For investors, owners and representatives for organizations that have waited patiently for years to win approval of their multi-million-dollar developments planned for the 124-acre Staples Ranch, last week's inaction by the Pleasanton City Council was disappointing, to say the least.
Along with a crowd of 150 others, they were there with the expectation that after scores of workshops, meetings and public hearings, the council would finally approve development-related planning documents and an environmental impact report to allow them to proceed with their projects. They included:
* Hendrick Automotive Group, which wants to build a new auto mall on its 37-acre portion of Staples, next to the junction of I-580 and El Charro Road, directly across El Charro from a 180-plus store outlet mall that Livermore has approved.
* Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton, a 45-acre senior continuing care community to be developed by Continuing Life Communities (CLC), with up to 800 units for assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living residents.
* Fremont Land, an 11-acre retail development, which would include various shops and also may include a food market, bank and restaurant.
* Sharks Ice Center, a two-story, four rink facility to be built by San Jose Arena Management, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks, with the facility to occupy about 10 acres of a 17-acre public park that the Sharks would also develop for the city.
After a presentation of these plans by city staff and about 3-1/2 hours of public comment, the council took a brief break, returning with a bombshell announcement by Councilman Matt Sullivan that he was postponing any further discussion by the council for the night.
If there was outrage, it didn't show, although several council members showed disgust. For those at the hearing waiting for final approval of their costly plans and the consultants who had waited with them, there were heads shaking in bewilderment and renewed questions if they could ever build in Pleasanton.
We don't fault Sullivan for exercising his right as a councilman to postpone discussion of any agendized item once. He had listened carefully as some speakers and, with their questions, several on the council swerved away from the development and EIR approvals to the long-controversial proposal to extend Stoneridge Drive from the Mohr-Martin neighborhood, where it now ends, through Staples to connect to El Charro and Jack London Boulevard, which Livermore is extending.
This extension, which proponents, including Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty, have touted during numerous discussions on the overall Staples plan, is seen by many as a logical part of building out Staples Ranch. Haggerty, in fact, has offered to finance the project, estimated at $6 million, if the Pleasanton council gives the go-ahead.
Sullivan has always been lukewarm on extending Stoneridge, agreeing to keep the possible future roadway in the city's new General Plan and in a Memorandum of Understanding the city signed with the county to develop Staples. But, like Councilwoman Cindy McGovern and hundreds opposed to the extension, he would agree to put the road through only when State Route 84 is widened and freeway improvements reduce rush hour traffic jams on 580. His fear is that frustrated commuters will leave 580 to cut through Pleasanton on Stoneridge to connect with I-680 south and, likely, do the opposite during the evening rush hour.
As the discussions Feb. 3 turned more and more to the Stoneridge extension, he called a halt. Stoneridge wasn't part of the council's posted agenda for the public hearing and he wants anyone in Pleasanton who has a view on the roadway to have a chance to talk.
They will, at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 24, when everyone will have the opportunity to have their say. We hope those who plan to spend millions of dollars to bring new business, senior housing and a much-anticipated ice rink to Pleasanton in these tough economic times come back, too. Other cities would bend all rules to have the size and kind of development that just got delayed again in Pleasanton.