Fremont City
California

Planning Commission Report
1789

PALO ALTO MEDICAL FOUNDATION SURGERY CENTER - 3200 Kearney Street - (PLN2013-00171) - To consider a Major Amendment to Planned District P-80-13 to allow the construction of a 20,400-square-foot surgery center and a three-level, 216-space parking structure on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus, as well as a 65-space parking waiver, and to consider a Mitigated Negative Declaration prepared for the proposed project in accordance with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA).

Information

Department:PlanningSponsors:
Category:Planned District

Item Discussion

Location:              3200 Kearney Street in the Central Community Plan Area;

APN: 525-1647-018-00

 

Lot Size:              7.32 acres

 

People:              Boulder Associates (Dan Schneider), Applicant/Architect

              Palo Alto Medical Foundation (Robert DeMann), Property Owner

              Stephen Kowalski, Staff Planner, 510-494-4532, skowalski@fremont.gov 

 

General Plan:              Commercial – City Center

 

Zoning:              Planned District P-80-13

Body

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

 

The applicant requests approval of a Major Amendment to Planned District (PD) P-80-13 to allow the construction of a new 20,400-square-foot single-story surgery center and an above-ground, three-level, 216-space parking structure on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus located at 3200 Kearney Street. The applicant also requests approval of a permanent parking reduction of 65 spaces that were temporarily waived as part of the last phase of construction approved by the City Council under Planned District Major Amendment PLN2004-00139 in 2004. Staff recommends that the Planning Commission recommend to the City Council adoption of the Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring Program as shown in Exhibit “A” and approval of the project as shown in Exhibit “B,” based on the findings and subject to the conditions of approval contained in Exhibit “C.”

 

BACKGROUND AND PREVIOUS ACTIONS

 

On September 11, 1980, the City Council approved General Plan Amendment GPA-79-12 and Planned District P-80-13 allowing the development of an office park on a vacant 20.6-acre parcel located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Stevenson Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway. The plan included four new office buildings as well as four additional building sites for future development. The focal point for this project was a proposed 14-story high rise office building containing 257,656 square feet of floor area. Adjoining this tower were a proposed four-story building containing 73,616 square feet and a proposed two-story building containing 36,808 square feet. The project also included a single-story office building on the corner of Liberty Street and Kearney Street. Of these four buildings, only the single-story one at the corner of Liberty and Kearney was eventually constructed (the current home of the Fame Charter School).

 

In September 1982, the City Council approved a Major Amendment to PD P-80-13 for various modifications to the site plan (P-80-13A). The amended plan contained a 12-story office building and two four-story office buildings. Of these, only one of the four-story buildings was eventually built on the site at 39650 Liberty Street.

 

On June 24, 1997, the City Council approved another amendment to the PD which allowed for further modifications to the site plan (P-80-13D). This amendment allowed for a two-story, 54,800-square-foot medical office building (MOB1), the first building to be constructed in the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus. Prior to this approval, the applicant had expressed an interest in building a second phase to this development. The proposed second phase would have been another two-story medical office building containing 41,000 square feet.  During the Planning Commission hearing, concerns were voiced regarding what some Commissioners perceived as an underutilization of the site as part of the City’s central business district. The Commission at that time asked the applicant to consider increasing the size of the second phase if the applicant proceeded with that proposal. This revision was to be addressed at such time as the second phase of the project was submitted for Site Plan and Architectural Review.

 

On June 1, 2004, the City Council approved another amendment to the PD (PLN2004-00139) for the second phase of the project: a three-story, 73,600-square-foot medical office building (MOB2). On May 27, 2004, just prior to this approval, the Planning Commission also approved a related Preliminary Grading Plan to allow for the construction of a two-level underground parking garage adjacent to the MOB2 (PLN2004-00249). Today, the campus consists of the MOB1 and MOB2 buildings, the two-level underground parking garage, and the surrounding surface parking lots. For a complete portrayal of the campus’ current configuration, please see Sheet D1_0 of Exhibit “B.” The applicant is now proposing to construct the third and final phase of the campus, which is depicted on Sheet A1_0 of the same exhibit.

