S. Department of Transportation. The contents of this report do not necessarily reflect the official views or policy of the U.S. Department of Transportation. The full report can be found at www.citvofsanrafael.oralstationareaplans Background SMART The Sonoma Marin Area Rail Transit ("SMART") is a planned 70 -mile rail corridor for passenger trains from Cloverdale to Larkspur. The SMART rail corridor encompasses the former NWP ROW. The SMART corridor will eventually have 14 stations. SMART's Initial Operating Segment ("IOS") is from Downtown Santa Rosa to Downtown San Rafael. Rail service is anticipated to begin in 2016. San Rafael will have two SMART stations; one at the Marin Civic Center and one in Downtown. The Downtown San Rafael SMART station is the second southern -most station along the full SMART rail corridor and currently the major transfer point for connecting bus service within Marin County and to the Larkspur Ferry for San Francisco bound passengers. It is the southern -most station for the IOS. Downtown Station Area Plan The coming of SMART rail service to Downtown San Rafael in 2016 is an opportunity to build on the work that the City of San Rafael has undertaken to revitalize the Downtown and to create a variety of transportation and housing options, economic stability, and vibrant community gathering places in the heart of San Rafael. This Downtown Station Area Plan builds on previous City initiatives to create a more vibrant, mixed-use, livable area supported by a mix of transit opportunities, including passenger rail service. The City of San Rafael received grant funding from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission to prepare this Station Area Plan for the area around the future Downtown rail station. The Station Area Plan is a multi -agency collaborative planning effort between the City of San Rafael, SMART, Golden Gate Bridge Highway and Transportation District (GGBHTD), Marin Transit, the San Rafael Redevelopment Agency, and the Transportation Authority of Marin (TAM). The Redevelopment Agency Citizen Advisory Committee (CAC) has provided oversight for the development of the Downtown Station Area Plan. The CAC is composed of representatives of the citizens of San Rafael, including residents, businesspersons and property owners. Page 1 of 11 exhibit �-: Plan Area & Existing Conditions The Station Area Plan encompasses a 1/2 -mile radius around the planned Downtown San Rafael SMART station. The Plan focuses on an area bounded by Mission Avenue, Irwin Street, the San Rafael Canal and Lincoln Avenue. The Station Area Plan (the "Plan") The Plan considers conditions in the area including treffic, pedestrian and bicycle connections, and land use patterns, such as the location of residential neighborhoods and areas ofcommercial concentration. The Plan sets out acommunity-supported |onQ- terno strategy for the Downtown San Rafael station area, including the reconfiguration and operation of new Downtown San Rafael transit complex. Through the station area planning process, the San Rafael community has considered and provided input on the safest way for buses, pedestrians, bicyclists, and automobile drivers to travel to and from residential and commercial areas, the best ways to access the SMART station and nearby services, the most appropriate crossing improvements, design guidelines to maximize amenities and passenger rail ridership potential, and strategies Losustain and improve economic vitality. The Man is largely conceptual, laying out broad goals for the Plan Area and options for achieving these goals. Elements that compose the community's vision for the station area may require further or more detailed study as they are implemented going forward. Page 2 of 11 Goals of the Plan The five goals for the Plan are: 1. Integrate rail and bus transit within the Plan Area. 2. Provide a street network that supports the Plan's land use vision while balancing the needs of motorists, bus and rail customers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. 3. Enable pedestrians and bicyclists to safely and comfortably get to, around, and through the Plan Area. 4. Supply adequate parking for new housing and businesses while encouraging transit use, walking, and bicycling. 5. Explore making zoning changes to provide a consistent urban fabric on both sides of the freeway. 6. Enable new transit -oriented development characterized by increased activity, a mix of uses, and a strong sense of place. Vision for the Area The planning process involved multiple community workshops and meetings, extensive discussion among the agencies that compose a project team and steering committee and the members of the San Rafael Redevelopment Agency Citizen's Advisory Committee. The process has allowed for an intensive study of transit operations, opportunity sites, and traffic, parking, and bicycle/pedestrian conditions. Several visions emerged from this process that should guide implementation of the Plan: • Fostering a strong sense of place will be critical to meeting the community's vision for the Plan Area as the gateway to Downtown San Rafael. The implementing agencies should work together to integrate the Plan's elements into a cohesive whole and create a unique sense of place. Reuse of the Whistlestop building, enhancement of the existing strong pedestrian character & sense of place from the Downtown core to the east side of 101 with Streetscape treatments, pedestrian amenities, artwork, public gathering spaces, restored natural features, and high-quality architecture and design will all contribute to achieving this vision. • Providing a range of improvements to the street network and bicyclejpedestrian conditions to set the stage for future redevelopment and to promote transit ridership. The Plan Area is characterized