Staples Ranch Around Town, posted by Editor, Pleasanton Weekly Online, on Aug 9, 2007 at 1:29 pm
A group called Friends of Pleasanton started collecting signatures from registered voters this week in an effort to place an initiative on the November 2008 ballot that would block most planned development on Staples Ranch to preserve the 124-acre site for parks, open space and recreational use.
Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, August 3, 2007, 12:00 AM
Posted by Rich Cimino, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 9, 2007 at 1:29 pm
In my opinion both sides have valued opinion in how this land can be used. Compromised is needed. The city leaders may be moving faster than we citizens have seen government move on other projects. City leaders are using Bush like scare tatics to panic city residents.
Mean while citizens,Friends of Pleasanton FOP are attempting to put forth an reasonable initiative for more open space. FOP has meet with the Auto project managers. It appears that both parties have agreed to agreed.
The S.J. SHARKS facilities at frist I supported , then the Sharks management team and members of the City Planning Dept. made an end run on grabbing the 17 ACRES of park for more Sharks parking during the 1ST city planning meeting.
So my opinion is we don't need a bad neighbor management team garbing park lands for additional parking. I don't support the Sharks facility any longer. I do support somewhat the Seniors housing with somewhat less common greens, allowing for more open space. But the jury is still out regarding our seniors being placed on the Livermore Airport flight path. The City should place seniors development in the Hacienda near BART. The rub I have is I don't think Pleasanton needs another sports park. Staples Ranch is a natural spot for a dry agriculture demo ranching and a Natural land scape Communtiy Reserve as a trail head for several Livermore Valley trials, trails to Iron Horse, Shadow Cliffs, Oak Hill, Collipe trails, Pleasanton Ridge EBRP, Spring Town Preserve, Los Posita College and some day Brushy Peak and then on to Mt Diblo State Park.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 10, 2007 at 8:07 pm
Rich claims FOP is making a "reasonably initiative". Initiatives are not reasonable. By their very nature they benefit the writers of the initiative since it is a way to create laws without any legislative debate (ie. compromise). The two initiatives are examples of the worse kind of this bad lawmaking practice.
Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Aug 11, 2007 at 5:54 pm
I want to correct some errors that Rich Cimino has in his post.
1. The Pleasanton Auto Mall supports the MOU, NOT the initiative. They did not reach any agreement with the initiative sponsors.
2. There is only approximately 8 acres (NOT 17) of parking for the skating facility.
3. The trail head connections Rich would like to see are already in the plan, which is supported by Pleasanton and Tri-Valley trails organizations.
4. Pleasanton has been working on plans for Staples Ranch since the 1980s. This is actually a lot longer than most projects take in Pleasanton.
5. There's lots of compromise in the current plan, which is why it took so long to reach the MOU stage. Most of the compromises were made to address the concerns of adjacent neighborhoods. For instance, the Continuing Life senior development park locations provide a buffer from the commercial development.
This ill-conceived initiative aims to throw away these compromises by enacting restrictions to prevent the County from developing if they ever annexed to Pleasanton which, of course, they never would.
The initiative can't stop the development. It can only stop Pleasanton from controlling the development or getting any revenue.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 15, 2007 at 11:48 am
The initiative can stop the development plan to put senior citizens right on the edge of the airport protection area. Livermore's mayor stated opposition to the senior housing plan back in 2005.
It is disingenuous for Ms. Dennis to insinuate the development is a compromise to address concerns of nearby neighborhoods. My understanding is that the plan for the smaller 17 acre community park (30+ acres have been planned since 1996) was reluctantly agreed to because 4 of 5 current council members stated during the 2006 campaign that Stoneridge Extension should be taken out of the Pleasanton General Plan. This inferior plan is a trade-off to having Stoneridge dead end.
This year the council made a 180 degree turn and unanimously voted to keep Stoneridge extension in the General Plan. With the immense regional imperative to connect Stoneridge Drive to El Charro Road it is obvious that at some point the extension will be completed.
The City and County owe it to Pleasanton residents that a new gateway into Pleasanton is planned with features and amenities that all our citizens can enjoy and be proud of. Not dumping seniors under airport flight paths and not a humongous ice skating business (4 times bigger than any other facility in the region other than San Jose’s) running air conditioning/ice freezing machinery 24 hours a day every day. FYI the City of Dublin had already rejected this business before Pleasanton was approached.
The Eastern Gateway Initiative provides for commercial development for 1/3 of the property as a reasonable use near the freeway interchange, mandates El Charro Road be designed as a “City Entry” under Community of Character aesthetic guidelines as a Gateway Entrance according to the 1996 General Plan, and requires Pleasanton support only open space, park land, and community uses for the remainder of the property. As with any initiative, if the City and County have better ideas for additional commercial development they can always bring the plan to Pleasanton residents who would have the final say in a vote.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 12:04 am
Yes, Jack, there was a residential component to the plan. Below is the original KB Homes development item from the April 15, 1997, City Council minutes.
“Application to modify the adopted Stoneridge Drive Specific Plan to reduce the amount of commercial acreage from 103 acres to approximately 40 acres, include 45 acres of new residential land uses at the Medium Density residential range (2-8 units per acre), and relocate and expand the 17-acre active use community park to a 33-acre community sports park.
“Application for Planned Unit Development prezoning to PUD-MDR (2-8 units per acre) and development plan approval to construct 80 townhomes for sale to lower-income buyers and 231 single-family detached homes on an approximately 45-acre site; and an application to prezone an approximately 40-acre site to PUD-MCOIPD (Mixed Commercial Office Industrial Planned Development) and a 33-acre site to Public and Institutional for a public park.”
The current City/County plan proposes more dense housing on 45 acres (240 detached villas and up to 560 units of various types in multi story buildings for the continuing care facility) and a larger commercial use at 48 acres (the 37 acre auto mall plus 11 acres undefined commercial), but less park land for Pleasanton (17 acres rather than 33). I also believe Kaufman & Broad proposed contributing $1.9 million toward development of the park that the County is not offering Pleasanton.
Basically the City is considering a less desirable plan than ten years ago and being offered a smaller amenity. I apologize for omitting the details as they are pertinent.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 8:57 am
I find it humorous that FOP has started to use the airport as an excuse for why the current Staples Ranch plan is bad. I can't help but wonder if these are the very same people who fought against Livermore's Airport Master Plan Update several years ago, which had a provision that would have increased the size of the Airport Protection Area and thereby restricted residential development such as the senior housing.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 9:16 am
I also wanted to add that developers commonly provide land and funds for "open space" as a means to sweeten the deal on a housing project. It makes the bitter pills easier to swallow (although it didn't work for the Oak Grove proposal this time around). The Eastern Gateway Initiative hopes to use these same sentiments and emotional tactics that developers like K&B use by offering some promise of open space. Like makeup on a whore, it looks good at first glance until you start inspecting under the hood. Whether you like or dislike parts of the current Staples Ranch plan, the damage to Pleasanton that can be caused by the passage of the initiative is far WORSE. Who would want to trade loss of control of development for a non-binding promise of more open space?
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 11:34 am
Accepting a bad development (i.e. the current plan) IS losing control of development.
As a member of the Tri-Valley Sierra Club Executive Committee, we unanimously opposed the recent expansion of the Livermore Airport. We had concerns regarding impacts from increased noise, worsened air quality in a non-containment air basin, and environmental and scenic degradation due to increased jet use.
Unfortunately, the Livermore City Council agreed to a lease agreement for Full-Service Fixed Base Operator and Hangar Facilities at the airport and voted in favor of ordinances to amend the Municipal Code, approving the Minimum Standards for Commercial Aeronautical Activities.
The bottom line is that the Livermore Airports future traffic is planned for 380,000 take offs and landings per year, facilities for more and larger jets, and potential for 24 hour operation (should an express carrier such as DHL use the airport as a hub).
This is where plans are envisioned to house seniors for the remainder of their life.
What happens to the continuing care facility if they can't sell? Does Pleasanton end up with vacant blight? Does the property revert to standard, high-density residential?
The initiative defines what the City of Pleasanton will support based on our values, the needs of the community, and the aesthetics of planning what is likely the last new entryway into town.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 2:00 pm
Are you completely serious asking what would happen if the senior housing can't sell units? That is like saying property values near the airport are going down because of the airport expansion. Last time I checked, the senior population is the fastest growing population WORLDWIDE. How can you honestly ask such a question?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 2:10 pm
Correction Mr. Morrison, the initiative defines what a small group of people think are the values and needs of the voters and residents of the City of Pleasanton. It is true, offering a promise of open space always gets votes. Hopefully voters aren't so blind. I will never understand why FOP doesn't work with the property owner, the county. Staples Ranch isn't within city jurisdiction and may never be at the rate things are going. If your neighbor is playing music too loud do you go ask your neighbor to turn the music down or do you ask all the other neighbors to make angry faces at the person with the music?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 4:37 pm
A few more thoughts...
I'm a long-time resident of Pleasanton. I grew up in Pleasanton Meadows, before the newer parts were built. I have fond memories of romping in the canal and fields to the east and watching tadpoles in the seasonal ponds. My bedroom window had a wonderful view of the rolling treeless hills to the northeast and I am convinced this contributed to the formation of my love for open space. I lamented the loss of those ponds when Pleasanton Meadows was expanded, lamented the loss of open space when the neighborhood at the end of Stoneridge Drive was built, lamented the shaving of the hilltops in Dublin, lamented the expansion of the gravel pits in that area that closed the nice pumpkin patch that used to be there and always thought it idiotic to build such residential areas so near the airport. I wasn't happy when I saw our mayor supporting more housing in an area slated to be protected from residential by the Livermore Airport Master Plan update while at the same time she was arguing against the update. I currently live near Stoneridge Drive and would be directly affected by the extension. So one would think I'm a prime candidate to support the initiative. But I don't. I don't like initiatives for the reason I stated previously above. I don't like the idea of trying to pass laws on lands outside of our jurisdiction. I don't like the lack of respect for or willingness to work on compromises with the property owner (FOP goes to talk with Hendrick Auto Group instead?). The initiative is small-minded, unbalanced in the way it specifies land use, unfair to the property owner, and doesn't address solutions to the pressing needs of Pleasanton's citizenry (ie. affordable housing). I do not understand why we should throw away the MOU and replace it with this initiative instead of trying to work with the city and county to further refine the current plan, like trying to increase the acreage of the parkland.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 6:09 pm
Your points are well taken, Stacey.
When I was 13 or so I decided to hop our fence over to Santa Rita Road and hiked up through the marsh on the north side of 580 to camp in the rain on the eastern hills of Dublin (County land at the time, 1978-79). Not to appreciate the open space, I was just stubborn.
