Economic Development

Brentwood officials have launched plans to analyze and streamline development regulations to woo critical, revenue-generating projects.

The endeavor, which the Brentwood City Council approved this week, aims to smooth out development processes — possibly for hotel, retail and mixed-use retail and office commercial developments.

“Staff will explore options within the zoning ordinances to provide increased flexibility, streamlined project reviews and improved developer confidence in the project-approval process, in order to further advance this economic development-focused activity,” said Senior Analyst Joshua Ewen.

A possible amendment includes altering the city’s zoning ordinances to handle certain projects as permitted uses, instead of conditionally permitted uses, eliminating the need to obtain a discretionary land-use or entitlement permit.

It’s possible proposed hotel, big-box retail and mixed-use retail and office projects in specified zoning districts would only be considered by the planning commission through a design review application. This would still allow city staff and the commission to develop a set of design-related conditions to ensure adherence to city ordinances, standards and design guidelines; improve site or building design; and minimize any proposed design impacts before approval. All design-related impacts would also be required to meet California Environmental Quality Act standards, aimed at identifying significant environmental effects, and mitigate or avoid the impacts.

“We’ll look at the potential of changing some of our regulations to make economic development activities and revenue generating activities a smoother process for investors and property owners,” said Acting City Manager Terrence Grindall.

The proposed changes are part of the city’s attempt to create and foster additional economic development opportunities, as stipulated in its strategic plan and economic development strategy.

A city staff report appears to indicate the city hopes to push for hotel development along the State Route 4 and Brentwood Boulevard corridors and major arterials, provide flexibility for big-box retailers and encourage the development of mixed-use bottom-floor retail, with upper-floor office space.

But city officials stressed this week that any development regulation changes would be reviewed by a consultant, brought to the planning commission for consideration, with final approval by the city council before moving forward.

“One can rest assured this will be brought back to council and totally discussed,” said Mayor Bob Taylor.

Brentwood resident Rod Flohr, a community activist and member of the grassroots group Alliance for a Better Brentwood, was the only public speaker on the issue, noting he hopes the city carries out the endeavor responsibly.

“Streamlining is, of course, a concern to any citizen in Brentwood,” he said. “We want to make sure that anything you do to make things faster doesn’t make them any less well-researched. I don’t have a major objection to this. I appreciate that we do need to bring businesses like these to our community. We fully support this type of thing.”

For more information on the city’s effort, visit page 645 at www.bit.ly/2Kjx9F4.

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