by significant traffic congestion and gaps in the bicycle and pedestrian network. Addressing these challenges and providing improved bicycle and pedestrian conditions will help encourage transit ridership and make the area more attractive for new development. Page 3 of 11 • Modifying parking and land use regulations to open up opportunities for redevelopment. The opportunity sites analysis conducted as part of the planning process showed that modifications to parking, height, density, and floor area ratio regulations can assist in enabling the kind of development envisioned for the area. Even after regulatory changes are made, however, the sites in the area are small, so accommodating sufficient parking as part of individual development projects is likely to remain a challenge. Improved parking demand management, combined with strategies to enable some off-site parking such as the development of a new municipal parking structure, may play an important part in facilitating new development. • Providing improvements to improve existing conditions for pedestrians, cyclists and transit users and to accommodate the SMART station and train service. Some improvements are needed to accommodate SMART's initial operations, and will need to be completed within a relatively short time frame. However, the Plan also includes improvements to the Bettini Center, street network, and bicycle and pedestrian conditions that address challenges that existed prior to SMART. While these latter improvements could be implemented independently of SMART's development, the introduction of SMART service may create an opportunity to make these long -needed improvements that will also help optimize the benefit of SMART to San Rafael. Implementation Actions Goal 1. Integrate rail and bus transit within the Plan Area. The Plan examined strategies for integrating SMART service with existing Golden Gate Transit, Marin Transit, and other transportation providers in the Plan Area. This includes three concepts: short, medium and long term implementation. Implementing the short-, mid-, and long-term visions will require coordination among the City and the multiple transit providers that serve the Plan Area. Concept A. "Day 1 " Opening Day. SMART !OS to Downtown In order for SMART's IOS to operate safely and in accordance with California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) regulations, a series of improvements will be required prior to implementation of the IOS, including: i. Install new traffic signal controllers and upgrade signal interconnection systems. ii. Mitigate the likelihood of jaywalking between the Bettini Center and SMART station through physical design, coordination among transit agencies, and enforcement of jaywalking regulations. iii. Coordinate bus and rail schedules to minimize disruption of bus service. Page 4 of 11 Concept B. Mid -Term: Improve Operations of the Current Bettini Center. The Plan recommends the following medium-term actions to improve operations at the existing Bettini Center: i. Modify Platform C and Platform D when rail service is extended to the south, as described in Chapter V, Section 2 of the Plan ii. Consider options for providing additional space for shuttles, buses, taxis, kiss - and -ride, and other passenger loading activities, as discussed in Chapter VI, Section 6 of the Plan. Concept C. Long -Term: Consolidate bus and rail service in a San Rafael Transit Complex surrounding the SMART station. The Plan's long-term vision recommends creating an integrated San Rafael Transit Complex surrounding the SMART station. Goal 2. Provide a street network that supports the Plan's land use vision while balancing the needs of motorists, bus and rail customers, bicyclists, and pedestrians. The Plan identified several potential improvements to the street network that would improve multi -modal access to the transit center and help address congestion in the Plan Area. The City would take the lead on these implementation actions, which involve changes to the City -owned right-of-way. Concept A. Consider modifications to Tamalpais Avenue to create a `front door" to the transit stations and facilitate passenger loading and bicycle/pedestrian activities. The planning process evaluated alternatives for modifying Tamalpais Avenue between Second Street and Mission Avenue to allow this section of Tamalpais to serve as a "front door" to the transit stations, facilitate passenger loading activities, and create space for wider sidewalks, bicycle lanes, and green space. Concept B. If and when the Bettini Center is relocated, explore implementing traffic capacity improvements on Hetherton Street while balancing the needs of other modes. Moving the Bettini Center to the SMART station block could potentially allow the City to increase capacity on Hetherton Street, as discussed in Chapter VII, Section 2 and the "Alternatives Report." However, this proposal would require further study. Any improvements to traffic capacity should be considered in light of potential impacts on bus and rail, bicyclists, and pedestrians. Page 5 of 11 Goal 3. Enable pedestrians and bicyclists to safely and comfortably get to, around, and through the Plan Area. The Plan identified a number of improvements that would improve bicycle and pedestrian safety and encourage more people to walk or bike to, around, and through the station area.. Concept A. Consider options for improving bicycle and pedestrian access on Tamalpais Avenue. The Plan considered several bicycle and pedestrian improvements to Tamalpais Avenue, including widening sidewalks, constructing bicycle facilities, and providing green space in the City -owned right-of-way adjacent to the SMART tracks. These improvements would require modifications to Tamalpais Avenue (see Goal 2, Concept A, above) in