The Pleasanton Planning Commission is set to consider proposed modifications to the Downtown Specific Plan on Wednesday, including requiring more "active" businesses in ground-floor units on Main Street.
The recommendations from city staff, which follow a City Council discussion last month on commercial activity downtown, include more than doubling the amount of space ground-floor businesses on Main Street must devote to a defined "active use."
The Downtown Specific Plan, updated in August 2019, includes the "active ground floor use overlay" policy, which mandates first-floor commercial operations must be the type of business designed to "promote an active pedestrian environment," such as retail and restaurants.
As written, the policy requires 25% of the depth of the tenant space to be of active use with exceptions to long-term vacancies and purpose-built bank buildings due to the difficulty in the conversion to other types of establishments.
The policy came into question in December 2020 when the city received an application from Iron Horse Real Estate to locate on the ground-floor on Main Street as a multi-use space, incorporating both an active and non-active component, according to city staff
Community development director Ellen Clark denied the proposal, but the applicant appealed to the Planning Commissioner, which granted the appeal after adjustments to the project that would incorporate the retail component to the front facing Main Street. Commissioners also recommended the City Council to review the policies of active ground-floor use in the specific plan.
Following the suggestions of the council and staff, the commission on Wednesday will consider potential changes to the Downtown Specific Plan, including to the language and definition of active ground-floor use policy and requirements for multi-use spaces.
The drafted language changes, with the purpose of better articulating the definition of the active ground-floor use, included stating the ability to attract walk-in customers and without the inclusion of personal services, according to city staff. More language changes within the policy aim to make clear of the exceptions to the policy and procedures to obtain approval for overlay.
The staff-recommended changes to the active ground-floor use requirements are to increase the depth required for active use in multi-use spaces to 60%, up from its original 25%. An additional requirement mandating 60% of total leasable square footage toward active usage is also proposed, with non-active components to be located at the rear of the space.
With regards to the exceptions to the policy, staff recommended including the requirement of exhibiting clear evidence that the space is vacant, or "has been abandoned or discontinued for a period of at least six months," by photographs of "for lease" signage, vacant storefront, written correspondence, copies of listing, or the like.
A new section is recommended to clarify procedures in obtaining approval for overlay of active and non-active spaces, stating the potential request for additional information by the community development director to confirm compliance with policy, according to city staff
The commission will consider the recommendations made by staff and provide its final recommendation to the City Council on Wednesday (July 28). The planning commission meeting will be held online through Zoom at 7 p.m. More information on viewing or commenting at the meeting is found on the website of the city of Pleasanton.