Although the five-member Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the project and send the proposal to the City Council later this month for its consideration, demands made of the developer during the hearing by Mark Posson seemed clearly out of line, considering his responsibility as an alternate on the commission. It was almost as if New York Mayor Mike Bloomberg was in the room with his frequent nanny-ism calls for smaller soda drink sizes, no salt on restaurant tables and other City Hall-dictated demands. Posson insisted that the project developer install only energy-efficient appliances in the apartments, add photovoltaic panels in every apartment and solar-powered water heaters whether the apartment buildings have solar collectors on rooftops or not.
Next came John Casey, chairman of the Housing Commission and former Councilwoman Becky Dennis, an affordable housing advocate, to ask that the commission take the proposed multi-million-dollar complex off the table until the developer would agree to add more subsidized apartments for low to very low income tenants. Casey said his commission had rejected the proposed development plan because only 36 of the 305 units would have "affordable" classifications, with only 10 of those to be rented to those with very low incomes. In a city that he said is desperately in need of more affordable housing, the Pleasant Partners project is woefully short of what the Housing Commission says should be its goal.
Fortunately, the five regular Planning Commissioners rejected both arguments and voted to approve the project. They pointed out that the commission's job is to deal with land use issues, to make sure projects meet city codes and the American Disability Act requirements, but not to micro-manage how apartment units should be furnished. With the recent court decision outlawing inclusionary zoning requirements that cities have used to enforce in projects such as the one Pleasant Partners is proposing, the best city leaders can hope for are developers that agree to provide a reasonable number of those units, as this developer has done. To do otherwise not only invites lawsuits, which Pleasanton has too often faced, but also discourages builders from coming here with first-class development plans as Pleasant Partners has done.