Belvedere Considers Impacts of Mallard Pointe on Community Park
By SHAYNE JONES
firstname.lastname@example.org ——— Belvedere officials are eyeing ways to mitigate potential parking impacts the proposed 42-unit redevelopment on private Mallard Road might have on the nearby Community Park.
The Parks and Open Space Committee at its March 10 teleconference meeting expressed concern the area around the park could possibly become “overflow” parking for residents of the development who choose not to use their assigned spaces, and said it would hold future discussions to come up with recommendations to the City Council on ways the developers could lessen those potential impacts.
Mallard Pointe 1951, an affiliate of Mill Valley-based Thompson Dorfman Partners LLC, wants to replace the existing 22 market-rate units — nine duplexes and a fourplex — in the private Mallard Pointe community between the lagoon and City Hall with a 42-unit complex featuring a two-story, 23-unit apartment building, five duplexes and six single-family homes, three of which would have accessory dwelling units.
The apartment complex would sit on the residential island along Community Road — which abuts Community Park — and the remaining buildings would be along the lagoon. In total, the proposal promises 102 parking spaces, which includes attached garages for all five duplexes and six single-family homes, as well as a partially subterranean parking garage for the apartment complex.
The developer submitted its application to the city Jan. 26, but it was deemed incomplete last month. The team now has until May 25 to resubmit its plan with the additional details the city has requested, which would kick off another 30-day review to determine completeness.
The developer’s application was designed for expedited approval, submitted under Senate Bill 330 rules — the Housing Crisis Act of 2019 — so it can’t be subjected to the normal design-review process. The act aims to prevent local governments from rejecting projects or placing burdensome conditions on them if the project includes very low-, low- or moderate-income housing. Once the application is accepted, review is limited to five public hearings, including any appeal hearings.
At the March 10 parks meeting, developer Bruce Dorfman noted one of the first issues his team faced when they designed the development was the concern about spillover of parking onto Community Road. He said in addition to the proposed parking accommodations, the plan would include a number of visitor spaces off Mallard Road, as well as a handicap-accessible path to City Hall.
He additionally said most people on the site currently use their garages for additional office space, housing for relatives, gyms or other uses, and many of their cars end up on Mallard Road, creating an unsafe walking environment. He said the proposed plan includes a crosswalk from the apartment building to Community Park, and the team plans to widen the existing sidewalks to “encourage pedestrian movement and reduce reliance on cars.”
Committee member Kathy Pearson asked how the developers know residents won’t use their new garages for things other than parking, like they currently do.
Dorfman noted the planned attached garages would include electric vehicle chargers — which would encourage people to park their cars inside — as well as extra space for storage. He added that virtually all the planned duplexes and single-family homes also have parking aprons for additional parking, and the apartment complex has a two-to-one ratio of parking to unit number. He said 20-30 percent of the units are one bedroom, which also could decrease the number of cars at the site; all 22 existing units are two bedrooms.
The proposed project has already attracted opposition, primarily from a group of 450 or so residents calling itself Belvedere Residents for Intelligent Growth, or Brig. The group has pointed to parking issues, traffic congestion and noise at the development site as major objections to the project.
John Hansen, chair of the group, said many of its members remain worried about safety issues on Community Road.
“The fundamental theme is, ‘kids and cars don’t mix,’” Hansen said.
Committee member Bryan Kemnitzer noted the board is aware some people are opposed to the project while others may be still learning about it. He said he thought it was premature to discuss any potential impacts of the project before the application has been deemed complete by the city.
Chair Jean Bordon said the city should take into consideration the current parking available for people using the park and plan accordingly for construction-crew parking, potentially adding a two-hour parking limit during construction or requiring all construction parking to be within the development site.
Colleague Carolyn Lund said the city typically manages construction well, but the greater issue is how to keep Community Road from becoming overflow parking from “People love convenience, and you have a very dense building within feet of the park. … People will want to park there,” Lund said. “I think we have to be realistic that it will happen, and we need to plan.”
Lund said the apartment complex would also increase foot traffic to the park, increasing noise. She noted that after the complex is built, “we could be asked to stifle the noise coming from the park.” However, Bordon noted that residents living across from a park should expect to hear noise.
Ultimately, the committee did not come to a consensus on any particular recommendations to provide the City Council and said it would likely take up the topic again at a future meeting. Reach Belvedere and public-safety reporter Shayne Jones at 415-944-4627.
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