The Eastern Gateway Initiative is a municipal initiative which amends the Pleasanton General Plan to define what development the City will support within our eastern Urban Growth Boundary.
We have met with Hendrick Automotive, the Chamber of Commerce, the City Manager and some of the City Council.
After a recent City Council meeting we had a short discussion with Stuart Cook of the Alameda County Surplus Property Authority. Mr. Cook stated that from the County’s perspective all the options have been sold and it would be “bad faith” for the County to negotiate changes to the existing parcels.
Also, there is no affordable element to this project. The senior continuing care facility is a gated, upscale project. My understanding is that the down payment is about $1 million to move in and $8000 per month after that. Plus, this is not a house someone invests in. A resident is bound to the lease until they die, whereupon the lease reverts back to the company owning the development. It seems to me people with that kind of money have many options and might not decide to live the rest of their days listening to jet engines.
City staff has proposed that none of the continuing care units be classified as residential which means the developer would not be required even to pay in lieu fees to subsidize affordable housing in Pleasanton.
Certainly the current plan could use refining and we will be actively participating in the public process. I hope to see you there too.
PS I guess the term “hub” is inaccurate. The potential is that, rather than trucking packages over the freeway, an air parcel service would divert/send planes to the airport. Possibly one of the smaller outfits like Airborne Express might use the expanded Livermore Airport more extensively. Either of these would promote more intensive nightime use.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Aug 16, 2007 at 10:00 pm
Lots of discussion back and forth. Good. That's what's needed to keep the issue in front of the readers.
1. Mr. Morrison is the most disingenuous of them all. Staples Ranch will be developed whether or not Pleasanton has any control. That the county keeps it as open space - like Johnny Fontaine says in the Godfather while shaking his head, "No chance! No chance"! Mr. Morrison sticks his head in the sand on this issue. The county will not roll over dead if Pleasanton voters were to pass his initiative(s). Pleasanton simply loses control. He thinks the time increase that this may cause before final development will somehow stop its development, but he is not really sure what twists and turns things will take. He does not really have a reasonable end game scripted out that is favorable to his position other than causing delay. Please, Mr. Morrison, tell us the endgame (and it's not likely open space on those acres).
2. Mr. Morrison is strictly operating based upon his personal agenda, as are most of those who presently support the initiative. The benefits of the planned development and an extension of Stoneridge drive to El Charro to the larger Pleasanton constituencies as well as to our neighbors are not recognized. Really now, how do we care about that small corner of Pleasanton remaining open space. There already are lots of open space opportunities around us within very short distances. Again, a heavy dose of disingenuity is at play.
3. The Sierra Club passed on endorsing the initiatives. The Independent soft-balled this story. Read the article and you might come away as I did wondering - like the Geico caveman, "what"? Of course, they know it is nonsense, but can't admit it publicly without great embarassment to involved parties. They know the initiatives upset all negotiations that preceded it and will result in more intense development eventually.
4. My personal position is that the initiatives being put on the ballot or not will not stop the development. I actually look forward to a vote, if it goes that far. I think voters of Pleasanton will easily vote it down because they are not that stupid to suppose those acres will remain open space. There could be the upside that when/if the property is developed without Pleasanton having any control the development will be much more intense that presently planned and will be more attractive to us. If so, the pressure to put through Stoneridge drive will increase significantly. That Pleasanton does not get any tax benefits, well, too bad. It really is quite wealthy, anyways. Much more so than when I moved here in 1979.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2007 at 3:30 am
Yes, Frank, this forum provides an interesting exchange.
My only personal agenda is a love of Pleasanton, my hometown and where I grew up and am now raising a family. Since 1969 I haven’t lived anywhere else other the San Francisco State during college. I’ve lived on the south side and the north side. Visited the same building for a beer at the Red Gable and years later for a sandwich at Quizno’s. I currently reside over the sound wall just about across from where TGI Friday’s is, so any development isn’t going to bother me. Our oldest son is leaving for college this weekend and our younger son and daughter are in high school and pretty much have set team sports aside, so I can’t say lack of sports fields will directly effect our family.
I often need to inventory my feelings to find a balance between nostalgia for the small town Pleasanton of my youth and the needs of a successful, modern city of moderate size.
The current planned development for Staples shortchanges the city. We can do better.
No one, and certainly not me, can claim to know what “twists and turns” this will take. Welcome to democracy.
As a lay person risking oversimplification, misstatements and misunderstandings I will put out the following…
Staples Ranch is one of four pieces of what was once about 950 acres of Alameda County Surplus Property in the Tri-Valley. The other three being Wetmore Ranch in South Livermore, the Transit Center located on the Dublin side of BART, and Santa Rita/Emerald Park in East Dublin.
In 1998 the Alameda County Board of Supervisors voted to convert these properties into an interest-bearing investment fund (The Surplus Property Development Trust Fund or “Emerald Fund”) where the proceeds from property sales are maintained in the fund as capital assets similar to an endowment. The interest generated from the fund may be spent only on county capital improvement projects. As of June 2006 the fund was generating approximately $7.9 annually for county capital improvements.
So, from an Alameda County perspective Staples Ranch is a capital asset to be converted into money and invested in the trust fund whereupon it is expected to generate additional investment income for capital improvements. The county only wants money, I’ve heard about $85 million.
The proposed plan generates $26 million from the Auto Mall who receives a discounted rate of $700,000 per acre to provide Pleasanton with the remainder in development fees to improve El Charro Road and construct a two lane bridge from Stoneridge Drive over the Arroyo Mocho to Staples.
The 11 acres commercial site goes for $11 million and Pleasanton would pay the full $5 million potentially for an additional 5 acre site currently designated for storm drainage.
The lion’s share to the county at $45 million comes from the 45 acre continuing care facility development.
All of this comes to $87 million bucks to the county, but please note: the county is prohibited from spending any of it. The proceeds from the sale of the property must go to the Surplus Property Trust Fund. Thus, in order designate funds for infrastructure improvements the county must either pull money from the already short funded capital improvement budget, designate it from the general fund, or go through a third party entity i.e. a city to extract what’s needed from the developers.
The Eastern Gateway Initiative, by definition, would eliminate $56 million to the county from the current plan with Pleasanton (proceeds from the continuing care facility and the other commercial). This is obviously unacceptable to the county from a fiduciary standpoint. Under the initiative the limited market for the remaining land in Pleasanton would primarily be the city for parks or sports fields and possibly the school district as the site for a fourth high school, but…
The city also has a major, regional improvement to offer in the Stoneridge extension. The extension would present an early exit off of I-580 into Pleasanton and Hacienda Business Park which has a dual effect of relieving some of the congestion earlier on the approach to the 580/680 interchange and adding an a new route into the business park allowing for new development on vacant parcels and redevelopment of existing, underutilized office space.
Should the county go to Livermore to annex and develop the land they are faced with multiple dilemmas.
Under California Local Agency Formation rules the property must be in the Livermore General Plan, which would require an environmental impact report, and, under Livermore’s voter enacted Measure K, a public vote to move their Urban Growth Boundary. Such a vote couldn’t happen until Livermore’s next municipal election in November 2009. Also, Livermore’s mayor stated publicly in a May 2005 letter that they oppose any housing, specifically the continuing care facility, on the property. This means the county would be back at square one to find a developer for the bulk of the site. Plus, Livermore is already developing the eastern side of El Charro and would subsequently have to modify their El Charro Specific Plan for the area causing more delays. Lastly, Pleasanton would rightfully sue the county. Pleasanton borders the property on many sides, it is part of our General Plan within our sphere of influence where we have the responsibility to determine what is best for our community, and Pleasanton is not denying the county use of their property which is Alameda County zoned agriculture.
One can reasonably predict that this scenario would take many years to resolve with the end resulting in a completely different development than what is currently planned for the site and certainly a much longer delay of opening any Stoneridge extension.
As we enter the public process it’s really up to our community to express what they value for this property. The officials many people insist will do this or that are our public servants, their responsibility is to represent us. An initiative becomes law not from a few, rather it’s enacted by a majority of voters in a public election.
The need for public officials to be responsive to their constituents, regardless of what has been proposed, is why developers first buy options rather than the property outright. Because it is not guaranteed the public will approve of the plans.
Believe me, an initiative drive is not all fun and games. It is work made especially difficult by the inability to see the twists and turns things will take and especially not the endgame.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2007 at 10:55 am
Thank you for your conversation Mr. Morrison. The airport issue is a tangent but I'd like mention to you I think your fear of 24 hour express courier service setting up at Livermore is baseless. The economics of one doesn't make sense. If it did there would already be such a service at Livermore. The Tri-Valley isn't some isolated urban island in the Midwest that relies upon its small airport for such services. We are only about a 20-30 minute drive from the Oakland airport and another 30-45 minutes from SFO. A fleet of trucks is much cheaper to own and operate than a fleet of airplanes. Carriers like UPS and FedEx aggregate their deliveries into large airplanes (that can't land at Livermore) for long hauls in order to reduce their costs. The small amount of time one could shave off of a delivery by putting it on an airplane at Livermore won't turn a profit compared with putting it on a truck to Oakland airport.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2007 at 11:03 am
As Jon Harvey (also a Pleasanton resident) explained in the Independent article, he believes that since the property is within the County Urban Growth Boundary that Sierra Club supported, the matter is better resolved in the existing municipal process which has yet to run its course.
In my view the initiative is part of the municipal process. I whole heartedly agree with Jon that initiative backers must participate in the all phases of the development process with the city. There is always potential for modifications to the development plan that would make the initiative less necessary.
I also heard concern about the Sierra Club being perceived as opposing senior housing. Again, I had a different view on this particular continuing care facility in respect to its location adjacent to the Livermore Airport Protection Area and the exclusive, non-affordable aspect of the senior residences.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2007 at 11:52 am
Thank you as well, Ms. Stacey.
As to increased commercial use of the airport, I really believe it would come down to a smaller or specialty courier being able to setup a viable distribution center near the airport that would primarily serve the business parks in San Ramon and Pleasanton, the Livermore Lab, and other nearby businesses that require expedited shipping or special handling.
You can't discount morning and afternoon traffic getting from Oakland Airport or SFO easily doubling the transit times you indicate.
I also heard that the airport can already handle a 727, but haven't verified that independently.
