ALBANY -- It didn't get quite the attention that the University Village project did, but the Planning and Zoning Commission on Dec. 11 moved a proposal to change zoning laws regarding homeless shelters along to the City Council.

The changes would bring the city in compliance with a 2008 state law requiring cities and counties to identify at least one zoning category in which emergency shelters can be located without "discretionary approval by the local government" -- essentially without a conditional use permit.

The commission voted to recommend shelters be allowed in the city's Commercial Mixed Use Zone, which is almost entirely land on the west side of Interstate 580 at the shoreline. This would include emergency shelters -- such as the temporary shelters to be set up at the waterfront with the intent of housing the homeless population from the Albany Bulb -- as well as transitional and supportive housing.

Shelters would also be allowed with a use permit in the San Pablo Commercial District and what the city designates an R-3 zone (multi-family residential structures) alongside San Pablo Avenue and at the northern edge of the city.


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"I think what we're presenting to the City Council is a solution in terms of creating more opportunities along a transit corridor," Commissioner David Arkin said at the meeting, "and opening up those opportunities further by adding a couple of by use permit zones."

It is unknown when the City Council will take up the matter. The council does not meet again until January.

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