San Lorenzo Village Center
Specific Plan (draft)

The text below is an excerpt from a draft "specific plan" prepared by the Alameda County Planning Department, and released to the public January 11, 2001. For further information contact Lou Andrade


A. Purpose, Authority, and Scope

1. Purpose

The purpose of this Specific Plan is to guide future public and private actions within the San Lorenzo Specific Plan Area. The Plan describes the County's policies and regulations regarding development, including land use, circulation, design, and infrastructure within the Plan Area. The Plan also identifies issues and community concerns and preferences. It is intended to enable public agencies and private property owners and developers to make development decisions that are appropriate, consistent and compatible with each other, with the goals of the Plan, and with the County General Plan for the area.

2. Legislative Authority

Section 65450 of the California Government Code provides that a planning agency may prepare specific plans for the implementation of the general plan for the area. The applicable general plan for the area is entitled: General Plan for the Central Metropolitan, Eden and Washington Planning Units of Alameda County, adopted January 13, 1981.

According to State law, specific plan includes detailed text and diagrams which:

Once the plan is adopted, all applicable zoning and other ordinances must be consistent with the plan. All private and public improvements, developments and subdivisions must also be consistent with the plan.

3. Scope

Plan Area: The Plan Area is approximately 29 acres and consists of those contiguous, non-residential properties located on both sides of Hesperian Boulevard, from the 880 overcrossing on the north, to Via Mercado on the south.

A map of the plan area is shown in Figure 1. Those properties included are listed by assessor's parcels numbers in Appendix 1. [Editor's note: The map and appendix are not included here.]

Future Expansion of the Plan Area: Parcels may be considered for addition to the Plan Area subject to public hearing, if they are part of a development proposal which is consistent with and helps to promote the goals and objectives of the Plan.

B. Development of the Specific Plan

1. Historical Context

Most of San Lorenzo consists of a planned community of approximately 5,000 single-family homes known as San Lorenzo Village, built in the 1940's and 1950's by the developer David Bohannon. San Lorenzo Village is an unincorporated area, but through legally binding covenants established at the time of the original development, its homes are subject to the rules of the San Lorenzo Village Homes Association (hereinafter referred to as the "SLVHA".)

At time that San Lorenzo Village homes were constructed, the same developer constructed a retail shopping center on most of those properties that are now part of the Plan Area, i.e., the San Lorenzo Village Plaza, the Theater Block and the San Lorenzo Village Square. All of the original shopping center properties are still owned and managed by the Bohannon Development Company, or its affiliates, with the exception of the theater property.

Although other small-scale shopping centers were built at scattered sites within the residential areas and further south along Hesperian Boulevard, the combined Village Square, Plaza, and Theater Block areas constituted the largest shopping center in San Lorenzo and contained the greatest variety of retail, restaurant and entertainment uses. Because it also contained or was adjacent to the library, post office and community hall, it functioned much as a traditional "downtown" and was viewed as the center of civic life.

These Bohannon properties comprised a largely successful and stable retail center until the loss of Mervyn's, its major anchor department store in the mid-1990's. Because of the area's prior stability, these properties have not been part of any previously adopted specific plan and are currently subject only to the broader goals and policies of the General Plan (General Plan for the Central Metropolitan, Eden, and Washington Planning Units of Alameda County, adopted January 13, 1981) as well as to the regulations of the Alameda County Zoning Code.

2. Task Force Process

Mervyn's was a successful department store that acted as the shopping center's anchor, attracting shoppers from through out the region. Its departure and the subsequent demolition of the store building precipitated the closure of he majority of the remaining businesses within the Village Square.

In 1999, the Bohannon Organization (comprised of the Bohannon Development Company and David D. Bohannon Organization, hereinafter the "Bohannon Organization") proposed to demolish the remaining buildings on one block of the Village Square and replace it with a new 10,000 square foot (sf), Rite-Aid drugstore. Opposition to the proposal ensued among some community members who wanted to re-establish the mix of smaller retail shops that surrounded the original Mervyn's. Some felt that the proposed single-use convenience drugstore use would preclude this.

