The Pleasanton City Council saved a 101-year-old house just a block from the city's historic downtown from the wrecker's ball Tuesday while at the same time approving a plan to build 12 moderately-sized new homes next to it.
The council's action reversed a 4-0 decision last month by the city's Planning Commission to deny the bid by Ponderosa Homes for the 12-home project along the north edge of the Arroyo Del Valle. Commissioners said Ponderosa should decide the fate of the house first.
At Tuesday's council meeting, Planning Commissioner Arne Olson, who was absent from the July meeting, criticized the commission's decision. He said the Ponderosa plan would rid the 2.1-acre site at 4202 (Old) Stanley Blvd. of an unsightly 32-space trailer park and urged the council to approve it.
Ponderosa's Pam Hardy said the developer had acquired the site from a Lutheran Church trust established by the late Jerry Wagner, who owned and managed the trailer park. At one time, Ponderosa considered tearing down the house and adding another two new homes to its site, but opposition to demolishing it squelched that plan. Instead, the builder moved ahead with a 12-home project leaving the fate of the old home in the hands of the Lutheran Church or a new owner who would buy the property from the church.
Apparently, a buyer has surfaced who would rehabilitate the house, which then could be used for a variety of commercial and even residential uses once its restoration meets current fire and other municipal code requirements. Ponderosa agreed Tuesday to contribute $30,000 toward that work. However, there was nothing in Tuesday night's agreement that would prevent the church or a new owner from eventually tearing down the house if the rehabilitation costs proved too high.
At the same time, the council asked Brian Dolan, director of Community Development that includes the Planning Department, to rush through a zoning change to allow various uses in the house, such as a beauty shop, real estate office or other commercial and retail businesses. A family now rents and lives in the house, which building experts said has an illegally added second story and a back porch that is falling down. Needed roof repairs, alone, could cost most of the $30,000 Ponderosa will contribute to the work.
With its plan now approved, Ponderosa plans to proceed with building 12 homes that will line a cul de sac from the side of the old house with lots 3,700-5,800 square feet. The homes would range in size from 2,200 to 2,600 square feet with the Stanley Boulevard house, across the cul de sac from the 1912-built house, having a wrap-around porch to make it look as if it fronts on Stanley as well as the cul de sac.
A gated trail at the rear of the cul de sac will allow residents there to walk to Vervais Avenue, and then to Santa Rita Road and Main Street.
City Manager Nelson Fialho said the city plans to reconstruct that section of Stanley that extends from Santa Rita to where Stanley joins First Street by 2017. The new roadway will include curbs and gutters, a sidewalk along one side of the street and new street lighting.