Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - November 19, 2010

Sullivan, McGovern wrong on senior complexes

by Tim Hunt

Your readers must have questions after reading Pleasanton City Councilman Matt Sullivan's letter ("Motivations questioned," Pleasanton Weekly, Nov. 12) responding to a column that I wrote in the Tri-Valley Herald on Oct. 24. If your readers would like to read it, they can go to

Let me summarize the comments that Councilman Sullivan was reacting to:

* I criticized Councilwoman Cindy McGovern for her comments last December after reviewing the task force report that analyzed what to do with the Pleasanton Gardens and Kottinger Place senior housing projects. Both complexes provide housing for low or very-low income senior citizens. The task force worked for more than five years to develop a recommendation to consolidate operations in a new and larger complex on the Kottinger Place site. McGovern trashed the task force's work and offered her opinion of what should be done. I criticized her for disregarding the work of volunteers and what I believe is her misunderstanding of the situation at Pleasanton Gardens.

* I also criticized Sullivan's gratuitous shot at the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, which, incidentally, backed the three candidates the citizens re-elected. I pointed out that taxes on business produce 60 percent of the revenue for the city and asked whether an anti-business posture was the correct position in these most challenging economic times.

Turning to Sullivan's letter to the Weekly, let me offer the following comments:

* Sullivan labels Pleasanton Gardens as "privately owned." The complex is owned by a nonprofit corporation that was formed more than 40 years ago by a consortium of four Pleasanton churches. The nonprofit obtained property and developed housing for the seniors with very low incomes (average rent is about $230 per month). The task force studied both properties because leaders recognized the structures were going to need to be rehabilitated or new buildings constructed.

* Councilwoman McGovern has said the units at both sites can be rehabilitated to serve frail seniors. She is simply wrong. The buildings were constructed cheaply more than 40 years ago and cannot be rehabilitated to accommodate disabled seniors or seniors who need help with mobility. In addition, they are very energy inefficient. To spend money fixing up a project that cannot meet the Americans with Disabilities Act is both impractical and immoral.

* If the city and Pleasanton Gardens can jointly agree on a project, our nonprofit would contribute a very valuable piece of property that the city could use as it sees fit. Our board has the fiduciary responsible to ensure this asset is used to benefit low-income seniors, the more the better, because the need is growing.

* Most of my columns indicate that I am the principal with Hunt Enterprises, a communications and government affairs firm, as well as the publisher of ACES, Northern California's premier golf lifestyle magazine and the former editor and associate publisher of the Tri-Valley Herald. The firm's government affairs function has involved introducing companies that want to invest in Pleasanton to elected and other city officials. Readers may want to ask Councilman Sullivan what's wrong with bringing investors to Pleasanton.

Tim Hunt is Principal, Hunt Enterprises and a director of the Pleasanton Gardens Corp.


Posted by I've Been Here, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Nov 19, 2010 at 3:20 pm

So Tim Hunt doesn't like a taste of the medicine he's been serving up for 40 years! What a hypocrite!

Posted by Unclear, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2010 at 9:27 pm

Since churches were the builders and providers in previous decades, I was confused hearing council discussions this last year. I thought I heard them talk about 'subsidizing' the rebuilt units with our public tax dollars. Don't churches assist seniors anymore? I know I do see church 'advocates' lobbying to council fairly often, which always puzzles me. I think churches use to be providers to communities.

Posted by annonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 19, 2010 at 10:07 pm

It is not a subsidy. The city would get the land Pleasanton Gardens sits on in exchange for increasing the number of units on the Kottinger Place site. Both sites are not and can't be made disability accessible. This is an opportunity to be able to increase the number of low income senior units in town. Kottinger is owned by the city now. It is a unique chance to build a modern facility. They are drastically in need of renovation and since they can't be made ADA compatible the most cost effective way to deal with it is rebuid. This is a good deal.

Posted by Lisa, a resident of Old Towne
on Nov 21, 2010 at 8:27 pm

I think it would be very sad to turn those pleasant senior communities into one apartment type building. My mother has been hoping to move into one of the charming bungalows. I am very familiar with both properties and I think it would be a hugh waste of money and a shame that would lower the quality of life for our seniors.

Posted by junebug, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Nov 24, 2010 at 3:59 pm

I think its sad when an elected official verbally attacks community members who are appointed by the council to volunteer their time to be on a committee when that official disagrees with the committee's recommendations. So much for the Community of Integrity.

And to each their own. . . my senior mother prefers the safety and security of an apartment rather than ground-level "bungalow" units. I personally dont see Kottinger and Pleasanton Gardens as being charming but instead as being in need of updates. Aside of these preferences, if reconstruction is the most feasible way to provide MORE units for our seniors, why object?

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