City Council Report

 

City Council Meeting: November 10, 2009

Agenda Item: 3-A

To:                   Mayor and City Council

From:              Eileen Fogarty, Director Planning and Community Development

Subject:          Study Session to Discuss Concept Massing, Urban Design, Circulation and Cost Implications for Rebuilding Downtown Parking Structures One and Six

 

Recommended Action

Staff recommends that the City Council review the prepared materials and discuss the massing, urban design, circulation and cost implications for the described concepts, and provide direction to staff on which concepts to pursue for schematic design for downtown parking structures One and Six.

 

Executive Summary

This staff report reflects programming, design and development tradeoffs analyzed, to date, for consideration in the design-build process for Parking Structure One, located on Fourth Street, and Parking Structure Six, located on Second Street. In June 2009, the Council approved a design-build contract with Morley Construction.  The design-build team includes International Parking Design and Behnisch Architects. The project is currently in the pre-design phase, and a number of different massing concepts and diagrams have been developed. This report highlights the issues that require direction from City Council to enable the design-build team to proceed into the conceptual design phase.

 

One set of issues is generated by the unique requirements of a parking structure and the applicability of current zoning requirements. For example, the Bayside District stepback and setback requirements would severely limit the continuous circulation system within the structure.  Given the existing building footprint, the consultant has concluded that the full parking program of 580 spaces cannot be accommodated within the permitted building envelope prescribed by the current Bayside District zoning standards. Accordingly, staff is seeking guidance regarding potential zoning modifications, including consideration of reducing or eliminating stepback and setback requirements, reducing ground floor retail heights, allowing increased density (Floor Area Ratio) and allowing an increased slope.  Staff is requesting that the City Council review and discuss these issues within the context of current zoning standards and direct staff to either:

 

·        Design the structures consistent with the current zoning standards, reduce the number of parking spaces; or

 

·        Prepare a text amendment to modify stepback/setback requirements, allowable FAR, ground floor height and slope to accommodate the desired number of spaces.

 

The second set of issues focus on tradeoffs between height, number of spaces, the street-level pedestrian environment, circulation requirements, incorporation of programmatic elements, and cost (both capital and operating).  A major trade-off centers on whether it is preferable to meet the approved program (assuming the necessary zoning modifications) by building more levels of subterranean parking or more levels of above grade parking.  The environmental document assumed a building envelope that allowed 84 feet above ground and three levels of subterranean parking. The following options represent some of the tradeoffs that require consideration:

 

·        Structure of 5.5 stories above grade (66 feet high at street level) and 3 levels below grade, requiring four driveways across the sidewalk, producing 580 parking spaces and costing approximately $19 million;*

·        Structure of 7.25 stories above grade (84 feet high at street level) and 1.25 levels below grade, requiring four driveways across the sidewalk, producing 580 parking spaces and costing approximately $16.5 million*; or

·        Structure of 7.25 stories above grade (84 feet high at street level) and no levels below grade, requiring three driveways across the sidewalk, producing 515 parking spaces and costing approximately $14 million*

* Cost estimates reflect base construction only and do not include soft costs, environmental mitigation, premium design, escalator or City contingency.

This staff report discusses these and other trade-offs that require direction from City Council.

 

Based on Council’s direction the City’s urban design staff shall continue to work closely with the design-build team to ensure that an appropriate pedestrian-oriented and contextually sensitive design is achieved through thoughtful and compatible massing, articulation and façade treatments.

 

 

Background

On December 19, 2000, the City Council established the Downtown Parking Task Force. On April 9, 2002, the City Council conceptually approved the Task Force’s recommended strategic plan to retrofit, rebuild and add parking resources to the downtown over a 10 year period. On February 28, 2006, the City Council approved the Downtown Parking Program, certified the EIR, and authorized staff to proceed with the next steps to implement the program. In accordance with the program, Parking Structures Four and Five have been seismically retrofitted and the retrofit for Structure Two is proceeding as planned.

 

In June 2009, the Council approved a design-build contract for Structures One and Six with Morley Construction, including International Parking Design and Behnisch Architects as sub-contractors on the team. The design-build team has completed preliminary analysis and is preparing to initiate the conceptual design process. Council direction is requested to facilitate an efficient design process.

 

Discussion

Although the sites for Structures One and Six each have different constraints, the issues for Council discussion are similar for both sites.  The discussion below applies to both structures.

