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Thorne blocks City Council consideration of downtown bank banning ordinance

Original post made on Mar 21, 2012

Councilman Jerry Thorne temporarily blocked the City Council's consideration last night of a proposed new rule that would significantly restrict more banks from moving into Pleasanton's downtown.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, March 21, 2012, 7:59 AM

Comments (42)

Posted by Timothy T, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:19 am

I understand why building owners want to rent to banks, salons, and spa's. They have good cash flow, the latter have high margins, and you know that they're going to pay rent.

That being said, you're setting yourself up for a pretty crappy downtown-life when the only thing you can do down there is deposit a check or get your nails done. More restaurants and bars are needed to make it vibrant down here. Otherwise, it just becomes another business park.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:32 am

Let's not try to tell property owners what to do with their property. There are zoning ordinances. I would like to see another bank in downtown, because that would expand my choice. The banks have acted admirably through the whole recession, and I think we should reward them with our patronage whenever possible. Let free markets prevail!


Posted by Blue Eyes, a resident of Foothill Place
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:33 am

Where is the new Wells Fargo Bank?


Posted by gary, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:40 am

New Wells Fargo is near new Safeway on Bernal


Posted by P*town Truth Tellers, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:46 am

Pleasanton downtown has plenty of restaurants and retail, just not the right ones. What they need is more family restaurants, retail for children and entertainment venues - Pleasanton is a family town but most downtown restaurants are expensive and not catering to families.

Firehouse Arts Center should have been a movie theater - people in P*town have to drive all the way to Livermore to go to a real old school downtown movie theater.

You can't substitute restrictions on "normal" downtown business (e.g., anything not bodega head shops, liquor stores, or strip clubs) for lack of vision for the downtown. Unfortunately, now that the mayor's esteemed husband has been appointed the head of the DBA, I think the only "vision" he will have only involves that which will further his employer-chasing lawyer career.


Posted by Debbie, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:54 am

I would seriously urge the responsible parties within the city to meet with the planning people from Piedmont Avenue, Lafayette and downtown Danville districts; there is specific language in place which deals with the issue of BALANCE between restaurant/food uses and non-food uses. When the balance tips in one direction too significantly, ie. banks, real estate offices, insurance agencies, the attraction to even having a downtown is lost. Best to deal with this right now before it gets further out of hand (if that is even possible). Many of us moved to Pleasanton over other townships BECAUSE it HAD a nice downtown ----- this will take a dedicated effort! Please rise to the occasion, those of you in the responsible posts!! ~Your Taxpayers are speaking


Posted by Pepper, a resident of Old Towne
on Mar 21, 2012 at 9:46 am

Thorne blocks City Council consideration of downtown bank banning ordinance.

We do need to do something to reverse the trend that's being going on for too many years. That is the destruction of our down town's unique old town character.

I would suggest an ordinance that would mandate buildings like the Past Time Pool Pub be reoccupied with other like business's. In this case, a more upscale lounge type eatery or pub.

And while I'm on the subject, putting a bank in where the Kohl Hardware stood for so many years has been a waste of a valuable resource.

Banks, real estate offices and other office businesses should be keep at a bare minimum in down town area. The office building like those alone First St are better suited for that purpose.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 21, 2012 at 9:57 am

The free market should dictate whether a bank goes up or not. If a bank thinks there's demand, and a zoning ordinance permits it, then a bank should go in there. Besides, I like bank building architecture. Like Walmart, it has a distinctly American feel to it. Don't try to impose your phoney anticapitalist aesthetics on us. I want another bank!!! Shopping and banking freedom is what America is all about!!!


Posted by resident, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 21, 2012 at 9:58 am

P*town TT -- you say "retail for children". There have been at least two kids clothing stores that went out of business for lack of your support, two toy stores that went out of business for lack of your support, how many more retailers should open up the stores that YOU say we need if you don't plan to spend any money there?
Funny how just about everyone in this stingy little town wants to tell merchants who should open and what they should sell -- and then they go to Amazon.com to make their purchases.
I would prefer to see fewer banks and no nail salons on Main Street. But if the tightwads in this city don't support the retail businesses then you need to just shut up and watch who moves in.


Posted by Janice R. , a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:07 am

For those who think downtown needs more "family/childen friendly" establishments you obviously have never run, nor have had any responsibility for managing one.

Considering the insurance costs and liability, lower profit margins, drastically reduced tips for wait/service staff combined with the already cost prohibitive rents downtown it is no wonder why a business model as such would not succeed in the downtown environment.

