News


OPINION: Council makes right decision on east side planning

Task force's mission: Develop plan that everyone will like

The Pleasanton City Council's decision to continue the work of the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force even after learning that its court- and state-imposed housing numbers have been satisfied was a good one.

Evaluating and eventually planning for how the largely-still vacant 1,000 acres of land east of Valley Avenue has been part of the city's General Plan since 1996, and even before.

This is an area east of the Pleasanton Garbage Company's recycling center and extending to Livermore, property that was part of undeveloped quarry land and consisting of only about 400 acres of land suitable for development. The rest are the lakes owned and managed by Zone 7 that could be made available to the public for scenic and trail opportunities, while also serving the operational needs of Zone 7 for ground water recharge, storm water run-off, and recycled water storage.

Over the last two years, the city staff scurried to meet numbers imposed by the state's Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) and requirements by a Superior Court judge and state housing authorities to build high density housing to accommodate so-called workforce housing needs and those in the very low, low, medium and moderate income brackets. An Oakland-based affordable housing coalition won its suit against Pleasanton that the city and its 29,000-unit housing cap discriminated against those who want to live here but couldn't find affordable housing.

As a result, the council, following the recommendations of task forces, the Planning Commission and city staff, rezoned 70 acres in different parts of the city for high density apartments. That was done to meet RHNA's housing numbers for Pleasanton of approximately 3,000 units, set for the RHNA cycle years of 2007-2014.

At the same time, the council created the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force to put together a plan for the 400 undeveloped acres that could also help to fulfill RHNA's numbers in the 2014-2023 cycle now in place, while also planning a mixed-use development of homes, apartments, commercial and offices that would pay for all the parks, streets, water and sewer lines and other infrastructure the new development will require.

This would include extending Busch Road to El Charro Road, which also would be extended from Stoneridge Drive south to Stanley Boulevard. At the end of the day, the development would meet RHNA housing numbers and cost taxpayers nothing for the improvements.

But RHNA's new numbers for the current housing cycle are 1,000 units less than before, leaving Pleasanton with ample acreage or inventory of already-zoned land for RHNA at least through 2023 and now no hurry on developing the east side. This is actually good news in that it gives the task force more time to carefully plan for this last large piece of undeveloped land in Pleasanton, a planning process envisioned since the 1990s without the pressure of state mandates. In other words, we get to do it our way.

It's unlikely that the task force planning, which has been underway for nearly two years, will include 2,700 housing units as once considered, or even 1,000. But with the RHNA housing mandate pressure off the table, the process now can include a community discussion as to what we want to see on the east side, although the final plan will need to be financially feasible to include enough development to pay for the Busch and El Charro extensions and other amenities.

Without a development plan that would allow this land to eventually be annexed into Pleasanton, the current property owners could continue using it for light industrial land uses, including tilt-up buildings to house heavy machinery or similar uses. That's not our vision for east Pleasanton.

The City Council's message to the task force: slow down in your planning deliberations now that there's no pressure. Engage in community outreach and solicit thoughtful input. Develop a plan over the next year or so that everyone will like because they had a part of the process. We look forward to the discussion.

Pleasanton Weekly staff.

Comments

Posted by Fred Dolan, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 13, 2014 at 10:16 am

Pleasanton Weekly editor, you are representing the folks that buy ads in your paper, but you are NOT speaking for the 70,000 people that live here and read your paper. I understand your motivation, but you are way off base on the East Side plans.

I am not alone when I say, I don't want a town that is spread out almost to Livermore. I don't want to help pay for a 4 lane road that is not needed. I don't want thousands of new houses in town sprawled all over the quarry land. I read that the Mayor and some council folks are studying putting up to 2200 homes in that area. They are nuts!

If we are not forced to build these homes for our RHNA numbers, and the apartments and low income housing that goes with that, then don't.

What happened to common sense? NO ONE ran for office bragging about adding up to 2200 more homes in the east. Trust me, they would not get elected in Pleasanton! What happened to pro-business - did it suddenly become pro-growth? Join me in voting them all out of office as soon as possible. Please.


Posted by Pleasantonian who supports Fred, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 10:28 am

Fred,

Exquisitely stated. Spot on. Run for Mayor, and let's vote these bums out.

Only Karla Brown voted against this nonsense, btw.


Posted by Ptown resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 10:42 am

Folks,
Read the comments posted on a previous Pleasanton Weekly article regarding the East Pleasanton Area.


Web Link


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 13, 2014 at 11:22 am

i've conducted my own survey and 7 plutonian residents stated that they welcome the newcomers!

Needles to say I was waaaaaaaaay tickled. Then I said HIP HIP HOORAY!

i mean it! and...i don't mean maybe


Posted by Joe, a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 13, 2014 at 11:58 am

I'm betting the the developer of these east Pleasanton homes will build the same thing you see in Hacinda.
People will live like sardines, Narrow streets with very little parking and a balooning crush on local schools and traffic. I say NO to east Pleasanton home devloment.


