http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/11/22/thorne-launches-bid-for-re-election-as-mayor


Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 22, 2013

Thorne launches bid for re-election as mayor

Cites housing accord with state as major accomplishment

by Jeb Bing

Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne launched his bid for re-election last week before a crowd of nearly 200 supporters at a Fairgrounds breakfast.

Thorne, who was elected mayor last year, is ending a two-year term in an office where four terms, or a total of eight years, are allowed.

In reviewing accomplishments during his first two years, and before that as a member of the City Council for seven years, Thorne cited the completion of rezoning measures that fully satisfied the demands of a court order and the state housing authority to provide opportunities for more workforce and medium-to-low income housing in Pleasanton.

"It has been a long and expensive road and it has included the efforts of past councils and mayors, but now for the first time in 10 years the city of Pleasanton has a certified housing element," Thorne said.

"In order to achieve certification and comply with court orders, we had to give up our voter-approved housing cap and immediately rezone approximately 70 acres of land within the city for high density housing," he added. "With that done, projects have come forward that will provide us with much needed workforce housing for our working families and young professionals."

He said the council and city staff were able to "turn lemons into lemonade" by putting development standards and guidelines in place that will ensure "a Pleasanton feel" to these projects while providing the housing required.

These projects, Thorne said, included approval for 210 apartments and 97 single family homes near the Pleasanton Gateway shopping center at Bernal and Valley avenues, to be developed by South Bay Development.

E.S. Ring Corp. also received the council's approval two months ago to build 345 condo units and a 38,000 square foot retail center on Bernal Avenue at Stanley Boulevard.

Several other major high density apartment developments also won approval during his first term as mayor, Thorne said.

Just this month, Thorne reminded his supporters, he cut the ribbon for the long-awaited completion of Stoneridge Drive, which now connects the roadway from its western terminus at Foothill Road to El Charro Road and Jack London Boulevard in Livermore.

Shortly after that, he helped open the Stoneridge Creek retirement homes, where 870 apartments and single family homes will give those choosing to spend their retirement years in Pleasanton a chance to stay in the city, Thorne said.

"A year ago I promised you that I would establish a system of performance measures and metrics so that you could better evaluate the performance of your City Council and city management and staff," Thorne told the breakfast group. "This week we are completing a customer satisfaction survey which will give us baseline data for that evaluation."

Thorne said he and the council will hold public meetings early next year on the plan and how the public can participate.

Thorne said that going forward, he plans to look at the economics of having several water and sewer agencies serving the people of Pleasanton to be consolidated to provide more efficiency and less expenses. Although Pleasanton staff has been working with representatives of these agencies to develop a long-range consolidation plan, merging or eliminating some of these will face political hurdles.

"Unfortunately, the next level is a political level and we are more likely to encounter more parochialism as we move forward," Thorne said.

He also said the city needs to work as closely with the school district as laws allow to keep the quality of education Pleasanton enjoys.

"As you are aware, city government is quite limited in terms of what we can do to support the school district," Thorne said. "We already share facilities, maintain sports fields at middle schools, make low interest loans available to the district, furnish crossing guards and police resource officers in schools and at athletic events."

"However, I think we have to accept the challenge of finding new and better ways to help support our school district," he added. "A deterioration of the quality of our schools will ensure a loss of property values, fewer people and businesses wanting to locate here and a loss of city revenue."

Asked about improvements at the city-owned Pioneer Cemetery, Thorne said a seven-member committee has been formed to study conditions there and recommend changes.

"I will continue to support the upgrade of our cemetery to Pleasanton park standards," Thorne said. "Our cemetery is more than just a cemetery. It is a part of our history."

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