As parents of (thank goodness, finally!) high school and college aged children we know all too well about those "kid friendly" establishments we've supported over the years and could not be happier to finally be able to enjoy a night or afternoon downtown with other adults in a nice quiet dinner, maybe a jazz or classical performance at The Firehouse, dancing at Barone's or maybe just a margarita at Alberto's. We're adults, we take cabs (don't drink & drive kiddies) we've raised our kids and we deserve to finally be able to enjoy one area in this town without being accosted by the hoards of untamed youths.

Less banks & Chuck E Cheese, more bars with wine & aged cheese!


Posted by Bank Ban is ridiculous, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:23 am

I'd rather see a bank than Past Time Pool anyday.

I'm glad that Thorne put a halt to the ban. The city should not ban Walmart grocery stores and banks. The market should determine what the appropriate mix of businesses are. Also why single out banks as the evil businesses who have to go through a lengthy permitting process?

Seems like the Planning Commission are just stooges for the PDA.


Posted by geez, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:55 am

All Thorne did was pull it for discussion and then he wanted fellow councilmembers to agree or he would just "recuse" himself, hardly a courageous stand.


Posted by Need CHIPOTLE !, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:22 am

Banks are good neighbors. Kolin was wasted however, should have been something more charming !I like nice pool parlors, just not sure they're profitable... people don'[t stand in line. I want a CHIPOTLE !!! The one on the outer Target lot always has a line out the door...a couple of sidewalk tables too. I would be in there twice a week minimum.....I currently eat nothing on Main....drive to assorted Dublin instead.


Posted by Mort, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:34 pm

I personally would rather not see any chains (food or not), on Main Street. I think they belong on strip malls.

If that is what people want, though, I'm sure that is what will end up happening.

I can just see Main Street lined up with Chipotles, McDonald's, Taco Bells, Macaroni Grills, Olive Gardens, Denis.

What a view (NOT!)


Posted by jill, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 12:43 pm

My guess is some of the more successful stores are the chains. We already have Tully's, Cold Stone, Quiznos, High Tech Burrito. They have been good for downtown.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Mar 21, 2012 at 1:14 pm

Burlingame is a good example of what a retail mix can bring . . . we need big chains that are not food related. If there were smaller versions of Gap and Barnes & Noble and Apple and Name Your Favorite store from the mall, I would be more inclined to come down and spend time and money . . . and contrary to what the local small shops believe, more inclined to shop in those stores too. It would be better than going to the mall (if there was enough parking). As it is, we come down once a week for dinner and go home again. I'm not otherwise drawn to what is there now in and of themselves . . . easier to look for what I need at the mall where I have multiple choices.


Posted by Harriet B. Hind, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

The new Wells Fargo is right across from the new Union Bank which is located in the new Safeway on Bernal. Please note, there is also a bank inside of Safeway.


Posted by D W, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 2:09 pm

First things first. First, do our citizens want another bank downtown? If yes, then this ordinance is detrimental. If no, there are enough professions that want to open downtown businesses. They deserve the same opportunities as any financial institution, with no interference, regardless of legality!

As for the tired line of government interference, well, the "free market" isn't exactly free. Ever heard of telemarketing and the fine print? How about fees just by responding to a message? How about online spying? The 'market' spies on us as often as the government does, and that's scary enough as is.

How about those who try to force their beliefs on us door-to-door? That can be interference, too, if you already have your own faith and family. Remember, people before parties, people before government, people before 'markets', people before pundits, and people before pulpits. If you want to protect your freedoms, the government isn't the only entity you must guard against. It's ridiculous to think otherwise. Let this ordinance matter play itself out, please!


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:34 pm

Where's govt intervention when we want it? And the HECK with legality. We want to shop at a new bank. Increased competition will lower banking fees all across town. It'll bring with it mucho jobs.


Posted by Bank Ban is ridiculous, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 21, 2012 at 3:39 pm

A building with a bank or a grocery store will bring in more jobs than a vacant store with nothing in it.

But maybe the union wants to unionize the workers in Play Time Pool! Go right ahead.

And maybe the union wants to unionize all consumers so that you have to be a union member to buy anything.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 21, 2012 at 6:42 pm

I agree with Banning another bank is ridiculous. Banning another bank from coming in is ridiculous, really really ridiculous. Let's ban grocery stores while we're at it! Safeway's union workers couldn't stop Walmart. Well, just because there's a bank -- UNION Bank -- nearby, they think they'll be able to stop capitalist free market progress? What a bunch of retards! I pity them. They must spend a lot of time hollering into an echo chamber. LOL

BTW, I love Walmart, but their groceries are just gross, really really gross.


Posted by dublinmike, a resident of Dublin
on Mar 21, 2012 at 7:30 pm

dublinmike is a registered user.

