This Week – Oakland Update

Major Oakland Rezoning Passes the Planning Commission

Last night, the Oakland Planning Commission voted to recommend a major overhaul of the City’s residential and commercial zoning districts to the City Council. The Planning Commission’s action brings the 2+ year rezoning process to its final stage. The City Council’s Community and Economic Development Committee will hear the proposal at its February 8th meeting and the rezoning could be approved by the full Council by March.

As currently written, Oakland’s General Plan and Planning Code contain numerous inconsistencies in how the city’s residential and commercial zones are regulated. This has led to an overly-confusing system of land use regulations and an inefficient entitlement process. The rezoning will resolve these issues by making the General Plan and Planning Code consistent and reducing the burdens of the entitlement process. The rezoning comes at just the right time, when the city is looking to attract new development and retailers, and to build on the momentum of new arts activities and restaurants that have set up shop in the city in recent years.

While much of the rezoning consists of “cleaning up” the existing zoning, several areas of the city’s zoning are slated for substantive changes. Identified “grow and change” areas will benefit from increased density and an expansion of permitted uses. These areas include San Pablo Avenue, Telegraph Avenue south of Highway 24, the MacArthur corridor, Martin Luther King Way south of Children’s Hospital, Broadway south of 51st Street, International Boulevard and East 12th Street. Height limits are being established on certain major corridors in order to better relate future growth to the surrounding neighborhood. New design standards will also apply to future development.

There are too many specifics of the new rezoning to include in an email update. Please contact us if you have any questions. We’ll keep you posted as the rezoning approaches the finish line.

Oakland Keeps A’s Ballpark Hopes Alive

Within weeks after her surprise election as Mayor of Oakland, Jean Quan kept the city in the game to retain its beloved Athletics. Quan quickly signaled her support for a city-funded EIR for a new 39,000-seat ballpark at the Victory Court site, adjacent to the Oakland estuary. On Tuesday, a City Council subcommittee voted to fund the EIR, and the full City Council is expected to approve the move next Tuesday.

Odds-makers may be betting on San Jose, but if constructed on the Victory Court site, the ballpark would be the centerpiece of redeveloping the waterfront area south of downtown. The revitalized Jack London Square is adjacent to the site’s west, and the major mixed-use Oak to Ninth project is just to the east of the site. The site will also benefit from the planned improvement to the Lake Merritt channel, which connects the lake with the estuary. The improvements will create boat and fish access through the channel and upgrade paths so that walkers and bikers will be able to follow the same route on land.

Momentum may be building behind Oakland’s bid for the ballpark. San Jose has missed a recent deadline to put a measure on the March ballot to approve the use of downtown land for a ballpark. Recent reports have also indicated that Oakland’s Redevelopment Agency is in much better financial shape than San Jose’s.

It’s been a year since Bud Selig predicted the highly anticipated report on Major League Baseball’s decision on the ballpark was to become public. Those interested in the outcome have learned not to hold their breath at this point. But City officials express confidence that Oakland is still in the running. And, according to the East Bay Express, it would take three-fourth’s of MLB owners to overcome the Giants objections over the potential move to San Jose.

Kudos, Oakland, for staying in the game.

The issues discussed in this update are not intended to be legal advice and no attorney-client relationship is established with the recipient. Readers should consult with legal counsel before relying on any of the information contained herein. Reuben & Junius, LLP is a full service real estate law firm. We specialize in land use, development and entitlement law. We also provide a wide range of transactional services, including leasing, acquisitions and sales, formation of limited liability companies and other entities, lending/workout assistance, subdivision and condominium work.

Copyright 2010 Reuben & Junius, LLP. All rights reserved.