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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.