 

Zoning Considerations: The research with regard to zoning considerations produced the following potential conflicts with current requirements (as detailed in Attachment A):

 

·        Building Stepbacks: New structures fronting Second Street or Fourth Street above thirty feet in height stepped back at a 36.9 degree angle;

 

·        Building Volume Envelope - Setback Requirements:

o       Between 31 to 45 feet  requires 9 foot average setback;

o       Between 46 to 56 feet requires 18 foot average setback;

o       Between 57 to 84 feet requires 27 foot average setback.

 

·        Ground Floor Height: minimum of 18 feet

 

·        Elevators and stair towers are not permitted to project into any of the required stepbacks

     

·        Driveway slope: current maximum of 5%

 

·        Maximum Floor Area Ratio (FAR): 3.5 maximum

 

 

Tradeoff Analysis: The target goal for each site is 580 spaces identified in the Downtown Parking Program. Issues considered as part of the design analysis, to date, include:

 

Massing and Scale: Possible massing and design options for consideration are illustrated in the Stepback Diagram (Attachment B) and Massing Images (Attachment C).  Given the context of adjacent buildings, it could be possible with great attention to exterior design and quality materials, combined with a focused urban design process, to modify the required stepbacks/setbacks for parking structures in a way that would be sensitive to the aesthetics of the downtown.  The façade concepts included in Attachment D are very preliminary, and should be viewed as a starting point for the design process, which will evolve once Council has provided the direction requested at this study session.  It is important that the City’s urban design staff continue to work closely with the design-build team to ensure that an appropriately pedestrian-oriented and contextually sensitive design is achieved through thoughtful and compatible massing, articulation and façade treatments.

 

Stepback/Setbacks, Height and Parking Space Capacity: If the structure is built to the fully compliant envelope, including three levels of below grade parking and the maximum height allowed, the current stepback/setback requirements for the Bayside District would accommodate a total of 490 spaces.  If a text amendment were to be adopted, the provision of 580 spaces in each structure is achievable in the two options that include either 1.5 levels or 3 levels of below grade parking.  An above ground only option would result in a total of only 515 parking spaces due to allowable height limits.

 

Internal Parking Structure Circulation: The parking structures, as proposed by the consultant, would include two-way ramps (existing structures are one-way) with two bays of parking (existing structures have three bays.)  The following issues have been identified in the initial consideration:

·           Floor sloping:  Current zoning limits the design to a 5% slope.  The consultants are recommending a 6% slope and suggested several structures for staff to visit. Staff conducted a site visit to a new Long Beach structure and found the slopes to be acceptable.

 

·           Continuous ramping: The consultants have concluded that continuous ramping between above grade and below parking is not possible because of the vehicle conflicts created.  Separate entrances and exits (and fee collection systems) would be required for above grade and below grade spaces.  It is possible that some of the conflicts could be resolved if the ground floor retail space were reduced or eliminated.

 

·        Entry efficiency: the proposed design would require ample space for internal queuing and ticketing to reduce potential back-up on the street.

 

·        Exiting efficiency: sufficient space would be required to facilitate rapid exiting, including multiple internal queue and payment lanes.

 

·        Pedestrian convenience and safety: pedestrian path of travel (both horizontal and vertical) must be well thought out to ensure convenient and safe structures.

 

Downtown Circulation: Access within the context of the downtown circulation system includes the following considerations:

·        Turn limitations onto street: a way to minimize the width of the driveways across downtown sidewalks would be to allow only right turns out of the parking structures (i.e. prohibit left turns) and provide only one exit lane rather than two.  Providing only one lane could occasionally result in a blockage that could back up the structure.  However, if payment occurred further back, there is less likelihood of a blockage.

 

·        Use of alleys for access: another way to minimize the width of the driveways across downtown sidewalks would be to accommodate access to the below ground spaces from the alleys.  The below grade spaces could be limited to monthly pass-holders or some other special-entry class of users to reduce utilization of the alley.  There are additional concerns with respect to alley use, including the other competing demands such as refuse collection and freight delivery, as well as the desire to improve alley access for pedestrians and to foster “art alleys” as identified in the Creative Capital Plan. In addition, pursuing alley access would likely require additional tradeoffs in other parts of the program such as depth of retail space or reduction in number of spaces.

