http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/02/08/pleasanton-sidesteps-livermores-plan-for-housing-near-airport


Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 8, 2013

Pleasanton sidesteps Livermore's plan for housing near airport

Council votes to keep residential ban even though regulations now have some flexibility

by Jeb Bing

Avoiding another of their occasional skirmishes with Livermore over that city's municipal airport, Pleasanton leaders Tuesday said that high density housing near the airport is OK for Livermore, just so long as none gets built on the Pleasanton part of the Airport Protection Area.

The City Council voted 4-0 to keep the cap on allowing residential construction anywhere near the airport's flight path even though regulatory changes will allow high density housing in some portions of that zone.

In its decision, the council followed the city's Planning Commission recommendation to continue banning residential land use designations in the so-called Airport Protection Area. Much of Staples Ranch and the 1,000 acres that are under consideration for future development are in that protection zone.

Last year, Alameda County's Airport Land Use Commission (ALUC) updated a plan governing land uses in the vicinity of airports to allow more flexibility in allowing transit-oriented residential development.

Livermore bought into the plan with expectations that the city will allow commercial and high density apartment complexes close to a new BART station at I-580 and Isabel Avenue when it is opened. The station, which is in the Livermore city limits, is in the protection area which allows transit operations, but up to now no homes or apartments. The ALUC update now provides flexibility in determining the wisdom of allowing some residential development there.

City staff in Pleasanton asked the Planning Commission to do the same, although no development plans have been submitted to build housing units in the protection zone. With a Pleasanton East Side Specific Plan Task Force now studying future land use possibilities, any relaxation of Pleasanton's long-standing prohibition of residences in the airport zone might make more of the east side land available for housing.

But the Planning Commission rejected that proposal and, last Tuesday, the council did the same. In their votes, both council members and planning commissioners emphasized that they have no objections to how Livermore uses its portion of the Airport Protection Zone.

In recent years, Pleasanton officials have quarreled with Livermore over airport expansion plans and noise.

"Let me point out that the Livermore airport is a huge asset to our community and the Tri-Valley," Planning Commissioner Arne Olson said, adding that Pleasanton will continue to support the airport.

In fact, airport noise, which has long been a complaint of Pleasanton homeowners on the east side closest to the airport, received scant mention at the Tuesday hearing. Brian Dolan, director of Community Development, told the council that of the 356 noise complaints the airport received last year, 349, or 95%, were from the same household.

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