Under Federal Guidelines, the airport can't restrict anyone from landing during the night/early morning. With the planned growth in the area, especially if you see multi-story buildings going up like in Walnut Creek (not a far fetched idea, Walnut Creek was once a small, bucolic town at the intersections of two freeways), several forms of intensive night time/early morning air traffic could occur including courier service.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Aug 17, 2007 at 7:19 pm
MY COMMENTS ARE IN BOLD:
The current planned development for Staples shortchanges the city. W
e can do better. THE INITIATIVES YOU PROMOTE KEEPS THIS OPEN SPACE. SO, YOU MUST BE SAYING THAT OPEN SPACE IS BETTER. BUT, THIS STATEMENT IS AMBIGUOUS BASED UPON YOUR LEAD IN TO THIS STATEMENT AND CAN IMPLY SOMETHING MORE.
So, from an Alameda County perspective Staples Ranch is a capital asset to be converted into money and invested in the trust fund whereupon it is expected to generate additional investment income for capital improvements. The county only wants money, I?ve heard about $85 million.
The proposed plan generates â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦â€¦..
All of this comes to $87 million bucks to the county, but please note: the county is prohibited from spending any of it. The proceeds from the sale of the property must go to the Surplus Property Trust Fund. Thus, in order designate funds for infrastructure improvements the county must either pull money from the already short funded capital improvement budget, designate it from the general fund, or go through a third party entity i.e. a city to extract what?s needed from the developers. SO, YOU SAY THE COUNTY HAS THREE CHOICES. ADD TO THIS â€śTWISTS AND TURNSâ€ť AND YOU CAN BET THEY WILL GO FORWARD WITH ONE OF THESE CHOICES IN A WAY THAT GETS THE COUNTY MUCH MORE THAN THE $87 MILLION BUCKS. THAT IS, A MORE INTENSIVELY DEVELOPED STAPLES RANCH COMPARED TO THE CURRENT PLAN. CERTAINLY, KEEPING IT OPEN SPACE GETS THE COUNTY ZERO DOLLARS. THANK YOU FOR ADDING DETAIL TO THIS POINT.
Should the county go to Livermore to annex and develop the land they are faced with multiple dilemmas.
Under California Local Agency Formation rules the property must be in the Livermore General Plan, which would require an environmental impact report, and, under Livermore?s voter enacted Measure K, a public vote to move their Urban Growth Boundary. Such a vote couldn?t happen until Livermore?s next municipal election in November 2009. THIS IS SIMPLY A DELAY. DELAY SEEMS TO BE YOUR TACTIC, AND I THINK YOU CONFUSE THIS WITH A STRATEGY. MEANWHILE, THE REST OF PLEASANTON CITIZENS ARE AFFECTED BY THE DELAY. THE PRIZE IS SUFFICIENTLY BIG THAT EITHER DUBLIN OR LIVERMORE WILL GO THROUGH THE PROCESS. WHATEVER IT TAKES! PLEASANTON WILL HAVE PASSED ON THE OPPORTUNITY.
Also, Livermore?s mayor stated publicly in a May 2005 letter that they oppose any housing, specifically the continuing care facility, on the property. This means the county would be back at square one to find a developer for the bulk of the site. Plus, Livermore is already developing the eastern side of El Charro and would subsequently have to modify their El Charro Specific Plan for the area causing more delays. I DONâ€™T AGREE THAT THIS POINT IS MEANINGFUL. INTENSIVE COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT FOR ALL OF THE STAPLES RANCH PROPERTY IS WHAT EITHER LIVERMORE OR DUBLIN WILL GO. THEY HAVE NO RESIDENTS WHO WOULD BE AFFECTED, SO THEY WILL MAX OUT THE PLAN FOR GREATEST TAX REVENUES. OF COURSE, ANY HOUSING OR SPORTS PARKS WOULD BE FLUSHED IN FAVOR OF COMMERCIAL DEVELOPMENT. FROM LIVERMOREâ€™S POINT OF VIEW, THEIR LAND PLAN ACROSS EL CHARRO ROAD WOULD LIKELY LOOK LIKE MORE OF THE SAME OF WHAT IS ON THEIR SIDE. IT'S HARD TO SEE HOW LIVERMORE'S CURRENT EL CHARRO SPECIFIC PLAN GETS UNDONE BECAUSE ACROSS THE STREET MORE LAND COMES INTO ITS SPHERE.
Lastly, Pleasanton would rightfully sue the county. Pleasanton borders the property on many sides, it is part of our General Plan within our sphere of influence where we have the responsibility to determine what is best for our community, and Pleasanton is not denying the county use of their property which is Alameda County zoned agriculture. SO, THIS IS YOUR BACK STOP. PLEASANTON SUING THE COUNTY ON SOME THIN CLAIM THAT IT IS CURRENTLY ZONED AGRICULTURE. I CAN ENVISION A LIKELY SCENE AT THE TRIAL. DEFENSE QUESTIONS PLAINTIFFâ€™S WITNESSES: â€śAND WHY DID PLEASANTON APPROVE A DEVELOPMENT PLAN FOR SUBJECT PROPERTY IN 2007, AFTER MANY YEARS OF DOCUMENTED PLANNING, AND NOW CLAIMS HARM IF IT DOES NOT REMAIN AGRICULTURE?â€ť
One can reasonably predict that this scenario would take many years to resolve with the end resulting in a completely different development than what is currently planned for the site and certainly a much longer delay of opening any Stoneridge extension. AND HERE YOU STATE WHAT EVERYONE FOLLOWING THIS ISSUE ALREADY KNOWS. YOU AND OTHER INITIATIVE CREATORS WANT TO DELAY ANY STONERIDGE EXTENSION. THIS IS THE SELF-INTEREST PART. MEANWHILE, WHAT ABOUT THE REST OF US? WE HAVE WORKED THROUGH THE ESTABLISHED PROCESS TO GET TO THIS POINT AND YOU ARE TRYING TO STYMIE THE USUAL DEMOCRATIC PROCESS THROUGH YOUR USE OF THE INITIATIVE PROCESS, THE LATTER OF WHICH IS A RATHER RECENT PHENOMENOM WHEN ONE CONSIDERS THE BIG PICTURE OF DEMOCRATIC PROCESSES.
Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2007 at 1:08 pm
Let me add another 2 cents to Frank's comments. Matt Morrison says:
"The Eastern Gateway Initiative, by definition, would eliminate $56 million to the county from the current plan with Pleasanton (proceeds from the continuing care facility and the other commercial). This is obviously unacceptable to the county from a fiduciary standpoint..."
Black's Law Dictionary describes a fiduciary relationship as "one founded on trust or confidence reposed by one person in the integrity and fidelity of another." A fiduciary has a duty to act primarily for the client's benefit in matters connected with the undertaking...
Alameda County has a fiduciary responsibility to act in the best interests of the clients it represents, specifically County residents and taxpayers, which includes the people of Pleasanton.
Matt goes on to say:
"Under the initiative the limited market for the remaining land in Pleasanton would primarily be the city for parks or sports fields and possibly the school district as the site for a fourth high school..."
The initiative's intent to reduce the financial value of Staples Ranch by restricting the future zoning and ownership to uses which will only benefit Pleasanton residents wrongfully interferes with the County's exercise of its fiduciary obligations to all County residents. It would be totally unethical for the Board of Supervisors to allow the annexation of Staples Ranch into Pleasanton if the initiative were to pass - a total violation of public trust. They can't even consider annexation until they are sure the initiative won't govern the ultimate use of this valuable public asset.
I'm sure the "Friends of Pleasanton" didn't conceive the initiative as a $56 million ripoff of taxpayer assets, but that's exactly what it is. Therefore, no matter what the cost, the County is obligated to search for a means to make the taxpayers whole if the initiative passes. The costlier the process is, the more intensive the development will be to compensate.If annexation to Livermore is too complicated, they can always go to Dublin, or keep the property unincorporated, develop it themselves, and contract for services.
I don't think that the County will consider completion of the Stoneridge extention as a reason to annex into Pleasanton under the initiative. As Mr. Morrison points out, the extention benefits mostly Pleasanton.
"The extension would present an early exit off of I-580 into Pleasanton and Hacienda Business Park which has a dual effect of relieving some of the congestion earlier on the approach to the 580/680 interchange and adding an a new route into the business park allowing for new development on vacant parcels and redevelopment of existing, underutilized office space."
Although Stoneridge Drive extention is probably favored by a majority of Pleasanton residents, I don't think they want to pay for it in order to remove senior housing and an ice rink from the Staples Ranch plan. They would still rather have Staples Ranch development as per the MOU foot the bill.
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:24 am
"Stacey" - An initiative is way to put something on the ballot that ALL voters in Pleasanton will vote on. How is that enacting a law by only a few people? It's a democratic process that sometimes happens when city leaders are simply not listening to the concerns of their constituents or are influenced by outside interests.
"Becky Dennis"- I haven't heard you once address the concerns of having our seniors under the flight path (if I'm mistaken, I apologize, please refer to it) Do you really think that is the best we can do for seniors? You haven't addressed the affordability component, either. Your group has promoted affordable housing and now you're promoting EXTEMELY high-end housing? Pleasanton needs more affordable housing, for seniors and other residents. Why are you in favor of higher-end housing? Please address.
For all of you out there who think this is NIMBY-ism, I have some comments. First of all, those who cry Nimby-ism only do so until it affects their residence, then all of a sudden it's not Nimby anymore. I've seen this time and time again in the last 10 years. How come no one is calling the anti-Home Depot people Nimbys? That is the same situation. I happen to live in the Stoneridge area. This initiative does not stop the extension of Stoneridge Dr. That is going to happen at some point. I'm not crazy about that because 580 traffic will use Stoneridge. Anyone who doesn't believe that, just ask the Valley residents who see all that cut-through traffic on Valley. This is going to affect ALL of Pleasanton with more cut-through traffic through out town. But, if we are powerless to stop that, which apparently we are, then why not limit the amount of development on Staples? Why is the eastern area the dumping ground for all this development? If we have beautiful ridges on the western side, a southeast hills plan, why not an eastern plan? This is the last gateway to be developed, let's make it look nice and be a benefit to the residents here.
I think we all share in the thought that we want Pleasanton to continue to be a place where we want to live. Sure, a ginormous ice rink, auto mall, housing, shopping center, etc. may look nice when built, but what about in 20 years? Please look at the big picture!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:22 pm
Carol, you've missed my point completely. Normal lawmaking practice in this country happens through a process of debate by a legislative body of directly elected representatives (which all voters vote on). This style of government is supposed to ensure that differing voices, opinions, and ideas have representation in the process. It leads to laws formed on compromise since during such debate sections get added or deleted on proposed laws before they get voted on and become enacted. Most of the time constituents participate in debate by contacting their representative. At the city level there are even more direct avenues through which the public can participate. And our form of government also allows representatives to be ousted from office through impeachment or the election process if they aren't working out before we even get to talking about initiatives.
