http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/06/28/2013-proving-to-be-banner-year-for-pleasanton


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - June 28, 2013

2013 proving to be banner year for Pleasanton

In his report on Pleasanton at mid-year in 2013, City Manager Nelson Fialho reports that everything is coming up roses when it comes to municipal finances, new and expanded businesses, housing development and even with more parkland and sports fields.

In fact, with the payoff three weeks ago of the $13 million in remaining bonds used to build the Callippe golf course in 2005, the city of Pleasanton saved taxpayers $10 million in interest payments and, starting in fiscal 2014, will be free of any construction debts for the first time since 1950.

Municipal revenues are up across the board as the recession ebbs away. In 2007, when the recession hit, the city saw a dramatic decrease in annual revenue, shrinking down to $84.7 million. Last year, it started rebounding and projections indicate it should be back to $94.5 million in general fund revenue in the 2013/14 fiscal year. The city is also seeing dramatic increases in the market value of properties and in assessed value. The combined assessed value in Pleasanton stands at $17 billion, generating $50 million a year in property taxes About 50% of that property tax comes from the corporate side of the ledger, including companies like Kaiser, Oracle, Safeway, Clorox and Stoneridge Shopping Center. By comparison, Union City, which has a bigger population, has combined assets of $2 billion, which generates about $14 million in property taxes there.

Along with city revenue increases, Pleasanton's business community has also regained post-recession momentum. Workday now has more than 1,000 employees and projects that will rise to 4,000 in the next few years, making it the city's largest employer, ahead of Safeway that currently holds that title. Workday is moving into five buildings in the Pleasanton Stoneridge Plaza on Stoneridge Mall Road. It's also planning to build a six-story, 400,000-square-foot tower that would be the city's largest structure.

Last year, Clorox completed the expansion of its corporate campus off Hopyard Road and has moved 700 employees there, with plans to increase that to 1,200, with many of them transferred here from the company's Oakland headquarters. Gateway Center at Bernal and Valley avenues, where Safeway's Lifestyle supermarket is the anchor, became fully leased this spring with the completion of a new CVS Pharmacy, Safeway fueling station and Starbucks. The construction of Stoneridge Creek on Staples Ranch is nearing completion with the first residents scheduled to move in next month. Nearby, a site at the corner of Staples across from the Livermore Outlets may soon see two upscale automobile dealerships moving in, adding hefty sales tax revenue. Auto sales in Pleasanton now generate about $3.5 million a year, about what it takes to operate the Pleasanton Public Library, Fialho points out.

Along with business growth, the city's unemployment continues to fall, now totaling 4.8% compared to 7.9% nationally and 10% for California as a whole. Post-recessionary median prices for Pleasanton homes are up 7%, now approaching $800,000, against a state average of $65,000. Commercial vacancies are about 13% this month, a decrease of 20% from a year ago.

Major housing projects are also under way with construction to start later this summer on high density three- and four-story buildings by BRE in the Hacienda Business Park. Two other high density apartment complexes were approved this spring at California Center and on West Las Positas Boulevard, with construction set to begin next year. South Bay Construction is seeking approval of another multifamily housing complex along with single family homes on Valley Avenue south of Safeway's Gateway Center. A bid by E.S. Ring to build an upscale 300-unit apartment complex on Bernal Avenue at Stanley Boulevard, across from the McDonald's restaurant, will go to the City Council this fall and will include a retail center at the intersection.

Also under way are development plans for a $15.5 million project at Bernal Community Park that will add lighted fields for youth baseball, soccer and football and adjacent landscaped woodlands and trails. Clearly, 2013 is proving to be a banner year for Pleasanton.

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