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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

— Residential Parking Requirements AmendmentOrdinance —

Local
November 8, 2016 —California General Election

City of Albany
Measure N1 Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passed

5,139 votes yes (64.74%)

2,799 votes no (35.26%)

  • 100% of precincts reporting (13/13).

Shall an ordinance authorizing the Albany City Council to amend the residential parking requirements established by Measure D (enacted by the Albany voters in 1978), after following the normal procedures for amending City Zoning Ordinances, be adopted?

Impartial analysis / Proposal

In 1978, the Albany voters approved an initiative (Measure D) which, among other provisions, required that two (2) parking spaces be provided for each newly constructed residential unit within the City. Measure D authorized the Planning Commission to reduce this parking requirement to one and one-half (1-1/2) spaces upon a finding that sufficient on-street parking exists. Under California law, ordinances adopted by initiative can only be amended by the voters, unless the voters expressly authorize the City Council to approve amendments.

This measure would authorize the City Council to amend the residential parking requirements of Measure D from time to time, after following the normal procedures for amending City Zoning Ordinances. These procedures include compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and conducting noticed public hearings before the Planning Commission and City Council. Authorized amendments to the Measure D parking requirements may include, but are not limited to, modifications to the number of parking spaces required per residential unit, as well as the provisions which allow the Planning Commission to reduce these residential parking requirements in particular circumstances. This measure was placed on the ballot by the City Council. A full copy of the ordinance text is printed in these ballot materials.

A "Yes" vote is a vote in favor of allowing the City Council to amend the Measure D parking regulations. A "No" vote is a vote against allowing the City Council to approve such amendments. This measure will be approved if a majority of the votes cast on it are “Yes” votes.

DATED: July 22, 2016

 

— Craig Labadie, Albany City Attorney

Arguments FOR

In 1978, Star Wars won seven Academy Awards, Saturday Night Fever topped the charts and Harvey Milk was assassinated. Here in Albany, 1978 was also the year the Measure D passed.

Measure D created new zoning restrictions on multi-family housing. The city council is not asking the voters to change those. The measure also created unrealistic parking requirements, making multi-family housing more difficult to build. The council is asking voters to restore the council’s ability to modify these parking requirements in response to Albany’s changing priorities.

Measure D required two off-street parking spaces for every new housing unit, from single-family homes to studio apartments to Pierce St. condominiums. Over the years, this requirement has had negative consequences:

All of Albany’s bungalows with just one parking spot have become “legal non-conforming.” In the case of major earthquake or fire damage, all these homes are technically required to be rebuilt with two off-street parking spaces.

Today seniors and families with children are being priced out of Albany. Outdate parking requirements limit Albany’s ability to respond to our affordable housing crisis. Multi-family housing has become infeasible to build.

Encouraging multi-family housing in mixed-use buildings along transit corridors, with appropriate size and design requirements, can help address these housing needs as well as revitalize our commercial areas. More goods and services in walkable business areas benefit all residents and will help broaden our tax base.

While we have completed major updates of our zoning code since Measure D was passed, its outdated parking requirements remain frozen in time. A YES vote will restore the city’s ability to adjust parking rules. This will allow the council to meet the needs of today’s residents, not those of 1978.

Your city council respectfully asks Albany voters to vote Yes on Measure N1 to bring our parking rules into the 21st century.

—Peter Maass, Mayor
—Peggy McQuaid, City Council Member
—Doug Donaldson, Planning and Zoning Commissioner
—Rochelle Nason, City Council Member
—Michael Barnes, City Council Member

— Alameda County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

Measure N1 would authorize the Council to amend the current residential parking standards established in 1978 by “Measure D.” Since these requirements were set by popular vote, they can only be changed by another vote. With Measure N1, the Council is asking Albany residents to give up their current, direct control over parking standards.

