Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - August 27, 2010

Council's action means jobs, tax revenues, senior care heading our way

Sometimes it takes a few years to get it done right, which seems to be the prevailing attitude on the City Council's decision Tuesday to finally approve a development plan for the empty 124-acre Staples Ranch site at the southwest corner of El Charro Road and I-580. Long eyed by developers for a large residential project and once as the site of an Ikea department store when that firm thought about adding an outlet in the Tri-Valley, Staples has been the focus of a new group of developers for at least the last six years. Tuesday, the council signed an agreement plan that will bring the Alameda County-owned land into Pleasanton with two developers -- one from Southern California that plans to build an independent living and assisted care complex for seniors and Hendrick Automotive, which plans to relocate and expand its upscale auto mall to Staples. Tuesday's action also sets in motion a longer-range plan to extend Stoneridge Drive east through Staples Ranch to El Charro Road, with Stoneridge eventually opening to through traffic when Livermore extends Jack London Boulevard on the other side.

Perhaps after all of the months -- even years -- of public meetings, workshops and environmental and technical studies, it was a welcome relief to find the council chamber Tuesday night filled with scores of seniors almost in a party mood and wearing their familiar yellow shirts in support for building Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton, the privately financed care facility planned by Continuing Life Communities. Units there won't be cheap, ranging from $279,000 for a small apartment to as much as $1.5 million for the super-large homes that are planned. Most of those at Tuesday's council meeting are buying units in the $700,000 category and long ago made the required 10% down payment to hold their homes. There's also a requirement that those moving to Stoneridge Creek be in good health since, once in, residents can stay forever, with assisted living and skilled nursing care units always available if needed. That's why this group of "yellow shirters," motivated by some with political savvy who have served on commissions, including a former Pleasanton school superintendent, stepped up their demand that the council quit postponing Staples Ranch decisions and get on with approving the project. Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio called the group's persistence "very effective and a model of what can be done when we come together to make something that's good for our community happen."

The economic benefits of Staples Ranch are huge. When completed it will be the largest commercial and residential development in Pleasanton since Hacienda Business Park was developed in the 1990s. Hendrick, whose auto mall is now located along the 580 freeway on Rosewood Drive, is already one of the largest payers of sales taxes in Pleasanton. Its complex will be much larger, occupying a 37-acre site it is acquiring on Staples Ranch for the larger complex of new and used car sales and services. With the current soft economy, Hendrick will likely delay construction for another year or two. CLC, on the other hand, with major demand from prospective buyers, has its financing and is ready to start building. As a result of the council's approval, those in the yellow-shirt crowd should be able to move into their new Pleasanton homes in 2012.

Ten acres on Staples is also being set aside for a multi-million-dollar, four-rink ice arena to be built and operated by a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks. Another 11 acres is earmarked for a retail shopping center, which could include a new supermarket needed to serve city's far northeast side. With Safeway planning to build one of its largest supermarkets at Bernal Avenue and I-680 later this year, Pleasanton is likely to be the economic envy of the region with major gains ahead in jobs, services and tax revenue benefiting the entire community.

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