 

PROCEDURE FOR TONIGHT’S HEARING

 

At tonight’s hearing, the Planning Commission is charged with making a recommendation to the City Council regarding the following tasks:

 

1.     Adoption of a Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring Program for the proposed project, in accordance with CEQA;

 

2.     The request for a Major Amendment to Planned District P-80-13 to allow the construction of a 20,400-square-foot surgery center and a three-level, 216-space above-ground parking structure on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus based on the project’s conformance to the findings prescribed by FMC Section 18.110.050;

 

3.     The request to allow a permanent reduction of 65 parking spaces based on the finding prescribed by FMC Section 18.240.030(b); and

 

4.     Consider the request to remove and replace 82 private, protected trees pursuant to FMC Section 18.215.070.

 

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

 

The applicant is proposing to construct a 20,400-square-foot outpatient surgery center and a 216-space, three-level above-ground parking structure on the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus at 3200 Kearney Street.  The surgery center would be located in an area adjacent to Stevenson Boulevard that is currently occupied by a surface parking lot, while the parking structure would be built in an open, landscaped area adjacent to Paseo Padre Parkway near the intersection of Paseo Padre and Stevenson.

 

The campus currently contains two medical office buildings: a two-story building containing 54,800 square feet, and a three-story building containing 73,600 square feet, as well as a 223-space underground parking garage and 394 surface parking spaces. The proposed surgery center and parking structure would be connected to the rest of the existing campus by a new traffic circle, and a patient drop-off area would be provided off this circle directly outside the center’s main entrance. A small plaza with seating would be provided between the two buildings which would connect to the public sidewalk via a walkway and provide views of a future public art piece that will be installed at the southeast corner of the Stevenson Boulevard/Paseo Padre Parkway intersection (the “Unity Rings” sculpture), as well as the hills beyond to the east. The floor plan for the surgery center contains four operating rooms and two endoscopy rooms, as well as 22 pre-operation and post-operation preparation and recovery rooms. The building design features a single-story floor plan with a lobby and waiting room inside the main entrance, operating rooms in the center of the space, and a shipping/receiving area in the back of the building adjacent to the existing service driveway that provides access to the site from Stevenson Boulevard. 

 

To minimize the parking structure’s visual impact to the adjacent street and sidewalk, the applicant has designed it to resemble a medical office building rather than a conventional parking structure, thus giving it an attractive outward appearance that masks its true function as a parking garage.

 

The campus currently contains 572 total parking spaces, or 70 less than is required by the Zoning Ordinance for a medical facility of its size. This is due to the fact that the City Council granted a temporary waiver of 70 spaces when it approved PD Major Amendment PLN2004-00139 allowing construction of the MOB2 in 2004. Construction of the proposed parking structure would result in the loss of 114 surface parking spaces, but would add 216 new vehicle spaces, 24 bicycle spaces (which equate to three vehicle spaces per FMC Section 18.183.130) and four motorcycle spaces (which equate to two vehicle spaces per the same code section), thus resulting in a net gain of 107 spaces and a new on-site total of 679 spaces for the entire campus. The addition of the proposed surgery center would bring the total number of required spaces for the entire campus to 744; as such, the project would require approval of a permanent parking reduction of 65 spaces.

 

PROJECT ANALYSIS

 

General Plan Conformance

The General Plan land use designation for the project site is Commercial – City Center. This land use designation is intended to accommodate a broad range of commercial, cultural, and institutional development within the City’s core which serves the City and surrounding region, including the high concentration of medical services surrounding the Washington Hospital and Kaiser Permanente Fremont complexes. New buildings on existing medical campuses such as the Palo Alto Medical Foundation’s would be consistent with the following goals, policies and implementation measures contained in the Land Use and Community Plans Chapters of the General Plan:

 

Land Use Policy 2-1.5: Fremont City Center – Plan for the transformation of Fremont’s Central Business District into a pedestrian-oriented urban district known as “City Center.” City Center should contain a mix of office, retail, health care, government, high-density residential, cultural and entertainment land uses, designed to create an active, lively street environment and strong sense of place. By 2035, Fremont City Center should be the major economic activity center of southern Alameda County.

 

Land Use Implementation Measure 2-1.10.B: Parking Reductions and Alternative Mode Improvements – Ensure that reductions to parking standards and other changes that incentivize density are paired with improvements that provide viable alternatives to driving, including more frequent and convenient transit services, and new bicycle and pedestrian facilities.

