The Pleasanton City Council will consider a new rule tonight that would require banks and other financial institutions to seek conditional use permits before opening in any downtown locations.
As it is, financial institutions, including banks, can open new facilities in any office or commercially zoned district in Pleasanton, including downtown. From 1973 to 1995, in fact, the city government required that banks and savings and loan association first locate a branch in the downtown district before they would be allowed to open facilities elsewhere in the city.
But the Pleasanton Downtown Association asked for the zoning rule change after Opus Bank reportedly sought to open a branch in the Past Time Pool building on Main Street. That would have added an eighth bank downtown.
Although Opus said it was not interested in the Past Time Pool building, which is for sale, the PDA and others continued with their effort to change the rules to force a detail review of any applications for new financial institutions downtown. The PDA wants more retail stores downtown, not banks, and especially seeks to reserve key corner locations on Main Street for new retail operations and restaurants. Banks now are located on seven corner downtown locations.
The Planning Commission recently voted 4-0 to approve an ordinance that would require new banks to submit to a timely and costly review process that, in the end, would still give the commission the option to reject their applications.
The City Council was poised to approve the ordinance a month ago until Councilman Jerry Thorne asked for more time to study the proposal.
The PDA argues that banks don't attract shoppers. Bankers' hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and often on Saturday mornings are much shorter than those of retail shops and restaurants.
The ordinance amendment before the City Council Tuesday night would essentially allow the city to make an "informed decision" about the placement of banks, not ban them outright, explained Nelson Fialho, city manager.
The change would not prohibit banks downtown but simply allows some evaluation so that shopping, dining and entertainment-related uses such as restaurants and retail are not permanently eliminated from the downtown, Fialho said.
"Banks are vitally important, but the exact location is also a relevant consideration," he added. "The (ordinance) change would provide time for that type of deliberation."
Although the council meeting will officially start at 7 p.m., it will assemble at 6:20 p.m. for a reception honoring outgoing and incoming city commission and committee members.
Both the reception and the council meeting will take place in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.
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