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BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
SAN LORENZO VILLAGE HOMES ASSOCIATION April 1, 1999
Meeting Called to Order: 7:07 by Committee Chair Travis Thoms.
In Attendance: Howard Beckman, Mary Ann McMillan, Harry Gin, Jim Spears, Pat Pebelier, Frank Peixoto, Mel Brookman, Travis Thoms, Mary Reynolds, Gail Steele, Barry Weiss, Carol Davis, Jack Mackinnon, Kathie Ready, Roberta Furger, Pat Piras, Susanne Reynelf, Lorene Benyshek, LeRoy Benysheck, Sharon Foster, Daryl Gray, Carol Robinson, Lisa Gudjohnsen, Tina Cheung, Nancy Van Huffel and Kathleen Harrigan.
KFC plans appealed -.Travis Thoms stated that KFC plans were appealed and heard by the Board of Supervisors today.
Hayward's intentions of annexing business portion of Cherryland - Chair Thoms announced that at the last Board of Director's meeting there was mention of Hayward's intentions of annexing parts of Cherryland.
Chair Thoms announced that he had recently heard that the Lorenzo Manor Shopping center is being sold and is currently in escrow. He stated that comments could be taken regarding these issues at the end of the meeting, if time allowed.
Presentation of planned storage space business on the corner of Grant and Washington. Michael Meniktas presented his proposal for a mini-storage unit at the comer of Grant and Washington in San Lorenzo. He stated that the lot was used as a Chevron gas station prior to it being vacated and that there were some environmental issues that had to be mitigated after Chevron pulled out. Mr. Meniktas said that he and his partners are in escrow with the property but do not currently own the property. They are proposing a plan for a storage facility which would house approximately 50 thousand square feet of rental space. The style of architecture would be a stucco, Spanish-style. There would be a live-in manager who would be housed in the entry building which would be a 2500 to 2600 square foot two-story building. Meniktas stated that he and his partners made a formal application two (2) days ago to the county and they are waiting for approval at this time. The buildings would be single story and two-story in height with a three story rental unit over a basement in the middle of the property.
Period of questions to the presenter (Open to committee and public)
Chair Thoms opened up the floor to questions from the committee and then from audience. Beckman wanted clarification as to who has title to the property. Meniktas stated that currently Mr. Bowman has title, however his partners and he currently have the property in escrow. Their plan is to own the property where this mini-storage would be constructed and operate. Furger asked what other types of businesses were considered prior to Meniktas and his partners proposal. Meniktas stated that one developer wanted to build condominiums at the site however due to the environmental issues, pulled out. The other proposals that had mild interest in the property were Taco Bell and a proposal to continue to use the property as an independent gas station. Mr. Meniktas stated that the property is zoned commercially as C- I and should the property be used for housing the zoning would need to be changed for the site. Furger asked now that the environmental issues had been resolved, would the property be more interesting to a broader group of investors/developers? Mr. Meniktas stated that the environmental issue did not seem to impede developers from being interested in the property, and he was unclear as to whether the property would be attractive to other investors at this time, given the resolution of the environmental problems. A question was asked as to how the facility would effect the traffic in the area. There are presently major traffic jams every morning due to the schools in that area, are there any other alternatives to the entrance off of Grant Avenue? Meniktas stated that they would be working with the county on traffic concerns for the area. Mackinnon questioned whether Grant street was restricted for the size of vehicles that may pass on'the street and asked Meniktas whether the environmental/hazardous waste issues have been mitigated for all uses or just some. Mr. Meniktas stated that as far as he knew the environmental issue has been cleared for all uses. Other questions were asked with respect to the structure being two and three story and whether this was appropriate for the area. Mr. Meniktas stated that the height of the building was in compliance with county regulations. Gudjohnson stated that she feels the building should be used for youth in the community.