 

Land Use Goal 2-5: Employment Districts – Strengthen Fremont as a major regional job center, a health care and professional office hub, a preferred location for technology, research and development, and home to a diverse mix of businesses and industries.

 

Land Use Policy 2-5.5: Offices – Accommodate a variety of office environments in Fremont, including (among others):

 

·         Medical office complexes, clinics and surgery centers, particularly in the City Center Health Care district around Washington and Kaiser Hospitals.

 

Community Plans Policy 11-4.6: City Center as Health Care District – Recognize the City Center’s existing concentration of hospitals and health care uses as an important part of the local economy and Fremont’s identity. Encourage similar and complementary uses in this area, and promote the city’s role as a regional leader in health care services.

 

 

Analysis:

The proposal would allow the continued, planned growth of an existing medical campus in proximity to the other medical complexes of Washington Hospital and Kaiser Permanente, and further reinforce the City Center as a leading health care services hub. The land that would be developed is currently used as surface parking and private open space; therefore, the replacement of these underutilized areas with a new surgery center and parking structure would also make for a more efficient use of space and increase development intensity on the outer edge of the City Center in a manner consistent with the goals and policies of the Land Use Chapter of the General Plan.

 

Furthermore, the applicant has done extensive studies of its parking needs and determined that it does not require as much parking as the City’s Zoning Ordinance mandates. As such, it has elected to request a parking reduction and provide covered parking facilities for bicycles and motorcycles and direct pedestrian connections to the adjacent streets where bus transit service is provided, rather than wasting valuable land area on unnecessary surface parking.  The site is also within walking distance to the Fremont BART station and several bus stops served by AC Transit and the Valley Transportation Authority (VTA).

 

Zoning Regulations

The subject property is currently zoned Planned District P-80-13. This PD was established specifically to accommodate an office park and has been amended over the years to include the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus. Construction of the proposed surgery center and accompanying parking structure would be consistent with the existing land uses comprising the PD, as the Foundation has historically expressed its intent to the City to build a third building on the site in order to complete the campus.

 

Land Use: The Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus currently contains two office buildings, MOB1 and MOB2, as well as 394 surface parking spaces and 223 spaces in an underground parking garage beneath the MOB2. The area where the proposed above-ground parking structure would be located was originally intended to house the third and final campus building, but the Foundation has since determined that in order to optimize the use of the site, it would instead locate a parking structure in this area and build the third building in the area currently occupied by an underutilized surface parking lot. The parking lot that would be removed is located at the back side of the campus and is only accessible via a driveway along Stevenson Boulevard, whereas the vast majority of customer and employee traffic enter the campus via the two driveways along Kearney Street.

 

MOB1, which was approved in 1997, contains 54,800 square feet, while MOB2, approved in 2004, contains 73,600 square feet. Construction of the proposed 20,400-square-foot surgery center would bring the total floor area of the entire medical campus to 148,800 square feet.

 

Parking: The campus currently contains 572 total parking spaces, or 70 less than the 642 spaces required for the combined floor area of the MOB1 and MOB2. This is due to the fact that the City Council granted a temporary waiver of 70 spaces when it approved PD Major Amendment PLN2004-00139 allowing construction of the MOB2 in 2004.

 

Construction of the proposed parking structure would result in the removal of 114 surface spaces located in the parking lot adjacent to the intersection of Stevenson Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway. However, the proposed parking structure would contain 216 new vehicle spaces, 24 bicycle spaces (which equate to three vehicle spaces per the Zoning Ordinance) and four motorcycle spaces (which equate to two vehicle spaces per the Ordinance), thus resulting in a net gain of 107 spaces and a new on-site total of 679 spaces for the entire campus. The addition of the proposed 20,400-square-foot surgery center would bring the total number of required spaces for the entire campus to 744; as such, the project would require approval of a permanent parking reduction of 65 spaces. See the table, below, for a complete breakdown of this parking analysis:

 

Land Use

Parking Ratio/Standard

Spaces Required

Spaces Provided

Degree of Compliance

Medical Facilities

1 space for each

200 square feet

642 for existing MOB1 & MOB2, plus 102 for new surgery center = 744 total spaces

674 vehicles, plus 24 bicycles plus,   4 motorcycles = 679 total spaces

65-space shortage

 

