MEMORANDUM ITEM 18
Date: November 14, 2006
To: Mayor and Council Members
From: Howard Sword, Community Development Director
Subject: Status Report on City Actions for Downtown
At its last meeting, the Council requested a report of various City actions
and efforts to support the Downtown and to implement the Downtown Specific
Plan. Implementation of the Plan’s goals, objectives and strategies is
multi-faceted and complex, requiring effort on many fronts simultaneously.
The responsibility for making this happen does not fall solely on the
shoulders of the private development community, the City or the
Redevelopment Agency, but rather is a joint effort working together. Where
they can, the City and Agency intend to play a major role in transforming
Downtown to achieve the community’s long-term goals outlined in the Specific
The actions the City and Agency will take fall into four categories: 1)
create the City’s civic center to support our community and activities; 2)
install capital improvements that will “set the stage” for the Downtown; 3)
develop property that is City-controlled; and 4) promote and market the
Downtown. The following list highlights several specific actions as well as
describes general, ongoing efforts by the City and Agency.
1. The Downtown Specific Plan was approved by the Council in November 2005.
2. In December 2005, the Council approved a Downtown Action Plan which is
reviewed and discussed at a quarterly meeting among staff members, and led
by the City Manager, in an effort to keep actions timely and coordinated.
3. Downtown 2010 community workshops held in summer 2006 provided the City
Council and staff with feedback about the citizens’ desire for civic
buildings around the City Park. The decisions made by the community will be
memorialized as an amendment to the Downtown Specific Plan (see attached
Executive Summary of the Downtown 2010 program).
4. Directional signs will be installed throughout the City at strategic,
arterial locations over the next couple of months, funded by the
5. City staff is currently addressing short-term parking strategies, issues
and perceptions. Downtown Brentwood Parking Study of 2005 confirmed that
most parking problems for Downtown are currently due to “poor parking
utilization and infrequent turnover” stemming from Downtown employees
parking in prime locations. The study and Specific Plan found that blocks
not fronting First and Oak Streets “have sufficient available parking
supply, but drivers opt not to park at those locations to walk to their
destinations.” The 2005 Parking Study confirmed that any given time in the
Downtown during weekdays, there are 110 to 200 available parking spaces
within 1 to 2 blocks of the corner of First and Oak Streets (see attached
Downtown Parking Utilization Map). However, it also concluded that future
parking demand to support an entertainment or major retail anchor will be
significantly underserved. Based on these findings, the Downtown Specific
Plan included short-term and long-term parking strategies, which are also
identified in the Council-approved Downtown Action Plan:
a. Short-term parking strategies are intended to maximize the existing
Parking education program.
Employer parking permits.
Increased parking fines.
Installation of angled parking in strategic areas (completed).
New surface parking lot at old police department building at 100 Chestnut
b. Current activities to implement short-term parking strategies include:
City Council approved a new project, funded by the Redevelopment Agency,
to install a 33-space, surface parking lot at the old police department
building at 100 Chestnut Street to encourage employee parking away from
First Street, thereby providing customers with prime parking stalls. The
existing communication tower is being relocated from the old police
building. The project is out to bid and expected completion is early 2007.
City staff met with the Downtown Brentwood Merchants Association (DBMA) in
early September regarding a variety of issues, primarily parking issues.
This meeting was part of the City’s actions to commence a parking education
program in the Downtown. The following actions have been taken by the City
staff to respond to the DBMA concerns:
• Signs restricting parking to “Authorized Personnel Only” were removed from
100 Chestnut Street. Parking spot assignments were removed from 100
Chestnut. This was done to encourage employee parking at 100 Chestnut while
bids are still out.
• Additional parking permits were issued to Brentwood Press and other
• At certain on-street locations, 2-hour parking signs on Downtown Streets
have been revised to remove “except by permit”. This will keep Downtown
employees from taking prime customer parking spots.
• City’s Engineering and Building Inspection and pool vehicles have been
removed from parking lot on 2nd Street to make more available parking for
Downtown customers and employees.