It is important to retain the requirement for voter approval of residential parking standards. There are urban planning strategies that advocate very low minimum parking ratios or even zero parking. The goal is to reduce car ownership. There are important questions about community priorities here. Albany would need to discuss parking and then approve polices [sic] based on an election contest. This is exactly what Measure D now requires. Albany residents would certainly be willing to consider adjustments to Measure D (e.g., more proportional requirements, parking reductions for senior housing), but the Council has proposed instead to completely eliminate the current requirement for voter approval of parking standards.

There’s a lot of confusion about what the current Measure D does and doesn’t do. Measure D parking requirements apply only to new housing and do not have any impact on Albany’s parking standards for home additions or businesses. Measure D doesn’t even necessarily require the often-cited two spaces per dwelling unit. The measure permits a reduction to 1.5 spaces per unit when there is sufficient available on-street parking. Neighboring cities have similar requirements.

Measure D encourages realistic, right-sized development in Albany, which is consistent with Albany’s goal of maintaining its small town ambience. Measure D creates and incentive for affordable housing since projects with affordable units may utilize lower parking standards established by state law.

Vote no on Measure N1; retain the valuable provisions of Measure D and retain citizen’s control of parking requirements in Albany.

—Clay Larson

— Alameda County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

Council members in their pro argument claim variously that Measure D makes multi-family housing “more difficult to build” or “infeasible to build.” However, in a letter to the State, City staff noted that while Measure D may prevent very high-density development in Albany, it permits moderate development allowing Albany to meet its housing needs allocation. In its resolution adopting a housing element, the Council stated, “no programs to mitigate the Measure D requirements are needed.”

The Council claims that Measure D creates “unrealistic parking requirements.” Again, they fail to mention the provision permitting 1.5 parking spaces per unit if there is sufficient on-street parking. The Council is now asking for authority to reduce the minimum parking requirements even when there is not sufficient on-street parking!

The Council claims that Measure D limits Albany’s ability to provide affordable housing. However, Measure D actually creates incentives for affordable housing. Projects with affordable units can utilize reduced parking ratios provided by State law. If measure D is repealed and Albany reduces the required parking for all new housing, it will eliminate these incentives.

The Council claims that it wants to create parking standards that “meet the needs of today’s residents, not those of 1978.” Fine, propose changes to Measure D, make your case to the residents, and put it to a vote.

Measure D was born out of a mistrust of government. Unfortunately, the trust level hasn’t increased much in the intervening years. Parking certainly has only gotten worse. Vote no on Measure N; retain citizen’s control of parking requirements in Albany.

 

—Clay Larson   

— Alameda County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Albany, like many cities, is constantly updating its building and fire codes as technologies improve and conditions change. It would be an expensive, bureaucratic nightmare to hold an election every time these standards need to be updated.

Yet that is precisely where we find ourselves with Albany’s outdated residential parking requirements. Our city needs to be able to update our standards through our democratic planning and zoning process without holding elections for what are often focused technical changes.

Albany citizens love our “small town ambiance”, but this is best protected by zoning and building standards, not unrealistic and archaic parking requirements.

Albany, along with the rest of the Bay Area, has under gone [sic] continuing population growth. Stagnant housing production has helped lead to rapidly rising home prices and rents, making life less affordable for many residents. The long-term solution is to expand our housing stock. Albany’s rigid, bureaucratic process for changing parking standards is a roadblock to building new housing in zones where it is already allowed and badly needed.

The passage of Measure N1 will not change current parking requirements, but it will allow proposed changes to go through the rigorous vetting process of Albany’s Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council. It will eliminate the need for a direct election for every change in parking standards. Please vote YES on Measure N1 and allow Albany to reconsider, and adjust when necessary, its parking requirements.