The applicant commissioned a parking study by Fehr & Peers, a transportation planning consultant, which analyzed the current and estimated demands for on-site parking at the campus. The study determined that a significant surplus of on-site parking currently exists, with only approximately 75 percent of available parking being utilized during the busiest hour of the day (10:00 AM to 11:00 AM). With the construction of the proposed surgery center, the applicant would also provide a net increase of 107 total parking spaces within the proposed parking structure. On its own, the surgery center would require 102 parking spaces; as such, the project would continue to provide a significant surplus of parking throughout the campus even with the proposed parking reduction.

 

Design Analysis

 

Site Planning: The proposal would make use of the existing site layout, with the surgery center replacing an existing surface parking lot and the parking structure occupying an underutilized landscaped area that was previously intended to house a third medical office building. The existing surface parking spaces that would be replaced by the surgery center would be accommodated in the new parking structure, thereby resulting in no net loss of parking within the campus. New landscaping would be provided around the perimeter of the project area, and a small plaza with seating would be provided between the two surgery center and parking structure, which would connect to the public sidewalk via a walkway and provide views of the “Unity Rings” public art piece that will be installed at the southeast corner of the Stevenson Boulevard/Paseo Padre Parkway intersection, as well as the hills beyond to the east.

 

Access/Circulation: Access to the site would be provided via the three existing driveways along Kearney Street, one of which feeds directly into the campus, and the other two which are currently shared between the campus and the adjacent Bank of the West branch and Fame Charter School. Access would also be available from Stevenson Boulevard via the shared right-in/right-out-only driveway located adjacent to the Heritage Bank of Commerce branch. The surgery center and parking structure would be connected to the rest of the existing campus by a new, centrally-located traffic circle, and a patient drop-off area would be provided off this circle directly outside the center’s main entrance.

 

Architecture: The surgery center and parking structure would feature similar contemporary architectural styles to complement the existing buildings on the campus. The parking structure was designed specifically to resemble a medical office building as opposed to a standard above-ground parking garage so as to provide an attractive outward appearance toward the public realm, and would feature solid walls with areas of spandrel glass on each elevation, with mechanical ventilation to expel emissions from vehicle engines. The surgery center features long, straight lines with varying roof heights and symmetrical window openings on each elevation. Siding would consist of smooth stucco with areas of metal paneling, with a corrugated metal enclosure on the roof to conceal the rooftop mechanical equipment. The surgery center would reach a maximum height of 23 feet to the top of the main parapet line and 27 feet to the peak of its highest architectural element, while the parking garage would contain three levels and reach a maximum height of just over 39 feet. Both structures would be finished in a three-tone color scheme of muted beiges and grays.

 

Staff was initially reluctant allowing the parking structure to be located adjacent to the public sidewalk in plain sight from the street at such a busy intersection. But after multiple redesigns, staff now feels that the exceptional architectural design of the structure and the applicant’s efforts to design it in a manner resembling an office building as opposed to a unappealing, utilitarian parking garage, successfully mask its true function and mitigate any adverse visual impacts it might otherwise have on the adjacent public realm.

 

Landscape Design: The proposed surgery center and parking structure would require the removal of 87 trees from the site, as well as a grassy berm running adjacent to the Stevenson Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway sidewalks. Several existing trees near the intersection of the two streets would be preserved, as would all but one of the trees in the sidewalk planter strips. All new landscaping would be installed around the perimeters of both buildings, and several new trees would be planted along the new internal drive aisles and in the open space between the two buildings. A courtyard with outdoor seating and decorative pavement would be provided in this open space between the entrances of the two buildings where people can sit and make phone calls, eat lunch or wait on family members. The courtyard would be connected to the nearby street corner via a concrete walk that meanders through the existing trees that would be preserved in this area, and has been designed to provide views of the “Unity Rings” public art piece that will be installed at the opposite corner of the Stevenson Boulevard/Paseo Padre Parkway intersection

 

Tree Removal/Replacement: A total of 87 trees are proposed for removal from the site. A Tree Survey was conducted for the property by a certified arborist on December 3, 2012, which identified 42 of the trees proposed for removal with a six-inch diameter at breast height (DBH). These trees qualify for protection under FMC Chapter 18.215, the City’s Tree Preservation Ordinance. Of the remaining 45 trees to be removed, 40 are protected under the ordinance since they were previously required as part of the City Council’s 2004 approval of the MOB2. 

