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Meeting Minutes

MINUTES
CITY OF BRENTWOOD
REDEVELOPMENT AGENCY MEETING
May 13, 2003

A regular meeting of the Redevelopment Agency of the City of Brentwood was called to order at 8:11 p.m. in the Council Chambers located at 734 Third Street, with Chairman Swisher presiding.

Present: Members Beckstrand, Gutierrez, Hill, Petrovich, Chairman Swisher
Absent: None

AGENDA REVIEW

Item 3: Corrected title for Agenda Item No. 3 under Consent Calendar.

Item 5: Revised staff report for Agenda Item No. 5, under New Business.

It was moved/seconded by Beckstrand/Petrovich to approve the Agenda Review as recommended by staff. Motion carried unanimously.

CITIZEN COMMENTS – none.

CONSENT CALENDAR

1. Approved minutes of March 25, 2003.

2. Approved Warrant Nos. 71041, 71045, 71073, 71111, 71117, 71130, 71137, 71142, 71215, 71223, 71230, 71263, 71286, 71301, 71312.

3. Authorized Executive Director to serve written notice of default to RHS Construction Company no later than August 15, 2003, in accordance with Section 511c of the Disposition and Development Agreement.

It was moved/seconded by Petrovich/Gutierrez to approve Consent Calendar items 1 – 3 as recommended by staff. Motion carried unanimously.

PUBLIC HEARING

4. Reviewed and approved the Redevelopment Plans and the corresponding Implementation Plan for the Merged Brentwood and North Brentwood Redevelopment Projects.

Gina Rozenski, Redevelopment Analyst, explained that AB 1290 from 1994 required redevelopment agencies to start adopting a five-year implementation plan. The Agency adopted its first plan in 1994 and the second five-year plan was adopted in 2000. AB 1290 required agencies to do a mid term review and look at programs identified in the five-year plan as well as review potential projects and financing methods to achieve the goals and objectives and addressed the efforts of the Agency to provide affordable housing, she informed. In addition, the five year plan and mid-year review needed to look at the 20 percent housing set-aside fund to make sure that the Agency was meeting the ten-year housing production goals set forth in community redevelopment law.

Goals and objectives of the Agency during the five year implementation plan addressed alleviation of blighted conditions remaining in the project areas; the stimulate of private investment to create economic development; improved public infrastructure and facilities and the preservation and improvement of affordable housing. The plan listed six specific programs that addressed achievement of the goals and objectives which were: the Industrial Development Program, commercial development, business assistance, public improvements and facilities, business attraction and retention and affordable housing programs. As reported in the mid-term review, she said that activities and projects of the Redevelopment Agency over the past three-years and projects projected over the next two years, had promoted and supported the principal programs outlined in the plan. Specific details in the housing and non-housing programs that had been implemented had been addressed in Sections D and E of the mid-term review.

Ms. Rozenski reviewed highlights of the five-year program and noted that the Industrial Development program had been supported with $3.2 million; commercial development program with $1.3 million; public improvements and facilities with $2 million and business attraction retention program with $100,000 and the $3.5 million was expected to be spent for the affordable housing program. In addition, the Agency expected to spend $1.7 over the five-year period for pass-through agreements and ERAF payments to other taxing agencies and the Agency would be spending approximately $20 million over the five-year period. Approximately 1,424 housing units had been built in the project areas and 439 were restricted by public agencies to very low, low and moderate housing, which was 31 percent of the total housing that had been built in the project areas.

Mayor Swisher opened the public hearing. There was no public testimony.

It was moved/seconded by Beckstrand/Petrovich to close the public hearing and approve Redevelopment Plans and the corresponding Implementation Plan for the Merged Brentwood and North Brentwood Redevelopment Projects. Motion carried unanimously.

NEW BUSINESS

5. Presentation and acceptance of Downtown Economic Strategic Plan and the Downtown In-Lieu Parking Fee and Zoning Study prepared by Gruen Gruen + Associates.