 

·        Placement of driveways: the placement of driveways is partially determined to minimize conflicts on street and may result in less than desirable adjacencies.

 

 

 

Pedestrian Orientation at Street Level: The following are important issues for consideration:

·        Maximizing the active street frontage versus height of the structure: Site constraints require that any below grade parking must have separate access, generally resulting in driveways four aisles wide across the sidewalk, whereas a building without subterranean parking could be designed to have only three drive aisles, providing a pedestrian experience with less interruption.  The comparisons below identify different impacts for the pedestrian at street level as a result of the width of the required number of drive aisles across the sidewalk.

 

o       Structure of 5.5 stories above grade (66 feet high at street level) and 3 levels below grade, producing 580 parking spaces, requires four driveway widths across the sidewalk;

o       Structure of 7.25 stories above grade (84 feet high at street level) and 1.25 levels below grade, producing 580 parking spaces, requires four driveway widths across the sidewalk; or

o       Structure of 7.25 stories above grade (84 feet high at street level) and no levels below grade, producing 515 parking spaces, requires three driveways across the sidewalk.  [Note:  To achieve 570 spaces, bringing the structure closer to the target number of spaces, the code would need to be modified to allow an additional 10 feet.]

 

Generally speaking, once a building is taller than four stories, additional height does not have an increasingly significant impact on the pedestrian experience. The lowest alternative under consideration is six stories, so reducing the number of drive aisles from four to three would likely have a greater benefit to the pedestrian than would a reduction in height from 7.5 stories to six.   Given the context of the adjacent downtown buildings, existing tree cover, the opportunities for mitigating massing with design, and the ground floor retail activity, the greater height may be less detrimental to the pedestrian experience than lower height accompanied by below grade parking and the associated additional drive aisle.

 

·        Activating the street versus activating the alleys: The proposed configuration of the parking structure, which is two bays wide, provides the ability to place the structure so that extra space that could be added to the sidewalk to create a setback.  Alternatively, some or all of this space could be utilized to widen the alley or add additional structure to the back which could be used as artist space, storage or even commercial space. The current sidewalk widths are minimally acceptable and the additional space added to the front will improve the pedestrian experience in conjunction with the active retail space and parking structure access.

 

Programmatic Demands: It will be important for the City Council to provide guidance concerning the programmatic elements as early as possible, as it becomes more difficult and costly to make changes later. Components for consideration include:

 

·      Viable retail space: A significant goal of these projects is to provide viable retail space at ground level to enhance the pedestrian experience and economically sustain the parking structure over time.  As noted above, reducing the number of drive aisles will have the effect of increasing the amount of viable, leasable retail space.

 

·        Storage for the City’s maintenance functions: the City’s Community Maintenance Department currently utilizes space in Structure No. One to store equipment necessary to clean/maintain the Third Street Promenade.  The intent is to replace or increase the space in the new structure.

 

·        Public restrooms: Are public restrooms going to be included?

 

·        “Art alleys”/artist work space: Are there design elements that will further the implementation of goals in the Creative Capital Plan?

 

·        Bike storage: some ground floor space for bike parking is desirable.

 

·        Roof top solar panels: there is a desire to include solar panels in the project.

 

·        Other rooftop uses: the top levels of the parking structures provide phenomenal views.  Is there any desire to take advantage of the views?

 

·        Other programming elements:  Are there other elements that are desirable but have not yet been discussed?

 

 

Cost: An important cost consideration is that a parking structure with levels of below-grade parking will cost significantly more than a structure with above-grade parking only.

·        Capital Costs: Staff estimates that the cost of a typical below-grade parking space is approximately twice as much as an above-ground space. Other factors that need to be assessed include soil remediation and/or other contingency costs for excavation, which increase with each additional level of subterranean parking.

 

·        Operating Costs: assuming below grade parking would require separate ingress and egress; it would essentially operate as a separate structure and require a separate fee collection system and the corresponding personnel. The below grade spaces would also require more power for ventilation and lighting.