order to free up the required right-of-way. Concept B. Explore other options for improving pedestrian and bicycle conditions in the Plan Area. The Plan identified a number of other potential improvements that would significantly improve pedestrian and bicycle conditions in the Plan Area. These improvements could include: i. Wider sidewalks, improved pedestrian crossings, and extended curbs adjacent to the transit stations, including on Second Street, Third Street, and/or Netherton Street. ii. Wider sidewalks and improved pedestrian connections under US 101 at Third, Fourth, Fifth, and/or Mission Streets. iii. Bicycle signage on Fourth Street, Fifth Street, Lincoln Avenue, and Mission Avenue. iv. A multi -use path along the southern side of Second Street between Netherton and Irwin Streets. The path could be further extended to Francisco Boulevard, with an undercrossing of the southbound US -101 on-ramp, an at -grade crossing of the SMART tracks, and a new east -west crosswalk at Francisco Blvd. v. Improved public space along Fourth Street or a Station Plaza at the north end of the Whistlestop site. Concept C. Consider adding wayfinding signs and features in and around the Plan Area. New wayfinding features in and around the Plan Area would help orient visitors to San Rafael and facilitate access to the transit stations, downtown, and shopping and other amenities. The City could coordinate efforts with GGBHTD, which is implementing MTC's Hub Signage Program — a regional effort to install standardized wayfinding signs, transit information displays, and real-time transit departure indicators — at the Bettini Center. SMART and GGBHTD could also consider asking MTC to modify the scope of the Hub Page 6 of 11 Signage Program to include integrated wayfinding for the SMART station and bus transit center. Concept D. Work with developers and property owners to provide wider sidewalks and pedestrian amenities along the frontages of the transit center and parcels as they redevelop. Portions of Hetherton Street and Tamalpais Avenue have narrow sidewalks and other pedestrian deficiencies. As redevelopment occurs, the City could work with developers to widen the sidewalks and provide pedestrian amenities adjacent to development sites. Goal 4. Supply adequate parking for new housing and businesses while encouraging transit use, walking, and bicycling. The Plan recommends a series of changes that the City could make to parking policies and identifies opportunities for expanding parking capacity in the Plan Area. These recommended actions are intended to address concerns about the parking spaces that will be removed to accommodate SMART service; ensure efficient use of new and existing parking spaces, whether publicly or privately owned; limit the impact of parking from commuters, visitors, and new residents on existing residential neighborhoods surrounding the Plan Area; facilitate the development of small parcels; and encourage the use of alternatives to the private automobile. Concept A. Review parking regulations for the Plan Area and consider making changes to encourage more efficient use of privately owned parking spaces. The Plan explored a range of short- and long-term options for adjusting City regulations to ensure that privately -held parking is managed efficiently and to facilitate the development of small lots that can dedicate limited space to parking. Options include reducing minimum parking requirements, allowing off-site parking for new development, allowing tandem parking and/or unbundled parking, and/or allowing bicycle parking in lieu of some portion of required automobile parking (see Chapter IV, Section 2). Implementing these changes would require making amendments to the City's zoning code. Concept B. Consider implementing public parking management strategies in the Plan Area. The Plan also evaluated parking management strategies that the City could implement to help accommodate public parking demand, while protecting existing residential parking and encouraging walking, bicycling, and taking transit over driving. As discussed in Chapter IV, Section 1, potential strategies include installing new signage to show parking locations and time limits; establishing short-term parking zones; installing electronic meters; and/or exploring strategies to manage parking on residential streets. Concept C. Explore the feasibility of establishing car -share near the transit stations. Page 7 of 11 A car -share program could help reduce reliance on the private automobile, in turn reducing parking demand and vehicle travel. A private car -share organization would most likely provide and maintain the cars; the City could dedicate municipally -owned parking spaces for car -share and work with TAM to provide additional incentives as required. Concept D. Explore opportunities to provide additional parking for bicycles. Various agencies play a role in providing bicycle parking in the Plan Area. The City sets bicycle parking requirement for new development. Golden Gate Transit provides bicycle parking to serve bus riders. SMART will provide bicycle parking to serve train riders when SMART service begins. Caltrans provides additional public bicycle parking under Highway 101. As demand for bicycle parking increases, there may be opportunities for these agencies to create efficiencies by coordinating the provision of new bicycle parking. Concept E. Consider options for providing additional municipal parking. The strategies described above will help manage parking demand and supply in the Study Area. Even with these strategies in place, however, new parking spaces may still be required to replace the parking that will be removed with the construction of the SMART station and to absorb future increases in parking demand from new residents, businesses, visitors, and