Third Meeting in Boulevard Way
Planning Process Held
OCTOBER 17— The third and what was to have been final meeting of the Saranap Avenue / Boulevard Way Planning Process took place last night. Senior staff of the county’s Department of Conservation and Development presented an updated version of the draft “vision statement” they presented in May, based on input from that meeting and a follow-up online survey, as well as from county staff.
The planning process was organized by District 2 Supervisor Candace Andersen and county planners to produce a “community vision” to guide future development along the commercial stretch of Boulevard Way between Saranap Avenue and the Walnut Creek city limit, just west of the freeway overpass.
The final wording of the vision statement and associated policies will be incorporated into the county’s General Plan, which is being revised for the first time in 30 years.
The first meeting in the Boulevard Way planning process took place last December and a second in May. A fourth will happen later this year or early next year.
Height and density. One of our concerns going into last night’s meeting was that the previous draft was short on critical specifics, notably the maximum height and density of multi-family housing in the area. The draft presented last night filled in those holes, suggesting a maximum height of 50 feet (55 feet with architectural features such as parapets) and a density of 40 units per acre.
The typical four-story building is 40–50 feet high. Apartment buildings in the Saranap the county had figures for were all 27–30 feet high. The tallest building in Saranap Village is 55 feet tall.
Apartment buildings in the area range in density from 27 to 91 units per acre, with most in the 30–40-unit range. Taken together, buildings in Saranap Village average 58 units per acre.
Based on an informal show of hands, a clear majority of those in the room last night found both the proposed density and height acceptable.
Communicating with the community. Another concern we’ve had about the planning process is that most Saranap residents were not even aware of it and thus didn’t have an opportunity to be heard. This issue was raised at last night’s meeting. John Kopchik, head of the planning department, noted that contacting everyone in the Saranap would have been expensive and that they rely on our communicating with our members and the Saranap Homeowners Organization with theirs, on social media, and on word of mouth to keep people informed.
Other parts of the Saranap. Some in the audience expressed concern about the future of those parts of the Saranap not covered by the plan, which is most of it. One of the proposed policies addresses that concern, stating that “General Plan amendments that would change single-family residential land use designations to other urban designations shall be strongly discouraged.” In other words, apartment buildings and other types of development probably won’t be allowed in neighborhoods that currently consist of single-family homes.
Seeking input. The county is inviting online input on the documents it presented last night. We’ll let you know when they post them and provide a link to the survey. Comments will be taken through November 16. We’ll also let you know when the next community meeting is scheduled.
About 100 people attended last night’s meeting, which was apparently more than the organizers expected, as the start had to be delayed while they set up additional chairs for audience members. Supervisor Andersen opened the meeting, which took place at Parkmead Elementary School.