The Pleasanton City Council agreed Tuesday to move forward on a plan to allow homes, apartment buildings, retail and commercial businesses, and a public elementary school to be part of a major land development on the city's east side.
Recommended by the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force , the development would occur on 400 acres of mostly vacant land on the city's east side. Except for the Pleasanton Garbage Service's recycling plant, the property is part of undeveloped quarry land east of Valley Avenue and continuing along the north side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks and Stanley Boulevard.
As a result of the Council's 5-0 vote after a public hearing that lasted late into the night, city staff and consultant Wayne Rasmussen will seek an environmental review of the task force's preferred, or base plan. That calls for 2,279 new homes and apartments on the site, although Council members indicated they want fewer housing units when the plan is finalized.
"There's no way we will permit that many homes and apartments to be built on the east side site," said Mayor Jerry Thorne. "The environmental impact report (EIR) of this base plan will give us the information we need on the best kind of development for the property."
Sometimes called Pleasanton's last frontier because it's the largest piece of undeveloped vacant land in the city, the East Side development would make use of a 1,000-acre site with 600 acres of lakes that are controlled by Zone 7. Quarry-related activities have long since stopped and large landowners there are now interested in converting their properties for residential and retail use.
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, which is not an easy task in a city largely built out from border to border.
Both city planners and the Pleasanton school district are looking at the east side site for public uses that would be financed by housing and commercial developers. The school district has asked the task force to include land for a new elementary school that would be provided by one of the developers and also wants the city to require developers to build the school. The estimated $1 million a year in ongoing staffing and operating costs for the school would be paid by the school district.
Planners also want to extend El Charro Road from its current terminus as a public road through the east side development to connect to Stanley Boulevard. The estimated $60 million cost, including an underpass beneath the Union Pacific tracks, also would be paid by developers, as would several parks and trails contained in task force plans.
The concern expressed over the 2,279 housing units is that it's more than anyone on the task force, City Council or Planning Commission want. Most would prefer no more than 1,000 units, which is one of the alternative plans, but there seems to be an agreement that 1,600 would be manageable.
But with the city and school district asking developers to pay for millions of dollars in new roadways and a school, it's unclear just how many housing units will be needed to pencil it out for developers.
"That's what the EIR will tell us," Thorne said. "We may find out that no one wants to develop this land if it's not in their financial interests."