Howard Sword, Economic Development Director, explained that Gruen Gruen and Associates would present the strategies and programs for the Vital Downtown Center. He said that the purpose of the Agency was to identify strategies and to achieve goals and objectives of the Implementation and Redevelopment Plans of the Agency. The report formed the economic planning studies needed for the Downtown Specific Plan. Gruen and Gruen Associates reviewed the Downtown Economic Strategic Plan and the Downtown in-lieu parking fee study. Staff recommended that the Agency accept the report and direct staff to further analyze the report as part of the Redevelopment and Downtown Specific Plans. The report was a planning tool for staff to formulate future programs and policies and to effectuate economic development in the Downtown.

Neenah Gruen, Gruen Gruen and Associates, said that time was of the essence to go into the next phase and continue to attract additional retail throughout the City, particularly with the Bypass coming in. She recommended monitoring and suggested that readjustments be made over a period of five year. Gruen Guen and Associates had been asked to study the Downtown with particular knowledge that the Agency would be going into a specific planning process and had been asked to look at the Downtown economic potential with respect to type and scale of activities with a strong emphasis on additional retail and restaurant tenancies. The impact of current City zoning and parking regulations were considered on achieving Downtown development goals and she covered the economic potential and strategies for attracting the desired type and scale of activities and recommended zoning changes. The five-year recommendation was to enhance and strengthen the four Downtown core areas and when significant progress had been made in strengthening the Downtown blocks, attention should then be directed to strengthening the northern blocks. In five to ten years, the City should concentrate on the block south of Chestnut along Brentwood Boulevard as well as a part across from the railroad tracks. That area would be a very important entry point, she said, and should be considered in the specific plan and implemented from 2008 forward. In the analysis, Gruen and Gruen Associates looked at the retail sales tax base in the Downtown area and Citywide and initially disaggregated the downtown into three geographic areas in the four block Downtown core, the seven block Downtown, which included the two blocks north of Maple and one east of Second between Oak and Chestnut and then the three blocks along Brentwood Boulevard, south of Chestnut. She said that Gruen had evaluated the retail sales tax base for the whole ten block area which would be referred to as the downtown area. Downtown and Citywide businesses were combined into six business categories and four of the categories were strongly identified into all successful downtowns. The four categories were apparel and other retail stores, eating and drinking establishments, home furnishing and appliances and business and personal service category. Two additional categories were an auto related and another and the other was a catch all, which included light industrial equipment, morticians, repair and hand trade shops and those uses had been historically included in the Downtown ten block area. Not all business outlets were accounted for in the six business categories and the omissions were drug and food stores and accounted for seven percent of the retail sales tax base Downtown and the same six categories were used for the Citywide retail sales tax base and included the Downtown and Citywide areas. The six categories accounted for 64 percent of the total retail sales tax and was a unique entity. It identified changes in the Downtown and annualized taxable sales growth by business category over the 1990 to 2001 time period. Both the Downtown and City experienced similar percentage increases in their eating and drinking establishments and the business and personal service categories. The City had far more rapid growth in apparel and other stores during the period than the downtown and that was because stores such as T.J. Maxx and Ross had located in the City in that time period and brought in major retail sales tax base. The City had a higher annualized growth rate in home furnishings and appliances and other categories and the Downtown experienced an eight percent annualized decrease in business in the other categories, while the City had an 11 percent annualized increase. The main objective was attracting unique retail tenants and a mixed use environment would be used to create a robust Downtown retail market. Eating and drinking establishments were a major building block of successful downtowns and was 23 percent of the retail sales tax base and Downtown was strong in the home furnishings and appliance categories and in 2001, the Downtown accounted for 37 percent of the Citywide home furnishing and retail sales and that additional home furnishing tenants should be attracted and encouraged to locate Downtown. Apparel and specialty tenancy should be strongly encouraged and the strongest priority should be to work toward trying to get retail stores here in the near term before there were shopping opportunities to attract them in centers outside the Downtown. In addition to the above retail, Downtown should continue to encourage personal and business services, which accounted for 40 percent of the City’s retail sales tax base, she noted. Architects and business consultants should be encouraged to locate in second floor space, when possible, while personal services such as beauty parlors and health spas were desirable street level uses. Parking was an integral Downtown use and the greatest constraints were along both sides of Oak Street and both sides of First Street. A parking garage facing Second Street and across from the City park would alleviate the parking problem and provide new retail tenants and the new City hall would bring retailing if it was in close proximity to where the library and community center were. The core area fire station could be used and renovating or expanding the adjoining Veterans’ hall over the next five years, the Downtown would need to establish a critical mass of retail activities and once the highway bypassed, there would be increased pressures for taking the retailers outside the downtown. In order for the Downtown to effectively compete with the competition in the next decade, development in the Downtown must be augmented to create a magnetic, critical mass of stores, restaurants, offices and other attractions and to encourage the building of the needed new store shops, additional areas needed to be zoned for retail and restaurant development. Sites were needed to provide the land needed for development and an economic environment of expectations to keep land prices from climbing unrealistically to heights that made further development and redevelopment infeasible. Gruen Gruen and Associates recommended that certain zone changes be considered such as designating a central business CB besides the current zoned commercial office and residential or core in the area bounded by Pine Street, Second Street, Maple Street and the alley via Diablo Way; designated as CB the sites currently zoned thoroughfare commercial, or C-3 in the area bounded by Maple Street; Diablo Way and Brentwood Boulevard. She noted that the residentially zoned area bounded by Chestnut Street, Third Street, Oak and Second Streets should also be evaluated for land use change designation that would allow transition into administrative and professional office use and the zoning designation of the area should be decided as part of the upcoming specific plan. Ms. Gruen recommended that the specific plan take into consideration entryways in at least two Downtown locations, which were Second Street and Brentwood Boulevard and at Oak Street off of Brentwood Boulevard. An appropriately-designed gateway should be part of the Downtown wayfaring system considered in the specific plan. The current banners and tree lighting were positive design features that should be reinforced such as stimulate more pedestrian activities in the Downtown by sponsoring or encouraging sponsorship in events in the Downtown and City Park throughout the year and particularly in the spring and summer times when it was light longer.

