A 24-member advisory committee, created earlier this year to study the potential for "transit-oriented development" downtown, has been wrapping up discussions for a strategy that would make the area more attractive and pedestrian-friendly. It is now gearing up for the final leg.
On Tuesday, the committee gave its last bit of input before consultants work with the city to draft the development strategy and San Leandro takes its first steps toward making its grand ideas a reality.
A consultant who met with the advisory committee Tuesday said San Leandro has the opportunity to do more than just talk about the future now that the community has laid out its ideas.
"Now it's really time to get serious about it," said Tim Hurley of BMS Design Group.
Anticipating that more commercial, retail and residential spaces will also likely bring in more residents and workers, Hurley encouraged the committee to think beyond downtown and ultimately to look further into the benefits the plancould bring to the entire city.
"It's not just about land use," Hurley said. "It's about connecting your neighborhood with other neighborhoods ... and integrating downtown with the rest of the city."
Most of Tuesday's discussion centered on three potential sites: The former Albertsons building at East 14th Street and Juana Avenue; a potential town hall square at Davis and East 14th streets; and a vacant plot near the San Leandro BART station that could be developed with a mixture of residential, retail and office buildings.
The plan calls for 121,000 square feet of new retail space and more than 700,000 square feet of office space near BART.
A moratorium approved by the City Council in October prohibits major changes to more than 100 downtown properties until after the plan is adopted later this year.
Committee members agreed to the design plans proposed for the three sites. But some questioned how the city would be able to support such a massive influx of development, in particular the 6.8-acre site west of San Leandro BART.
Others expressed their full support of the plan, saying the city captured on paper what they had been imagining for years.
"You guys are really on target," said Toni Mobley, a committee member. "You really listened and have taken our ideas and passions to heart."
The committee also adopted several strategies related to an affordable housing policy which mandates that a variety of housing projects be integrated within future development plans downtown. Other strategies will be considered at the committee's last meeting scheduled in April.
Still, some residents remain skeptical about jumping on the city's bandwagon so soon, noting that San Leandro's plan is ambitious but couldn't be supported within the city's already-cramped borders.
"Who has all this money Donald Trump? to develop this?" asked resident Harold Perez. "I just hope the city doesn't have to be involved in paying for the new development."
That, he said, would only mean more costs get passed down to the city's residents.
Martin Ricard can be reached at (510) 293-2480 or firstname.lastname@example.org.