Dominoes Start to Fall at Community Center
Newly released CEQA environmental impact documents reveal Emeryville's Center of Community Life will not meet the City's General Plan requirements for a planned 'Greenway' on 53rd Street and a planned 'Pedestrian Priority Zone' and 'Green Street' for 53rd and 47th Streets the Tattler has learned. Additionally, the School District announced Monday that it plans on providing only 98 bike parking spaces, 24 less than recommended at the community center/school.
The Green Street and Greenway mandates are General Plan concepts designed to encourage walking and bicycling on certain key streets. The Plan identified these streets to help connect the city's neighborhoods by calming vehicle traffic, providing generous plantings, consistent street furniture and such to make walking and biking more pleasant and by increasing sidewalk widths. The Center of Community Life is so cramped on its site, the School District has pushed it out and impinged on space needed to accommodate the Green Street and Greenway designations it was revealed Monday.
The Pedestrian Priority Zone, too is an idea the General Plan identified to help pedestrians in five key areas of the city. The goal according to the General Plan is to make pedestrian safety and movement a top priority in these identified zones. The plans for the Center of Community Life have been revealed to negate the Pedestrian Priority Zone designation as well, mostly by sidewalk constrictions. The Pedestrian Priority Zones are meant to service "neighborhood centers and schools".
The bike parking requirements (122 spaces) were calculated by the city's Bicycle Pedestrian Committee using a 10% metric; bike parking spaces for 10% of the daily users of the site. This represents an increase in bike parking over other developments in town owing to the fact that the Center of Community Life contains a school and owing to the fact that it has a designed lifespan of 50 years. The Committee is looking farther into the future and imagining increased bike use. The School District says the site is too cramped to allow for more than 98 bike parking spaces.
The Center of Community Life environmental impacts have not stopped with the degradation of the green status of 53rd and 47th Streets, the School District has battled over the 'ECCL Path', a bike/pedestrian path alongside the school site, a General Plan required amenity they don't wish to build. And in a blow to sustainability, the School District announced too in February it would not meet LEED certification with the Center of Community Life. City Hall has been encouraging sustainable building, including LEED certified building for our town. The School District claimed it doesn't have enough money to build with an eye towards sustainability.
CEQA, or the California Environmental Quality Act is a statute that requires municipal and other agencies to identify significant environmental impacts. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a voluntary consensus-based market-driven program.