Initial  Study  and  the  Planning  Commission  Meeting

Commissioners' comments re: Initial Study

Quality of Life and Neighborhoods

Communicate with Planning Commission

The housing development is a discretionary project and, therefore, subject to environmental review.  

 

Two environmental reviews are possible for this development:

 

1) An EIR, which includes a wide array of studies from traffic to noise to solid waste disposal and much more, and

2) A mitigated negative declaration, which is comprised of statements and a few select studies. It is the PC that determines what studies are conducted. An EIR is more expensive and takes more time. SAHA and David do not support an EIR. 

Initial Study

Below are page numbers (thumbnails in sidebar) of topics in the Initial Study that may be of interest to you: 

Page 17 Glare — the concerns would involve solar panels

Page 20 Pollution/Construction

Page 28 Climate change/affordable housing linked to transit/water conservation

Page 30 Water and drainage

Page 36 Noise and mitigations (windows and the wall)

Page 37 Construction hours

Page 38 No impact on emergency service/schools

Page 40 Traffic

Page 41 Traffic/Bus/sewer and waste

Page 51 SAHA’s own parking analysis

 

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David writes in his initial study, “ Staff recommends the preparation of a traffic study.” However, he has not flagged Traffic as a potential problem to be mitigated in the section,  “Transportation / Traffic” in the environmental factors section. This indicates he does not see traffic as a problem. He writes that the developer proposes 65 on-site parking spaces for residents and 7 for staff and visitors. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) has dropped parking as part of an environmental review, but the City has parking standards. Because this is low-income housing, those standards are waived. The City would otherwise require 92 on-site spaces.

The CEQA form lists Transportation / Traffic.

When the EIR was performed for the Lodge, which is across the street from the proposed development, it was called Transportation / Circulation but the concept is the same. The Lodge’s EIR has a form asking "Would there be increased vehicle trips and traffic congestion?" The preparer checked “Potentially significant impact.”

The next question was “Would the proposal result in insufficient parking capacity onsite or offsite?”  The answer was, “Potentially significant unless Mitigation was Incorporated.” And the same answer for “Will there be hazards or barriers for pedestrians and bicyclists?”

There is a difference between a hotel and the development but it is a concern that the City Planning Director downplays the impact of the additional vehicles that will accompany new residents, their guests, and their vendors.

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The developer states, “Extremely Low Income Households have significantly lower rates of car ownership than higher income households.” That may be true in Berkeley or Oakland, or even Santa Rosa, but in Sonoma, especially if you lived at the Broadway site, you need a car. The alternative is to spend many hours using public transportation. While there may be improved scheduling sometime in the future, that is not the current situation.

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David Goodison identified "Areas of Less-than-significant Impact" as follows:

The Initial Study finds that the project would not have any significant environmental impacts in the following areas: 

• Agricultural Resources 

• Geology and Soils 

• Greenhouse Gas Emissions 

• Hydrology/Water Quality

• Land Use and Planning

• Mineral Resources

• Population and Housing

• Public Services 

• Recreation

 

A peep asks:

"How can 200 not have an impact on public services?? And another 75-100 cars won't have any impact on greenhouse gas emissions?"

The police chief says they don’t have the resources to enforce the No U-Turn sign on Clay near Broadway and exhaust from motor vehicles and trucks is dangerous for people’s health and the environment.

 

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Story Poles

The Planning Director wants to use photo simulations, but the research shows story poles are needed. For example:

"Story poles are used to depict the silhouette of a proposed structure or an addition to an existing building. Story poles are intended to help decision makers, staff, neighbors and other interested parties visualize the location, mass and/or height of a proposed building(s), as part of the review of the project’s relationship to its surroundings. In addition to story poles, the City may also require other visual aids, such as photo simulations, models or renderings, to assist in illustrating the proposed final project."

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Our petition emphasizes that our collective neighborhoods are children and family friendly. Currently, there is lots of activity that goes on outdoors but if there is too much traffic and too many perceived safety issues, people will not go outside. This would be a tremendous loss and alter our community forever.

 

A book, "Quality of Life" published by Community and Environmental Defense Services is posted here. There is much space dedicated to the negative effects of traffic and Neighborhood Quality of Life. In Chapter 8, for example, the author discusses the correlation between Traffic and Crime.