SMART and other transit customers. The planning process identified and evaluated several potential sites for a new municipal parking garage. Concept F Consider ways to meet parking demand for transit users as needed. As transit use expands, reserving additional parking spaces for transit riders may be required. However, the City and transit agencies should prioritize other modes of accessing the transit stations, such as walking, bicycling, buses, etc. Goal 5. Explore making zoning changes to provide a consistent urban fabric on both sides of the freeway. The Plan provides several recommendations intended to provide a consistent urban fabric on both sides of US 101, and to ensure that — if bus operations are relocated — the Bettini Transit Center site is redeveloped in a way that benefits the community and contributes to a vibrant, mixed-use environment. Concept A. Consider allowing increased height limits and Floor Area Ratio (FAR) on certain blocks adjacent to US 101 to match existing requirements in nearby areas. Extending the character of the "Hetherton Gateway" area (the portion of the Plan Area located west of US 101) under the freeway to Irwin Street would help make the Plan ....... .: . Area a welcoming gateway to San Rafael. In order to accomplish this goal, the Plan � In the blocks bounded bvTan1a|pais Avenue, Hetherton, Mission Avenue, and Second Street, allow building heights up to S6feet and FAR up to 2.0 to match the current height limits and FAR allowed on Tarna|pois between 3 r Street and m � In the blocks along the west side of Irwin Street between Mission Avenue and Fourth Street, both sides of Irwin Street between Fourth and Second Streets, and along the south side of Fourth Street between Irwin Street and Grand Avenue, a||ovv building heights up to 54feet and FAR up to 1.5 to match the heights and FAR allowed west ofUS 101. The recommended height and FAR, as well as existing height and FAR requirements in surrounding areas, are shown in Figure VIII -2 and Figure Vill-3. These regulatory changes would require amendments to the General Plan and zoning code, as well as environmental review. Figure 0II-IRecommended Building Height Limits Page 9 of 11 M3 Figure VIII-3.RecommendedB0 ROM , Goal 6~Enable new transit -oriented development �� ^~*u� ��mx ~ activity, ^ ^�� ^� �"u���==_������ ��� V��������� =�~D��n"�v � ��U�� ��x ����» ��� a � ^�� ��"U strong sense ��x ace~ In order to enable a greater variety of building types and achieve the Plan's vision of vibrant, mixed-use district, the Plan recommends that the City consider allowing additional height and FAR increases in exchange for community amenities, and removing maximum density requirements on residential units. Concept A. Explore allowing a height andlor FAR bonus for developments that provide community benefits in the Plan Area. In exchange for community benefits such as public open space, public art, providing carshare or bicycle parking, etc., the City could consider allowing discretionary height or FAR bonuses in addition to those required by state law. These discretionary height and/or FAR bonuses would be implemented separately from the proposed increases in allowable height and FAR discussed in Goal S, Concept A. Allowing increased building height limits could ai/ovv a greater diversity of building types, contributing to a more vibrant urban fabric that serves as a gateway to downtown San Rafael. The actual building heights/FARsand level of community benefits that could be achieved would depend on market conditions when development proposals come forward. Establishing a new height and/or FAR bonus would require amendments tothe General Plan and zoning code, as well as environmental review. Concept B. Explore removing maximum density requirements for residential uses in the Plan Area. The opportunity site assessment performed as part of the planning process found that under current regulations, maximum density was the most restrictive regulation limiting the types of residential buildings that can be built in the Plan Area. In other words, the maximum density is typically reached before either the maximum building height or maximum FAR. By removing or relaxing this density requirement, the City would effectively allow height and FAR limits to determine the density and number of residential units that can be built on a given site. Changing the density requirement require amendments to the General Plan and zoning code, as well as environmental review. Concept C. Facilitate reuse of the Whistlestop site The Plan recognizes the Whistlestop site as critical to creating a strong sense of place and providing character for the area, and recommends reusing the site in a manner that integrates well with the station design and related activities, creates an active ground floor use, and provides a gathering place for the area. Recommended options to be explored include: ■ Address the lack of parking at the building. This could be addressed through site design, zoning considerations, including permitting off-site parking. ■ Integrate the SMART station platforms with the Whistlestop site to create compatibility and improve a functional integration of uses and pedestrian connections. ■ Create an attractive link to the Fourth Street retail core and Downtown. ■ Provide an active, welcoming point of arrival to Downtown San Rafael. ■ Integrate the site with transit passenger drop-off and loading activities on Tamalpais Avenue. Concept D. Facilitate eventual reuse should the Bettini Transit Center be relocated. To facilitate the site's eventual reuse as an active mixed-use development should bus operations be relocated, the Plan recommends rezoning the Bettini Center site to conform to the surrounding Hetherton Office zoning, a designation that permits a variety of retail, office, and multi -family residential uses. 