The East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force is moving forward with its "preferred plan," calling for retail, commercial and residential development on 400 acres of mostly vacant land on the city's east side that could include 2,279 new homes and apartments.
The plan, accepted by the city's Planning Commission last month and scheduled to go to the City Council Oct. 15, would wrap up development of a 1,000-acre site north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks on Stanley, a site that includes 600 acres of lakes controlled by Zone 7.
Calling it a "preferred plan" may be a misnomer because few on the task force and the planning commission say they want to see that large of a housing development on the site. However, there's an agreement that seeking a state-approved environmental review of that plan would allow a smaller development without having to go through another timely and costly EIR process.
Developing the East Side now has several advantages, according to city planners. Large landowners there are interested in ending mining and other industrial operations and converting their properties for residential and retail use in the current conducive market.
Also, Pleasanton, which just gained state and court approval of its rezoning actions to meet requirements for more affordable housing, faces new requirements to meet its mandated housing numbers in the 2014-2022 planning period, and the East Side development could meet those demands. Otherwise, the planners might have to search for other available housing sites, not an easy task in a city largely built out from border to border.
At the Pleasanton Planning Commission meeting, Planning Manager Janice Stern showed numbers being advanced by the Regional Housing Needs Authority (RHNA) that show Pleasanton will need to add 2,067 more homes in the new planning period, including 1,107 for low- to very-low income dwellers, 407 for those with moderate incomes and 553 for those with above moderate incomes.
Because the city has already rezoned more land than needed to meet RHNA numbers in the current period, the city will enter the new planning period with an estimated inventory that will satisfy a sizable portion of the numbers, leaving the city with 325 low- to very-low income and moderate income housing needs and 344 for those above moderate levels by the 2022 deadline.
Housing analysts say that's a breath of fresh air for a city that has been woefully negligent in meeting state requirements for nearly two decades, even flaunting the law by adopting a fixed housing cap in 1996 that the courts and state ordered canceled, all at a steep $3 million cost in legal fees for Pleasanton.
But the city's not out of the woods yet.
Opposition to the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force plans continues with many still voicing their objections to building more apartments and homes despite the court order.
Some also want the builders of any east side development to foot the bills, millions of dollars of them, to include costly amenities in any development plan. This would include an underpass for El Charro Road so that it could be extended through the east side development and under the Northern Pacific Railroad tracks to Stanley Boulevard.
Also, the Pleasanton school district is asking developers to provide free land and build as a contribution a new elementary school there.
Too many of these demands on those who might develop the East Side could be a "game changer," said Brian Dolan, director of community development.
Maybe housing advocates ought to take that breath of fresh air quickly while they still can.