Nancy, a resident of the Nolan Farms states:"The free market should dictate whether a bank goes up or not " Okay, Nancy, so if your neighbors think a 7-11 should go in next door to your house, that's okay? Right?

The part of neighbor planning, sometimes call "convenient socialism" is about putting into place something that's okay with your plan as long as it doesn't affect you. Some call it NIBMYism.


Posted by common sense, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 7:55 pm

As we all know banks are making a lot of money these days. Pay nothing for deposits, but charge a significant amount for loans. The question is why are banks so intent on opening more branches. What i dont see in the news article is how many banks have branches right now. I've seen new Wells Fargo and new Chase branches recently, how many more are necessary? Is there some tax writeoff for opening more branches?


Posted by dublinmike, a resident of Dublin
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:09 pm

dublinmike is a registered user.

Common sense, I believe the City planners are discussing how to attract people to downtown. The City manager and others believe that Pleasanton's footprint is a narrow path. Unlike Livermore and Walnut Creek who have a commercial footprint that stretches over several blocks in several directions, Pleasanton does not have this luxury.

Until this view was presented to me I did not realize this. Makes sense from this perspective. Pleasanton downtown is unique and banks do not attract foot traffic at times when sales tax are needed. They do attract employees that MAY go out at lunch but, based on personal experience, these low paid employees bring their lunch. They usual shop at retailers close to home, not at boutiques on Main street.

It's a fiscal reality that I have to acknowledge even for Dublin.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Nolan Farms
on Mar 21, 2012 at 8:18 pm

Anyone opposed to another bank going up must have a hidden agenda. Just like people were incapable of opposing Walmart without being a union shill, so the sock puppets in opposition to another bank are probably being financed by unionized coal miners who want to start up a mining operation in town. Or unionized hotel workers who want to see a Hilton skyscraper go in. My neighbor tells me that the United Mine Workers were bussing in thousands of protesters, and that the UMW had hired a PR firm to spread union filth all over town. It's disgusting. I pity these people.


Posted by Naw !, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 10:58 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)


Posted by me, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 21, 2012 at 11:39 pm

I think if we want more downtown business, especially restaurants,and wine bars, etc then the environment needs to be more friendly. I've heard that the council has a very limited view of what they want and they want downtown closed up by 9 pm. Whenever we go to dinner downtown, we would like to go out for coffee or nightcap but everything is closed at 9 pm sharp. If you have dinner at 7... there is no where to go afterwards.

I've also had a conversation with the farmer's market manager. We asked him why the market didn't expand (there is tons of room to add stalls, hot food carts, etc and he told us that the council wouldn't let them.

If Pleasanton wants businesses other than banks and spas, then they need to allow an atmosphere that will foster those businesses and allow them to be profitable.


Posted by Tony Macchiano, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 22, 2012 at 10:01 am

Who wants another bank downtown??? I think a "Hooters" would be perfect for that spot. It would definitely bring a lot of people downtown and there is good parking for trucks on the side!!! Besides that, they have great chicken wings!!!


Posted by Mitch Free, a resident of another community
on Mar 22, 2012 at 1:27 pm

Saying banks acted admirably during the recession, and then saying the free market can solve this problem has me ROFL. Free markets? Bank bailouts? Does not compute.

As far as downtown is concerned, sure, let the free market decide what goes in. How about you tell that to the smoke shop owner around the corner who has been getting harassed for selling LEGAL items to people of LEGAL AGE.







Posted by Mary, a resident of Lydiksen Elementary School
on Mar 22, 2012 at 4:16 pm

For the person who thought we need a movie theater in town to show the older movies and less popular movies...we had one! I agree with you. We need that and more retail that average people can afford. It was in the shopping Center on Santa Rita and Owens. They torn down a perfectly fine theater to put in a store, can't recall which one it is now, but next to the old location of the gym across from Fridays. And that's progress and being green????


Posted by Mac, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 8:53 am

Take a walk downtown Livermore. I believe we need a bit more character like they have. We have lots of upscale fare, but not enough in the middle. We need gathering places for families and average folk to gather for an evening of good food and good fun without breaking the bank. Then there would be more time and money spent overall in the downtown. I see many P-towners doing just that in Livermore because it meets that need. We LOVE the relaxed attitude in some of the other towns, AND the reasonable prices.

Pleasanton needs to offer a middle scale.