'Adk6- whistitstop IMEMM I I City of San Rafael 1400 Fifth Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901 Founded in 1954 as the Marin Senior Coordinating Council, Whistlestop promotes the independence, well-being and quality of life for older adults and people living with disabilities in Marin County. The Active Aging Center property, owned and operated bj Whistlestop at 930 Tamalpais Avenue since 197 1, provides delicious meals, educational classes, multicultural gatherings and helpful information and referral services. Whistlest P .21so provides special needs transportation services through Marin Access, a partner-shil of Whistlestop, Marin Transit and Golden Gate Transit. I With the development of the SMART Downtown Station, Whistlestop will no longer have access to parking and bus loading areas within the SMART right of way. Losing t parking and loading areas essentially curtails Whistlestop's ability to use our property the current configuration to provide necessary and required access to services on sit] E The need for Whistlestop's services in our community is, however, growing. Our vision for the Station Area provides a safe haven for older adults and the disabled and access t4 downtown San Rafael social, entertainment and commercial activities. We believe that our property is ideally situated to provide that opportunity. The current General Plan and zoning designations provide for a mixed use transit oriented development incorporating social and transit services, offices and housing. Located in the downtown jWj gio jrtv iroildes i jr4less connection DeLweef) v I U wgt I I I md I I I. I U' -d ILI 41131%, 30 needs of older adults and those with disabilities. Whistlestop's "planning horizon" for the property is now. With SMART's anticipated construction of the Station in the next two to three years, Whistlestop must initiate efforts to pursue the redevelopment of our property to continue the provision of essential community services. We believe the Downtown Station Area Plan should pursue plans to do so. The result would be a truly welcoming, accessible vision for the entire community. Sincerely, Joe O'Hehir, CEO LExhibit 21 P.O. Box 150266 San Rafael, CA DATE: May 30,2012 FROM: The Montecito Area Residents' Association (MARA) TO: City of San Rafael Mayor and City Councilmembers cc: Rebecca Woodbury, Stephanie Lovette FOR THE PUBLIC RECORD RE: Revised Final Draft of the Downtown San Rafael Station Area Plan dated May 24, 2012 We have reviewed the final draft Plan noted above, and would like to make some brief comments on it as it relates to our neighborhood, which is the closest neighborhood in San Rafael to the Plan area. This letter is a revised update of our previous letters of Jan 6 and Jan 151h, which were responding to previous drafts of this Plan. These comments are not comprehensive, but touch on the issues which we feel to be of most importance/concern to our neighborhood. We are aware that this Plan is merely a conceptual vision which looks out far into the future. We appreciate all of the hard work and outreach that has gone into it. We are very happy to see that improvements are contemplated to facilitate pedestrian and bicycle circulation in this area - most of us walk around/through this area frequently, and some of us bike in it - we understand the current problems pedestrians and bicyclists face trying to navigate these streets. 1) PARKING Our first concerns are, in order, parking, parking, parking, parking, etc.... This is not a future VISION type problem - this is a current problem which will be made much worse by the near term arrival of the SMART train to downtown San Rafael. As described in the Plan, dozens of currently legal parking spaces will be eliminated in this area very soon by the arrival of the SMART train. When the bus station/Transit Center was built, no parking was provided for bus commuters. This has already resulted in commuters routinely parking on our neighborhood streets. Because of this, and because the City has relaxed off street parking requirements for the many now legal extra units, etc., our neighborhood streets have a severe parking problem. It is our understanding that SMART will also not be providing any parking for its commuters, which will exacerbate this situation. In addition, this Plan contemplates an enormous amount of commercial and residential development in the future, and suggests "solutions" to the parking problem among which are a further reduction in parking requirements for such new development. There is one small paragraph in the 152 page long plan about "protecting residential neighborhoods" regarding parking for SMART and for all of the proposed new development (see page 64). We have been inquiring about the possibility of the City looking into residential parking permits for years, and we are very glad to see the subject mentioned in this draft Plan. Unfortunately, the tone of this one mention of the neighborhood parking problem and a possible solution is fairly pejorative and dismissive. The idea of residential permit parking, as it is used in SF, for example, is NOT "to prevent non-residents from parking on residential streets". It is to prevent COMMUTERS from using residential streets as parking lots. Thus, most such permit programs allow short term parking, evening parking, weekend parking, etc. by anyone. The paragraph goes on to state that "previous studies" have found the cost prohibitive - what studies? We have been asking for such a study for years, and have never been told that one had ever been done. Cities such as SF, Sausalito, Mill Valley, and San Anselmo have various sorts of residential parking programs, and have been able to do that without charging prohibitive costs back to residents. Usually these programs only apply in certain geographic areas which are unusually impacted by nearby commercial/transit areas. We are very happy to note that, since we brought up this concern in January, we have been told that there will be a City Council Study Session on the topic of residential parking permits sometime this summer - we look forward to that, and hope that it will result in some sort of solution. 