Chair Thoms opened up questions from the public of which there were none. A discussion ensued as to whether the committee should discuss their recommendations regarding this proposal before the public or in a closed session between themselves. Beckman stated that the committee was an advisory group to the Board of Directors and not a public meeting beyond the Association. He said the group had never formally decided how it would handle a discussion of a development proposal. Van Huffel spoke on behalf of the Association and stated that all the meetings put on by the Association are open to the public. She stated that the Business Development Committee should be open to the public as well however, she would discuss this issue with the Board Members at the next Association meeting. Gudjohnson stated that the presenters should be able to stay as members of the public and hear what the group has to say regarding the proposal they presented. Weiss stated that it would be setting a poor precedent if the group was not open to the public. He pointed out that the Chair can always call the meeting to order if there are inappropriate outbursts etc.
The general consensus of the group was to have all Business Development Committee meetings open to the public.
Howard Beckman made a motion to recommend to the Board of Directors of the Homes Association not to endorse the proposal by Mr. Meniktas and his partners for a self-storage unit on the corner of Grant and Washington in San Lorenzo. Mary Reynolds seconded the motion.
Discussion - Chair Thoms stated that he was concerned with the aesthetic appeal in the neighborhood with a structure that is threee-stories high. Beckman stated that a general plan is needed in San Lorenzo and that the odd parcels like this one on Grant and Washington which are zoned commercially is a good example as to why a plan is necesary. He stated that many residents initial reaction to developments on these commercial parcels is going to be negative due to the fact that they are located in areas that are primarily residential. Furger encouraged committee members to take a look at the environmental report on the site to ensure that all hazards have been mitigated. A question was asked about the actual height of the three-story structure and Meniktas stated that the height would be 30 feet, the county requirement for height is no more that 35 feet. Piras stated that the height for the building is no higher than many of the church steeples in the area.. Gin stated that unless there is additional mitigation with respect to the height of the structures he could not support the proposal. He stated that having more than one story at that site makes the intersection look tacky. McMillan stated that she feels that traffic is already a problem in the area and would not support the storage unit. Tina Cheung stated that she felt that the height of the building and the potential increase in traffic would be wrong for this area. Furger asked how much traffic would actually be generated during the busy hours when the school children are coming and going from the schools. Mr. Meniktas had no information regarding traffic.
Weiss stated that every community can use storage space, however, the community has stated that they do not want industrial businesses in the area. Many residents would see this as piece-meal development and would not want it for the area. Beckman stated that the Association should be encouraging commercial enterprises and/or land uses that have regional attraction and benefit to this community.
A resident pointed out a storage facility would create the least amount of traffic when comparing it to a restaurant or an apartment complex. She was concerned that decisions for the area were being made without input from surrounding residents. Peixoto asked what types of properties can be approved under C-1 zoning. Daryl Gray from County Zoning stated that retail shops, drug stores, dog and cat kennels, and restaurants can all be constructed at this site. He further stated that a self storage unit would generate one of the lowest amounts of traffic.
Chair Thoms took a roll call vote on Beckman's motion:
Ayes: (7) Beckman, Furger, Gin, McMillan, Reynolds, Thoms, Weiss
Noes: (7) Brookman, Davis, McKinnon, Peixoto, Pebelier, Piras, Spears
Abstain: (2) Gudjohnsen, Stout
Due to the lack of a majority vote, the committee decided it will make no formal recommendation to the Board.
Van Huffel asked Mr. Meniktas whether he would be willing to build a storage unit that would be one or two stories. Mr. Meniktas stated that without the three story building, it would not be economically feasible.
Presentation and passage of Final "Vision Plan" foundation and brochure -
A final copy of the brochure was handed out to members and the public in attendance. Furger stated that she tried to include everyone's in the brochure but there were some things that were still not included, entertainment was one of these things. Van Huffel stated that Bruce Kern with the county had showed the brochure to some individuals who actually design brochures but have not heard back from them.
Harry Gin made a motion to adopt the intent of the brochure for promotional and informational purposes, Davis seconded the motion.
