Planning Commission Meeting to Discuss Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan

The City of Oakland recently published a Preliminary Draft Plan, which is the first step in an effort to develop a specific plan for Downtown Oakland, defined as the area between 27th Street to the north; I-980, Brush Street and Market Street to the west; the Jack London estuary waterfront and Embarcadero West to the south; and Lake Merritt and Channel to the east.

The Planning Commission will have its first look at the  Preliminary Draft Plan at a hearing on Wednesday, January 23, 2019.  The Preliminary Draft Plan and the Commission’s comments will serve as the basis for the Draft Downtown Oakland Specific Plan (DOSP), which is not anticipated to be adopted until the summer of 2020.

The Preliminary Draft Plan incorporates input from a wide and more representative cross-section of the community than earlier efforts to develop a downtown specific plan.  The Preliminary Draft Plan now focuses on identifying racial disparities and explores options to address these disparities.

The following summarizes the Preliminary Draft Plan’s more significant elements:

  • General Plan Amendments to increase commercial and residential densities near the proposed A’s stadium at Howard Terminal
  • Amendments to permit housing near estuary waterfront in Jack London Square (where only commercial uses are currently allowed)
  • Change an area west of Telegraph Avenue in KONO from “Urban Residential” to “Central Business District” to be consistent with the approach taken for the Broadway/Valdez Specific Plan
  • Rezone the Victory Court area between Oak Street and Lake Merritt Channel to a Mixed Use General Plan designation to allow for increased development potential toward Oak Street and I-880.  The proposed DOSP would require new development to provide community benefits in exchange for the added development potential
  • Allow for additional height (currently at 45’) along 24th and 26th Streets in KONO in exchange for dedicated ground floor arts-related uses or other community benefits; this includes significant restrictions on the amount of office, bar, restaurant and cannabis uses in the area, relocation requirements for certain displaced uses; and requirements for minimum floor area for certain uses (arts and maker space) in exchange for expedited approval process
  • Implementation of a “development incentive program” to provide specific incentives/bonuses (in the form of increased density, height or floor area ratio ) to projects in exchange for pre-defined community benefits
  • The creation of between 4,350 and 7,250 subsidized affordable housing units by 2040 (Downtown Specific Plan build-out horizon) out of the approximately 29,000 total housing units projected

The environmental impact report (EIR) for the DOSP will begin with a scoping session on February 6 before the Planning Commission; the draft EIR is scheduled to be released concurrently with the draft DOSP this summer.

While the Preliminary Draft Plan increases commercial and residential densities in some areas of the Plan, it also requires, in some cases, property owners and developers to “buy in” to increase density, height and FAR in other areas of the DOSP.

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