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Planning Board Approves FAAS Facility, Church, Work/Live Units

On February 12, the Planning Board re-approved a development plan and use permit for a new Friends of the Alameda Animal Shelter (FAAS) facility on Bay Farm Island to provide spay and neuter services and dog training classes, and approved the design for an interim facility that FAAS will use while fundraising for the permanent structure.

Alameda Post - A render of an FAAS facility that could go on BayFarm
An interim FAAS facility will provide spay and neuter services and training classes before the permanent facility goes up. Image presented at the February 12, 2024 Planning Board Meeting, Agenda #5-A, Exhibit 1.

The Board also approved a permit allowing Triumphant Life Church to legally use the storefront at 1413 Park Street for worship services on condition that they also operate a Christian book store to activate the streetscape. Finally, the Board approved the developer, Equity Residential, to convert ground floor commercial space at Block 9 of Alameda Point into work/live units.

Proposed FAAS facility

FAAS reports a dire need for spay and neutering services. Without such facilities at their Fortmann Way location, staff must travel with animals to facilities as far away as Livermore. From 2019 to 2020, the Planning Board approved a development plan and use permit for a facility at 2331 North Loop Road on Bay Farm Island. Further, City Council approved a zoning amendment to conditionally permit animal shelters and veterinary services within 200 feet of residentially zoned property. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic that started immediately after project approval, FAAS could not conduct the fundraising needed to build under the original timeline.

Previously, at the January 24 meeting, FAAS had sought re-approval of the final development plan and use permit because both had expired. FAAS also sought design review approval for an interim facility composed of modified shipping containers.

Public comment

Alameda Post - a diagram of the plants for the new FAAS facility
The Final Development Plans for the new FAAS facility. Image presented at the February 12, 2024 Planning Board Meeting, Agenda #5-A, Exhibit 1.

Public comment was mixed. Kelly Lux, FAAS Board Member and a business neighbor, voiced support, noting that the interim facility would allow FAAS to provide spay and neutering services for nearly 1,000 lost, abandoned, and stray animals that FAAS takes in each year, and would provide a low-cost dog training program to address a primary reason owners surrender their pets. She argued that having well-behaved canine citizens would benefit the entire community. Similarly, a long-time resident, Steve, applauded the facility as a new “crown jewel” for Alameda.

However, eight residential neighbors, including one representing the Homeowners Association, opposed the facility. Neighbors argued that an animal shelter adjacent to a daycare and residences is not appropriate and the Planning Board was not properly upholding zoning and development regulations. They said noise from a proposed dog run would lower the quality of life, and the facility would adversely affect a popular walking path used by children and already constrained neighborhood parking. Several complained they had only just learned of the project through hearsay.

Staff and applicant response

Staff responded that notices about this meeting were mailed to neighbors within 300 feet of the proposed facility on January 16. Staff added that because the facility will be in Oakland Airport’s flight path, it is required to install sound attenuation, which works both ways, meaning that the inside is protected from airport sounds and outdoors is protected from sounds coming from inside.

FAAS CEO John Lipp said they had contacted the daycare, communicated with its owners, and tried to be transparent with the community. He thought FAAS had addressed many of the neighborhood concerns, saying the facility would be used as a spay/neuter clinic, not a shelter, and animals would be gone by the end of each business day after receiving treatment. He didn’t anticipate noise being an issue related to veterinary care. Typically, animals would come in, be sedated quickly, receive surgery, and go home while still recovering.

Lipp said FAAS intends to keep the public pathway open, and the only type of public event would be occasionally hosting the adoption vehicle, where FAAS brings adoptable dogs to meet the public. He said they would only use the dog play yard during one-hour dog training classes.

Board motion and vote

The Board approved the final development plan and use permit for the new facility and design review for the interim facility with the following conditions: clarification that FAAS will not implement a dog run as planned initially, would limit dog training classes to six per weekend with none on weekdays, and would substantially implement the original landscaping pathway and bicycle parking plans.

The former Tot Tank building is now occupied by Triumphant Life Church. Photo Karin K. Jensen.

Triumphant Life Church on Park Street

In March 2023, Planning Code Enforcement inspected the storefront at 1413 Park Street and learned that Triumphant Life Church (TLC) had signed a lease and begun holding worship services in the former retail space, changing its use to a place of assembly. Further, TLC had performed work without building permits. The Building Official issued a Notice of Violation demanding they obtain the required approvals. Since then, TLC has worked to do so.

Staff asked the Board to consider TLC’s application to use the space for public assembly before they move forward with required improvements. Staff argued that when vacancies occur along Park Street, they often stay vacant for extended periods, creating a “dead zone.” The former Tot Tank store at this location closed in 2020. Consequently, staff considered the proposed community assembly use superior to a long-term vacancy.

Staff further argued that the existing street parking and adjacent Civic Center Parking Garage are adequate. TLC’s primary service times are Wednesday evenings and Sunday mornings, off-peak times for downtown parking demand.

Staff also generally agreed with Downtown Alameda Business Association’s concerns that the non-retail use could create a “dead zone” in the heart of the district, similar to a long-term vacancy if only occupied a day or two each week. However, TLC plans to open a Christian book store to activate the streetscape and intends to open it seven hours a day, six days a week.

The Board approved the use permit on the condition that in addition to the first 21 feet of the space being mercantile, the first five feet must be for active retail display. Given the history of violation, staff will return within a year after the final certificate of occupancy to verify that TLC meets all approval conditions.

Alameda Post - a concept design for live/work units at Alameda Point
Concept illustration for proposed work/live units at Alameda Point. Image presented at the February 12, 2024 Planning Board Meeting, Agenda #5-C, Exhibit 2.

New work/live units at Alameda Point

In 2017, the Planning Board approved a development plan for Block 9 at Alameda Point, now known as the Aero Project. This site at 201 West Atlantic Avenue includes 200 dwelling units in four-story buildings, a parking garage, and a courtyard that occupy the entire block. Ground-floor retail spaces face West Atlantic Avenue but have been vacant since the developer, Equity Residential, completed construction in 2021.

Equity Residential reports making extensive retail leasing efforts to no avail. Staff argued this is understandable because the area to the south, planned for commercial use under the Site A Plan, remains under U.S. Navy control and will require time-consuming remediation before development occurs. Although the new ferry terminal is not far away, there is no direct line of sight. The slower development to the west, at Blocks 10 and 11, means there is a shortage of foot traffic and no critical mass of retail demand.

Equity Residential proposed converting Block 9’s ground floor retail space to eight work-live units, retaining a corner area for commercial use. Lindsay Faccini of Equity Residential expressed confidence in leasing work/live units, given that Aero’s apartments have a 98% occupancy rate.

A single public member voiced opposition, noting that Alameda has never had a mixed-use waterfront development, and the General Plan 2040 includes goals for Alameda Point to preserve retail and commercial opportunities.

Board Member Andy Wang responded that he felt satisfied the developer had put in a good faith effort to attract retail and that converting the space to a more flexible commercial model would improve their chances of attracting tenants. The Board approved a use permit to convert previously approved retail space for Block 9 of Alameda Point into work/live studios.

Contributing writer Karin K. Jensen covers boards and commissions for the Alameda Post. Contact her via [email protected]. Her writing is collected at and

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