Claude Gruen explained the parking impacts and said it was a critical part of the project. Nationwide, $26 billion was spent on parking and many of the professional services and retail stores food providers had competitors on sites that offered free parking and a parking deficit in Downtown seemed to cause some customers to do business elsewhere. He said if the parking problem became greater, the diversion would be greater and resulting in decreased rents obtainable for space in the Downtown. Since rents, along with the cost of development, which included parking, determined development feasibility, the actuality and the potential for parking shortage in the Downtown created an important catch 22 situation that could forestall development. There was a window of opportunity and if the goal of enhancing the viability of the Downtown area and making it a town center experience, the parking issue must be solved. He said he believed that a lot of the problem was employment related and he looked forward to having City hall create a structure that would assist in solving the employment problem. He was concerned about the four block area along Oak Street where customer satisfaction was being impacted by the relative lack of parking. In the parking impact area, pre-existing uses could operate without any off-street parking. If a business was there with the use, it would be grandfathered and parking would not have to be provided unless there was something new. If there were changes in uses or remodeling, even if it did not extend the space, off-street parking was required with one space per 900 square feet on the ground floor and one space per 800 square feet for upper floors or basements. If occupancy was increased through subdivision or additions to existing space in an area over 1,200 square feet, one parking space was required for every 900 square feet. For smaller spaces, current regulations were one space for every 300 square feet in the impact area and office space required one for every 200 square feet. If an in-lieu parking fee was imposed, covering the whole $18,000 the City would be making new development and remodeling infeasible, except in certain cases. The average in the Downtown area was $1.50 per square foot or $18 per year and sales were close to justifying the rent for the average eating and drinking establishments. The average sales of retails establishments, other than eating and drinking establishments did not suggest the rent being that high. He said that the imposition of an $18,000 parking fee would stop development Downtown and the development picture would be better assuming that some new development would be greater than two stories and the specific plan look at encouraging some of that kind of development in the downtown. The barrier would be imposed by an in-lieu fee if the City charged $18,000. He noted that the Redevelopment Agency was committed to building a core area parking structure with a plan that would call for a structure of about 30,000 square feet of retail on the main floor. He emphasized that this was an important commitment of Agency funds and was important to retail success. He noted that the Agency had a right to impose a parking fee and he suggested that it be in the range of $2,500 and could be evaluated in the future. He suggested a staggered pricing situation with the Agency paying the bulk of it now and the property owners benefited from it. The short term goal was to keep the in-lieu fee low and lower than it would be in the long-run and relegating of office space to the second space to the second floor would encourage multipurpose trips and there needed to be a strategy that would include a procedure for discouraging employee use of on-straight parking and easy accessible parking.