—Peter Maass, Mayor
—Michael Barnes, Albany City Council Member
—Val Menotti, Albany Planning and Zoning Commissioner

— Alameda County Registrar of Voters

Proposed legislation

ORDINANCE NO. 2016-01
AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY AMENDING THE ZONING ORDINANCE TO AUTHORIZE THE CITY COUNCIL TO MODIFY THE PARKING REQUIREMENTS ESTABLISHED BY MEASURE D, ADOPTED IN 1978, AFTER FOLLOWING THE NORMAL PROCEDURES FOR ADOPTION OF ZONING ORDINANCES

WHEREAS, at the November 7, 1978 general election, the Albany voters approved an initiative measure which is commonly referred to as "Measure D"; and

WHEREAS, among other things, Measure D required that two parking spaces must be provided for each dwelling unit in all residential districts; and

WHEREAS, this parking requirement has been codified as part of Section 20.28.040 of the Albany Municipal Code; and

WHEREAS, with certain limited exceptions, implementation of Measure D has mandated that the City require that new residential units – regardless of size, number of bedrooms, or housing type – must provide two off-street parking spaces; and

WHEREAS, several City planning documents (including the 1992 General Plan, 2010 Climate Action Plan, 2015-2023 Housing Element, and 2035 General Plan) have stated that the Measure D parking standards should be re-evaluated because these standards limit the development potential of parcels which are zoned for higher density residential uses and also limit the ability of property owners to add secondary dwelling units on parcels containing single-family residences by restricting the City’s discretion to reduce parking requirements for newly constructed secondary dwelling units; and

WHEREAS, currently Measure D can only be amended by an ordinance adopted by the Albany voters; and

WHEREAS, on the basis of the foregoing, the City Council has determined that the best option available to the City is to bring forward a ballot measure authorizing the City Council to amend the requirements of Measure D from time to time, after following normal ordinance amendment procedures; and

WHEREAS, the proposed measure, if approved by a majority of the Albany voters, would allow greater flexibility for the City Council to respond to changing conditions and promote the community goals as expressed in adopted planning documents for encouraging additional housing development and promoting environmental sustainability.

NOW THEREFORE, THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Albany Municipal Code Section 20.28.040 is hereby amended, to add a new subdivision D., to read as follows:

20.28.040 Exceptions to Parking Space Requirements.

     D. City Council Authorized to Modify Measure D Parking Requirements.

After following the normal procedures for amending City Zoning Ordinances, including compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act and conducting duly noticed public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission and City Council, the City Council may amend the residential parking requirements established by Measure D (enacted by the Albany voters on November 7, 1978). Such amendments may include, but are not limited to, modifications to the number of parking spaces required per dwelling unit for residential uses in residential districts, as well as the provisions of Measure D which allow the Planning Commission to reduce these residential parking requirements by Conditional Use Permit upon making specified findings. This provision is not intended to limit in any way the authority and discretion which the City Council currently possesses to adopt Zoning Ordinance amendments.

Section 2. SEVERABILITY. If any provision of this Ordinance or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the Ordinance and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

Section 3. RECITALS. The People of the City of Albany find that all Recitals contained in this Ordinance are true and correct and are incorporated herein by reference.

Section 4. CEQA FINDINGS. The adoption of this resolution is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act ((“CEQA”) because it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the adoption of the proposed ordinance will have a significant effect on the environment. (CEQA Guidelines Section 15061(b)(3).) If approved by the voters, the proposed ordinance would authorize the City Council to make future changes in the parking space requirements established by Measure D. However, any such changes would have to be preceded by compliance with CEQA. The proposed ordinance, by itself, would not effect any changes in applicable land use regulation.

Section 5. EFFECTIVE DATE. If it receives approval from a simple majority of the Albany voters, this ordinance shall take effect immediately upon adoption of a City Council resolution declaring the results of the November 8, 2016 general election.

Ordinance No. 2016-01 was submitted to the People of the City of Albany at the November 8, 2016 general municipal election. It was approved by the following vote of the People:
YES:
NO:

Ordinance No. 2016-01 was thereby adopted by the voters at the November 8, 2016 election and took effect upon adoption of a resolution declaring the results of the election at a regular meeting of the City Council held on ______________, 2016, by the following vote:

AYES: NOES: ABSENT:

I HEREBY CERTIFY that the foregoing is a true and correct copy of an ordinance duly and regularly adopted by the People of the City of Albany, California.

________________________________

_______________________ Nicole Almaguer, City Clerk

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