Keep in mind that this isn't about one project. The City has been doing the same on many projects and will continue. There will now be 4 huge projects on Alamitos between Ocean and 3rd street that took away parking lots and won't have enough parking for the new residents and businesses.
The Planning Commission voted 4 to 0 to approve the site plans for 320 Alamitos. One "friendly amendment" was added once the developer's rep agreed to it. It says that the project will make any excess parking available to the public at market rates.
Many people came to the hearing. Most of those spoke passionately in opposition to the project because of the lack of parking. People hadn't heard of us and had come to their own conclusions. We are grateful to the people who were there for the later item about the Land Use Element but spoke about parking!
Commissioner comments made it clear that they listened and understood the issues.
Here is the TAPS speech.
We also mentioned that 17 out of the 77 units were more than 640 square feet, the size that the Commission and staff determined was when Granny Flat units should have 2 parking spaces.
We sent a letter with suggestions from our parking consultant.
The video can be found here. The numbers next to the following notes are time stamps if you'd like to hear exactly what was said.
The parts in green are quotes.
26:40 A commissioner asked where the staff parking was. Staff answered that there is very little need for staff parking, that they operate during business hours so staff would use existing parking supply.
27:38 A commissioner asked whether the upcoming road diet on Alamitos would take away parking. Staff answered yes but that's a separate issue (not related to this project).
35:35 Public comment started. Approximately 35 people spoke. One DLBA person and the developer's rep spoke in favor of the project despite the parking. All but a few of the rest of the speakers opposed the building due to the lack of parking even when they liked the building.
Comments that were heard include:
Traffic impacts on 3rd ST
developers never met with area residents, groups, or businesses
designed in a vacuum
PEIR fails to meet with 2 of the DTN Plan standards
Has the Planning Commission done anything at all about parking?
City Council doesn't understand the City's Plans
There's an up-swelling of people who are upset about the Utopian vision pushed on us. Developers don't care whether there's enough parking. The people of the city are becoming united.
These folks aren't NIMBYs. Is the City aspiring to make it worse? The Planning Commission is responsible to residents.
Multiple comments that the Downtown Plan didn't adequately consider the cumulative effects of all this development or the parking lot removal.
Some were from outside the area but wanted to support the effort to stop approving buildings with inadequate parking because it will happen in their area.
1:47:35 Commissioner discussion behind the rail.
A commissioner asked if staff did a mini analysis for this project.
Staff answered, "...wouldn't say we went back to the drawing board...we went back and rechecked our work...there's nothing exceptional about this project..." He said that it does qualify for the Downtown Plan. (For an explanation of what this means, see this article, the part about 320 Alamitos toward the end, especially the part referring to the City's misuse of Program EIRs. http://www.lbreport.com/news/aug17/luepc.htm )
A commissioner said, "I have issue with page 63, item F regarding parking, '...would the project result in inadequate parking capacity? With more than 30 parking garages and numerous places to park on the street, the DTN Plan PEIR found there is an adequate supply of DTN parking spaces...' The part I don't agree with is there are numerous places to park on the street."
1:49:40 Staff interrupts Commissioner and answered, "The law changed in September 2013. IT's state law that when we do parking analysis, we only look at consistency with the standard. The overall availability of parking in the urban landscape is not a CEQA impact.....What you look at is whether the project complies with the relevant standard, in this case PD 30 and the DTn Plan..."
Commissioner said, "That puts us between a rock and a hard place because we have to follow legal findings in order to approve or disapprove. There have to be legal findings to go either way..." She also said it puts a knot in her stomach.
1:57 (approx) Commissioner Van Horik asked what the Downtown Plan's reason was for reducing parking.
Staff answered the Mobility Plan, reducing greenhouse gases, the park once strategy, and to encourage alternate modes of transportation. She said to, "...provide parking in a manner that would reduce the number of vehicles that were driving and encourage people to use alternative modes of transportation such as biking, walking, and public transit..."
2:01:12 Commissioner said that a significant part of the population feels that parking requirements in PD 30 are not adequate. Asked what is the process to modify PD30?
Staff responded that it would take a zoning code amendment. Staff's position is that given the DTN Plan has only been in place 3 - 4 years (actually since January 2012 so 5 1/2 years), and only one completed project, then it's premature to consider changes. Staff thinks it deserves time and additional projects.
Commissioner responded, "It's kind of late to use it as an experiment and it ends up affecting a large number of people."
Staff responds that it was a conscious policy decision at the time based on the direction of state law and the vision of the City Council.
Commissioner responded that it's a double whammy to eliminate existing parking and add buildings with less than traditional parking, that it's expecting a different lifestyle that doesn't exist yet. She said, "I'm almost positive that we can't do anything about it tonight. We're going to have to act on a legal basis for this project but what I'd like to see happen is to continue having open discussions about what impact these zoning laws are having and at some point they need to be modified."
TAPS sent a letter to the Commission asking that they make a motion to reconsider the decision based on new information.
Here comes another project unless they listen.