2) HIGH RISES EAST OF 101: The next concern we would like to mention at this time is the extension of an FAR of 1.5 all the way down the South side of Fourth St. to Grand Ave., and all along the West side of Irwin St. from Fourth St. to Mission Ave. This extends the original 2020 Plan idea of the "Netherton Gateway" way to the East of 101, and will result in the construction of high rise walls on two sides of our neighborhood. In fact, the area along Fourth St. from Irwin to Grand Ave. is actually completely outside of the "Plan Area" of this Plan as it is defined in the Plan (see page 6). The excuse for this expansion of the Plan beyond the Plan Area is to "make a welcoming gateway" into San Rafael". However, no one enters downtown San Rafael from Fourth Street East of 101! Fourth St. dead ends 2 blocks beyond Grand at Union St.. People entering by bus or in the future by train arrive several blocks to the West of Hwy 101. Autos enter SR from the South on Irwin, then turning West towards the Plan Area, or from the North on Heatherton, then turning West towards the Plan Area. At the Planning Commission meeting on this Plan on Jan loth one of the Commissioners called the increases of FAR and building heights to the East of Hwy 101 an example of "mission creep", and all seven of the Commissioners made comments to the effect that they did not think it was a good idea. Fifth St. is 100% residential from the corner of Irwin to Grand, as is Mission. The very tall proposed buildings along Fourth and Irwin would plunge the residences along Fifth St. and parts of Mission Ave. into shadows all day long, and invade their privacy. Also, both sides of Grand are 100% residential North of the corner of Fourth St., and the proposed huge buildings would similarly negatively impact that part of our neighborhood. No "step down" in heights is provided to make a transition to the neighborhood. These proposed extensions of the FAR breach the current General Plan (2020) in areas too numerous to list them all (no attempt appears to have been made to compare/contrast anything in this Plan with the current General Plan 2020) but paragraph NH -2 provides an example of the main ideas that are repeated in many places in the 2020 Plan: NH -2: (goal) Preserve, enhance and maintain the residential character of neighborhoods to make them desirable places to live" The irony is that our neighborhood is an example of what is now desired as a residential neighborhood that is within walking distance of transit and commercial areas. It does NOT represent "suburban sprawl", and never has. It was originally built over 110 years ago, BECAUSE OF ITS PROXIMITY TO DOWNTOWN AND THE RAIL ROAD! It consists of old well maintained historic homes, as well as many rental apartment buildings, and many previously single family homes which have added units or become multi- family buildings. It is the home of two large senior living facilities, and several group homes. It is very dense and very diverse, and its residents represent a very wide range of income levels. Residents, and students who attend SRHS or Dominican University, take advantage of its proximity to Downtown and the bus transit center, as well as the thriving commercial area along Fourth and Third Streets which include a Whole Foods, a CVS, a Rite Aide, a Trader Joe's, and United Market, among many other things. This neighborhood is an example of a neighborhood which already fits perfectly into the future, while preserving some of the best historic architecture of San Rafael's past. In addition to the impact on our neighborhood, the construction of high rise buldings both to the West and to the East of Hwy 101 would result in creating a "canyon" effect for cars driving on Hwy 101 through San Rafael - all views of the City or the Bay would be blocked, and you might think you were in Los Angeles. 3) HISTORIC TRAIN STATION TO BE DESTROYED: Lastly, we are very disappointed to see that the language in previous drafts of this Plan about preserving and re -using the old historic Train Station (the Whistle Stop building) have been deleted. This is a valuable historic asset, and there is universal support in our neighborhood for its preservation. It could become a fantastic entrance/real gateway into San Rafael. Thank you for your consideration. Respectfully, The Board of MARA Vickie Hatos Sid Waxman Jackie Schmidt Constanza Perry Helenclare Cox Bryn Deamer Sherna Deamer Kay Corlett Scott Kaplan wwwrnarinbike-org V 415 456 3469 F 415 .• 733 Center Blvd. Fairfax, CA 94934 Board of Directors Maureen Gaffney, President Mark Comin, Vice President Don Magdanz, Secretary Ian Roth, Treasurer Phil Brewer Chris Hobbs Jennifer Kaplan Fred Morfit Scott Penzarella John Vipiana Advisors Mark Birnbaum Joe Breeze Tom Hale Deb Hubsmith Jim Jacobsen Patrick Seidler Julia Violich Staff Kim Baenisch Executive Director Tom Boss Membership Director Bob Trigg Administrator April Spooner Volunteer and Activities Coordl'nator Andy Peri Advocacy Director Alisha Oloughlin Advocacy Coordinator Erik Schmidt Off -Road Director Wendi Kallins Safe Routes to Schools Director Laura Kelly Safe Routes Vol u=eer _riaison Peggy Clark Safe Routes Pro3ect Coordinator "hare the Road Program. Manager Gwen Froh Safe Rcuces Teen Coordinator James Sievert afe Routes Teen Coordinator and instructor Shumit DasGupta safe Routes ?nst_actor I May 30, 2012 Rebecca