The Vacaville Planning Commission provides comments on the draft plan specific to the city center – The Reporter
The specific downtown plan, which is now in the middle of its public review period, is a master plan to transform downtown Vacaville over time in order to improve its aesthetics and mobility while retaining its charm. Until Friday, the public will have the opportunity to comment on the draft document before it enters its final form in the fall.
One avenue for public feedback was at the Vacaville Planning Commission meeting on Tuesday, where commissioners and members of the public provided comments on parking and other topics.
Senior planner Tyra Hays gave some background on the project, which began in 2019 with the public draft released on June 7.
“The main objective of the specific plan for the city center is to make it a place of destination, building on its current amenities as well as all the improvements that we propose to create within the framework of this specific plan for the center. -ville, ”she said.
Beverly Choi, Northern California Community Program Manager for Environmental Science Associates and leader of the project’s consulting team, who went into more detail on the proposal. The project area includes the 237-acre downtown area, the boundaries of which are bordered by Interstate 80 to the south, West Street to the west, East Monte Vista Avenue to the north, and Depot Street to the east.
Throughout the process, Choi said, the city held more than 45 workshops, received more than 680 survey responses and more than 9,700 visits to the project’s website.
“It was a community driven process,” she said.
Choi said the main themes of the project were to make the city center more dynamic, better connectivity for all modes of transport to and within the city center, improving its attractiveness and safety and the promotion of a healthy and sustainable community.
In terms of making the downtown area more lively, Choi said the city should not only attract more visitors, but also attract people to live in the downtown area, which is zoned for both commercial and residential uses. .
“Having this mix of development will really help contribute to economic growth and a vibrant downtown,” she said. “We also heard from the community that people want to see more housing and more types of housing. “
Currently, the downtown area has mostly single-family homes, but Choi pioneered the idea of building more townhouses, condominiums, neighborhood multiplexes, and mixed-use developments that can accommodate both retail and residential businesses.
“This would help create housing that is more accessible to a wider range of consumers as well as close this missing link,” she said.
Another important part of the plan is to enhance the community identity of the downtown area. Ideas included improving what Choi called the overall ‘streetscape’ – which includes lighting, landscaping, art and furnishings for the downtown site – and establishing more signage to help visitors not only find the downtown area, but also navigate it. .
Choi also emphasized more public art.
“It can really go a long way in adding interest and adding to the aesthetic of a community, causing people to want to have a space to meet downtown and stay there and then spend their money there. also, ”she said.
The draft plan also identifies priority pedestrian facades, things like parklets or cafes with alfresco dining up front used to maximize interactions with pedestrians, and also focused on a few concentrated development areas.
The first was an expansion of Town Square Plaza to include more infill, outdoor seating, a potential artistic component, a path connecting the CreekWalk, and a new parking structure.
Another priority development was the former 24,000 square foot CVS site on East Monte Vista, which has been vacant since 2015. The site has been identified as a potential redevelopment project, including residential housing.
The plan also emphasizes a “complete street” approach that encourages multimodal design elements to make street travel easier for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. These upgrades would include improved crosswalks, pedestrian islands, ramps and more bike paths.
Commissioner Doug Beaumont referred to parklets, which city council approved last summer as part of an effort to expand outdoor dining at a time when indoor dining was banned due to the coronavirus . With indoor dining being allowed again in California, Beaumont said many cities are canceling parklets and asked if Vacaville will do the same. Hays said council has asked staff to review the feasibility of continuing to allow meals at the parklet, and staff are proposing the program continue.
In a public comment, Marion Elkins echoed Beaumont’s feelings that parklets were a good idea at the height of the pandemic, but didn’t think they were necessary as restaurants began to open.
“I would really love to review how much parking we give up for what we get,” she said.
Elkins also didn’t like the designs for the housing options presented at the meeting, pointing to townhouses as types that “look terrible,” and also expressed concern about a street divider along the way. from Davis Street.
“I hate it when you do this to us in other parts of town,” she said. “Nothing is more frustrating than when you want to turn into a business across the street and you can’t because you’ve blocked it off with concrete or some other kind of separation. “
However, Elkins was supportive of the plan in general, especially the idea of making the downtown area more lively.
President Robert Macaulay has said he supports maintaining the parklets, believing they would have a positive long-term benefit for the city. He hoped the plan would address parking for downtown employees, especially those who work evenings.
“They don’t necessarily feel safe going to the more remote lots, so they want to park in front of the company, but that then prevents convenient parking for customers,” he said. “As a politician, we have to make sure we take the plunge and deal with it quickly.”
The draft can be viewed at bit.ly/PublicDraftDTSP. The public comment period is open until Friday. Comments can be submitted to Hays at Tyra.Hays@cityofvacaville.com or mailed to: Tyra Hays, Senior Planner Advanced Planning Division 650 Merchant Street Vacaville, CA 95688
Hays said the final plan would be available in late summer, with environmental documentation slated for fall and public hearings on the final document slated for shortly thereafter.
In other cases, the committee unanimously approved a three-year extension for the Southtown development agreement, re-elected Macaulay as chair, and elected Commissioner Brandon Kline as vice-chair.