• Employee parking permit issuance, which is typically driven by a merchant
and requested once at the commencement of their business, will become a
City-driven, annual issuance in an effort to better serve the growing needs
of each business.
• DBMA requested stiffer parking fines. City staff is sensitive to their
request, but increased parking fines may be a disincentive to customers. PD
is researching the legality of a “serial” ticketing program, where one
vehicle can receive more than 1 ticket per day. This will discourage the
situation where employers are paying their parking fines on behalf of their
• Install directional signs to municipal parking lots by the end of the
• As a way to self-police, DBMA will encourage Downtown employers to require
their employees to park in municipal parking lots.
DBMA also wants to host more on-street events and festivals. City staff
encouraged them to develop their ideas, and we’d work with them to address
police and traffic issues.
c. The original 2005 parking study and the Downtown Specific Plan were based
on a future 8-screen theater or major retailer. The recommended long-term
strategies included: 1) incremental increase of in-lieu parking fees and 2)
a multi-storied parking structure. The Specific Plan states: “The City will
expand parking supply, including investing in the development of a parking
structure, to accommodate future demand for parking in excess of what can be
accommodated on-street and in surface lots” and “. . .. to address
significant parking needs required by an entertainment or large-scale retail
anchor . . .”
The Downtown 2010 community workshops held in the summer 2006 provided the
City with a clearer understanding of the community’s vision of private and
civic uses circling the City Park. An updated parking study was commissioned
based on the input received from 2010 community workshops, and based on the
elimination of an 8-screen theater anchor and the addition of future
significant development of retail and restaurant uses. The conclusions
re-affirmed the original study conclusions that there exists a surplus of
parking for today’s existing uses, but an inadequate parking supply to
support future demands associated with significant development. To
accommodate future demands, the original long-term parking strategies were
re-affirmed. As it relates to a future potential parking structure:
The original reserve of $4,000,000 from the Agency’s 2001 bond proceeds
for a possible parking structure in the Downtown was re-allocated by the
Council/Agency for other important community projects. These other projects
include, but are not limited to, Walnut Boulevard widening, police facility,
extension of O’Hara Street, Lone Oak improvements, under-grounding utilities
on Brentwood Boulevard, surface parking lot at 100 Chestnut Street, Downtown
infrastructure, community playhouse and specific plan costs. Less than
$100,000 remains from this bond.
The cost of a multi-story parking structure with no retail on the first
floor is estimated at $10M, which can be supported in the next Redevelopment
Agency bond issuance (see No. 12 below).
The next step is to select a preferred site for parking solutions. This is
necessary to reserve a place in the Downtown for future parking demands.
6. Downtown merchant and landowner incentives that are available now as
authorized by the Downtown Specific Plan and that are currently being
developed by staff to be brought to the Council and Agency for consideration
a. No parking requirements or payment of an in-lieu parking fee is required
for existing buildings, regardless of change of occupancy. Parking
requirements and in-lieu fees are necessary only for new development or
expansions of existing buildings. This can translate in a significant
savings of city fees.
b. The parking in-lieu fee was established by Council in 2003 at $2500 for
each unfilled parking stall. This is an extremely low fee and intentionally
has not been increased in an effort to provide an incentive to landlords and
merchants to construct and expand buildings. The Council will be asked to
set a course to increase the in-lieu fee in a few years to offset costs of
future parking alternatives.
c. The Specific Plan allows for outdoor dining or other merchant activity in
the “flexible zone” at curbside in the angled parking stalls, with the
necessary visual and functional safety precautions.
d. Staff is developing a façade improvement matching grant program, funded
by the Redevelopment Agency. This is a landowner incentive program.
e. Staff is researching a rent/lease subsidy program, funded by the
Redevelopment Agency. This is a merchant incentive program.
f. Staff has researched the issue of the application of prevailing wages for
both the façade improvement and subsidy programs. This issue is complex and
can sometimes make a project financially infeasible.
g. Staff is modifying the sidewalk dining ordinance to encourage outdoor
7. A series of educational brochures to help explain the more complex
sections of the Specific Plan to landowners and merchants commenced in late
October. This outreach program is designed to make the Specific Plan more
user-friendly. Upcoming brochures will address issues such as signs, allowed
uses, buildings and structures, and City actions. Staff established a
“strike force” of City staff members to address the unique needs of Downtown
landowners and merchants.
