Pleasanton Weekly

News - August 27, 2010

Staples OK'd

Largest commercial development in Pleasanton since Hacienda Business Park

by Jeb Bing

The Pleasanton City Council unanimously approved development on Staples Ranch at its Tuesday meeting, paving the way for the 124-acre site in the city's northeast corner to become the largest commercial development since Hacienda Business Park was approved in the 1990s.

With two already-planned multi-million-dollar developments and more proposed, Staples will generate hundreds of new jobs, new services and millions of dollars in sales tax revenue for the community.

The council's action came after years of effort to develop the empty farmland that is owned by Alameda County. At one time, more than 300 homes were proposed for the site, but that plan was rejected by city officials. Ikea, the Swedish discount department store, also considered building a Tri-Valley outlet on Staples, but turned instead to Dublin and then abandoned the project altogether.

The current plan goes back at least six years when Alameda County and Supervisor Scott Haggerty sought to sell the land to developers with the intention of annexing Staples into the city of Pleasanton. Those efforts languished, mainly because of objections to extending Stoneridge Drive through Staples to connect to El Charro Road on the other side. Opponents feared drivers, stuck in traffic on I-580 and at the 580-I-680 interchange, would find it attractive to cut through on Stoneridge to avoid the congestion.

Proposals made this time, however, caught the interest of Pleasanton with plans to make Staples a business, senior residential, recreational and retail center.

Hendrick Automotive Group told the city it was fast running out of room at its Pleasanton auto mall on Rosewood Drive along 580. At the same time, Continuing Life Communities (CLC) out of Southern California approached the city for available open space where it could build one of its upscale independent living and assisted care retirement communities. A subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks also asked to build a public ice facility in Staples. Together, with a planned 11-acre retail center, Staples suddenly took front and center in planning, political and economic discussions.

Tuesday night's approval also brought cheers from a roomful of supporters of CLC's retirement care complex, called Stoneridge Creek. In fact, it was that group of mostly senior citizens, wearing yellow shirts and persistent in their demands that their retirement community be approved, that received much of the credit from council members and others for moving the issue forward.

"I think your organizing efforts were effective and your approach should serve as a model for what can be done when we all come together on something that's good for the community," said Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio.

Councilman Jerry Thorne agreed.

"I think that it's a great thing that we finally managed to get everybody working together to get these agreements made and get this project under way," he said. "Wouldn't it be great if when another project comes forward that has these kinds of huge benefits to our community that we could approach it in an environment of how can we get this done and not on how many roadblocks and obstructions can we throw at it."

Councilman Matt Sullivan also praised the work of the Alameda Creek Alliance and Safe Streets Pleasanton for efforts to make sure the Staples' project would do no environmental damage. Through their work and in agreements approved Tuesday, endangered plants and species will be protected and in some cases relocated to comparable soil and open space.

A long-time foe of extending Stoneridge Drive until traffic congestion on I-580 can be eased, Sullivan said he believes the new agreement protects neighborhoods adjacent to Stoneridge with new and higher sound walls, sound-abating pavement and a firm policy on actually opening the street to El Charro only when Livermore completes its extension of Jack London Boulevard and work begins on Highway 84.

Praising the city staff for its work on the Staples agreement and the yellow-shirted crowd in the audience, Councilwoman Cindy McGovern said of the agreement she was approving: "This feels good and I hope it feels good for you, too."

Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said "this long, protracted and sometimes painful journey" turned into a success for the entire community with Tuesday's council action.

"I've lived with the Staples Ranch issues my entire life as an elected official and it's good to see it now completed," she said. "We are blessed in these tough economic times with a staff of experts who have been able to sock away money and to come up with city budgets that year after year keep us whole in these tough economic times without any loss in services or our quality of life."

"Money magazine has listed us as one of the top cities in the country," she added. "With Staples Ranch, we're even better."

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