San Lorenzo Express News

New Plan for San Lorenzo Village "Downtown"

JANUARY 19, 2000

A detailed plan for San Lorenzo's long neglected "downtown" -- the Village Square -- has been released by the county planning department.

The plan, called a "specific plan," spells out in detail the types of uses that are considered desirable within the plan area. It also sets broad standards for design. An area-specific plan thus sets the "tone" for future development more precisely than standard land-use zoning. It would have to be approved by the county board of supervisors as an amendment to the county's general plan.

The San Lorenzo specific plan embraces an area around Hesperian Boulevard that was the original commercial center of San Lorenzo Village when it was initially developed in the 1940s. The area has suffered without development since the Mervyn's department store left for Southland Mall.

The area covers about 29 acres of commercial properties on both sides of Hesperian.

A community advisory panel has worked on the San Lorenzo specific plan for over a year. The draft plan released by the county planning department is an attempt to implement the standards articulated by the community panel.

The draft plan aims for "mixed use," in which retail, offices, and residences would share a unified space. This approach, also called "smart planning," recognizes that future development in high-density urban areas must attempt to encourage jobs nearer to homes and avoid contributing to transportation congestion.

A controversial issue during the development of the plan was the status of the old Lorenzo Theater. The plan contemplates that the theater would be returned to public use as a theater for live performances.

The plan also mandates intensive landscaping throughout the area, including a return to stately trees along Hesperian.

The plan will be reviewed at either the March meeting of the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association.

For background on the plan, see introduction to the San Lorenzo Specific Plan. Copies of the entire draft plan are available from the Alameda County Planning Department, 399 Elmhurst St., Hayward (behind the courthouse on Winton Avenue), 670-5400.