In addition, the Alameda County Planning Department was concerned that the proposal dealt with only one block and was not part of a comprehensive plan for the entire Village Square. Ultimately, based on input from the community, Supervisor Gail Steele, and the Planning Department, the Bohannon Organization agreed to a six month moratorium on new proposals in the Village Square. A Task Force, composed of interested residents, the Bohannon Organization, and County staff and consultants, was formed to identify concerns and issues and to develop recommendations to guide future development.

Initially, only the area known as the Village Square was to be considered by the Task Force. However, it became apparent early on in the task force process that the Plan Area needed to be expanded to include:

The reasons for their inclusion in the Plan Area were: A total of ten public meetings were held between September 1999 and April 2000. These meetings were facilitated by Peter Bluhon, an independent planning consultant of the Bluhon Planning Group, with the goal of engaging all Task Force members and the public in a fruitful discussion of issues, and developing recommendations based on the consensus of the members.

The Task Force, working in conjunction with the County Planning Department, engaged two consulting firms to aid them in these efforts. Michael Conlon and My Do of EDAW Inc., were retained as economic analysts to report on current retail market conditions in the area in order to recommend viable development options. Frank Fuller and Sameer Chadha of Field-Paoli Architecture, developed conceptual designs based on these development options. County Planning staff helped in facilitating these meetings and informing the Task Force regarding standard planning procedures, zoning regulations and General Plan considerations.

Aided by the facilitator, the Task Force used the information from the economic analyst, the architect, County Planning Staff and extensive public comments to arrive at recommendations for development of the Specific Plan Area. Derived by consensus after careful consideration, these recommendations were ratified by Task Force members, incorporated by the facilitator into a final Task Force Report, and presented to the Planning Commission and Task Force members in June of 2000. As an informational report only, the Task Force Report was not meant for adoption as would be the case for formal planning document and no action was taken. Although not equivalent to a specific plan, it does reflect the concerns and recommendations of Task Force members and was used to give direction to the Specific Plan. In addition to the Task Force Report, this Specific Plan is also required to consider other public testimony, the requirements of State law, professional planning standards and compatibility with the General Plan of Alameda County.

C. Relationship to the Alameda County General Plan

According to State Law, a specific plan implements and thus must be consistent with the General Plan. (Government Code Sec. 65450 et seq.) However, a specific plan is independent of the General Plan and is more detailed in that it may include the functions of zoning, including regulation of land use, design and other development standards as well as capital improvement plans within its scope of regulatory powers. It also provides for implementation measures and programs which are not part of the general plan. The San Lorenzo Village Core Specific Plan is an implementation measure of the General Plan.

D. Relationship to the Zoning Ordinance and Other County Policies and Regulations

According to State law, a specific plan may be administered as and thus have the force of zoning. Policies and regulations of this Plan take precedent over and replace standard zoning and the provisions of the Alameda County Zoning Ordinance and other County regulations and policies in the area defined by Figure 1 [not included here]. and listed by parcel in Appendix1 [not included here]. and constitute the zoning and other land use regulation for that area. Where this plan is silent, provisions of the Zoning Ordinance or other County regulations and policies apply. However, unless otherwise specified in the Plan, Site Development Review may impose more, but not less, restrictive requirements where appropriate. Enforcement of Plan provisions shall be the same as for enforcement of provisions of the Zoning Code, and violations of Plan provisions shall constitute a violation of the Zoning Code. Amendment to the land use policies of this Plan shall be done in the same manner and procedure as amendment to the Zoning Code.

E. Relationship to County and Other Public Actions

According to State law, a specific plan governs all public works projects within the Plan Area. Therefore, this plan will regulate all public improvements within the area, including road widening and other improvements, street landscaping and beautification, flood control and the construction of public buildings if any. It will also govern other County actions appropriate and applicable to the area.