While unanimously overturning the rejection of a new downtown residential building at its March 1 meeting, Pleasanton City Council also considered parking lifts as a way to improve the scarcity of space available downtown.
Project proponent Wassim Naguib originally proposed in August 2020 a new two-story 1,069 square foot building at 218 Ray Street adjacent to an existing office building on the property.
The planning commission, however, after two rounds of review, rejected Naguib’s application in a 3-2 vote in January on the grounds that the scheme only provided for 11 parking spaces despite Pleasanton’s municipal code ( PMC) required 12.
The commission did not accept a temporary parking space fee, preferring to keep the project parking lot on site. He also did not accept additional space provided by a parking lift in the on-site carport, believing that the lift – a mechanical system that allows two cars to be stacked on top of each other other – did not meet PMC’s requirement that a parking space be “free”.
Naguib, in his appeal, offered to open the property’s nine existing surface parking spaces to the public on weekends in addition to paying replacement costs and constructing the elevator.
“We’re not trying to make the problem worse; in fact, we are trying to solve it,” Naguib said.
While council appreciated the aesthetics of the project and acknowledged neighborhood support, some council members were reluctant to accept the lack of parking.
“I think our priority for this area should be to protect the momentum of retail,” said board member Julie Testa. “Adding an additional parking burden to our already crowded downtown core does not seem appropriate. Again, the replacement fee does not create a parking space at any time. The funds will be used one way or another, but it will not create that parking space to offset that demand that is created.
Mayor Karla Brown added that while the commercial building currently houses a quiet dental office – open only two days a week – future tenants could impose a higher parking charge, and any approvals must take this into account. She also questioned the safety of the parking lift.
However, Council Member Jack Balch saw the parking lift as an innovative solution to a growing problem.
“I think the impacts (of the parking space deficit) will be quite minimal,” he said. “And we can determine if (the elevator) is also a solution for downtown parking.”
At the March 1 meeting, the council decided to overturn the rejection on the condition that Naguib enter into an agreement with another company to secure a nearby non-residential parking space for his project, and that the shelter of car on site is not used for storage.
If Naguib is unable to secure the additional space, the project cannot be completed, but he will remain free to pursue other uses of the property.