Posted by Traffic, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 1:50 pm

Unfortunately, the talk of slowing things down is just 'talk'. After hearing all the facts (including the city being 1200 units 'over' RHNA requirements, which takes into consideration all densities), the Council Voted 4-1 to continue with the original plan (option 1 from their packet). Yes, they made some comments of slowing down, etc, but they did not add it to the motion. What this meant is the task force was to continue 'business as usual' moving forward on the current plan which has a 'preferred plan' of 1759 units, starting to build in 2016. If the Council really has current citizens concerns as a top priority they would of added 'motions' to give direction to the Task Force to slow things down.

Don't be fooled by talk of RHNA, as the city is going forward to rezone more land even though it has exceeded RHNA requirements. Question is why are they are moving forward with the original options (and keeping the same preferred plan) even after we know the city has a surplus of 1200 units for the 2014-2022 cycle?

Regarding El Charro, since the developers are being required to pay for this huge expense, this is what is driving up the number of units. The problem is the number of units are so high, will extending El Charro really solve anything? I've heard numbers like when all the units are built, this will result in an additional 30,000 car trips per day. Are we really helping traffic, or adding to it? The extension may help with some traffic from Livermore bypassing Pleasanton, but what about all the drivers from Tracy, etc, who will try bypassing the 580/680 corridor and use El Charro/First Street to get to 680 south. Add to that most of the residents from these new developments, traffic will not be better for Pleasanton residents.


Posted by Resident taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 13, 2014 at 2:18 pm

All the officials who allowed 'road-blockers' to close and dead-end streets like Vervalis, and others, have 'created' a Berkeleylike 'snake' of traffic
on Valley. Without options, you get '[intentional' gridlock. It was only a few short years ago that the Eastside survived without Valley Ave flow at all. There was NO train trestle, NO UNDERPASS.
The idiots who thought it was OK to cutoff all other access, and allowed Valley Ave to carry all E-W traffic were very wrong...sort of painted the town into the corner!..left without options.
It is suicidal for this town to talk of making Busch 'the link' between 580/ElCharro and Valley/Santa Rita.. the 'destination' intersection. The single Busch connection is wrong for anybody to accept and very wrong for the Pleasanton, IF you care about Pleasanton. The Valley/Santa Rita 'Que' is already back to Busch, most hours of the day!!! Take Busch out of the discussion.
First, Halt all housing plans, until planners have alternate options, alternate route solutions. Get to the drawing board. After there are options that do not lead to Valley/Santa Rita, then, and only then, should we resume housing discussions. First things, first! Options. Valley Ave is full.


Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 13, 2014 at 8:23 pm

Funny how Cook-Kallio wants all those roads open but she lives in the Jenson track near the blocked off Kolln Ave (Kolln Ave is blocked off at Valley). She should first demand that Kolln Ave blockade be removed and open Kolln to Valley. She wants other neighborhoods affected but wants her neighborhood protected.


Posted by Matt Sullivan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2014 at 9:11 am

Jeb,

The Pleasanton Weekly seems to have stop publishing letters to the editor - especially if they are critical of the City Council, Chamber of Commerce, or developers - you know, the people you answer to. You refused to publish an earlier letter I submitted about the Council's attempt to undermine Measure PP,and while you print an editorial that makes a disgraceful attempt to put a positive spin on the decision of the Council to abandon city growth management polices on the east side, you again refuse to print my letter - or anyone else's for that matter - offering a different opinion. You probably don't read The Independent, but they did print the letter and published an editorial that differs from yours - they considered the facts. Newspapers are supposed to serve the public interest, but the Pleasanton Weekly is nothing more that a publicity rag for these same business interests who call the shots in Pleasanton. Since you won't print the letter I'll post it here.
----
Dear Editor,

The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce coup d'état of our city government is complete! On March 4th, the City Council ignored 20 years of hard-fought slow-growth policies put in place by the blood, sweat, and tears of our citizenry and handed the keys to the city to developers.

After losing our voter-approved 29,000 unit Housing Cap a few years ago, Pleasanton was forced to rezone properties throughout the city to accommodate thousands of new housing units to meet our state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocations. Stunningly, just a few days ago city staff revealed that our RHNA requirements were grossly overestimated and as a result, we have a SURPLUS of 1245 units approved or rezoned! Based on this shocking news, did the Council decide to put the brakes on development to correct the overshoot of our requirements? Unfortunately, no. They put the pedal to the metal, ignored city policy to not exceed RHNA, and authorized planning for an additional 2200 units for the east side. Only Councilmember Karla Brown spoke out against this flagrant disregard to our growth management polices and the will of the people.

