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By Sean Charpentier
East Palo Alto Today
Posted November 5, 2010


The East Palo Alto community created a Draft Preferred Land Use Alternative (LUA) for the RBD/ 4 Corners Specific Plan (Specific Plan). The Specific Plan will create a new land use vision for the RBD/4 Corners and determine if East Palo Alto can potentially connect to the future Dumbarton Rail Project. The Specific Plan is funded by the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) and the City of East Palo Alto.

The city hired Design, Community & Environment (DC&E) as the planning consultant to facilitate the Specific Plan process.

Community members have been working with the city for over a year to create a community vision for the RBD/ 4 Corners area. Community members have spent many hours at the public meetings. There have been 9 well-attended public meetings, including 3 community workshops. Attendance has averaged 35 people per meeting.

The collaborative process and extensive city outreach program have ensured excellent attendance at all meetings. To date, the city and DC&E have mailed over 20,000 postcards, sent thousands of emails, and made hundreds of phone calls to encourage participation in the meetings.

The community created a Draft Preliminary Preferred LUA at the third community workshop on October 12, 2010. The workshop started with an introduction from Vice Mayor Carlos Romero.

East Palo Alto's Vice Mayor Carlos Romero on the far right
stands behind some of the city's residents who attended the
Ravenswood 4 Corners workshops as they look at various
options for the area. Click mouse over picture to see
one of the options.

Then, DC&E presented a summary of the Alternatives Memo, which analyzed the three LUAs created by the community at workshops in February and March; and provided an overview of the relative benefits and costs of the different land uses.

Four groups of community members used the information in the Alternatives Memo to create their optimal LUA. Each of the four groups presented their vision while DC&E simultaneously synthesized the four LUAs into one Preliminary Draft Preferred LUA with three core themes.

First, it would create a walkable downtown along Bay Road between the 4 Corners and Tara Rd. The street level will have inviting and vibrant retail. Above the retail will be housing, or offices in some locations. The goal is to create an attractive downtown where friends can meet for coffee or a dinner and residents can shop at neighborhood stores. The downtown will be anchored by a park and a community center at 4 Corners.

Second, there is a major employment center with office, industrial, and research and development (R&D) uses clustered north of Bay Road, and in the area bound by Bay Road, Pulgas Road, and Weeks Street. The employment center will have the potential to create approximately 4,500 jobs. The jobs will hopefully help to reduce East Palo Alto’s high unemployment rate. The employment center will also create revenue that the city can use to provide better services to its residents.

Third, there are significant community benefits that will improve the quality of life for East Palo Alto residents. There are a total of 28 acres of open space and parks, including parks and trails along the bay, parks in central “plaza” locations, and a community garden and open space on the PUC right of way. The Plan also includes an expansion of the existing health clinic, an expansion of the library, a community center, and a potential new school. A key element is a loop road to keep traffic out of the neighborhoods and to connect shuttles and buses to a potential Dumbarton Rail Station.

The Preliminary Draft Preferred LUA is a draft and subject to change. The Preliminary Draft Preferred LUA and all other project documents are available at: http://www.ci.east-palo-alto.ca.us/economicdev/dumbarton.html
The process is not over. There will be four more public meetings to adopt the Preferred LUA. The meetings will be held in the evening at city hall.

1.The first is a Community Advisory Committee meeting on November 9th. The East Palo Alto City Council created a 7-member Community Advisory Committee (CAC) to help guide the process. The CAC will recommend a Preferred LUA to the Planning Commission and the City Council.

2.The second is a Joint City Council/Planning Commission Study Session on December 1st. Staff will present the CAC’s recommended Preferred LUA, respond to questions and comments from the Planning Commission and the city council, and receive public input. No formal action is being requested at this meeting.

3.The third is a Planning Commission meeting tentatively scheduled for December 13, 2010. The Planning Commission will be asked to recommend a Preferred LUA to the City Council.

4.The fourth is a city council meeting in January 2011. The city council will be asked to approve a Preferred LUA.

Adopting a Preferred LUA is a major step in a long process. There are many more steps to take before the vision is realized. It will take 9-12 months to finish the Specific Plan and Program EIR, and then a few years to install the necessary infrastructure. Then, the development community will need to attract investment to develop the downtown and employment center. The development community, non profits/community groups, and the city will need to attract the investment necessary for the community benefits.

Now is your chance to help the city create a vision for the RBD/4 Corners. For more information, please contact Sean Charpentier, RDA Project Coordinator II, at (650)853-5906 or scharpentier@cityofepa.org. ofepa.org.


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