This is another one of those ‘wonky’ planning issues that may not interest a lot of people. But these kinds of issues can have a significant impact on how development is allowed to proceed. The State has mandated new guidelines that allow for developers to get a ‘density bonus’ if their project are in certain locations and meet certain requirements.
Since the affected locations must be near signficant transit, the only real place these changes will apply is the Walnut / Guardino development near Fremont BART. (The development near Warm Springs BART has already been approved.) There were two items in here that concerned me which is why I voted against it. I was the lone dissenting vote.
First, the parking requirements can be dropped to 0.5 parking spaces per bedroom if they provide 20% affordable housing on site. So, if the development were all two bedroom units it would only require 1.0 parking space per unit. This is clearly not enough. Others and I have been arguing that there needs to be at least 1.75 spaces per unit. While I understand the desire to make a more walkable community with less parking spaces, the reality is that Walnut / Guardino will not be a walkable community. There is no close by retail or schools. Almost all trips for these purposes will likely be made by car.
Secondly, they could be allowed an increase of 35% of the allowed units. My understanding is that the General Plan allows for 30 dwelling units to the acre. The original plan for this site was about 70 du/acre. They reduced this to 50 in their latest plan. I still think this is too dense given the surrounding area.
Supposedly, these changes are required to comply with California State requirements. Still, I didn’t feel comfortable voting yes on this.