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Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - January 6, 2012

Opinion

Good government is what we do in Pleasanton

by Cheryl Cook-Kallio

For more than two years, the City Council has wrestled with housing issues not of the current council's making. Like all types of government, council members jump into a moving stream and take the credit and the culpability for things started before their tenure. In Pleasanton, I am keenly aware that I stand on the shoulders of those community leaders that came before me. This is a beautiful, safe place to live. Our schools are wonderful and we are fortunate to have people who care about our quality of life.

The housing issues have always been here but the struggle is with the loss of our hard housing cap. After years of litigation, the court determined the cap was in direct conflict with state law, but opened a door that allowed us to negotiate a settlement agreement. It allowed more local control than a court decision would have and it gave us an opportunity to obtain community input and create design guidelines.

I have had the pleasure of being co-chair of the Hacienda Transit Oriented Development Task Force and of the Housing Element Task Force. These two task forces were constructed in a very similar manner, including council members, commissioners and the community at large. Staff reports were generated and there was an opportunity at each meeting to receive input from the public. Many advocacy groups submitted written reports. Sometimes extra meetings were held to accommodate additional input. This information then went through the Housing Commission, the Planning Commission and then the City Council as additional information was received from staff and community members.

We are now at the end of this court-mandated timeline. The City Council approved the Hacienda TOD Task Force recommendations last year and we are poised to make a final decision on housing rezoning and the Housing Element this month. Staff, commissioners, the City Council and scores of other members of our community have spent hours working on the final result.

Many are afraid of what affordable housing looks like. The state-mandated inclusion of a stock of low and very low affordable housing units is causing consternation. Who will live in this new housing? They are new working families, our children home from college and working their first real job, beginning teachers, firefighters, nurses. They are your retail and food service workers. They are working people. They are your neighbors.

What is good government? It is what we do in Pleasanton. Your neighbors, maybe you, spent time and energy giving input. You educated yourselves; you offered help and suggestions. Sometimes we came to consensus and sometimes we compromised. Occasionally we disagreed. It was and is transparent government. None of it was easy. These are difficult decisions. It is good government. Remember that your community is only as good as those who are willing to participate. Based on that benchmark, this is a great community. Look around you. Who is responsible for this wonderful community? It is you. It is our neighbors.

--Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio was first elected to the Pleasanton City Council in 2006 and re-elected to another four-year term in 2010. She is seeking election as mayor in the November municipal election. She teaches U.S History, government and economics at Irvington High School in Fremont, where she recently received the American Civic Education Award from the Alliance for Representative Democracy. She also serves on a number of local, regional and statewide civic organizations.

Comments

Posted by registered user, sknywench, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jan 6, 2012 at 3:48 pm

Its a shame so much money was spent by the City to challenge the affordable housing lawsuit and defend the housing cap. We just threw away alot of public money. If the community had been more accepting of its responsibility, the rezonings and higher densities could have been built incrementally over the past 10 years by developers and integrated into the community. But because "we" resisted housing, and in particular affordable housing, the City was forced to rezone larger properties with more units saturated into fewer undeveloped properties. And, of course throwing away public money when it could have been spent more constructively than on frivilous and divisive lawsuits. Mrs. Cook-Kalio is correct that we have a wonderful community and we need workforce housing. She should add the young adults working at administrative and bio-tech manufacturing jobs in our city that would also qualify for low-income housing.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 6, 2012 at 4:57 pm

A spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down....

Or in this case getting hit in the head with a hammer.


Posted by registered user, Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 6, 2012 at 6:46 pm

sknywench,

I don't see it as the community resisting housing. We built housing, just not how the State wanted it. It was more a resistance against the State's growth practices.


Posted by Stan, a resident of Happy Valley
on Jan 7, 2012 at 12:47 am

Somebody's got their head buried in the sand. Read the comments by the "housing resisters" in order to get a strong dose of a community scared to death of low-income housing and the diversity it brings.


Posted by steve, a resident of Parkside
on Jan 7, 2012 at 7:36 am

Stan, what do you stand to gain? Your precious diversity only brings lower home values, more crime, overcrowded schools with lower test scores, polarization and more traffic. So, again I ask, what benefit does this so called diversity bring?


Posted by registered user, Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 7, 2012 at 10:38 am

I disagree with the premise that low-income housing is a prerequisite for diversity. I also disagree with the premise that diversity brings lower home values, more crime, and overcrowded schools with lower test scores. Diversity has been increasing in Pleasanton for quite awhile now and test scores are as high as ever.

When someone writes "diversity", the typical meaning is ethnic diversity and it is rather clear that the posters above are referring to ethnic diversity. What "diversity" means in the context of a Housing Element is diversity of household income. Most people move through various levels of household income over their lifetimes both up and down. Nothing is certain in life. I'd add to Cheryl Cook-Kallio's list: your senior parents and your friends with disabilities. You may have worked hard to live in Pleasanton. One day you may not be able to work. Should you be herded out of here because we have no homes for you?

Perhaps I am wrong about this community not resisting housing. We voted down the 51-unit Oak Grove plan. I suppose we were scared to death of the high-income housing units and the kind of people that brings.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jan 7, 2012 at 12:25 pm

there is something to be said for diversity. as a senior, i am quite please with my digs and my sweet neighbors...we're all seniors!

we play cards, visit each other when we're ill, go to the movies and make lots of noise laughing, and we all VOTE! it gets very heated during election and that is such fun. i never imagined a 90 year old hen would be screaming at me but it happens! Whoa horsey...

some of my friends plan to find housing in Plutonia...i'm quite satisfied with my small yard and garden. when the time comes to apply for housing in Plutonia, I plan to assist as many seniors as i can...some are not caucasoids but who cares?

at least on of the folks that i plan to help find housing is often ungrateful and complains about everything...we'll all be happy to her find new digs in your town!!!


Posted by Dianna, a resident of Downtown
on Jan 7, 2012 at 3:06 pm

"Perhaps I am wrong about this community not resisting housing. We voted down the 51-unit Oak Grove plan. I suppose we were scared to death of the high-income housing units and the kind of people that brings."

Touche Stacey!