Woodbury Management Analyst City of San Rafael P.O. Box 151560 1400 Fifth Avenue, Room 203 San Rafael, CA 94915-1560 Subject: Final Downtown San Rafael SMART Station Area Plan 9 MMU -111 =To# gliom The Marin County Bicycle Coalition (MCBC) is writing to express our gratitude for ensuring that the safety and circulation concerns of bicyclists have been addressed in the Downtown San Rafael SMART Station Area Plan (SAP). As a result, the Final SAP now better provides options for increased safety, comfort and convenience of cyclists utilizing the North-South Greenway through San Rafael and accessing the SMART and the Bettini Transit Stations. As revised, the Final SAP not only addresses the needs of cyclists, but also serves to fulfill one on the major goals of the Plan, which is to provide a safe, user-friendly bicycle/pedestrian environment, enticing more people to walk or bike to the transit stations, and thus, resulting in reduced parking demands and traffic congestion within the Plan Area. MCBC urges the San Rafael City Council to approve the SAP as presented. Sincerely, April 2, 2012 San Rafael City Council San Rafael City Hall 1400 5th Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901 Honorable Mayor and Council Members, Sustainable San Rafael has previously commented to the Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) regarding the Draft Downtown Station Area Plan (DSAP) and has followed the development of the Plan closely, believing its policies are critical to our city's sustainable development. The arrival of SMART and our adaptation to the changes it will bring are among the most significant development issues we face. We appreciate the careful consideration it has received. The Plan applies sustainable practices to an existing environment largely dominated and frequently overwhelmed by automobiles. Although we may not eliminate cars in the near future, this Plan begins the process of ending our reliance on a single mode of transportation. We ask that the Council keep this guiding concept in mind as the Plan develops into brick and mortar. We support your action to accept the final Plan this evening and to diligently pursue its implementation so that the city benefits fully from the arrival of SMART. We recommend that you accept the Plan tonight, and charge the CAC and staff with refining implementation priorities and timing, with continued input from the public. The following items are of particular importance during implementation; Compact development. SSR supports the proposed increases of heights and FAR to encourage development close to transit and to achieve greater continuity of development to help overcome the barrier of the freeway. These changes are consistent with the goals of San Rafael's Climate Change Action Plan and the Sustainable Communities Strategy. Current structures of this scale on Fourth Street have integrated well into the fabric of downtown. We understand and support the concern of residents east of the freeway for a stepped down entry to the downtown, and we believe that the revised final Plan allows the City to address these concerns during the subsequent development of zoning revisions and design guidelines. • Flexible parking requirements. The DSAP includes a range of recommendations for parking and, indeed, flexibility will be needed. The vision remains for a pedestrian and bike friendly area and reduction of automobile use. This may require multiple strategies to create living space for the growing number of residents not wishing to own a car. At the same time, the Plan recognizes that parking impacts on adjacent neighborhoods need to be addressed. Again, this can be accomplished as code revisions are developed. Bicycle and pedestrian improvements. The DSAP appropriately creates links with the City's Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan. We encourage the careful development of the "Complete Street" concept for Tamalpais Avenue to complement the Hetherton bikeway north of Fourth Street and to complete the connection south to the Mahon Creek path and the Canal Paseo. Creating a safe connection to the Canal and east San Rafael along Second Street may be challenging, but it is critical to the overall success of the plan. Other public improvements. The Plan includes a small plaza at the north end of Whistlestop and a greenway along the northern reach of Tamalpais. These would be delightful additions of public space, but they are not enough. This planning area will help establish San Rafael's identity well into the future. The area needs both consistent design guidelines for private development and a coordinated public improvement program, grounded in the best principles of urban design, to integrate the plaza, greenway, bicycle and pedestrian improvements, under -freeway connectors and creek -side improvements into a coherent whole. Only then will the opportunity presented by this Plan be fully realized in a livable and animated district. • Workforce housing. The Plan acknowledges the need for below -market -rate housing but adds little beyond what is already in the General Plan. Additional bonuses or other incentives need to be explored during the code -development phase of implementation, along with the identification of appropriate sites. This is an ideal area for workforce housing, and we believe that extraordinary means should be used to achieve it. • Sea level rise. Finally, we are concerned that to bring this Plan to fruition may require additional resources to defend the area from the incursions of predicted sea level rise. Significant portions of the study area lie within the threatened zone. The Plan does not address this issue substantively, but only by reference to the climate adaption actions in CCAP. Near-term attention to these actions is prerequisite