Initiatives on the other hand offer no such public law-forming participation other than a yes or no vote on the proposed law in its final form. They don't allow alternate voices to debate with the writers to get sections added or subtracted that will benefit everyone so they end up only benefiting the writers. On top of that, the average voter doesn't have the time or take the time to thoroughly investigate all aspects of the initiative so they generally make an uninformed vote based upon emotion. If you think initiatives are a good idea, then why elect representatives if we're just going to be making law directly through the initiative process?
It is an article regarding an initiative at the state level that yet again only benefits the writers, this time the GOP. The average voter certainly won't benefit and it definitely isn't an initiative that has anything to do with dissatisfaction of an elected leader.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:25 pm
"An initiative...democratic process that sometimes happens when city leaders are simply not listening"
An initiative is an opinion which usually starts with a small group of the electorate. The signature process is the screen that allows it to go forward on the basis that, if the signature numbers are large enough, it evidences that the group might be part of a majority. This is a recent phenonmenon relative to the many year history of successful democratic processes. So, let's not confuse this out right with what we all accept as "democracy". The jury is still out on how well initiatives represent democracy. They are easily gamed. The initiative process is a "catch the person coming out of Safeway with a 'please sign because how can you be against the flag and motherhood and apple pie'. This is a come on, not a well thought out response by the signing person. In this case, "open space". How obvious this come on is in this case! This "game" can be accused of undermining the legislative process of voting representatives to consider in depth complicated issues in a forum that has controlled emotional inputs to its decision making process.
"I haven't heard you once address the concerns of having our seniors under the flight path"
Attention to what Becky is saying is not being paid. This is a moot point regarding the initiative. The initiative is presented to provide "open space", not save the possible future residents of the planned senior facility from aircraft noise. Why argue about this senior facility? To confuse the main points? Sounds like a Rove/Bush tactic. Argue about this if you want no residences at all at this site and are willing to ignore the intensive commercial development that will eventually result when the county pursues its alternatives. Open space will not be the result, which is the main point that is being argued.
"those who cry Nimby-ism only do so until it affects their residence,"
Not true. Hatsushi (former Nursery) put forth a plan to develop their property over my back fence. I showed up at the planning commission meeting and supported it! Some of my neighbors cried about how it would ruin their views and lower their house value. NIMBYs, they were. Shame on them! Not true! On Home Depot. It definitely adds no value to this part of Pleasanton when the merits of the plan are considered and rational thinking suggests the conclusion that it only benefits Home Depot shareholders at the expense of Pleasanton residents who live in the area.
The Stoneridge extension, much to the dismay of the NIMBY opponents, will instead add substantial value to most residents of Pleasanton. In 1979 I could not get to a location on Hopyard without getting on I580 west or driving down Santa Rita to Valley and over to Hopyard from our house in Pleasanton Meadows. What a pain! Then Hacienda was put in and W. Las Positas, Stoneridge, and Owens Drive provided access from Santa Rita to Hopyard. Imagine today that they did not exist! Yes, the traffic flow improvements will outweigh the claimed negative impacts by opponents of the extension.
My re-collection is that Valley Drive from Santa Rita to Stanley was completed as the last cross road through Pleasanton. Before that all traffic drove down Santa Rita past Amador High School to Stanley and turned left onto Stanley. Even the gravel trucks did before the pits agreed to stop using this route! How great it was to use the new Valley Avenue to get to all of southeast Pleasanton (Bernal was completed at about the same time). So, the point is, the long planned for extension of Stoneridge will benefit the majority of Pleasanton, just as these other completions did. Why do the residents around this east end of Stoneridge think the road was put in with muliple lanes, a median, and sound walls on both sides? Because the plan has always been to extend it! It's not a cul de sac for your behalf!! Taxpayers and developers paid for this based upon planning, now proposed to be changed by the NIMBYs using the initiative process!
"Please look at the big picture! "
Pleasanton will be a better place to live with the Stoneridge extension completed. Yes, even for the residents in the area. The road is built with sound walls on each side and it has the ability to handle not only local traffic but cross town traffic also. Let's address this point: forecast traffic on an extended Stoneridge will have limited effect on the residents there, especially if compared to other areas of town such as the neighborhoods around the Valley Road extension. Why are you guys so special?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 8:29 pm
We actually have it lucky in California regarding the low use of the initiative process. I was visiting a friend in Portland a number of years ago during election time and their voter's guide looked like a phone book, they had so many measures to vote on...
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Aug 19, 2007 at 10:32 pm
Frank, Do you honestly think that 580 traffic will not use Stoneridge to cut-through our town? If there is massive cut-through (MORE cars going through Pleasanton to get to work/home), how are you going to be able to get across town faster? I cannot understand this rationale that "the extension is better for all of Pleasanton". It is closer to 580 than Valley and Valley gets massive cut-through. It's just going to be another alternate fwy route. With the traffic as bad as it is, the commuters would be crazy not to do that. Ideally, the extension would benefit Pleasanton if the traffic conditions on 580 were improved such that commuters wouldn't be looking for alternate routes in order to avoid the traffic mess. Yes, the extension would have a more negative effect on the eastern residents due to the closer proximity, but it really will negatively affect the entire city. The only data (the traffic engineer's report a few months ago) that was presented to the city is that in 2030 with a whole long list of regional improvements, there may be a slight improvement to Valley. There is no public data that shows the extension is good for the community now or within the next ten years. Check the city webpage for the reports and see for yourself. With that said, if it is going to go through, I would like to see less development on the Staples Ranch property so that it lessens the amount of cars using Stoneridge. The initiative is allowing the auto mall so we are not losing that tax revenue. Let's make this something we can be proud of and not something that looks like Los Angeles (no offense to Los Angeles, but that city has suffered enormously from poor planning).
Stacey, initiatives are the right of the people. It's a first amendment free speech issue. If people don't like it, they don't have to sign it or vote for it. But, to say that people shouldn't do them is basically trying to stifle free speech. I respect everyone's right to state their opinion, whether I agree with them or not. You talk about not having debate on both sides. There is debate on both sides, especially in the media. Plus, nothing stops anyone from having another initiative.
And also regarding initiatives, Prop 13 was an initiative. Do most people think that was bad? That initiative has benefited an enormous amount of people, especially seniors and low-income residents. Just because you don't agree with an initiative does not mean that it shouldn't be done by others who do agree with it. Respect our constituional rights!!
Lastly, the one thing that has become the biggest factor in all of politics is money, even in this town. Politicians basically represent the financers of their campaigns and not their constituents. That is why initiatives at times become necessary. People should have a voice in public matters and that is not happening as much anymore. I guess that's why so many people don't get involved. It's a sad thing! But, I appreciate all of the debate here, whether I agree with you or not, at least you are involved in the debate. And that's a good thing......
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 9:24 am
Frank, I remember too the isolation of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood from the rest of Pleasanton in those days. I could not even have had the choice of which high school to attend if W. Los Positas were not built because getting to Foothill would have been too impractical without that road. Despite the road improvements you mentioned in Hacienda, that isolation still in fact remains today. Santa Rita Road was and still is the ONLY north-south route through this part of Pleasanton which is why it is overloaded TODAY with traffic. I have to get on it every time I want to get to 580, 680, or downtown without driving through the backstreets of Birdland. Contrast this with the two north-south routes Hopyard and Foothill on the west side. Imagine the west side without one of those two routes. In truth we need El Charro built as an alternate route straight through from 580 to Stanley to further reduce the traffic on Santa Rita like how Livermore is fixing up Isabel to route traffic around their city core.
Carol, speak for yourself about the extension negatively affecting east side residents. I live near Stoneridge Drive and would be negatively affected by it if the extension were NOT built. The traffic study you cite on the city webpage talks about how traffic is expected to increase by 90% on Santa Rita WITHOUT the extension, further cutting us off from the rest of Pleasanton. You write statements as if cut-through traffic is the main culprit while ignoring the fact that Pleasanton residents use these streets too. Rush hour isn't the only time traffic rather full on Santa Rita. Only Sunday morning traffic these days approximates what traffic used to be like. Developing Staples Ranch won't have much effect on Santa Rita traffic. Without the extension and without developing Staples Ranch, Stoneridge would become a parking lot for Pleasanton residents trying to avoid 580 to shop at Livermore's El Charro outlet mall. Is that what you're looking forward to?
Also, re-reading what I wrote, I fail to find any mention that I think people shouldn't do initiatives. I was explaining why I dislike the initiative process. Perhaps I should say I think you put too much faith in the initiative process without realizing the consequences. Initiatives in California are only about 100 years old, much younger than the Federal and State Constitutions. You talk about how initiatives are a way for the people to assert their power over politicians controlled by special interest groups and they are. I hope you realize though that initiatives are also a way for special interest groups to strong-arm a government. The only kind of debate we can have regarding an initiative is whether to vote for it or not. We cannot add or delete parts of it that we don't think work. It is amazing that you can only cite one law passed by the initiative process (Prop 13) within the last 25 years or so that was good for voters. You are right though that every once in awhile a true gem comes along through the initiative process, yet you conveniently ignore the fact that most initiatives are written by and tainted by special interest groups.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 9:39 am
I found this PDF regarding the initiative process in California that is rather enlightening: Web Link
Californians seem to not like a large number of initiatives on a ballot while at the same time want the process to have more power than the legislature and governor. That is like trying to have a cake and eat it too. Also Californians are dissatisfied at the large number of initiatives challenged in court. Initiatives passed by voters would probably stop being challenged in court so much if they had been vetted by a legislative body first.
Posted by Ty-Town, a resident of Dublin, on Aug 20, 2007 at 2:20 pm
This is a great idea because 'if' this is blocked by Pleasanton Voters then either Dublin or Livermore will work woth the County to develope the land and since Staples Ranch in not close to residents of those cities we will have a Hacienda Crossings type of development here- thus the Friends of Pleasanton will have done more damage than good. Dublin or Livermore will use the tax revenue and not use it for open space or a better plan. Oh and Dublin in behind in affordable housing, that looks like a good location for that too!
Posted by Carol, a resident of the Stoneridge neighborhood, on Aug 20, 2007 at 6:24 pm
Stacey - Yes, Pleasanton residents would use Stoneridge if it were to be extended, but realistically, the majority is going to be people cutting through. Just look at the 580 fwy onramp at rush hour time. The majority of those people aren't residents getting to Costco, but rather commuters, originating in Pleas or elsewhere, trying to get home. The same goes for Valley. True, there are some Pleasanton residents, but with that kind of traffic, it's not just residents here. Which makes me conclude, and I would think (hope) you would agree, that if regional improvements were done when they should have been done, we wouldn't even be discussing this (580/680 flyover going north/west, freeway lanes added, BART extended, etc). Our regional planners haven't done their job and now that it's gotten so bad, our town has to suffer. It's really too bad because this didn't have to play out like this. And the same goes for the Valley residents. I sympathize with them over their plight. Really, the traffic is a mess here and I think Stoneridge would just add one more street that gets to be a cut-through.