Discussion - Weiss questioned the idea of sending out different demographics with the brochure that highlight various populations in the area. Furger thought that it made sense to do this, depending upon the type of business the committee is trying to attract.
Weiss made a friendly amendment to the motion that stated appropriate demographics would be included with the brochure depending upon the businesses who were being approached. The friendly amendment was accepted by Gin and Davis.
Beckman questioned what the committee was voting upon. Is the vote going to put the brochures into some pipeline?. Furger stated that it was her understanding that the committee was creating this brochure in order to eventually send it to businesses with a cover letter inviting them to locate in San Lorenzo. Thoms stated that this document should be taken to the Bohannon Organization for its comments. Beckman was concerned that the brochure was being developed as a promotional item prior to discussing the issue with the Bohannon Organization; he wanted clarification on the motion prior to voting on it. Furger said that she thought the committee would hold off on approaching businesses until it had first showed the brochure to the Bohannon Organization and discussed its plans for the brochure with this organization. It was pointed out by members of the Business Attraction sub-committee that it was their intent to meet with Bohannon within the next few weeks to show the organization the brochure and to get its input on the conimittee's vision for the Square.
A vote was taken on Gin's motion with Weiss' friendly amendment, the committee passed the motion unanimously.
Report and discussion thereon of "Business attraction stib-committee" -
Carol Davis reported that the subcommittee had identified some existing businesses that have been in the community for a long time. The group thought it would be important to contact these businesses and see what has made them stay in the community. The group would also ask these businesses whether they had any ideas of how to attract businesses to the area.
The subcommittee had identified eight (8) businesses to approach. Based on the survey, the subcommittee identified prospective businesses to approach and to get the name, address and contact person to approac. Each committee member took a few businesses to get this information from. Davis passed around a list of the businesses identified by the committee thus far. She announced that the next subcommittee meeting would be on 4/12/99 at 4:00 p.m. and stated that Scott Bohannon and Frances Nelson have been invited to this meeting. Beckman questioned what the purpose of having Bohannon at the next meeting would be. Davis stated that the subcommittee will share the brochure with Bohannon and find out what its feed back is. Beckman stated that at some the committee should get a plan from the Bohannon Organization in the very near future. Chair Thoms asked where the committee should do this - in the subcommittee forum or the whole committee? Furger stated that it makes sense to meet as a small group and show Bohannon the brochure and then set a date with the broader group to get Bohannon's opinion on the brochure and its plan for the Square area.
It was discussed by the committee that when meeting with the Bohannon Organization the Rite Aid issue should not be addressed due to the fact that it would contaminate the feeling of good will the committee is trying to convey with the brochure, etc. Beckman stated that it was important for the group to meet prior to inviting Bohannon to its group in order to form a plan of how it wants to address Bohannon. The group discussed possible dates and the consensus was that the group would meet again on Thursday 4/22/99 to organize the next scheduled meeting of 5/6/99, when the group would invite Bohannon as well as Bruce Kern and Mr. Sorenson from Alameda County. Supervisor Steele stated that she would invite the Bohannon's to the 5/6/99 meeting.
Comments from County participants and Public -
Supervisor Steele stated that she has been looking at shopping centers in the area, concentrating on the architecture. She feels that this is the element that is missing in the committee's ideas for the Square. She wanted to know if the committee would like to go out in a county van one Saturday and rate different shopping centers as to which aspects of a center were appealing and which were not. She asked the committee how it envisioned the square as far as its architectural feel and style. Furger stated that she does not really see the Square as a "shopping center", but rather a "down town" shopping / "town square" area. It was discussed whether committee members would want to go out one Saturday to view different shopping centers/downtown areas. The consensus of the committee was to go out to view shopping centers on Saturday, 5/l/99. Supervisor Steele stated that she would coordinate getting the transportation for this event and would let committee members know the timing and the meeting place. Supervisor Steele invited committee members to let her know if there were any specific shopping areas they wanted to look at.