Incredibly, Pleasanton has transformed overnight from a slow-growth, carefully planned community to one where the Council has put out the welcome mat to developers while turning a deaf ear to their constituents. How could this have happened so suddenly? It's simple: the legalized bribery known as campaign contributions has bought our City Council for business interests while stealing our democracy.

Matt Sullivan
Pleasanton City Councilmember 2004-2012
Pleasanton Planning Commissioner 1998-2004


Posted by There you go again, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 14, 2014 at 9:49 am

Mr Sullivan, you well know the City's growth management ordinance limits building to a couple hundred houses per year throughout the entire city limits which is hardly a departure from slow growth. The requirement for a specific plan in the East Side per the General Plan has been in place long before RHNA was created and/or enforced by the State. Weren't you on the CITy Coucil and voted to approve the General Plan ergo the requirement for a specific planning process? Now that the RHNA is known and confirmed by the State, why wouldn't you support continuing a comprehensive public planning process and want an environmental impact report to study the impacts and possible alternatives? It could be more open space, parks and other community amenities along with fewer homes, needed traffic improvements and mix of retail and commercial instead of vacant weedy fields,, more industrial and the dump. The timing is right and continues a 2 year process by the city. Why don't you try to solve issues and bring people together instead of always throwing rocks? Btw, after you convinced everyone that Stoneridge completion would ruin their lives, you must be disappointed it is not the giridlock and mayhem you preach over and over. It is great to see CLC seniors finally having a beautiful and safe place to live.


Posted by ???, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 14, 2014 at 10:33 am

He also chooses to ignore the fact that the EIR contains a no build option as well as 6 other options between the high and low. Its amazing to me that he was the council member that pushed to have a specific plan requirement for the east side included in the general plan. And now the council is following the general plan which he was a part of developing and all of the sudden he's crying foul. BTW, I haven't seen or heard anyone talking about changing the growth management ordinance so how can he say the welcome mat is out to developers. This sounds like a case of don't let the facts get in the way!!


Posted by Amazed, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 14, 2014 at 2:52 pm

I agree, there he goes again.

Matt Sullivan continues with his disingenuous demagoguery. Claims of undermining PP and abandoning the city's growth management policies are not only false but pure politics. You are no longer on the council Matt, give it up. There has been no significant housing growth in Pleasanton for YEARS, and Matt and others know that many of the units identified in the RHNA/Housing Element update will never get built. And wasn't Matt one of those council members who stalled and obfuscated for years against the BRE project across from BART, the very type of housing he supposedly supports?

Let's face it folks, Pleasanton will NEVER not be a VERY SLOW GROWTH community. Even if the East Side Planning process goes forward, it will be YEARS before anything gets built there as this city NEVER does anything quickly and without endless angst gnashing of teeth. Meanwhile, no one knows how many existing homes are turning over to new families with lots of kids, sometimes families who double up as the price of housing skyrockets. And when the number of residents in existing homes increases, they don't pay school fees like the new homes.

You can't stop market forces and ill-conceived constraints and regulations only lead to unintended consequences, like more cars coming over from the Central Valley, increasing pollution and causing the loss of VALUABLE farmland.

We need to plan for the future because it is coming, like it or not.


Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 14, 2014 at 3:59 pm

If you allow market forces to take over and throw planning out the window, you will look like Dublin. Rows and rows of houses that look the same. Go to Loews and you will see first hand of what happens when the developers run the show.

The east side needs a specific plan but the current plan is calling for a lot of high-density housing where the general plan mostly has recreational uses in that area being it is mostly reclaimed quarry operations. The developers see that the housing cap is gone and the city thinks it has to build more homes, and is taking advantage of it.

Even though this is just zoning and not 'actual building that may or may not be build', by zoning you are setting the owners expectation they can develop and they will spend the time and money coming up with a plan. If that gets shot down, their lawyers will be suing the city.

The city should go back to the drawing board of the east side being mostly recreational use. It is not our responsibility to add a lot of housing to guarantee profits for land owners there who had the expectation that their land would be recreational after it was mined.


Posted by There You Go Ahead, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 15, 2014 at 9:16 am

Amazed brings up a good point that resale homes do not pay school fees and only new development contributes towards our school system. Im sure the school district will want voters to pass another tax bond measure just like they did when the economy was so bad unless development occurs. I would like to hear a report about revenue contributed to schools from residential and commercial and office developments.

Local, I believe the City Council did indicate that the new determination by the State concerning RNHA now gives them flexibility to consider other options or alternatives for the East Side which could be less housing intensive. I think we agree that is all the more reason to continue the specific plan process and obtain more public input. It is important to know if the developers do donate parklands, a lost on investment in the real business world, if the City can budget for the funding to maintain it in perpetuity.


