Dear Corte Madera Community,
It has come to our attention that over the holidays many members of our community were prompted to sign a petition authored by the Nugget Market to oppose the Town’s proposal to change zoning regulations on three properties at the western end of the Paradise Shopping Center. These properties include the property that is currently occupied by the Five Points Fitness Gym and two smaller properties owned by the Town, which are currently used for public parking. We have received more than 150 public comments expressing concern about this rezoning proposal and understand that upwards of 2,000 individuals have signed such petition.
Over the last several days, Staff has met with Nugget Market’s leadership, listened to their concerns, and worked collaboratively to modify our proposal in a way that addresses the concerns expressed, and that continues to achieve the housing policy goals and implementation programs that have been carefully articulated and supported throughout the Housing Element’s 15-month public planning process. This collaborative process exemplifies the Town’s approach throughout the development of this housing plan, and several modifications have successfully been made during the course of its development to address requested changes from Town residents, businesses, property owners, and other stakeholders. We are pleased that the Nugget Market has reached back out to their customers and our community and expressed their support for the Town’s planning process to move forward, inclusive of the Town’s proposal to rezone a portion of the Paradise Shopping Center (available here).
While we believe the resolution to the Nugget Market’s concerns about adequate parking should also satisfy the parking concerns expressed by community members, and note that the Nugget Market itself recognizes that the proposed modifications to the ordinance “will support the continued vibrancy of the Paradise Shopping Center and provide Nugget Market with the best opportunity to continue serving the Corte Madera community for the long term,” there are many in our community who have expressed concern that the Town’s proposal may nonetheless cause unwanted changes at the Paradise Shopping Center.
For those that continue to have concerns, I first encourage you to explore the Town’s Housing Element website, www.cortemaderahousing.org, which provides a ton of information about the purpose, need, and goals for the Housing Plan. In particular, I encourage you to review the 6-part Workshop Series (https://www.cortemaderahousing.org/workshop-series), which explains how and why housing opportunity sites were chosen and addressed some of the main concerns we’ve heard this last week related to traffic (see Workshops 3-5 in particular). You can also review the Subsequent Environmental Impact Report for the project here (including the technical traffic analysis here) and the Housing Element itself (available here).
But beyond that, I hope to provide some clarification regarding the rezoning proposal itself and what it does and does not do, as it relates to the Paradise Shopping Center.
- The Town’s rezoning proposal supports the Paradise Shopping Center’s continued use as a thriving public place that includes existing commercial uses, including the Five Point’s Fitness Gym and the Nugget Market, and continues to serve local neighborhood residents and employees. The rezoning proposal supports and allows for their continued use for as long as such businesses and property owners wish to do so. The proposal also retains the same ability for the existing businesses to renovate or even expand if desired.
- The Town’s rezoning proposal is limited to three properties at the western portion of the Paradise Shopping Center as described above; it does not include the Nugget Market, or other properties at the Center, such as that containing the dry cleaners.
- Zoning sets forth the various types of uses of a property that are permissible based on location. Zoning does not determine what specifically (what specific type of retail store or service) gets built on a property or whether a property gets developed (or redeveloped) at all. Property owners, not the Town, decide whether to build and what to build on a property within what is permissible by zoning.
- The Town’s General Plan, adopted in 2009, and Zoning Ordinance, already permit residential uses at the Paradise Shopping Center. The Town’s 2009 General Plan states that in the “Local Serving Commercial” land use designation, in which the Paradise Shopping Center is located, “…Residential units and uses other than local-serving customers may be permitted in local-serving areas.” The Town’s Zoning Ordinance has permitted “Residential units at densities permitted by the Planning Commission to conform to the General Plan” at the Paradise Shopping Center since at least 1994. Nonetheless, residential uses have not been constructed at the Paradise Shopping Center.
- The Town’s rezoning proposal defines more explicitly how and at what density housing could be constructed at the Five Points Fitness Gym site. It does not require housing construction on the site. Many other sites throughout Town are being zoned in the same way to allow housing at higher densities and heights than what is being proposed on a portion of the Paradise Shopping Center.
We hope this message helps to alleviate some of the concerns that have been raised and provides a more complete picture of the Town’s proposal. We strongly encourage you to look further into the Town’s work over the last 15 months on this plan and look forward to hearing from you at the upcoming Town Council meeting on January 11. To view the agenda for this meeting, which includes participation information and a link to the staff report please click here.
All the best and Happy New Year,
Adam Wolff, Town Manager