Broadway-Valdez Area "Micro-Housing" Jumps Hurtle Towards Approval
A plan to encourage new development along the Broadway Auto Row moved one step closer to finalization Tuesday, when members of the Special Community and Economic Development Committee held a public discussion on revisions to the D-Br zoning ordinance.
Besides minor changes to the ordinance text and the removal of several lower-density residential parcels from the zone area, the most significant change to the document involves the introduction of a new pilot program allowing for the construction of "Micro Living Quarters" in the city.
The new rules concern multi-family buildings with units as small as 175 square feet. While each unit would be required to have its own bathroom, cooking facilities and recreational areas would be shared by residents of each floor.
City-mandated parking requirements could be waived under the ordinance if the developer provides additional bicycle parking, assistance with AC transit passes to residents, and/or access to nearby car-shares. CEDC Chair Larry Reid voiced enthusiasm regarding similar programs' ability to reduce car ownership among tenants to under 10%.
Oakland has recently become one of the least affordable housing markets in the U.S. Reportedly, renters here experience the third-largest disparity nationwide between the maximum amount they are able to pay and the lowest rents offered by landlords. The Micro Living Quarters program aims to provide "affordable by design", market-rate housing to younger and lower-income renters who would otherwise be priced out of conventional housing.
At least one development project aiming to take advantage of the program is currently known to the planning department, though no permit applications have yet been submitted. Gary Danklefsen, of Cushman & Wakefield Seattle, and Jose Coelho of Hibser Yamauchi Architects both spoke at the meeting about a joint effort currently in the early design stages.
Danklefsen emphasized his firm's commitment to green building, and suggested that their future project might include solar-powered water heaters, a rooftop garden, and LEED certification.
The City Council will vote on the revisions to the interim zoning regulations on Jan 22, 2013.
More information about the Broadway-Valdez Specific Plan is available at http://www2.oaklandnet.com/Government/o/PBN/OurOrganization/PlanningZoning/DOWD008194.
Source: Oakland Local [http://m.oaklandlocal.com/article/broadway-valdez-area-micro-housing-moving-ahead-community-and-economic-development-planning]