http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/06/21/pleasanton-council-hears-plan-to-develop-east-side


Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 21, 2013

Pleasanton Council hears plan to develop east side

High density housing, school, industrial site considered for city's 'last frontier'

by Jeb Bing

After nine lengthy meetings and presentations to several committee and commissions, including the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday night, it's still anybody's guess what the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force will recommend for developing more than 400 acres of mostly empty land east of Valley Avenue.

In its first detailed look at plans before the council, Brian Dolan, director of Community Development, said preliminary considerations show between 1,000 and 2,279 single-family and multifamily housing units could be accommodated on the site. At least 25% of the planned high density housing would be reserved for very-low to low-income tenants.

These new affordable, or workforce, housing units would help Pleasanton meet new state housing requirements that will take effect in 2014, and would be in addition to those now being built to accommodate current requirements.

The east side acreage under consideration is part of an 1,100-acre site that extends east from Valley Avenue along proposed extensions of Busch Road and Boulder Street and north of Stanley Boulevard and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Busch, according to preliminary plans by the task force, and possibly Boulder would be extended from Valley to a new and extended El Charro Road. El Charro would be extended from I-580 south to Stanley, with an under-crossing at the railroad tracks. That project alone, Dolan said, would cost an estimated $27 million.

The area being considered for more housing, an elementary school, park, retail stores and light industrial is sometimes called Pleasanton's 'last frontier' because it would make use of the only large tract of land left within the city limits for new development.

The site being planned includes the current Operations Service Center and fire training facilities on Busch Road, with Pleasanton Garbage Service and its large recycling center and refuse storage yard farther east. Early plans by the task force called for moving these two facilities, but council members noted Tuesday that would cost millions of dollars with no sure way of funding it.

Dolan and Janice Stern, the city's Planning Director, showed land use maps that take the site under consideration to the Livermore city limits and close to the protection zone of the Livermore Airport. About 60% of the site consists of three lakes under the control of Zone 7, with water levels that rise and fall depending on the season and where no development would take place.

About 100 acres, however, are outside of the Urban Growth Boundary, a rigid fixed boundary approved by voters in 1996 where no future Pleasanton growth is allowed. Councilwoman Karla Brown said that if any of those acres are considered for development, Pleasanton voters would have to approve the boundary change in a special election.

Ten speakers addressed the council during the two-hour public meeting. They included former Councilwoman Becky Dennis, who said the city needs more affordable housing, and another who said the high density proposals being considered for this project on the east side should be reduced and applied more evenly throughout the city.

Julie Testa, who talked about overcrowded schools and the financial constraints that might curtail the school district's ability to fund a new school in the east side parcel, suggested the task force consider developing the property as another Rossmoor, the retirement community in Walnut Creek.

About the only agreement among council members at Tuesday's informal workshop was to extend El Charro to Stanley, and Busch Road to El Charro. They favored an early decision on that aspect of the East Side development to avoid a long controversial debate later on such as the one that delayed the Stoneridge Drive extension for years.

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