Posted by local, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2014 at 9:46 am

New development pays impact mitigation fees to the schools and other entities to, in theory, cover the impact the extra growth puts in the schools. At one time this was true, but no more.

So in the best case, the new development pays fees to cover the impact of the new housing. So the schools can build new facilities to accommodate the growth. In the current case, the development pays less than the amount needed to cover the impact of the new housing. That means that each house that is added now is putting additional strain on the school system.

Pleasanton has never had a bond to pay for facility improvements needed to accommodate the growth. The growth paid their way. That is until now, with our new administration and board. They now want the existing homeowners, who have already paid their impact fees, to pay more through a bond so the new development does not have to pay their fair share. We should reject any attempt at a bond to pay for new facilities and we should remove the current board members who are letting the new growth off the hook so the developers can make an additional profit at the expense of the current homeowners. The current board is essence asking the existing homeowners to subsidize all new housing by thinking about a bond measure for new growth.


Posted by There You Go Again, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 15, 2014 at 8:59 pm

To Local, You raise some good points, but I don't entirely agree with your thinking in regard to impact fees. Yes they are to offset and provide funding for new schools created by new houses. However existing resale houses often create more impacts as young families move in to older and less expensive existing houses. A school property tax bond does not relieve new development from paying school fees. But it would allow the district to make up shortfalls created when development halted due to the recession when no one was building and paying fees. In other words, poor financial planning on the part of administration. And of significance was the millions of dollars the district lost in order to settle a lawsuit they brought against a developer which any first year law student would have known had no standing. I want responsible fiscal management by the district rather than asking residents to approve a tax bond. I'm not going to blame that problem on new development which at this point will keep the district afloat with impact fees when building permits are issued.


Posted by Resident taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 15, 2014 at 11:51 pm

It does seem a credible plan with accurate numbers of cars today, plus appropriate , believable additional cars per additional new occupants per unit, plus directing new 580 traffic thru on Busch, all to que up to Santa Rita/Valley. Also, just how long the que would need to be, to accommodate volume from that flow. Isn't that required by the state, when preparing housing plans? If 580/Elcharro/Busch were honestly included, the 'que' would likely be back to Valley trestle from housing, and to ElCharro Exit for Busch approach. Staggering, impossible gridlock... But, isn't 'transportation' part of large housing plans?? Let us see some accurate, equivalent number modeling from both directions as planned funneling to SantaRita/Valley. Actually, it doesn't seem like much of a 'plan' at all.


Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 16, 2014 at 10:59 am

To There you go again, If somebody is reselling a home, that home already paid the impact fees. There were probably students in that house at one point, the kids grew up and moved out, the parents stayed for a bit and then sold, and then another family with students moved in. The schools were probably not overcrowded when the first family lived in that house and I have not seen anything from the demographer saying that family sizes are getting bigger.

I do agree with you that the district squandered a lot of our money on a lawsuit that it could not win (we lost the extra developers fees there plus we lost a lot of money in legal fees). The problem is, I do not see any evidence the current administration would not squander any new money it receives in developer fees or bonds.


Posted by No, a resident of another community
on Mar 16, 2014 at 8:49 pm

I'm convinced! What journalism.
Meaningless spin cycling, Weekly. You've long been in bed with the council but this is disgusting.
With you, Fred. Will be doing what I can, even if it isn't enough.


Posted by Angela, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 18, 2014 at 4:08 pm

Fred Dolan for Mayor! Here Here!


Posted by Erin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 20, 2014 at 7:14 am

The city council approved the plans by Summerhill to build 177 apartments on W. Los Positas across from Hart Middle School.
And how many kids is that going to add to our already overcrowded classrooms? Traffic is going to be a nightmare. We are all asked to cut our water usage by at least 20%. If water is so scarce why add so many more households that will be using what we don't.
Perhaps a few $$ were 'shared' to get this approved!


Posted by Stop the ProGrowth Mayor and Council, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 20, 2014 at 9:25 am

If you are reading this you need to go to the Pleasanton City's Community Workshop on March 24th at the Operations Service Center at 6:30pm. The address is 3333 Busch Road (the Operations Center across from the dump).

This is a casual meeting to talk about rezoning for MORE houses!!! Yikes, MORE HOUSES including a land on Stanely Blvd. called the Irby-Kaplan-Zia property. OMG this is crazy. This is in addition to the whole East Pleasanton project of up to 2000 MORE houses.

Just a reminder, the City of Pleasanton already has more than 1200 units zoned and some approved for high density housing - yes apartments ALL OVER TOWN!

Why would we ever consider MORE houses? Come and tell these folks what you think. That is the only way they will listen, from the voters. You can bet the land owners are begging them for more houses, these people need to hear from you and me. Show up and be heard.


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