As a resident, I expect properties within our urban growth boundary to be planned in a public process. Concerned citizens are able to question the costs and benefits of each development in terms of a long-term vision for Pleasanton and respect for future generations. This process resulted in the city and county of San Francisco's plans for 2,500 homes occupying the entire Bernal property evolving into a specific plan for mixed commercial/housing on part of the property and over 60 percent of the land devoted to community uses.
Unfortunately, planning for a large parcel of publicly owned property within our eastern urban growth boundary (known as the Staples Ranch property) has taken place completely without community oversight. Since February of 2006, council members have held seven secret/closed sessions making commercial development deals and agreements to develop public land west of El Charro Road in Livermore. Our city is faced with the prospect of a new entrance into our community being designed without public debate on any specific plan for how that land use affects Pleasanton's long-term needs for park land, sports fields and open space.
In contrast, the city of Livermore's El Charro Specific Plan for land bordering Pleasanton next to I-580, created with an extensive public process, contains 97 acres of planned open space. It is surrounded throughout by 50-foot rows of vineyards, maintains arroyo habitat protection, and is complete with a "gateway" concept and landscape elements to create a cohesive integrated plan.
With undeveloped land inside our urban growth boundary at a premium and our housing cap under threat from a lawsuit, does it make sense to convert large parcels of publicly owned land into commercial developments and housing units that do nothing to help meet our state mandated affordable housing goals?
The "Open Space, Park Land and Green Belt Initiative," which I am a co-proponent of, will protect publicly owned properties larger than 25 acres for community uses; sports fields and facilities, park land, cultural art centers and facilities for youth. The San Jose Sharks affiliate ice skating facility is a permitted use under this initiative. The initiative will protect public land for soccer and lacrosse fields, baseball diamonds, parks and community gardens. As long as our large parcels of public land within our urban growth boundary remain protected, they provide species habitat, flood control and open space valued by residents from all Pleasanton's neighborhoods.
If you have any questions about the initiative or wish to volunteer to help protect our open space in Pleasanton, please email Friends of Pleasanton at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit our Web site, www.friendsofpleasanton.org.
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