Ty-Town - Regarding Livermore or Dublin annexing it, I would encourage you to read the above thread, I think it's "Matt Morrison". I don't know how Dublin could annex it when it doesn't connect to Dublin. If I'm not mistaken, that cannot be done. Regarding Livermore annexing it, I guess that is a possibility, but the process is long and hard and probably wouldn't be seen in my lifetime. Regarding tax revenue, the tax revenue from the auto mall is going to be shared (although I don't know what percentage) with the county since it's county land. I don't know if people know that. Not all of that tax revenue will come to us, unlike their current location. But, I think since it's a local long-time business here and the tax revenue is significant, allowing them on that property is a good thing. I also don't know if people are aware that the senior housing is going to be 4 story, 800 unit, and high-price, something like $5000 (maybe more) per month for a lease. I don't know any seniors who could afford that. Pleasanton has enough higher income housing, let's use the rest of our housing cap on senior housing and other housing that is affordable and/or moderate. Regarding the skate rink, a for-profit company should not be allowed on public land. If the Sharks want to put a rink here, fine, find commercial land for it. The amount of park space for sports fields and such is dwindling and dwindling each time this issue is discussed. We need sports fields on this side of town. Whether you have kids involved in it or not, and my kids are all grown and I don't need to have them, just take a look around town during sports season. Using the dog park at Muirwood during soccer season (fall)is a nightmare. They have soccer teams using that entire park during the whole day on Saturday. I've seen a few times where kids have almost gotten hit by cars in that area becasue it's so crowded and those residents there can't get out of their courts. Staples Ranch would be a prime location for sports fields, trails (which I'm very big on for walking), and open space.
I encourage all of you to have an open mind on this and to really research the motives behind the initiative and also the motives behind those that are so against it.
Thanks to all of you for sharing your thoughts. I think discussion is essential in any public process. Thank you for taking the time to do so.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 2:11 pm
Ms. Stacey, I attended all four years at Foothill High (1978-1982) without a cross street connection other than Valley Avenue. We used I-580 which was practically empty other than at commute times. Hacienda Business Park didn’t open until 1983-84.
FUN FACT: The dirt from dredging arroyo canals for Hacienda Business Park flood control was used to level and raise the land for to build the Pleasanton Sports Park.
You make a very good point about connecting El Charro Road through to Stanley Boulevard. We met with a former Pleasanton city councilmember who said Stoneridge Drive ought not to be extended until El Charro and Stanley connect. I’m told that Hansen Aggregates will only allow that after mining operations cease in about twenty years.
My personal opinion is that the Stoneridge extension debate should include when and under what conditions rather than only whether or not. Has a city-sponsored citizen committee ever been setup to review Stoneridge Drive extension as was done with West Las Positas Interchange?
I also hope everyone understands that the current city/county Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for Staples Ranch was considered by the neighborhood community in an environment where 4 of 5 city council members stated opposition to extending Stoneridge Drive. In a relatively short time (six months or so after the election) all four of those members voted to keep Stoneridge Extension in Pleasanton’s General Plan.
Ms. Dennis, it is apparent that Alameda County considers it their fiduciary responsibility to maintain the value of the county’s capital assets, hence their requirement to maintain any proceeds from the sale of “Surplus Property” in a trust fund. The initiative doesn’t alter the zoning of the land (County Agriculture) or permanently prohibit any development. Thus the initiative is not a $56 million “rip off” of county taxpayers.
The county bought Staples Ranch as an Alameda County Rehabilitation Center Annex (Santa Rita Jail) prior to 1970, perhaps as early as the mid-1950’s when Sheriff Howard Gleason began using inmates to work growing grains and vegetables, so the purchase prices was likely less than $50,000.00 (perhaps much less).
A good question is whether it is a fiduciary responsibility of the county to make a profit on land that was not purchased as an investment. There is no question that the land has increased in value over time due to the scarcity of open space within the Alameda County Urban Growth Boundary. The question is whether the money or the open space is more valuable to the community. The county assumes that the increase of perhaps $1 million or so dollars a year in Surplus Property Development Trust Fund revenue is more important.
The county has county has already in recent years made a fortune off the “Surplus Property” in Dublin on the north side of I-580 where the former Santa Rita County Jail and most of Camp Parks once were. The community is only just beginning to feel the impacts.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 22, 2007 at 6:31 pm
Matt, the Pleasanton Sports Park was given to Pleasanton in 1971 by the US Govt. as part of some "Govt surplus lands to parks" program (Web Link). Do you by chance know what the USG had used the land for? Perhaps the Army Corps of Engineers had used the land as part of flood control dredging for more than just the business park. That area certainly is near/under the original Tulare seasonal lake. There was a theory that it could have been one of the three Pleasanton NOLFs (Naval Outlying Field) attached to the Livermore Naval Air Station (that became the lab). Maybe we should start a Pleasanton history thread.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 11:30 am
What a great idea, Stacey! I’ve never heard about any Pleasanton NOLF’s. I am continually surprised by the history of Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley. A history thread would be fun AND informative.
I played Little League Baseball on the site of the new sports park for four or five years probably from about 1971 to 1975-76 (Red Sox).
I remember it only occupying what is now the most western end of the current sports park next to Hopyard Road with maybe 6 or so baseball diamonds. They were very old school with wooden fences, painted ads, etc. The fields were pretty rutted out by the time I began to play, so at least that area probably had been used for sports for several years before hand.
East of the baseball diamonds I think were only fields. I suppose if the area had been used as a dirt airstrip it could have overgrown itself by then.
I have some 1995 US Geological Survey maps of the area that include some details from 1968 and 1954 (I think) surveys. I’ll try to dig them out and see if there are any references.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Aug 23, 2007 at 9:37 pm
Some points of Mr. Morrison's recent posting cry out for some perspective:
So, how did your easy commute to Foothill each day down I-580 in 1978 somehow imply that the Stoneridge and West Las Positas through streets across Pleasanton might not really have been needed in later years, especially, fast forward to Y2007 with double or treble the population of Pleasanton? Of course, you will say you did not imply this in your post. So, what was your point? Should a resident on the northeast side of Pleasanton today use Valley or I-580 to get to Foothill?
Fiduciary responsibility of the County regarding the land... How do the intents in 1971 somehow affect this responsibility in 2007? Suppose you bought your home in, say, 1971 for $50,000, and you did not purchase it for investment reasons. Do you not have a basic responsibility to your family and your estate to sell it for market price, say $500,000, in 2007? Tell us how in the Staples Ranch case it may work differently from my example. Because the County is a government entity and taxpayer's monies are different from personal monies?
Yet you go further. You say the County has already made a fortune off of surplus property. But you stop short of specifically stating what you mean by this statement. Of course, the implication is clear, that is, the County therefore does not need to make money from Staples Ranch. Again, fiduciary responsibility applies. Suppose you made a "fortune" by selling a rental property that you and your family owned. Using the above example, does this mean you give away your home for the price you paid, which was $50,000 in 1971? Of course not!!!!
The bottom line is that none of what you say will likely affect the predicted outcome. Fiduciary responsibility, along with common sense, will drive the County to maximize their financial benefit derived from this property. Pleasanton will lose much control over the outcome with the proposed initiative.
Posted by Outsider, a resident of another community, on Sep 5, 2007 at 10:01 am
Regarding Matt's 8/22 comment that Hansen will only allow El Charro to connect after mining has been completed -- anybody that closely follows Pleasanton planning issues would know that Hansen stopped mining the Kaiser property a few years ago, and Hansen has been working with the City ever since trying to get the General Plan revised so they can redevelop the property.
Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Sep 6, 2007 at 2:29 am
I just spent the evening at First Wednesday a few yards away from people gathering signatures for the Staples initiative. I was shocked to learn that they were falsely, but apparently eagerly, reassuring voters that Alameda County would never try to develop Staples Ranch on its own. Why? They mistakenly believe that Staples Ranch is located outside the County's voter protected Urban Growth Boundary.
This is flat out WRONG, as anyone can see from the Association of Bay Area Governments' UGB map: (Web Link).
Furthermore, the map shows that Livermore's UGB is open at the Staples Ranch property. If the map is correct, Livermore would not need voter approval to annex and develop the property either. The same open boundary exists between Dublin and Staples as well. Oops...
Please don't follow people who can't read a map. Staples Ranch will get lost.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2007 at 12:10 pm
I missed seeing you while I was gathering signatures. I was only present for a brief time, between 7-7:30, and spent too much time talking (My apologies to Carol Varela, wherever she is!).
You are correct that Staples is inside Alameda County Urban Growth Boundary, but the county Urban Growth Boundary may be important on whether Alameda County can request Livermore to annex the Staples property.
In 2000 Alameda County voters approved Measure D establishing an East Alameda County Urban Growth Boundary outside of which the county government is prohibited from making decisions or establishing policy that promotes development.
Measure D defines the county Urban Growth Boundary as running along Livermore’s western Urban Growth Boundary north to I-580, heading west along I-580 to Pleasanton’s eastern Urban Growth Boundary, then running south along Pleasanton’s eastern Urban Growth Boundary.
Thus, by definition, an area exists between Pleasanton and Livermore at the eastern edge of Staples Ranch that lies outside the county’s Urban Growth Boundary.
A question is whether Alameda County is permitted to encroach for the purposes of development through the defined area outside the County Urban Growth Boundary between Pleasanton and Livermore by asking Livermore to annex Staples.
This question may only be settled through litigation. It is one of several the City of Pleasanton can ask courts to decide should another city attempt to annex the Staples Property. The Local Agency Formation Commissions are not operating in a vacuum where they can arrive willy-nilly at any decision they choose. Their decisions are governed by California law and involve such findings as whether property is within a city’s general plan, how many boundaries a city shares with the property, whether there is existing infrastructure to serve the property, etc.
I actually have read the ABAG map, Becky, please note that it defines the Staples Ranch property as “Important Farmlands/Wetlands, Significant Natural Areas”.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2007 at 3:10 pm
You've lost me. You say an area to the east of Staples Ranch lies outside the county UGB, yet the only area I see lying outside the Measure D UGB is the Chain of Lakes area south of the Livermore Airport. Please clarify.