to the Plan's success. The Plan is a good description of our collective hopes for the future of San Rafael. We look forward to working with the City on the hard part, making the vision come true. Sincerely, Jerry Belletto, Secretary May 30, 2012 San Rafael City Council City Hall 1400 Fifth Avenue San Rafael, CA 94901 Honorable Mayor and Council Members: Sustainable San Rafael has previously commented on the Downtown Station Area Plan in a letter of support dated April 2, 2012. (Please see attached). Since then, presentation to the Council has been delayed while a key element of the plan, the future of the Whistlestop building, was re- considered. SSR is not commenting on the merits of the proposed development, other than to lament the inability of the community so far to find a solution that would retain an iconic building while allowing our seniors to enjoy the benefits of a re -vitalized downtown area. The Whistlestop building's historical use as a train station and its classic neo -mission style, linking San Rafael to California's past, were recognized by citizens at all of the Station Area public workshops, making it's re -use perhaps the single most -agreed-upon element of the Plan. While the Station Area Plan continues to provide a clear roadmap to a more sustainable downtown, the potential loss of this building highlights some key elements that will be essential to the Plan's successful implementation: • This site is a key point of entry to San Rafael and needs to be a welcoming and lively. • An iconic architectural statement is necessary here to mark that entry. • The ground floor of this site should be as active and accessible as possible, featuring cafes and other retail, ideally with an arcade linking the station platform and Tamalpais. • The designs of the station platform and the adjacent site demand careful integration, which has not yet been provided by either SMART or Whistlestop. • The already -limited dimensions of the public rights-of-way for both SMART and Tamalpais Avenue must be preserved and used to optimize their public purposes in accordance with the Plan. (For instance, the substandard width of the west platform proposed in the preliminary SMART design needs immediate re -study to achieve a width appropriate to what will likely be the most heavily used platform in the SMART system.) • At the same time, certain functions required for use of the site, such as drop-off and loading, could be provided in concert with the pubic drop-off and loading zones and other "complete street" improvements that the Plan proposes for the Tamalpais right-of-way. Another key element of the Plan, flexibility of parking requirements (including off-site parking), should likewise be applied proactively by the City to accommodate optimal re- use or redevelopment of this critical site. Certainly, parking should in no event be allowed (much less, required) to pre-empt active, pedestrian -friendly ground floor uses in a gateway development immediately adjacent to a primary transit station. That would be completely at odds with the spirit and specific recommendations of the Plan. • The station plaza that the Plan suggests for the north end of the site is a minimal amenity to anchor the visual character of the Station Area—it should be expanded (not eliminated), and amplified with the adjacent street landscaping, public artwork, creek - side greenways, and landscape treatments of Tamalpais that the Plan proposes. • The site needs careful integration with the "complete street" improvements recommended for Tamalpais (from 2nd to Mission) and Fourth Street (from Lincoln to Grand), unifying the inviting, pedestrian character of this new gateway district. SSR recognizes that the Downtown Station Area Plan is a work in progress, and we therefore urge the Council to charge the Citizen Advisory Committee for Economic Development with the on-going responsibility of monitoring Plan implementation and keeping it faithful to the vision and values it has expressed. Next steps include: • Preparing necessary Code revisions, including parking requirements. • Developing a comprehensive Public Improvements program for the district. • Establishing design guidelines to unify and integrate private and public improvements to create the "sense of place" called for by the Plan. • Resolving the future of the Whistlestop site as the centerpiece of the Station Area, including its integration with the SMART station itself. Since the downtown area is one of two Preferred Development Areas in Marin, we recommend that the City actively pursue MTC funds to support such a unified Plan Implementation effort. The arrival of SMART presents San Rafael with a rare opportunity to control its future, to turn a vision on paper into a real place of charm and sustainability—and ultimately to reclaim the City's streets from the encroachment of the freeway, returning them to spaces dominated by people, not cars. To capture that opportunity, it's vital that the momentum of the Station Area planning process continue without pause. Sincerely, Jerry Belletto, SSR Secretary CITY OF SAN RAFAEL ROUTING SLIP / APPROVAL FORM_,'-,,,, INSTRUCTIONS: USE THIS FORM WITH EACH SUBMITTAL OF A CONTRACT, AGREEMENT, ORDINANCE OR RESOLUTION BEFORE APPROVAL BY COUNCIL / AGENCY. 191:9-11: 119k1:401 DATE: TITLE OF DOCUMENT Stephanie Lovette .Economic Development March 26, 2012 SRRA / SRCC AGENDA ITEM NO. DATE OF MEETING: June 4, 2012 RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF SAN RAFAEL TO ACCEPT THE DOWNTOWN SAN RAFAEL SMART STATION AREA PLAN qpaA�7dm"�v'a rtm nt Head (signature) (LOWER HALF OF FORM FOR APPROVALS ONLY) APPROVED AS COUNCIL / AGENCY APPROVED AS TO FORM: AGENDA ITEM: 4 City Manager (signotur6) City Attorney (signature I mawafffilm Igcw��� 11 wt-e--�r[�ef�,�;r�,,FF 1L pjt