 

The City’s Landscape Architecture Division has reviewed the project, including the proposed tree removal and replacement plans, and has authorized the removal of the 82 protected trees subject to the planting of 24-inch box replacement trees at a 1:1 replacement ratio consistent with the requirements of the ordinance to the extent the site will allow. If the applicant is unable to plant all of the replacement trees on the site because there is inadequate room, then the trees that are planted would be required to be upsized to a minimum 36-inch box size. Finally, the applicant would be required to pay in-lieu fees to mitigate the removal of the remaining trees that could not be replaced on-site, per the mitigation requirements of the ordinance. See Sheet L0.2 of Exhibit “B” for the proposed Tree Removal Plan and Sheet L3.0 for the proposed Planting Plan.

 

Grading & Drainage: More than half of the project site is currently developed with surface parking, while the remaining portion of the project area is an undeveloped, grassy knoll. The existing topography is relatively flat across the site with elevations varying from 58 feet to 62 feet above mean sea level. The proposed grading for the project would consist of the removal of the existing parking lot and leveling of the grassy knoll to facilitate the construction of the new surgery center, parking structure, drive aisles and traffic circle. The current design does not include any retaining walls, as the finished terrain would be level. The project also features several large bio-retention basins and flow-through planters to collect and treat stormwater runoff and to provide hydromodification (or metering the discharge of runoff into the storm drain system to prevent flooding downstream).

 

Utilities: All utilities needed to serve the proposed project are already in place. The portion of Paseo Padre Parkway fronting the project site was a part of the City’s 2011 Asphalt Overlay project, and the intersection of Paseo Padre and Stevenson Boulevard was a part of the City’s 2009 Asphalt Overlay project. Both projects occurred within the City’s five-year moratorium period for open trench cutting and, therefore, no open utility trenching is currently allowed in Paseo Padre. As such, the project would not be able to take any underground utility service from Paseo Padre. The existing public sewer main that would serve the new buildings is located in Kearney Street, while water service to the site is available from existing public mains located in either Kearney Street or Liberty Street. The storm drain line that would drain the site is located within the property, itself, roughly beneath the alignment of the proposed walkway leading from the Stevenson/Paseo Padre intersection to the plaza and the proposed traffic circle, and continues through the adjacent properties downstream to Liberty Street. The location, alignment, and construction of the water, sewer, and storm drain connections would be subject to specifications and approval of the Alameda County Water District, Union Sanitary District and Alameda County Flood Control District, respectively.

 

Urban Runoff Clean Water Program: Because the project would create in excess of 10,000 square feet of new impervious surface area, it would be subject to the C.3 requirements of the Municipal Regional Stormwater NPDES Permit, which regulate the treatment of stormwater runoff on the site. The project would create an additional ±35,162 square feet of impervious surface area on the subject property, bringing the gross total for the entire site to 317,739 square feet. As such, it would be required to incorporate low impact development (LID) techniques to treat stormwater runoff from all on-site impervious surfaces in bio-retention planters before it is discharged into the public storm drain system.

 

Findings for APPROVAL

 

Planned District Major Amendments: Pursuant to FMC Section 18.110.050, the Planning Commission may recommend that the City Council adopt an ordinance amending an existing PD if the following findings can be made in support of the proposed amendment:

 

(a)      The proposed P district, or a given unit thereof, can be substantially completed within four years of the establishment of the P district;

 

Analysis: The proposed project could easily be completed within four years. There is nothing unusual about the site and no significant environmental constraints exist which could cause significant delays during construction of the project. The most recent phase of construction completed on the campus, the 73,600-square-foot MOB2 building, was completed in approximately 1½ years, with the accompanying two-level underground parking garage completed in just under two years.

