Editorial | January 30, 2009 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - January 30, 2009


Let's beautify Stanley Boulevard some other time

What is it that county officials don't understand about the word Recession? Despite layoffs, corporate downsizing and looming program cuts because of a $41-billion state budget deficit, Alameda County is moving forward with a $15.5-million plan to "beautify" and improve a short stretch of Stanley Boulevard between Pleasanton and Livermore. While the roadway could use some work, now's not the time. Even if the county is flush with funds, the perception of a multi-million-dollar tree-planting effort sends the wrong message to taxpayers who are already being asked to dig a little deeper to bail out local school districts, including Pleasanton's, and the state in its budget crisis. Hearing about the county's beautification plans for Stanley, Timothy T. wrote on the Pleasanton Weekly's Town Square Forum last Thursday: "I'd like the county of Alameda to send a letter to every child in our school district apologizing for not being able to get the supplies and teachers they need because they really wanted to underground some cables on Stanley in case someone who shouldn't be driving veers off the road."

In fairness, part of the Stanley project involves undergrounding the overhead electric, telephone and cable television wires strung from poles along Stanley. That money, about $5.5 million, presumably would come mostly from a special California Public Utilities Commission "Rule 20A" fund that PG&E collects from ratepayers over time. The rest--$10 million by current estimates--would come from taxpayers to pay for trees, median strip landscaping and separate bicycle and pedestrian lanes along the south edge of Stanley. In the best of times, this might be a worthwhile project, although with the railroad tracks, gravel operations and cement and asphalt plants, Stanley probably will never be designated a scenic highway. The Alameda County Board has scheduled a public hearing on the utility undergrounding for 11 a.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10. If you can't make the trip to Oakland, you can convey your thoughts about the Stanley Boulevard beautification project to our District 1 Supervisor Scott Haggerty. His email is scott.haggerty@acgov.org.

Goodbye Jerry

Longtime city planner Jerry Iserson was feted at a city-sponsored luncheon last week as he retired after more than 30 years of experience in urban planning and development, including the last 20 in Pleasanton. Here, he closed out his career as director of planning and community development. A familiar face at workshop and regular meetings of the Pleasanton Planning Commission and City Council, he was also well known on Main Street, which he frequently walked to talk to business owners, employees and customers on issues affecting the downtown. With advanced degrees in urban planning, urban studies and sociology from San Jose State and the University of Michigan, Iserson was the "go to" guy on almost any issue affecting local planning and development. His fingerprint is everywhere in city planning. With the completion of the city's General Plan update, scheduled for approval this spring, serving as his lasting legacy. He'll be missed.


Posted by Gravel does damage, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 30, 2009 at 12:32 pm

They claim removing power poles would reduce traffic hitting them, but then they want to install trees instead!

The County could do a lot more good, for much less money if they would do two fairly cheap things:

1. Put up a No Right Turn on Red sign at the quarry exits.
Now, the big trucks just lumber out into traffic, nearly hitting the cars who have the right of way. AND

2. Do more to control the gravel routinely spilled on the roadway by quarry trucks.
Since I have to drive that way, my car if full or chipped paint from all the gravel.
Why can't they cover the loads, or fill less, AND get the Quarry to sweep more often, not just at night, after the gravel is all over?
By the way, Stanley traffic would better if Pleasanton would honor their pledge to complete Stoneridge, and it would be shorter for many.!

Posted by John A, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Jan 31, 2009 at 8:56 pm


Thank you for the insight. The traffic on Stanley Blvd is a nightmare now and therefore I am avoiding going to Livermore as much as possible because of it. I agree with the editor's quote...a letter should be sent to each child apologizing for the misappropriation of funds from education to road work.

Posted by Education, a resident of San Ramon
on Feb 3, 2009 at 11:32 am

The County of Alameda, nor any of the other 57 Counties are charged with funding schools. School funding comes from State of California, Federal Government, and local taxes approved by voters. The County simply collects local taxes and distributes them to the proper locality, including schools. Counties have no ability to redirect tax dollars collected on behalf of school districts. Counties also have no say in how schools districts fund their programs, purchase supplies or pay teachers.

A letter apologizing to each kid regarding the education crisis in this State should come from the Governor, and the State Legislature....not the County.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Feb 3, 2009 at 11:35 am

:) Or maybe all those inmates in California's prisons should send letters of apology to students.

Posted by Scott Haggerty, a resident of another community
on Feb 6, 2009 at 1:38 pm

Response to January 30, 2009 Editorial Opinion

I was disappointed in your editorial response to the January 23 article regarding the County’s planned improvements to Stanley Boulevard, a major east-west arterial county road connecting Livermore and Pleasanton. The County has cut almost half-billion dollars (and counting) from our budget over the past six years and is responsible for delivering “safety net” services to poor, indigent and under and uninsured residents. So indeed, we are keenly aware of the impacts from the recession. There is no question that education and many other important government funded services have been and continue to be impacted by the effects of an increasingly struggling economy and a State budget crisis. And while education funding is the responsibility of the State, this office has contributed funds over which it does have discretion to cover the costs for important school services including Health Outreach staff in two elementary schools, a middle school reading enrichment program and an alternative education program for high school students. I have also supported transit initiatives targeting students.

This newspaper has covered many stories in the past related to government programs and projects including the manner in which they are funded and you should be familiar with the distinction between discretionary and non-discretionary spending requirements by now. This project competes only with other road projects for funding and is not in competition with other types of important government services. If the funds are not used for this, then they will be spent on another road project elsewhere in the County. Additionally, we now find ourselves in a very competitive bidding environment with bids coming in significantly lower than engineering estimates, stretching taxpayers’ dollars even further. Getting these projects underway also provides badly needed jobs. Delays only result in increased costs and missed opportunities and would not be prudent management of precious public funds. Leading readers to believe otherwise, in my opinion, is irresponsible reporting. The County does not conduct a project of this magnitude in my district without my knowledge and consultation. Perhaps some ink could have been saved had you called this office beforehand for background information on the project.

For those that routinely travel Stanley Boulevard, which carries more than 30,000 vehicles per day, you know that this has never been a particularly hospitable stretch of road and any improvements would easily be an enhancement to its current appearance. Removal of the utility poles, improving the bike and pedestrian paths, shoulder improvements and an improved westbound bus stop all provide important safety improvements along this road. I have noticed an increase in the number of cyclists during the morning and evening commute using this road as more folks turn to cycling for economic, health and environmental purposes. Improving the bike and pedestrian path will make it appealing to more people to use in this manner, an important incentive in reducing vehicle use. Planting shade trees along the length of this heavily traveled road reduces heat generated by the road pavement and vehicles and assists in the removal of pollution from the air both of which effectively aid in the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

Due to the pent up demand for transportation improvements and as long as such funding opportunities designated for this purpose exist, I will continue to pursue them to implement projects identified as local, regional and State transportation priorities. Providing complete and accurate information to readers so that they may draw educated and thoughtful conclusions could go a long way towards working in a more collaborative, constructive way to solving our problems.

Scott Haggerty
First District Supervisor