8. Staff is preparing the scope of work and professional services agreement
for Downtown streetscape standards and design, funded by the Redevelopment
Agency. This will include such things as street furniture, new street trees
and tree lights, gateway monuments and arches, special sidewalk and asphalt
treatment, kiosks, clock tower, etc. The design must be integrated with
Civic Core and City Park design. The plan will include a phasing strategy to
be coordinated with water and sewer improvements in the Downtown. Partial
funding for the design and installation is anticipated from the
Redevelopment Agency’s reserves.
9. Walnut Boulevard, a gateway to the Downtown from Vasco Road, is being
10. The vacant parcel on the corner of Oak Street and Walnut Boulevard is
owned by the Brentwood Redevelopment Agency. The future development of this
site as corner store retail and town homes offers a prime opportunity to
jump-start future projects. A gateway project here will add pedestrians and
street activity to our Downtown. After property assemblage is complete,
Redevelopment staff is prepared to begin searching for a qualified and
experienced developer to make this project happen.
11. The City purchased the rights to use www.downtownbrentwood.com and
www.downtownbrentwood.org to help promote the merchants and their
co-marketing efforts. Staff retained the services of a local graphic
designer to help build the website’s look and feel. The design work was
completed in the summer 2006 and the websites have been handed over to the
DBMA as a tool for outreach and marketing. While the merchant (.org) site
and the consumer site (.com) are live, detailed information related to the
association and businesses still needs to be fleshed out. The City plans on
working with the DBMA to add information, upcoming events, as well as
12. Staff is financially positioning the Redevelopment Agency to issue a
$25,000,000 bond within the next 12-24 months to fund new projects in both
the Downtown and North Brentwood Project Areas. As identified in the Capital
Improvement Program, the current Downtown-specific projects to be funded by
future Agency bonds include water and sewer improvements ($1,500,000+),
Brentwood Boulevard widening ($3,600,000), and parking structure
($10,000,000). Another Downtown project under consideration is community
facilities ($15,000,000). The cost for new streetscape and gateway monuments
may be partially funded by the Redevelopment Agency’s reserves. This list
does not represent projects for the North Brentwood Project Area.
Each year, in coordination with the annual Capital Improvement Program,
staff prepares a report to assist the Agency in matching available funds to
preferred projects. The same will be done for the next bond issuance.
13. Staff’s highest priority and first objective is to direct appropriate
businesses to the Downtown area. We have ongoing and frequent discussions
with many landowners and their real estate representatives regarding
available space and potential tenants, and have directed several interested
parties to each other to discuss opportunities in the Downtown. This is done
in an effort to play “matchmaker”, while not interfering with private real
estate transactions. Staff stays actively engaged in these discussions to
the point where a real estate license is required to broker private deals.
The consistent roadblock we’ve encountered in these ongoing discussions is
the unrealistic financial expectations of Downtown landowners for rent rates
and sales prices. The real estate market was on fire for the past few years,
and unfortunately the current expectations of landowners are not reflective
of today’s real estate market.
Progress on each task of the Downtown Action Plan is an on-going effort by
the assigned project manager. The Plan is comprehensively reviewed and
discussed by a team of staff members on a quarterly basis, led by the City
Manager, to coordinate progress.
Staff will also start meeting routinely with the Economic
Development/Redevelopment Subcommittee to discuss all aspects of the
Downtown Action Plan in detail. This should help in delivering timely and
accurate information to the Council regarding on-going staff actions that
support the growth and development of the Downtown.
Attachment: 1) Downtown Parking Utilization Map
2) Downtown 2010 Executive Summary