Chairman Swisher asked that the entries be expedited more than five-years away rather than looking at it as a five-year plan.

Mitch Oshinsky, Community Development Director, noted that just to be clear on the time frame for the specific plan the specific plan would have different time frames for items, some of which could be done as soon as one to two months after the plan was adopted.

Agency Member Petrovich spoke about the Commercial/Office/Residential and C-3 being zoned to CB to keep the land prices down and that the people owning property in COR and C-3 would benefit by rezoning to CB and he voiced his concern about those already in the CB zone.

Ms. Gruen explained that all property values would rise eventually and that there should be a benefit in the parking fees over the next few years so that they act sooner rather than later.

Mr. Gruen said that they were not talking about decreasing land value but spreading the increase in value. If the design and parking were not done, values would go down and because the values were going up, it should be shared.

It was moved/seconded by Beckstrand/Hill to accept the report and direct staff to further analyze formulating programs and activities to achieve the goals and objections of the Redevelopment Plan and as part of the Downtown Specific Plan. Motion carried unanimously.

6. Approve the Special Submittal Requirements and Evaluation Criteria for Projects Within Redevelopment Project Areas.

Gina Rozenski, Redevelopment Analyst, explained that the Redevelopment Agency had the authority to guide or determine the acceptability of development proposals and to develop a variety of techniques to select a perspective developer for an Agency project. There were many issues in the scope in the evaluation of whether a development proposal met the goals and objectives of the Redevelopment Plan. Before agreeing to participate in or contribute to a project, measurements of proposal acceptability may include the elimination or mitigation of blighted conditions, overall benefits to the community and job creation, enhancement of tax increment to the Agency, increased retail activity or the creation of catalyst projects. The Agency could look at the level of need for Agency or City assistance or services, acquisition or relocation needs, project scheduling and timing and the development experience of the applicant. The two Agency-initiated projects were the potential parking structure and redevelopment of Oak and Walnut. The proposed special submittal requirements and evaluation criteria would be a primary part of the request for proposal package and would be used to solicit interest from owners and developers wishing to becoming partners with the Agency. The responsibilities and authority of the Agency would be restated and the submittal requirements and evaluation criteria portion of the document listed information that the Agency may use to deliberate and select a development proposal and ultimately a financial partner in the project. The Redevelopment Subcommittee reviewed and discussed the document and directed staff to bring the document to the Agency for consideration and adoption.

It was moved/seconded by Hill/Gutierrez to approve the recommendations regarding the special submittal requirements and evaluation criteria for project within redevelopment project areas. Motion carried unanimously.

INFORMATIONAL REPORTS FROM AGENCY MEMBERS – None.

REQUESTS FOR FUTURE AGENDA ITEMS – None.

ADJOURNMENT

It was moved/seconded by Hill/Beckstrand, to adjourn the Redevelopment Agency meeting. There being no further business the meeting was adjourned at 9:13 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Cynthia Garcia
Assistant City Clerk

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