Pleasanton Weekly

Column - August 20, 2010

Watch for the yellow shirts Tuesday night

by Jeb Bing

Look for a lot of yellow shirts Tuesday at a special meeting of the Pleasanton City Council scheduled exclusively as a public hearing, environmental review and a detailed report on developing the 124-acre Staples Ranch property.

Although the focus of the meeting will no doubt be on the years-old controversial plan to extend Stoneridge Drive through Staples to El Charro Road and Livermore, the room will likely fill up early with familiar faces and long-time Pleasanton residents wearing yellow shirts. They've invested thousands of dollars -- even tens of thousands -- in deposits on retirement homes in Stoneridge Creek, a proposed 635-unit senior independent, assisted living care and skilled nursing center planned by Continuing Life Communities, a Southern California developer of these kinds of privately funded centers.

Ten in the group met with me a week ago at the Pleasanton Weekly to seek support in their efforts to speed things up in getting the project approved and started. Several jumped at the chance to buy into the new Pleasanton center when CLC first made its bid six years ago. The council and Planning Commission reviewed the plan in November 2007 with planners recommending approval in June last year.

Troy Bourne of CLC has said from the beginning that his firm is ready to build the independent living and assisted care facility as soon as the plan is approved and Staples is annexed. A month ago, when consideration of Staples and the CLC project was delayed again, Bourne told the council that his wife has given birth to three of their children during the time since he first represented CLC in seeking approval of the Pleasanton site.

There's another reason to get this project started. State law requires that those moving into these kinds of total-care facilities must be healthy at the time of move-in. Medical exams are required to show each applicant has a certified doctor approval of both physical and mental health. That's because once accepted, no one can be evicted from CLC's facilities. That's also why the more than 100 applicants with deposits on file want faster action by Pleasanton. Some in the group that met with me are in their 60s and 70s and are now four years older than when they put their money down. All are healthy although several have had health problems in the past. An 81-year-old applicant told the council that in the time he's been waiting, he's been diagnosed with the first stage of Parkinson's disease and is hoping CLC will allow both him and his wife to move in nevertheless. For its part, CLC has issued the required medical certificates to those who have made deposits because of the extraordinary length of time it is taking to get Pleasanton's approval.

CLC's independent living units aren't cheap, ranging from $279,000 for a small apartment to as much as $1.5 million for super-large homes that's are planned. Most of those in the meeting at the Weekly are buying units in the $700,000 category and have made the required 10% down payment to hold the home. There's also a monthly payment and additional charges for more meals if an individual is moved into the assisted living or skilled nursing care facilities. Once admitted, there are no additional charges and ongoing care is provided as long as it's needed. If for some reason an individual leaves CLC or on an occupant's death, 75% of the price paid for the independent living unit is refunded.

Based on CLC's senior care facilities in Southern California, Pleasanton's Stoneridge Creek will look more like a gated, upscale retirement community than assisted care. Its planned related uses will include a restaurant, cafes, beauty shops, massage services, physical therapy, gift shops and places for religious services and recreational activities. Pets are accepted, and garden paths and parkland will provide residents a chance to enjoy the outdoors without leaving the complex.

Still, as enthused as Tuesday night's yellow-shirt crowd will be, others could try to slow down the approval process over their opposition to extending Stoneridge Drive. A compromise agreement has been reached that would allow Alameda County to build the road, which it has agreed to finance, but to keep its eastern terminus barricaded at El Charro until Livermore extends Jack London Boulevard on the other side; Livermore has the plans in place but is awaiting funding by the developer of an outlet mall at the northeast corner of El Charro and I-580. Going into Tuesday's meeting, opponents and proponents of developing Staples seem to be on the same optimistic page. Let's hope so.

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