Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - November 26, 2010

Hacienda Task Force wraps it up

Kudos to the 25 volunteers on the Hacienda Task Force who have worked with city staff and an outside consulting agency to work out development standards and design guidelines for an 850-unit, transit-oriented housing project in the Hacienda Business Park. The complex of two-, three- and some four-story buildings will be constructed on some or all of the properties owned by W.P. Carey, Roche and BRE, a national multi-family building organization. The three sites are located along Hacienda, Gibraltar and Owens drives close to the Pleasanton BART station with nearby access to I-580.

The task force was organized 10 months ago by the City Council to provide an orderly, systematic approach to rezoning properties once intended for corporate use. The new mixed use zoning of these sites still makes them available for commercial use if they are not fully used for affordable and market rate housing. At its final meeting last week, the task force adopted a vision statement to complement this assignment. It provides direction for property owners and associated developers of the city's planning intent. It is a vision that now must be translated by the property owners when preparing a proposed project for consideration by city planners.

Paramount in the task force's final ruling is the livability of these developments. They must not only address housing needs for families of all income types but also provide a supply of workforce housing in Pleasanton to accommodate mandated regional housing allocations by the state. In so doing, the task force listed amenities to consider: nicely designed places to live that will stay that way; and attractively designed landscape with ample open space, play areas, trail connections, a fitness facility and community meeting rooms for residents. The developments by their location are transit-oriented but developers must also ensure "inviting access" to all modes of transportation, including bus lines and bike connections. The task force also wants public plazas, water features and other areas created to make this new Hacienda neighborhood inviting and eye-appealing.

The task force also asked developers to create live-work units and retail space in the apartment buildings for those who want to live, work and spend their free time right at home.

It's a tall order for developers who view high density housing more like we see across the freeway in Dublin with more brick and mortar and less green space. Don Reber of BRE Properties said his company has concerns over how the project might pencil out if all of the task force guidelines are enforced, especially those calling for more retail, and greater building setbacks are required. Still, the fact that Reber's firm along with representatives of other developers, the Hacienda Business Park, BART, and a multitude of apartment and single family neighborhoods already in the park sat at the same table deliberating for 10 months is a good sign that a final agreement will be forthcoming. By court order, Pleasanton must have sufficient zoning in place this spring to meet the state's affordable housing requirements. The Hacienda Task Force has made that possible.

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