 

The table below includes the estimated capital cost for consideration as part of the tradeoff analysis:

 

Option

Pedestrian Orientation

 Base Structure Estimated Cost**

Program

Number of spaces

Grade level + 5.5 levels, 3 levels below grade (66’H at 2nd St., 78’ at the alley)

 

4 driveway widths across the sidewalk

 

$19.1 million

 

580

Grade level + 7.25 levels, 1.25 levels below grade (84’H)

4 driveway widths across the sidewalk

$16.5 million

580

Grade level + 7.25 levels, no below grade (84’H)

3 driveway widths across the sidewalk

$13.9 million

515

**Notes applicable to all cases: Height is at 2nd St. façade and excludes photovoltaic panels.  Cost includes demolition of existing structure, tight site, shoring and traffic issues and excludes photovoltaic panels, a premium for the exterior façade, design fees, potential soil remediation, escalation and contingency.

 

In summary, options for consideration include:

·        Structure of 7.25 stories above grade with no below grade parking, three driveways across the sidewalk and approximately 515 spaces, which is 65 fewer than the desired program. (least costly, fewest spaces, reduced pedestrian/vehicle interface)

·        Structure of 7.25  stories above grade, with 1.25 levels below grade, four driveways across the sidewalk and approximately 580 spaces (achieves target number of spaces, middle cost range, maximum pedestrian/vehicle conflict)

·        Structure of 5.5 stories above grade, with 3 levels below grade, four driveways across the sidewalk and approximately 580 spaces (achieves target number of spaces, most costly, lowest height, maximum pedestrian/vehicle conflict)

 

Based on City Council’s direction, Staff will work closely with the design-build team to proceed with design development to ensure that appropriate and compatible massing, articulation and façade treatments are developed to enhance the downtown area and pedestrian environment.

 

Financial Impacts & Budget Actions

Although this study session does not include any direct budget actions, the direction chosen will have cost implications as described above, based on the design requirements and the number of subterranean parking levels included.  

 

Prepared by: Sarah Lejeune, AICP, Principal Planner, Community and Strategic Planning Division

 

Approved:

 

Forwarded to Council:

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eileen Fogarty

Director, Planning and Community Development

 

P. Lamont Ewell

City Manager

 

 

Attachments

A.     Current Zoning Requirements

B.     Stepback Diagram

C.    Massing images

D.    Facade design concepts


ATTACHMENT A

Zoning Requirements

 

 

 

 

Zoning Ordinance Development Standards for Parking Structure 1

 

Regulatory Setting:

 

·        Bayside Commercial District (BSC-2) Development Standards: SMMC 9.04.08.15

·        Project Design and Development Standards: SMMC 9.04.10

·        Bayside District Specific Plan

·        City of Santa Monica Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan

 

 

Bayside Commercial District (BSC-2) Development Standards: SMMC 9.04.08.15

 

·        Parking Structures require a Conditional Use Permit

 

·        Building height and FAR: 84’ maximum height and 3.5 maximum FAR (regulated by the Bayside District Specific Plan – see below)

 

·        Building Stepbacks (SMMC 9.04.08.15.060 (b):  For new structures or additions to existing structures, any portion of a building elevation fronting on Second Street, Third Street Promenade or Fourth Street, above thirty feet in height shall be stepped back at a 36.9 degree angle measured from the horizontal.

 

·        Special Project Design and Development Standards (SMMC 9.04.08.15.070) this requires a 10’ side yard setback on the north side of the parcel adjacent to the Santa Monica Bay Woman’s Club.

 

 

Project Design and Development Standards: SMMC 9.04.10

 

·         Building Volume Envelope (SMMC 9.04.10.02.040): In addition to the building stepback requirements set forth in the BSC-2, the following also applies:

o        All new buildings and additions to existing buildings shall not project beyond the building volume envelope. The building volume envelope shall consist of a theoretical plane beginning at the street frontage extending to a height of thirty feet. Buildings above two stories or thirty feet shall comply with the following setbacks at the street frontage:

 

--                Any portion of a structure between thirty-one to forty-five feet: Nine-foot average setback;

--                 Any portion of a structure between forty-six to fifty-six feet: Eighteen-foot average setback;

--                Any portion of a structure between fifty-seven to eighty-four feet: Twenty-seven-foot average setback.

 

·        Pedestrian-Oriented Design (SMMC 9.04.10.02.440):  Includes regulations for articulated facades, transparency, lighting, signage, reduction of width and number of driveways.

 

 

Bayside District Specific Plan

 

·        Maximum 84’ building height permitted without a Development Review Permit for public parking structures; 3.5 FAR permitted.

 

City of Santa Monica Local Coastal Program Land Use Plan

 

·        Parking structures permitted to be a maximum of six (6) stories and 84’ in height with site review.