By Tim Hunt
Dublin council should focus on East Dublin reviewUploaded: Jan 22, 2019
Dublin Mayor David Haubert likely knew that his concerns were heard when the city staff presented its long-awaited update on residential development across the city.
Haubert had requested the report in June and thought it would be delivered by September. Instead, after he made some pointed comments, City Manager Chris Foss delivered the informational report at the Jan. 8 City Council meeting. By that time, Haubert had been joined on the council by new members Jean Josey and Shawn Kumagai.
The report, compiled by Mandy Kang, a senior planner, showed 5,292 units zoned of which 45 percent (2,359) are vested and 55 percent (2,933) have no vesting. As the city learned last year when it tried to deny the high-density apartments at the East Dublin BART station, the council does not have the discretion to stop a vested project. The developers sued and the city ended up settling within a couple of months that included approving the project.
The bottom line is that the city cannot change the vested projects, but it still has flexibility over the other 55 percent.
Most of the vested projects are in the Dublin Crossings Project (The Boulevard) along Dublin Boulevard on former Parks Reserve Forces Training base land. That project will link the city together along Dublin Boulevard as well as extending another east/west road, Gleason Road. Dublin Crossings has 1,395 units to be constructed, while the East Dublin Specific Plan has 466 vested units.
Most of the remaining units are in the 499-unit apartment complex that will replace a warehouse near the West Dublin BART station.
One of Haubert’s key views is that it’s time to review the East Dublin Specific Plan that voters approved 25 years ago in 1993. There’s 1,715 units zoned there and it’s a good time to review the plan. There’s plenty of vested units to keep the city moving ahead residentially over the next year.
The remaining 1,218 units are in the Downtown Dublin Specific Plan that was approved in 2010. Tim Sbranti was serving as mayor and no current council member or planning commissioner was serving at that time. Notably, now Congressman Eric Swalwell was serving on the Planning Commission. The 2010 plan updated and combined five specific plans targeted at areas within the broader downtown. It runs from I-580 in the south to Amador Valley Boulevard in the north, bounded by Village Parkway and San Ramon Road.
One goal of the new plan was to encourage transit-oriented development within walking distance of the West Dublin BART station. The 499-unit planned apartment complex will add another major housing option to this mix. Two similar projects already have been completed there.
One replaced a long-time auto dealership that moved east.
The challenge for those hoping for a true downtown is multiple property owners within what appears to be a singe shopping center and plenty of big box retailers. It is notable that as some big users have left or closed, landlords have been able to replace them.
The council would be wise to focus its efforts on the East Dublin Specific Plan where there are still opportunities and allow the market to continue to play out in core Dublin.