 

(b)      Each individual unit of development, as well as the total development, can exist as an independent unit capable of creating an environment of sustained desirability and stability or that adequate assurance will be provided that such objective will be attained; the uses proposed will not be detrimental to present and potential surrounding uses, but will have a beneficial effect which could not be achieved under other zoning districts;

 

Analysis: The proposed surgery center and parking structure would result in the build-out of the Palo Alto Medical Foundation campus. Neither facility is intended to function on its own; instead, they are meant to be a permanent part of the campus, and each has been designed to complement the other buildings comprising the campus both functionally and architecturally while providing an aesthetically pleasing outward appearance toward the adjacent streets. Furthermore, both the surgery center and parking structure would not adversely impact or otherwise be incompatible with the existing and potential surrounding land uses in that they will both serve merely as extensions of the existing medical campus which has been operating since the late 1990s with no impacts on the adjacent uses.

 

(c)       The streets and thoroughfares proposed are suitable and adequate to carry anticipated traffic, and increased densities will not generate traffic in such amounts as to overload the street network outside the P district;

 

Analysis: The segments of Stevenson Boulevard and Paseo Padre Parkway adjacent to the site currently have average daily traffic volumes of 25,496 and 23,128 vehicles, respectively, and average PM peak hour volumes of 2,296 and 2,165 vehicles, respectively. The proposed project is only estimated to generate 337 total daily weekday trips and 23 PM peak hour trips. Therefore, the additional trips generated by the project would not result in a significant impact to the adjacent streets or intersections.

 

(d)      Any exception from standard ordinance requirements is warranted by the design and amenities incorporated in the precise site plan, in accord with adopted policy of the Planning Commission and City Council;

 

Analysis: Other than the parking reduction, no exceptions from the standard zoning requirements for a medical facility are being sought. In this case, the parking reduction is warranted because the applicant is providing a parking structure in an underutilized area of the site which would maximize the use of the land, and which has been carefully designed to resemble a medical office building as opposed to a standard, utilitarian parking structure. As such, the structure blends in with the campus and the surrounding office developments, and projects an aesthetically-pleasing outward appearance toward the public realm. In addition, the applicant is providing an attractive outdoor plaza between the two buildings which connects to the adjacent street corner and affords views of the future public artwork that will be installed on the opposite street corner, as well as the hills beyond. (Note: A special finding is required to grant a parking reduction per FMC Section 18.240.030(b), and staff’s recommendations on these findings are provided separately, below.)

 

(e)       The area surrounding said development can be planned and zoned in coordination and substantial compatibility with the proposed development;

 

Analysis: The surrounding area is zoned for, and already developed with professional office, commercial and multi-family residential uses. The proposed development has been designed to be an integral part of the existing medical campus by taking its access from the existing driveways and parking lots already serving the campus’ existing buildings. Thus, it would not conflict with adjacent improvements or land uses or prevent the adjacent properties from being redeveloped with new uses that are compatible with the campus.

 

(f)        The P district is in conformance with the General Plan of the City of Fremont; and

 

Analysis: The Planned District Amendment would remain in conformance to the General Plan in that the Land Use Element allows semi-public institutions such as hospitals and medical campuses to locate within the City Center when adequate conditions are in place which ensure that the use would not pose significant negative impacts to the surrounding neighborhood.

 

(g)      Existing or proposed utility services are adequate for the population densities proposed.

 

Analysis: There are existing water, sewer, and public storm drain systems serving the property located within Stevenson Boulevard, Paseo Padre Parkway, and the project site, itself, which are capable of accommodating the proposed expansion, and no off-site easements would need to be secured or extensions constructed in order to connect the project to these systems.

 

Parking Reduction: Pursuant to FMC Section 18.240.030(b), the Planning Commission may recommend that the City Council grant a parking reduction in instances when the following finding can be made:

 

(1)      That the decrease in the established standards would not have an adverse impact on the site, surrounding properties or the general welfare of the public.

 

Analysis: Although it would require a 65-space reduction from the current parking standards for a medical facility, the proposed project provides the maximum feasible amount of parking on the property by designating all remaining land area for surface parking, preserving the existing underground parking beneath the site, and constructing a new, above-ground three-level structure in a landscaped area that is currently underutilized. Furthermore, on-street parking is available and heavily utilized every weekday along Kearney Street while the medical campus is open for business.

