Community members are invited to learn about and comment on proposed changes to encourage new housing development along San Pablo Avenue during a virtual open house taking place online through the end of the year.

Work on the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan began last year when Albany was approved for a planning grant from the state Department of Housing and Community Development “to streamline housing approvals and accelerate housing production, including for affordable housing,” the city said in an announcement.

The plan would change zoning along the San Pablo Avenue corridor to allow taller and denser projects intended to encourage multifamily housing and residential mixed-use development.

Albany, like all Bay Area cities, is under pressure from the state Department of Housing and Community Development through its Regional Housing Needs Assessment to create more housing as demand reaches unprecedented levels and rents soar.

Possible changes could include easing parking requirements and moving away from the city’s current requirement of ground floor commercial space in all developments on San Pablo.

“Cost of constructing underground parking and ground-floor commercial space needs to be subsidized by the housing above,” the city’s consultants said in a report. “A project that is 3 stories tall is not feasible at this time, which is one of the reasons why there is such minimal housing production on San Pablo. (It’s) more likely that the market supports multifamily projects that are 4-8 stories tall.”

The city held three public workshops this year on aspects of the plan and is now inviting public comment.

Those interested can learn about the plan online, view the virtual open house, and find out when you can talk to one of the city planners during project office hours.

The city will use feedback collected during the open house to shape policies and zoning standards in the San Pablo Avenue Specific Plan.