Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 21, 2014

Letters

Council ignored slow-growth policies

Dear Editor,

The Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce coup d'état of our city government is complete! On March 4, the City Council ignored 20 years of hard-fought slow-growth policies put in place by the blood, sweat and tears of our citizenry and handed the keys to the city to developers.

After losing our voter-approved 29,000-unit housing cap a few years ago, Pleasanton was forced to rezone properties throughout the city to accommodate thousands of new housing units to meet our state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) allocations.

Stunningly, just a few days ago city staff revealed that our RHNA requirements were grossly overestimated and as a result, we have a SURPLUS of 1,245 units approved or rezoned! Based on this shocking news, did the Council decide to put the brakes on development to correct the overshoot of our requirements? Unfortunately, no. They put the pedal to the metal, ignored city policy to not exceed RHNA, and authorized planning for an additional 2,200 units for the east side. Only Councilmember Karla Brown spoke out against this flagrant disregard to our growth management polices and the will of the people.

Incredibly, Pleasanton has transformed overnight from a slow-growth, carefully planned community to one where the Council has put out the welcome mat to developers while turning a deaf ear to their constituents. How could this have happened so suddenly? It's simple: the legalized bribery known as campaign contributions has bought our City Council for business interests while stealing our democracy.

- Matt Sullivan

To stop planning process now would be breach of faith

Dear Editor,

By their vote of 4-1 (Brown opposed) to proceed with the completion of the East Pleasanton Specific Plan (EPSP) the City Council did the right thing. Those who called for a halt to the planning process ignored that our General Plan has called for a specific plan for many years.

In fact, the EPSP is the eighth and final specific plan yet to be completed. The other seven are: Downtown Specific Plan, Stoneridge Drive Specific Plan, Bernal Specific Plan, Laguna Oaks Specific Plan, North Sycamore Specific Plan, Happy Valley Specific Plan and the Vineyard Avenue Specific Plan.

To stop the planning process now would be a breach of faith with the citizens' task force who spent many months voluntarily working to complete a comprehensive plan considering many uses, not just housing. Also, to stop the process now could jeopardize future funding for the extension of El Charro Road to Stanley Boulevard, an important traffic circulation improvement project for all northeast Pleasanton. If we don't have a plan, why would the Alameda County Transportation Commission (ACTC) set money aside for us?

Most of all, we should be very concerned about controlling the future uses of property along our eastern city limits that presently is part of unincorporated Alameda County. If it's not in our city limits, what's to prevent the county or city of Livermore from deciding what happens there?

- Jan Batcheller

Pleasanton, the utilized city

Dear Editor,

In last week's paper, mayor Jerry Thorne looked so commanding in his yachting regalia. I have no doubts that he and his colleagues will properly, as they said, "utilize" those vacant lots and open spaces in East Pleasanton. Just as the late mayor Ken Mercer smoothed the permit process that built the gated communities along the once rural Foothill Road, I'm sure we can look forward to more utilization of Pleasanton's remaining rural spaces.

The "Field of Dreams" council brought us a Safeway (or is it Albertsons?) right across the watershed from the gated communities. Somehow, we also let the contractor who built Ruby Hill flatten out an entire waterfowl habitat with a tractor to set his office upon. Several homes looking more like compounds now tower over the back ponds of Shadow Cliffs.

There's no mistaking Pleasanton for Marin. That's for darn sure! Like other cities that carve an identity into a prominent hillside, I propose we carve "The Utilized City" into the Pleasanton Ridge, since it was too steep to develop anyway. Let us embrace what we have become.

- Paulette Kenyon

Editorial 'thoughtful and accurate'

Dear Editor,

KUDOS to the Weekly, for your thoughtful and accurate editorial in the March 14 edition regarding the East Side Specific Plan process. Some would argue the City Council, in voting 4-1 to continue refining a plan for the East Side, has sold out to developers. As you pointed out, the Council made the informed decision by instructing the East Side Specific Plan Task Force to continue its work and, given the reduced Regional Housing Needs Assessment (RHNA) requirements, to consider additional alternatives for the property, alternatives that will most likely involve reduced housing density. To stop the plan process, as some were requesting, denies our history.

As a member of the Pleasanton Planning Commission for the past eight years I have witnessed and been a part of Pleasanton's planning process. The process over time has benefited our city and it extends back before my time on the commission.

Most of us living here desire to be here and don't want to leave. If you enjoy our 42 parks and 24 miles of hiking trails, the planning process brought you these. Also our Aquatic Center, the Callippe Preserve Golf Course, the Augustin Bernal Park and the Firehouse Arts Center are amenities resulting from careful planning.

The planning process brings together the viewpoints of our citizens, those of our professional City planning staff and those of the developers. As it is perfectly reasonable to gather citizen input regarding projects, maintaining a balanced planning process also requires consideration of the developers' objectives.

Pleasanton's history includes completion of numerous projects where the developer financed needed infrastructure such as roads and sewers and desired amenities. The East Side will be no different. I'm confident that once we have a finished Specific Plan in place, as called for in our General Plan, our citizens will be happy with the additional recreation alternatives this property will provide while meeting some of our housing requirements.

- Arne Olson, Pleasanton Planning Commission

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