 

The applicant commissioned a parking study by a transportation planning consultant which examined the current and estimated demands for on-site parking at the campus. The study identified a significant current surplus of on-site parking, with only approximately 75 percent of available parking being utilized during the busiest time of day (from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM). With the construction of the proposed surgery center, the applicant would also provide a net increase of 107 total parking spaces within the proposed parking structure. On its own, the surgery center would only require 102 parking spaces; as such, the project would continue to provide a significant surplus of parking throughout the campus. Therefore, the proposed parking reduction would not be detrimental to the site or adjacent properties, or otherwise impact the public welfare, in that a large surplus of parking would remain available for the campus’s visitors and employees.

 

Tree Removal: Pursuant to FMC Section 18.215.070, in order to allow the removal of existing trees that are subject to protection under the City’s Tree Preservation Ordinance, the decision-making body must make the following finding:

 

(a)      Development project plans currently filed for the lot indicate that it is necessary to damage, remove, or relocate the trees to enable reasonable and conforming use of the property or to achieve a superior project; and the tree cannot be preserved or left undamaged by a reasonably required redesign of the project. 

 

Analysis: The proposed plans would provide a superior project by replacing an existing, underutilized surface parking lot and an unusable landscaped area that was previously intended to house a third medical office building with new structures that maximize the use of the land and remove unnecessary, surplus surface parking. Furthermore, most of the trees proposed for removal are located within and around the perimeter of the underutilized surface parking lot where the new surgery center is proposed to be located. Thus, their removal would not leave any existing paved areas without adequate shade. Finally, the trees cannot be preserved or left undamaged by a reasonably required redesign of the project in that the areas being proposed for development are the last remaining areas on the site that are not currently occupied by buildings or other landscaped surface parking lots that are more heavily used by customers and staff of the medical campus. For these reasons, the removal of the trees in question is warranted in this particular case. 

 

CITY FEES

 

This project would be subject to citywide Development Impact Fees, including fees for fire protection, park facilities, park land, capital facilities and traffic facilities. All applicable fees would be calculated and paid at the fee rates in effect at the time of building permit issuance. The project sponsors may elect to defer payment of the fees in accordance with the City’s Impact Fee Deferral Program if they prefer to do so.

 

ENVIRONMENTAL REVIEW

 

An Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration were prepared for the proposed project pursuant to the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) to evaluate the potential environmental impacts that could result from project implementation (see Exhibit “A” and Informational Item 1). The Initial Study identified concerns regarding potentially significant impacts to air quality from construction-related dust and other airborne particles, and to biological resources from tree removal and other related construction activities that could disturb the habitats of certain protected avian species. The Draft Mitigated Negative Declaration includes mitigation measures and a Mitigation Monitoring Program which, if implemented, would reduce the project’s identified impacts to a less-than-significant level. These measures have been included as conditions of approval for the project.

 

PUBLIC NOTICE AND COMMENT

 

Public hearing notification is applicable for the entitlements being requested. A total of 426 hearing notices were mailed to all owners and occupants of property within 300 square feet of the site. The hearing notices were mailed on August 16, 2013. A Public Hearing Notice was also published by The Argus on August 17, 2013.

 

RECOMMENDATION

 

1.              Hold public hearing;

 

              Recommend that the City Council:

 

2.              Adopt the Mitigated Negative Declaration and Mitigation Monitoring Program for the project, and find on the basis of the whole record before it (including the Initial Study and any comments received) that there is no substantial evidence that the project will have a significant effect on the environment and that this action reflects the independent judgment of the City of Fremont;

 

3.              Find the project is in conformance with the relevant provisions contained in the City’s General Plan, including the designated goals and polices set forth in the Land Use and Community Plans Chapters of the General Plan as enumerated in the staff report;

 

4.              Find that the project plans for the Planned District Major Amendment PLN2013-00171 as shown in Exhibit “B” fulfill the applicable requirements set forth in the Fremont Municipal Code;

 

5.              Introduce an ordinance amending Planned District P-80-13 as shown in Exhibit “B,” based upon the findings and subject to the conditions of approval set forth in Exhibit “C; and

 

6.              Approve the proposed removal and mitigation for 82 private, protected trees, pursuant to the Tree Preservation Ordinance and as described in the staff report and conditions of approval in Exhibit “C.

 

7.              Direct staff to prepare and the City Clerk to publish a summary of the ordinance.