San Leandro Sets Higher-Density Future for Bay Fair BART Station Area

Lars Halle and Tom Liao

Concluding a two-year public planning process with workshops and a 21-person Community Advisory Committee, the San Leandro city council in February adopted the 154-acre Bay Fair Transit-Oriented Development Specific Plan.

The plan is the community’s long-term vision for a vibrant and sustainable, higher density, mixed-use “transit village” in proximity to the Bay Fair BART station. It provides a new future for nearby local shopping centers and the 816,755-square-foot Bayfair regional shopping center. The plan covers allowable land uses, market-rate and affordable housing, anti-displacement measures, and multi-modal street improvements for pedestrians, bicyclists, vehicles, and infrastructure, and it includes standards, guidelines, and zoning recommendations for future development.

Bay Fair Station location map. Credit City of San Leandro/Raimi + Associates

Under the plan, city staff and elected officials will be responsible for guiding property owners and developers in their development decisions and applications. The staff and officials will also use the plan to evaluate proposed public improvements and infrastructure to ensure consistency with the plan’s overall vision and policies.

The plan is the final planning piece of the city’s East 14th Street corridor, an area also covered by the East 14th Street South Area Development Strategy (2004) and the Downtown TOD Strategy (2007). The corridor connects to Alameda County’s TOD planning efforts to the southeast in San Leandro and Hayward. In adopting the plan, the City became eligible for future infrastructure funding for the area from federal, State, and regional agencies that target and prioritize TOD areas.

Overarching goals of the plan are to make Bay Fair a prominent local and regional destination with an enhanced pedestrian experience. The outcomes envisioned include a more walkable environment, increased public and park space, improved pedestrian and bicycle connections, public safety, compatibility among adjacent neighborhoods, better community facilities, a diversity of uses, efficient and shared parking, and environmental sustainability.

More specifically, the plan aims to improve mobility for all modes along existing major streets, with new connections to BART, a grid of smaller blocks (including publicly-accessible mid-block connections for long blocks), and special, memorable public places and open spaces.

Bay Fair Connections diagram. Credit City of San Leandro/Raimi + Associates

The Plan recommends short-term (2017–2019), medium-term (2019–2025), and continuing implementation actions. Short-term steps include amending the 2035 General Plan and zoning code based on the plan’s recommendations, convening a roundtable of key landowners in the affected area, and creating a partnership with BART and Alameda County to address traffic, parking, and public safety.

The plan was funded by a $440,000 competitive planning grant from the Metropolitan Transportation Commission in 2014 plus matching funds from the City and its project partners: BART, Alameda County, and Madison Marquette, owner of Bayfair Center.

Co-authors Lars Halle and Tom Liao are, respectively, San Leandro’s development coordinator and acting community development director.