Measure C and the Albany Waterfront District
The Waterfront District is comprised of the Albany Bulb, land owned by the State known as Eastshore State Park, and the race track (currently owned by Magna Corp.).
In June 1990, Measure C was approved by the voters. This measure constrains the allowable uses of the Waterfront to the following:
- Commercial Recreation, including horse racing, golf, tennis, swimming, and other commercial or spectator or participatory activities and uses which in the opinion of the Planning Commission are of a similar nature.
- Waterfront- and sports-related commercial sales and services.
- Commercial parking lots.
Public and Quasi-Public Uses:
- Marinas and boat launching ramps and related uses.
- Parks, golf courses, open space areas and other recreational facilities.
- Public utility and public service structures and installations.
Measure C also requires voter approval for any of the following:
- Any amendment to the land-use designations for the Waterfront in the City’s General Plan.
- Any amendment to the Waterfront Master Plan or other specific plan for the Waterfront.
- Any amendment to the zoning ordinance for the Waterfront, including changes to the text and changes to the map of the Waterfront area.
- The entry into any development agreement with any developer for the Waterfront Area.
For any new development, current CEQA law would require an environmental study, including an EIR. Current estimates of the cost of this process range up to over $1,000,000, depending on the scale of the development project. If a developer files an application, they pay for all costs, including reimbursing the City for all processing costs. The City would hire the consultants, conduct the hearings, and control the process. The developer pays for it but cannot direct the City or the consultants hired by the City.
If the City commenced its own waterfront planning process to initiate a waterfront and/or specific plan for the privately held lands, it would use City funds to pay for it. This process could easily cost $1,000,000. The largest cost would be the CEQA law and the EIR report would provide essential information necessary for the preparation of any plan. If the Council committed the funds, then environmental, planning, and economic studies would be done. Public hearings would be held. The voters would have to adopt the plan.
Any developer/owner would need to obtain a conditional use permit for those uses that are already permitted under Measure C (see above).
Example: The racetrack owner requests approval for a permit to construct a restaurant overlooking the track. This request would be processed like any other use permit and would require CEQA review.
Any use not currently permitted, for example a large general-purpose retail development, would require voter approval. The voters would also have to approve any change to land-use designation, change in zoning, amendment to the Master Plan, and any development agreement that such a development would entail.
Example: The racetrack owner submits an application for construction of a large retail/residential development, which would require voter approval under Measure C. Although Measure C requires any necessary zoning or general-plan changes to be approved by the voters and not the City Council, the City would process this request. This type of application would require legislative decisions (as distinct from an application for a use permit which is an administrative process).
Legislative acts are not mandatory and do not obligate any approvals, even after a full review and processing. That is, the Council would not be obligated to pass the necessary legislation to move the process forward. Thus, an application could become permanently stalled. (This is why Caruso Affiliated sought an agreement from the Council that it would process its application and that, after dealing with any EIR mitigations, it would submit the necessary changes to the voters. The Council failed to provide this; so Caruso did not submit its application.)