The San Ramon Planning Commission signed off on a land-use permit Tuesday for a proposed new heritage school with afternoon cultural enrichment programs on San Ramon Valley Boulevard.
The Panache Heritage School for elementary and middle school children would be located directly next to the existing Panache Enfants, a day care center for 6-year-olds and younger operated by the same owner. It would occupy about 2,170 square feet of vacant commercial space in the Courtyard Center, southeast of the boulevard's intersection with Crow Canyon Road.
"The heritage school that we're proposing is really in response to what we're hearing from the families that we have," applicant Shilpa Panech told the commission Tuesday night at City Hall.
"A lot of our families are Indian and Asian descent, and they'd like to see a bit of cultural component in the after-school care that we're providing. This model fits the needs of the families that we have," Panech added.
The heritage school would provide tutoring services in addition to activities built upon cultural enrichment after school weekdays, with operating hours ranging from 1-6:30 p.m., according to Panech. It would operate independently from Panache Enfants, which is a full-day child care center.
City planning staff members said they thought the site has enough parking spots to accommodate the heritage school, but commissioner Bijal Patel expressed concerns about parking, particularly during the peak hours of the business day.
Though the heritage school would provide a shuttle service from the students' daytime schools to the heritage school, Patel wondered if the traffic during parental pick-up times had been analyzed.
"While you may be offering bussing, that's really just from pick-up at the school to arriving at the facility," Patel said. "In terms of the peak period trips, they're really going to be around the 5 or 6 p.m. period, and everyone's going to be coming to both of those schools."
Panech responded, "We are catering to a lot of siblings, so those families are already coming to pick up their younger children." The owner estimated that 60-70% of the heritage school families would be current clients of the Panache Enfants day care.
Panech also said an underground parking garage on-site would help alleviate potential above-ground parking lot congestion.
The commission ultimately voted unanimously to approve the Panache Heritage School proposal.
"I was on this commission when the (Panache Enfants) day care center came in, and I just have to say, I'm really pleased to see a successful business in San Ramon," commissioner Jeanne Benedetti said. "Someone who started a business, and now they're expanding. I like seeing that."
In other business Tuesday night, the commission approved the placement of a public art feature at the proposed new Walgreens Pharmacy in the Dougherty Valley.
Browman Development Co. plans to install a 10-foot tall metal sculpture titled "Reaching for the Stars" by artist Dale Rogers at its Walgreens store and drive-thru at the northeast corner of Rockhampton Road and Windemere Parkway, near Bollinger Canyon Road. The sculpture depicts an adult holding up a child who has captured a star in their hands.
The commissioners' discussion focused on where to locate the artwork at the site.
City staff and the Architectural Review Board recommended that the sculpture be placed on a small pedestal in front of a blank side wall of the Walgreens building, which would allow people driving on Windemere Parkway or walking along the sidewalk to see the sculpture.
The city's Arts Advisory Committee, however, argued the piece of art should be located closer to where customers would be entering the store, on the southeast corner adjacent to the Windemere Parkway driveway entrance.
City staff pointed out the near-entrance location is already crowded with a bike rack, bench, stop sign and other items, and the applicant contended that spot would increase their liability from potential public interaction with the sculpture.
"To move the statue away from the clutter probably makes more sense," commissioner Eric Wallis said. "From an architectural art standpoint, placing it against a blank wall will draw more attention to it."
"From a public safety standpoint, it's probably better down by the wall then by the front door. I would agree with the experts ... and put it down by the sidewalk," Wallis added.
The commissioners voted unanimously to place the art sculpture near the blank wall as recommended by city staff and the review board.