Secondly, you are using an assumption that Alameda County would have Livermore annex this site, an action which you say could be open to litigation. But who cares? Alameda County can still develop Staples Ranch without needing a city to annex it.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Sep 7, 2007 at 3:26 pm
Measure D defines the county Urban Growth Boundary as running along Livermore?s western Urban Growth Boundary north to I-580, heading west along I-580 to Pleasanton?s eastern Urban Growth Boundary, then running south along Pleasanton?s eastern Urban Growth Boundary.
I have consulted three different maps to determine the area you describe. My sources are:
1. The UGBs for both Pleasanton and Livermore were found at
2. The abag map via the link provided in Becky Dennis' comment.
I interpret that the UGB lines you describe to overlay, that is, they are coincident. Therefore, Measure D language is moot since it defines an area of zero width. Similarly, the abag map shows no such area that you describe. If this area is finite, then it appears to have no meaningful width and would hardly serve as a basis for a lawsuit.
My interpretation of these sources may be wrong. Can you point to references that demonstrate the defined area so we might all see what you are talking about?
Posted by Outsider, a resident of another community, on Sep 7, 2007 at 3:58 pm
The ABAG Map and the UGB Map included as Appendix 1 to Measure D both show that the entirety of Staples Ranch and Livermore's adjacent El Charro Specific Plan area, including El Charro Road itself, are within the County's Urban Growth Boundary. There is no "gap" between the Livermore and Pleasanton growth areas. There is nothing to prevent LAFCO from taking Staples Ranch out of Pleasanton's sphere of influence, and permitting the property to be developed within the County, or annexed and developed within Dublin or Livermore. No litigation would be required. BTW -- the fact that the ABAG map shows the Staples Ranch as "Important Farmland/Wetlands Significant Natural Areas" is meaningless in terms of teh ability to develop the property.
It too shows Staples Ranch within the UGB, and I would consider their documents the most reliable on the UGB location.
I believe ABAG designated the unincorporated area between Pleasanton and Livermore, most of which is outside the County UGB, as “Important Farmlands/Wetlands,Significant Natural Areas” based on the property owners' recordation of minable mineral resources (gravel)on their parcels.That's why Pleasanton Ridge isn't shown as a "significant natural area", but the torn up wasteland across from Ruby Hill is.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Sep 8, 2007 at 5:20 pm
So far, all of the physical evidence presented in this blog shows that there is no "gap" between Livermore and Pleasantons UGBs that produces a Measure D obstacle to prevent Alameda County from doing what it wants to in order to develop the Staples Ranch property. I'm still open, though, for somebody to demonstrate otherwise with some hard data instead of rhetoric.
If none is forthcoming, then I would conclude that the July 2, 2007 press release from the Friends of Pleasanton (a copy is found on their website) that states:
"In addition, Alameda County Measure D protects Staples Ranch from being developed outside of Pleasanton in multiple ways. Measure D established an Alameda County voter imposed Urban Growth Boundary. The measure defined the area south of I-580 between Pleasanton’s Urban Growth Boundary and the Urban Growth Boundary for Livermore on the March 7, 2000, election ballot as outside the County Urban Growth Boundary. If an Alameda County agency or Board of Supervisors were to request Livermore to annex land inside Pleasanton’s eastern Urban Growth Boundary, by definition, the request would alter the County Urban Growth Boundary defined by Measure D. Such a proposed development encroachment across an area requiring a modification to the County Urban Growth Boundary would be inconsistent with the purpose and text of Measure D.”"
is totally erroneous and extremely misleading. Yet, this point is being promoted as true as recently as this past Wednesday. If the proponents cannot refute the hard evidence that the maps present and can argue convincingly that there is a legal position related to Measure D that could theoretical lead to a legitimate claim of injury in the future, then they should publicly recant their statements. It would be the honorable thing to do. After all, they are still spreading this apparent mis-truth.
Posted by john, a member of the Donlon Elementary School community, on Sep 9, 2007 at 9:59 pm
Why is it that we don't hear anything from the county regarding this issue? We only see the sides presented from our own so called good neighbors. Maybe i'm not a big supportor of Matt, but at least i know his motives. What are the motives of the supportors of the developement of this area? Money? For what?
We have bucks to burn if we can blow it on a cementary and a mudd hut on foothill. Is anybody talking to the people who can really make the decisions?
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 8:36 am
John, I think it would be a mistake to automatically tag a citizen who speaks out against the initiatives pushed by Friends of Pleasanton as a supporter of development of Staples Ranch. Rather it would be better to call them opponents of the initiatives.
Regardless of whether you like the currently vetted development plan or not, the damage that can be caused by the passage of the initiatives would mean Pleasanton losing control over that development. I think it is clear at this time (if you happened to read through the entire thread on this forum) that the initiatives have the ability to only delay development at Staples Ranch, not stop it completely. Even the idea of litigation over UGBs is another threat of delay. With the MOU between Pleasanton and the County severed, Alameda would be free to pursue a very different development plan from the one currently proposed.
If you are interested in hearing directly from the County instead of your neighbors, I suggest you contact them. Matt takes the time to be here. The County doesn't and I doubt they really know about this forum.
Posted by Outsider, a resident of another community, on Sep 10, 2007 at 10:24 am
Scott Haggerty has made his position on Staples Ranch and the initiatives quite clear. As noted in an 8/28/07 article in the CoCo Times (Web Link):
County officials are anxious to move forward with development of Staples Ranch, and county Supervisor Scott Haggerty has said that if the county can't work with Pleasanton, then it will turn to Livermore or Dublin for annexation into one of those cities. During the State of the County Address at the Livermore Chamber of Commerce luncheon July 26, Haggerty said he was tired of playing around with Staples Ranch.
"If the initiatives pass, Livermore can have this project and they can have the $3 million that goes along with it ... and if Livermore doesn't want it, Dublin certainly has said they'll take it," he said. "Let's be clear: This is an $85 million county asset that we are being messed around with over, and over, and over because of a small group of people."
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 12:05 pm
Happy Monday everyone!
I will post the pertinent section adopted from Measure D when I get home this evening. It is a bit convoluted to follow because the language describes the inception of the county Urban Growth Boundary at the intersection of I-580 and the northeast Pleasanton Urban Growth Boundary, then the description heads south and west then north around Pleasanton, up around Dublin, across north Livermore, South and west then north around Livermore, then west on I-580 back to the inception point.
The width of the area outside the county Urban Growth Boundary may be narrow, certainly no greater than the width of El Charro Road, but it is legally defined area outside of the county Urban Growth Boundary as stated in the voter adopted Alameda County initiative Measure D.
Alameda County is prohibited from enacting policies for the purposes of development involving areas outside the county Urban Growth Boundary.
What a court may need to decide is whether the action/policy of Alameda County asking Livermore to annex the Staples property for the purposes of development, of which said annexation/development would encroach over this narrow yet clearly defined area outside the county Urban Growth Boundary, is a violation of Measure D.
You see, Stacey, some initiatives are helpful. The Eastern Alameda County Urban Growth Boundary, South and North Livermore Urban Growth Boundaries, Pleasanton Ridgeland Preservation, Pleasanton Bernal Park all are all results of citizen initiatives. All these properties were also not under direct municipal jurisdiction and threatened to varying degrees with the fear, at least, of worse development if they passed.
As to Dublin, I am not sure how they would provide services (sewer/water) or have a claim under state LAFCo law to have the property be in their sphere of influence. Livermore has a better argument than Dublin and any Livermore attempt to annex may not stand up in court un LAFCo law. A property owner cannot simply annex to a city based solely on the prospects for earning the most money.
I’ll see if I can condense some of the relevant LAVCo statutes or provide some references to show some of the state requirements for annexation. Again, this threat is not a new one.
Alameda County is not in a position to develop the Staples Property on their own because they are prohibited from spending the proceeds of any sale of East County Surplus Property. Except under certain emergency conditions, the proceeds from the sale of east county surplus property must be deposited in the Surplus Property Development Trust Fund. The county is running a $100s of millions deficit already in their most recent (2006) 10-year capital improvement budget, so the county is not in a position to pay for the infrastructure costs to develop Staples.
John, as to the county’s motives, they want money - $85 million to deposit in the Surplus Property Development Trust Fund (nicknamed the “Emerald Fund”).
The book value of the fund’s portfolio, as of the quarter ending June 2007 Investment Report, stands at $287,100,257.54. The money earned from the trust fund, I think it was about $7.5 million for the year 2006 (I don’t have the capital improvement budget in front of me), may only be used in the capital improvement budget. Nearly all of the money currently in this fund has come from the sale of county property in Dublin on the north side of I-580. Much of that land was donated to the county by the Federal government, and the county has reaped $millions.
The motives for myself and my partners in Friends of Pleasanton is to get more amenities for the community in the forms of park land, sports fields, a school site, open space. 40 acres of the site are exempt from the initiative and the county can sell those acres for whatever they intend, 1/3 of the property. We are also not suggesting that the county not be compensated for the rest of the property nor be unable to continue use of the property as is, currently zoned as agriculture.
Certainly the Eastern Gateway Initiative is a beginning, not an end in itself.
The Staples property is not exactly like someone selling a house they have held for many decades. It is more akin to someone selling a house to an entity who wants to turn the house into, say, a bed and breakfast inn.
The neighboring community has a right to decide whether this change in use is appropriate and beneficial to the community.
The community has a right to express their views in many different forums such as through elected officials, initiatives, letters to the editor, this blog, the courts, etc. This is how democracy best works itself out and while I can be frustrated by it, I embrace the process.
Lastly, Frank, you are correct that the statement from my 07/02/07 press release is erroneous, although it is a slightly different argument than the current discussion. At the time we believed that because the county UGB was defined as a city UGB that moving the city UGB was tantamount to moving the county UGB. I sent a communication to Dick Schneider, a Sierra Club representative who worked on Measure D, to enquire whether this was his interpretation, but didn’t hear back until a couple weeks after we published the press release. It is Dick’s interpretation that the language defines the county UGB at a point in time from which the county UGB must not change without a county-wide vote irrespective of municipal boundary changes.
I, personally, am working very hard to be accurate and hopefully to help bring a better result for the Staples property than what is planned. It’s very kind of everyone to share questions and concerns.