Posted by LHutchinson, a resident of The Knolls
on Mar 23, 2012 at 9:03 am

The ONLY reason we would need another bank downtown would be for after hours parking when we have our street fairs. Come on! and you wonder why Livermore is taking all our resturant business.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 23, 2012 at 9:37 am

All this talk about "free market". Banks don't qualify. Banks sign 20 + year leases and don't go out of business without major, major market issues that pertain to the national landscape, not the local market. Look at any successful downtown and you'll see some city involvement. Successful downtowns have a wonderful business mix. They have banks, salons, real estate office, restaurants, and retail. The problem starts when one business type takes over. Property owners get to choose who enters their property. Not a bad arrangement, they do own the property. True success comes when collaboration and planning are key pieces of decision making. This is why malls and shopping centers succeed. Decisions are made based on what is best for the entire shopping center. Because Downtown has so many unique property owners there is no cohesiveness and many decisions are made for the benefit of a few and not many. Every successful downtown has city ordinances helping to guide the success. The concept isn't new, how many people in Pleasanton have Home Owners Associations? Again, another way to maintain cohesiveness for the betterment of the community, not individuals.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 23, 2012 at 10:08 am

Stacey is a registered user.

A few thoughts.

Are banks taking over downtown based on some objective criteria?

It's not a good idea to outright ban banks for the same reason it's not a good idea to let one type of business take over. Someone above suggested some sort of balance and that sounds reasonable.

The movie theater at Rosewood was not like the Vine in Livermore. It was larger and showed current films, not older and less popular movies. The building downtown where the Wine Steward is used to be a small movie theater. It'd be neat to have some little theater like that showing old films and serving wine and other bistro-like fare. There could be special teen nights too.


Posted by Jim, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:05 pm

Love your idea Stacey. Let's hope some enterpreneur reads this and agrees with you.


Posted by Ennis, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 23, 2012 at 12:59 pm

A lot of spot-on comments which have created major constraints to the on-going development (redevelopment?) of the downtown. An additional thought to add that is impacting the issue is the cost of redevelopment of some of the spaces- the old hardware building cost approximately $2 million to redevelop (I had a peek inside after the floors had been pulled up-major load bearing studs had no reinforcement.) Given the cost of bringing it up to code, local entreprenuers had no chance of opening a business in the building-why? Rents were too high due to the cost of the build-out. As a result, the downtown has another bank because they, to the postings above, are the only one's who can afford the rent and will/can commit to a long lease (with little risk to the landlord.) The result is a growing sterility to the downtown as there are fewer and fewer business options. Not sure if there is enough leadership in Pl, both elected and those with enough interest, vested or otherwise, to sort this out.


Posted by P*town Truth Tellers, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2012 at 2:47 pm

Of all those running for Mayor, he/she who:
> Has a plan to revitalize the downtown
> Has a plan to fix our pension fiasco
> Will not interfere in the free market

gets my vote.

Unfortunately, the two jokesters running now have a platform of - hey I'm going to follow Hostermann's lead and do what unions and developers tell me to do.

As far as closing downtown at 9pm - what the heck? Might as well pretend we're the Baptist South and outlaw booze and dancin' while we're at it...


Posted by Huggy Bear, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 23, 2012 at 3:02 pm

Another bank downtown, is that really what is needed? Tony Macchiano is right, plus he won't have to drive to Dublin anymore.


Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 23, 2012 at 7:55 pm

"From 1973 to 1995, the city required that banks, savings and loan offices and others financial institutions first locate a branch in the downtown area before locating elsewhere in the city."

If the above is true... Say Wells acquires Union, or BofA and Chase merge. Will the city pay for the retrofitting of these mandated bank buildings into other uses?



Posted by Gwynn, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Mar 26, 2012 at 9:47 am

Tony Machiatto has it right. Another possibility might be to have another pizza franchise go in -- Pizza Hut -- which would be good competition for Godfathers Pizza and would give shoppers a real choice.


Posted by hoops, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 26, 2012 at 2:17 pm

The basic problem with opening a small business in downtown P is the cost.If you have high overhead and no instant name recognition like a well known chain,you are almost doomed from the start.It is also not the job of local residents to overspend for products so someone can open a small business instead of a chain.I personally think the downtown could use some new stores/restaurants that more people actually want to shop and eat in.I never buy anything downtown except for an occasional meal.Something like a Red Lobster or a Fentons would be a huge success in my humble opinion.


Posted by Bank Ban is ridiculous, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 27, 2012 at 1:19 pm

Cities can't have additional hurdles for chains or ban chains or franchise restaurants because they want local businesses. The Federal Courts have struck down ordinances designed to curtail what is known as 'formula retail establishments' (meaning chains or franchises) because the types of ordinances designed to limit the ability of chains or franchises to operate in cities violates interstate commerce laws.

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