Supervisor Steele stated that it is important to work with Bohannon and to acknowledge that they have tried to get stores in the area. It is also important to look and see what fits together in these shopping centers. She pointed out that in many of these shopping areas, including Castro Village there is a Walgreens on the corner, and this does not seem to affect smaller stores in the area. Gray stated that it is important to remember what realistically fits together in terms of architecture and development. Gray and Steele gave out their respective e-mails to the committee. Daryl Gray's e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Supervisor Steele's e-mail: co.alameda.ca.us
Beginnings of "General Village economic plan" - Chair Thoms tabled this item along with "Monitoring the Economic Pulse" of San Lorenzo item due to the limits of time, so that the group could discuss protocol.
Discussion of Protocol - Chair Thoms stated that he is looking for suggestions and comments about the committee's protocol. Harry Gin said he felt that the meeting tonight was one of the better run meetings and he felt that the Chair's comments were appropriate and taken seriously by the committee. Weiss stated that he appreciated the Chair's efforts and frustration. He would like to make sure that the Business Development Committee remains a public meeting and would like to see the agendas posted in the Association office. He would also like to see action items clearly identified from infomational items on the agendas. Van Huffel stated that there would not be any problem with posting the agendas for the Business Development meeting.
Chair Thoms asked what the committee should do when it comes to inviting businesses who have proposals for San Lorenzo. Beckman stated that anytime anyone has a business proposal for the San Lorenzo area, they should come to the committee prior to going to the Association. His understanding was that this committee would eventually gain some expertise in asking the right/appropriate questions to businesses in order to make a clear, informed recommendation to the Association's Board of Directors. He was disturbed with the fact that the storage unit proposal for Grant Ave. came before the Board of Directors prior to any presentation before the Business Development Committee. Furger stated that it is important for the group to get supporting documents to any proposal that is coming before them, so that committee members have time to review the projects prior to any presentation before the committee. Gray stated that many times a developer/owner comes to the County Planning Department without a lot of supporting documents. Steele stated that she will make sure that anytime something is being proposed in San Lorenzo, that the Committee be sent a letter regarding the proposal.
Roberta Furger made a motion that all proposals for businesses be reviewed by the Business Development Committee first before they go before the Board of Directors for recommendation. Beckman seconds the motion. The motion passes unanimously.
It was discussed by the committee members that the timing may be a problem in hearing these proposals prior to being approved by the county. Van Huffel stated that the committee may need cooperation from the Planning Department to coordinate the timing. Daryl Gray stated that he would not act on an application without the Homes Association or the subcommittee's recommendation prior to an action being taken. Beckman stated that he would hope that the committee could approach these developers prior to their applying for a permit to build because he believes that once they have applied it is already too late to for the community to respond.
Van Huffel stated that she is meeting with the San Leandro Chamber of Commerce next week. They contacted her and wanted the Association to join the chamber. Van Huffel talked to them in detail about having an associate membership for those business in San Lorenzo as well as Ashland and Cherryland. She invited Howard Beckman to accompany her to the meeting to discuss this further due to his interest in an Merchant's Association for the area.
Beckman stated that he learned this morning that the Manor Shopping Center was being sold. He was unsure who the buyer/s were. Beckman suggested that the committee meet with the new owner/s of the property at some point in the very near future to discuss site changes and the upgrading of the center. He suggested that the committee make the new owners aware of its vision for the San Lorenzo area. Supervisor Steele stated that she would extend the initial invitation to the new owners to meet with the Business Development Committee after the group had met Bohannon on its May 6,1999 meeting.
Van Huffel mentioned to the committee that since KFC was approved to move earlier today by the county, the group may want to approach the corporation to see if it would contribute a community sign at the corner of the lot on Hacienda and Hesperian. KFC could donate the sign as a community service to the area. There was no consensus from the committee to pursue this idea so it was tabled.
Meeting Adjourned at 9:26 PM.
Respectively submitted by: Kathleen Harrigan
REVIEWED BY NANCY VAN HUFFEL