Posted by Outsider, a resident of another community, on Sep 10, 2007 at 2:27 pm
Matt is wrong in thinking there's a gap in the County UBG that would affect the ability to develop Staples Ranch if it isn't annexed into Pleasanton. Here's why:
Measure D established the UGB by amending Policy 1 in the East County Area Plan. The definition of the UGB is kinda hard to follow unless you have a map in front of you, but here's how Policy 1 looked as amended by Measure D:
Policy 1: The County shall identify and maintain a County Urban Growth Boundary that divides areas inside the Boundary, next to existing cities, generally suitable for urban development from areas outside suitable for long-term protection of natural resources, agriculture, public health and safety, and buffers between communities. The County Urban Growth Boundary shall be the Urban Growth Boundary of the City of Pleasanton starting at its eastern junction with U.S. I-580 clockwise to U.S. I-580, west to the boundary of the East County Area Plan, north to the proposed western Urban Growth Boundary for the City of Dublin on the November 7, 2000, election ballot, to the Alameda-Contra Costa County line, east to the eastern boundary of the East Dublin Specific Plan on February 1, 2000, south to U.S. I-580, east to the city limits of the City of Livermore, the northern Livermore city limits, except where the northern city limits are below U.S. I-580 the Boundary shall be I-580, to the eastern city limits of Livermore, to the proposed southern Urban Growth Boundary for Livermore on the March 7, 2000, election ballot, to U.S. I-580, and west to the City of Pleasanton Urban Growth Boundary. (Map, Initiative Appendix 1).
Matt is focusing on the last bit above, which states that the County UBG supposedly includes a section between (i) the intersection between I-580 and the western boundary of the South Livermore UGB, and (ii) the eastern boundary of the Pleasanton UGB. Note also that the definition of the UBG starts at the eastern intersection of the Pleasanton UGB and I-580.
However, if you look at the South Livermore UGB and the Pleasanton UBG, you can see that there is no gap that matters here. The 1996 Pleasanton General Plan Map (can't find it online, sorry) shows the Pleasanton UGB on the EAST side of El Charro Road and the on-ramp to eastbound I-580, and then crossing I-580 at the end of this on-ramp. If you then look at the Livermore General Plan (Web Link), you can see that the South Livermore UBG goes all the way over to El Charro Road and then north, but does yet not go all the way up to I-580. The South Livermore UGB insteads turns runs eastward along the south side of I-580 until approximately Doolan Road, and ONLY THEN does the UGB cross I-580. This is the point where the South Livermore UGB intersects with I-580 as mentioned in Measure D's definition of the County UGB, and from this point runs west to Pleasanton's UGB. The only gap in this area appears to be the fact that I-580 itself between El Charro and Doolan is outside the UGB.
However, as mentioned in a previous message, the entirety of the Staples Ranch, El Charro Road and the El Charro Specific Plan are contained within the County's Urban Growth Boundary.
Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 2:58 pm
Matt, the map showing the location of the UGB was adopted by the voters along with the written description which is, as you say, a bit convoluted. The map is intended to show the correct interpretation. After the voters approved Measure D, the Board of Supervisors adopted the map as part of the County General Plan. No one expressed any concern at the time, including the Sierra Club who authored the initiative.
So what if the adopted map is wrong? Say that the County UGB runs up El Charro Road along with the UGBs of Livermore and Pleasanton. As you say, "Alameda County is prohibited from enacting policies for the purposes of development involving areas OUTSIDE the county Urban Growth Boundary". However, also according to you, Staples Ranch is INSIDE the UGB. The city limit of Livermore is on the other side of your version of the County UGB, so there is no real OUTSIDE to this part of your version of the UGB. Even if you designate Livermore as "outside" of the line, the County's purpose in annexing Staples Ranch to Livermore remains for development "inside" the County UGB.
Your placement of the County UGB would make it a kind of jurisdictional Mobius strip, which is why it don't think it was drawn that way.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Sep 10, 2007 at 8:08 pm
From all of the comments, including my own, I conclude three possible truths:
1. The claimed gap does not exist.
2. The claimed gap may have a width from inches all the way up to the width of El Charro Road and lies on top of El Charro Road.
3. The claimed gap may actually have "negative" width, which would have nonsense meaning, or simply means as in 1 above.
Of course, any pre-lawsuit due diligence will quickly sort through which of the above the facts support. But any of the three would lead to "case dismissed" in any pre-trial hearing, in my opinion. So, the likelihood of the Pleasanton-sues-the-county scenario playing out is quite low.
So what are the motives of anyone (the "so called supporters of development") who opposes the initiative? Well, permit me to attempt a comprehensive, unbiased list since there seems to be some question about this.
1. Developers are paying money to these residents to oppose the initiative by writing against it in this blog.
2. Writers in this blog who are against the initiative have financial interests in the development that is planned.
3. The writers are current or past residents who have served their community on past councils, commissions, et cetera and are concerned about the harm that this initiative will cause the greater Pleasanton community.
4. The writers have a disdain for NIMBYism, especially when it harms the greater community.
5. They want Stoneridge to be extended since it will off-load the increasingly bad traffic that causes other parts of Pleasanton to suffer, Valley Avenue being one example.
6. They like the current development plan for Staples Ranch and want to benefit from it.
7. They like ice hockey and want more than soccer/baseball fields.
8. They would like to have more sports facilities.
9. They are seniors who actually have need for senior housing in this community and don't care about the proximity of Livermore Airport - they just want someplace to live in this area at a reasonable cost.
10. They don't like how the initiative process is gamed in order to achieve self-interested results.
11. They actually believe that loss of control by Pleasanton over this property is imminent, which will lead to tax losses as well as possibly more intensive development eventually on the site.
12. They want those on both sides of the issue to be accurate and to avoid mis-leading the public for political purposes (Remember Saddam's WMDs?)
I hope this helps everyone to imagine what the motivations might be. I'm sure the list could go on. Pick the reason that might apply to you.
So, unless Mr. Morrison has new information to offer, I think together we've whipped this horse quite a bit. How's the signature gathering going, Matt?
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 1:02 am
The signature gathering is going super, Frank! Thanks for asking!
Thank you, Outsider, Policy 1 was indeed the language I intended to post.
With all the maps and language, etc. (Livermore’s Measure K establishing the south Livermore UGB actually follows some text that was adopted by Livermore’s city council back in ’98) I’m with Frank on changing the topic for now. Measure D is only one consideration in the annexation (or “control of the property”) issue. I believe the real barriers to another city annexing the land will come from the state LAFCo laws, but again I’d be moving into a legal realm where we’re not going to reach a definitive answer (I do have state LAFCo background material if anyone really wants to go though that stuff at a later date).
I truly respect and appreciate this debate. My feeling is that when people end up in isolated “camps” one ends up evaluating ideas in an echo chamber. The dialectic suffers when people hear only what they want to hear.
This is why I really love Frank’s list of motives for those who oppose the Eastern Gateway Initiative. Frank, we’ll have to trust your bona fides as to the list’s comprehensivity and unbiasedness, but it is a beginning. I, for one, have mostly given up trying to read people’s minds, so please indulge me to retort based on Frank’s list…
1 & 2. Money doesn’t appear to be common factor of the “Pleasanton First” anti-initiative supporters. Becky Dennis served many years on our city council after working very hard on Pleasanton’s Ridgeland initiative. Along with Ben Tarver and Tom Pico, Becky was a member of the mid-90’s “Dream Team” slate of candidates that signified a changing of the guard in Pleasanton politics. Over the years I’ve disagreed with Becky, but I don’t question that her efforts are anything but doing what she believes is best for Pleasanton. If anyone, pro or con, is making personal money off this exercise, pooh-pooh on them.
3. The Staple’s Ranch property has been undeveloped since the DAWN OF TIME. When the Ikea didn’t go through on the property a couple years ago I don’t remember Pleasanton going bust and people fretting about the greater Pleasanton community, whoever they are. Certainly revenue, annexation, land use, etc. are all important to discuss. This is a middling-sized project on the periphery of town, obviously very, very important to the nearby neighbors and the businesses who intend to locate there, but I think the greater Pleasanton community will continue to thrive if the initiative passes or not. I encourage everyone, including initiative supporters, to avoid becoming a bunch of drama kings and queens (and as the 1982 Northern California SSTA Best Supporting Actor while a Senior at Foothill High, I know ‘em when I see ‘em!).
4. Frank, please get it straight. I am not a NIMBY, I am a NIAMBY (Not In Anyone’s Backyard). Over the past decade Pleasanton residents have a history of successfully fighting bad development all over town. When I worked with Carol Varela her team of “Neighbors Helping Neighbors” was undefeated on project referendums. At this moment what IS harming the greater Pleasanton is overtaxing our city staff, commissions, and council by rushing through developments (Staples, Oak Grove, Home Depot, and now Merritt again, I’ve heard) without allowing these same government entities to finish Pleasanton’s overdue General Plan update. How can anyone decide whether a project is good for the long-term health of Pleasanton without a comprehensive review of what Pleasanton ought to look like at buildout?
5. The Eastern Gateway Initiative is a road map for the property when Stoneridge Drive IS extended. That is why Anne Fox personally promoted our mandating the Community of Character standards from the 1996 General Plan to ensure El Charro Road follows the City Entry aesthetic guidelines as defined by the plan. By the way, I hope everyone is aware that the 01/23/07 City of Pleasanton “Travel Demand Forecasting and Micro-Simulation Models” report that show a small-moderate level of traffic relief with a Stoneridge extension for other parts of Pleasanton, including Valley Avenue, is for an assumed future at buildout when all the Triangle Project improvements have been completed (the 580-W to 680-S flyover, 580 HOV lane, Highway 84 widening to 4 lanes). A Stoneridge Drive extension prior these improvements would be a DISASTER for Pleasanton. Just imagine the increase in cut through traffic all over town during Highway 84 widening or I-580 lane construction or 580/680 interchange demolition! A show of hands, are ANY of the initiative opponents supporting Stoneridge extension prior to the Triangle improvements?
6. Well if someone likes the plan, sure. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.
7. I like hockey too. I occasionally watch the Sharks and have friends that do too. From what I understand there are 700+ organized amateur hockey players. Why not try ONE ice rink. Why must we pave over nearly half of the planned community park for a FOUR rink ice facility when, beside the Shark’s practice facility in San Jose, EVERY OTHER ICE FACITITY in the ENTIRE REGION has ONLY ONE RINK. What do we need to prove here, that we love hockey as much as San Jose? Have kids been playing soccer all these years just pining to pay more money for more equipment to get out of the sun and exercise inside? News flash… this is CALIFORNIA. It rained all of about a week last year. With sports fields you get football, soccer, baseball, softball, la crosse, or just go PLAY IN THE PARK FOR FREE. Why do we need to charge kids admission to use a community facility? This huge monstrosity is a boondoggle if I ever saw one!
8. Initiative supporters would like to see more sports fields and parks.
9. News Flash #2, the senior housing is a gated, up-scale community. There are no reasonable units if you mean affordable or even subsidized. Alameda County couldn’t allow this senior project to be developed by the county because it would violate standards mandating 20% affordable units. The numbers I’ve heard are $1 million down to move in and $8000 per month rent. And there is no investment for the resident. Once a resident dies, the property reverts back to the corporation. Maybe if you’re an ice skating senior this project looks reasonable?
10. We re-tooled our initiative to exempt 40 acres after speaking with the Auto Mall folks. Learning the school district (in closed session) sold their option for a school on the Busch property we included schools as a permitted use on the new initiative. We have met to varying degrees with many of the stakeholders including city council members, Chamber of Commerce representatives, executives with the auto mall, city staff, and briefly with a representative from the County Surplus Property Authority. I, personally, would prefer to see a compromise and avoid having to spend my free time walking and writing and meeting, but we’re committed to putting this initiative on the ballot if necessary. We, and I hope you all too, are hoping to bring about the best outcome for Pleasanton.
12. This is a complicated matter with many jurisdictions, laws, unknowns, and peripheral issues. We are striving to be accurate and expect our opponents to do the same. I really do appreciate everyone’s comments.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 8:21 am
"7. I like hockey too. I occasionally watch the Sharks and have friends that do too. From what I understand there are 700+ organized amateur hockey players. Why not try ONE ice rink. Why must we pave over nearly half of the planned community park for a FOUR rink ice facility when, beside the Shark’s practice facility in San Jose, EVERY OTHER ICE FACITITY in the ENTIRE REGION has ONLY ONE RINK. What do we need to prove here, that we love hockey as much as San Jose? Have kids been playing soccer all these years just pining to pay more money for more equipment to get out of the sun and exercise inside? News flash… this is CALIFORNIA. It rained all of about a week last year. With sports fields you get football, soccer, baseball, softball, la crosse, or just go PLAY IN THE PARK FOR FREE. Why do we need to charge kids admission to use a community facility? This huge monstrosity is a boondoggle if I ever saw one!"
Maybe I can provide some insight on this as a graduate of both Pleasanton municipal soccer and softball programs who now plays ice hockey (was I one of those kids pining to spend more money to play indoors?). The Bay Area is apparently the fastest growing market for amateur hockey. This is according to an amateur coach I know from a league I play in way out in Redwood City. Remember the recent large influx of East Coasters to the Bay Area that brought lacrosse to Pleasanton? They love hockey too. There is actually a shortage of rinks in the Bay Area and that makes the cost to play much higher and forces amateur players like me to have to travel far distances for quality amateur hockey. Dublin's adult league is a joke, BTW, if it even still exists. And the facilities there are outdated (no locker rooms). It was somewhat sad to me to be at Redwood City and watch one of their kids' teams beat the Tri-Valley team soundly 7-0. The match was really unbalanced and depressing. Is that what Tri-Valley kids who want to play hockey deserve? All the good Bay Area hockey is happening over in San Jose and the Peninsula. I see nothing to prove other than an attempt to provide some quality to these hockey programs like we provide in our other sports programs and schools.
Not everyone wants to play the games you mentioned or has the time to while the sun is up. Ice rinks can be open all night. Lighted fields are limited. If Logitech Ice were not a successful model, the Sharks would not look to imitate it in the Tri-Valley, a prime location in terms of the amateur hockey market and far from a boondoggle. As I understand, only 1 rink would be built at this time with the rest planned for later (which might mean never). The City charges admission for the Aquatic center and participation fees for municipal sports. These aren't free facilities. One can certainly go play in a park for "free" and fail to appreciate that the reason it is so clean and well-maintained is due to tax revenue.
Even if Staples Ranch doesn't turn into the ice rink location, I think Pleasanton should try to find a home for it.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 10:05 am
Good to see that our towns rep for getting things mixed up is still a high priority for the few.
Its actually at the point to which most of this towns residents don't give a uknowhat and would like to live in a place without all the whoopla.
Mr. Morrison has drawn up a "Morrison Line" which seems to be ficticious at best, and makes a very vague claim that State LAFCO laws will prevail which might prevent other cities from annexation of the Staples Ranch.
Please pardon me, but could the County just plan and develop the Staples Ranch without any local cities cooperation?
The County has their economic agenda and might decide to build the Staples Ranch themselves due to the time delay and potential lawsuits that may be brought forth.
Our city council recently approved the Staples Ranch plan because it's a logical solution for our city's needs for the area and shows active cooperation with Alameda County and their desire for economic development.
A group of top community leaders called Pleasanton First has formed to oppose the EGI because it is not what our town needs. They have done an excellent job of informing a large mass of residents in the community who now understand what's happening and will not sign the petition.
At last weeks First Wednesday, the EGI had several petitioners sign but then realized they were given false information and then returned to ask that their names be removed.
Our City Council has approved plans for Staples Ranch and does not have a single supporter for the EGI.
Why on earth should we support further waste of our taxpayer dollars on the EGI?
It's time to stop wasting time and making legal threats that are unsupported by the majority of this community.
Its time to move forward as a city of Planned Progress.
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 11:41 am
Sorry about the dramatic overtures, the hour was late… (Not only can I spot drama queens, I can BECOME ONE!)
I just don’t think the city should be providing such a major subsidy to what is essentially a commercial enterprise. The Ice Oasis in Redwood City is a private, 1-rink club. Even if this planned facility in Pleasanton starts as one rink it is still tying up the rest of the 8 acres from other uses.
The current layout for parking is problematic. The limited parking on the south side of the facility would be shared by visitors to the ice rink and the two sports fields. From what I’ve seen of the parking at the sports park, this could be a problem.
Stacey, one of my other concerns is the noise level of the cooling equipment which would be near both the sports fields and the Livermore regional trail head.
I don’t have any recent experience with this type of machinery. Is it very loud?
From what I’ve read, both Dublin and Concord turned this project down. I’ll see if the any opposition details are available.
Paul, pardon me, but you’re certainly throwing around a lot of unsubstantiated and subjective comments. If the current plan is such a “logical” solution why did we have an Ikea plan, or a KB Homes plan? If you think it’s a waste of time to participate in the planning of your community that is your business. I’ve lived here a long time, since Foothill Knolls was a bunch of knolls in the foothills, and it is my experience (backed up by a recent city survey) that the majority of Pleasanton residents are pro slow-growth. When given the right opportunity, whether or not the Eastern Gateway Initiative is one, the majority will support slow growth over economic development every time. That is why Pleasanton is such a special place. So peace, buddy. Don’t be hatin’.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 1:40 pm
"I just don’t think the city should be providing such a major subsidy to what is essentially a commercial enterprise."
This is the part where I like to remind folks that the Aquatic Center operated by Pleasanton Parks & Rec Dept. is a perfect analogy to this. It has four pools, needs to run noisy filtering and heating equipment, lies within a city park, and can be either a public or private enterprise.
Ice Oasis tends to have waiting lists for adults to play in their because their 1 rink limits them. Ice hockey must compete with figure skaters for ice time. As I mentioned earlier, there is a shortage of rinks for the Bay Area's amateur hockey market.
"Stacey, one of my other concerns is the noise level of the cooling equipment which would be near both the sports fields and the Livermore regional trail head."
You could bring that up, but I think the issue is moot since such noise is easily mitigated. You'll get more noise from the freeway, the airport, and the sounds of people cheering at the sports field. Another bonus, an ice rink complex is actually highly compatible with near-airport land use.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Sep 11, 2007 at 9:34 pm
No "hatin'" here.
Only simple questions which it appears that you would prefer to avoid with deflective commentary and criticism.
With the many long response postings that you have offered in defense of your initiative, its obvious that you have become so sensitive to this situation that you are starting to reflect it publically.
I apologize for bringing forth arguments and issues that may be antagonizing and beneath you, but I'm for hearing it straight.
I'm not convinced that you are bringing it Mr. Morrison, but you keep on throwing those one hit wonders out there and your opponents just keep knockin' em' outa the yard.
The Pleasanton Weekly published an advertisement last week that listed several dozens of names including some very widely respected leaders of our town that support the Staples Ranch MOU and oppose the Mr. Morrisons/Mrs. Fox Initiative.
Mr. Morrison, if you have so much support for your initiative, then how about sharing your names?
Are you afraid that we'll talk these folks out of the bad deal for Pleasanton?
Posted by Linda, a resident of the Stoneridge Orchards neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 2:37 pm
Why are so many people afraid of this initiative? Do you notice how many community people are against it? What is the harm in putting an initiative on the ballot? I guess the opposition is afraid it will win?
If people are worried about tax revenue, this initiative is allowing the auto mall, which would be the main tax revenue for the current plan anyhow. The ice rink would produce little tax revenue (only the food and merchandise sold there would be taxed) and the senior facility wouldn't produce any. There are plans for an asian market. Well, Dublin just built two.
Why can't we have some open space and sports fields/trails that our community can enjoy? I AM SICK AND TIRED OF ALL THE GROWTH IN THIS AREA!!!! That is why I, and most people here, moved here. People moving from San Jose, Fremont, etc moved here because it's less crowded and a nice place to raise a family. Why are we rushing to look just like them? Have any of you taken a look at the traffic around here?
Oh and yes, the senior facility is a major upscale project. How nice, let's grab all those seniors 401k money and stick it to them. How about seniors living on pensions and social security, could they afford that? NO!!!
Stacey, I understand your desire for the ice rink. Personally, more things for kids to do is okay by me. But, they are a private enterprise and this is public land. Should they want to come here, have them buy land and develop their rink in a commercial area. I'm all in favor of that. One thing I do have to mention about this facility, though. Hockey is an expensive sport. Only the more well-to-do kids can afford it. Sure, Pleasanton has plenty of those, but what about those families that are middle class? The soccer and baseball programs, as well as swim programs, are affordable. Hockey is not. With this ridiculous Oak Grove development with 12,500 square foot homes and an upscale sport, we are excluding those people who are less fortunate. How sad!!!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 4:23 pm
I think what worries people more is the loss of control over how Staples Ranch will be developed rather than the tax revenue. Or at least that is my concern (the ice rink is an added bonus). Perhaps you should think of the MOU as Alameda County's promise to Pleasanton that they won't create a Hacienda Crossings or outlet mall or some other mega-commercial project on Staples Ranch. Aren't you concerned about what the County could do with that land if the MOU is broken? They've already pretty much said they won't work with Pleasanton anymore.
And wow! You're against the addition of ONLY 51 homes up in the hill yet complain about the growth and crowding and traffic here?! That certainly doesn't make much sense to me! Can't get much lower density than 51 homes and you can't beat the over 400 acres of open space that will be preserved for future generations. Why can't we have open space and hiking trails in the hills (good enough for Staples Ranch but not for Oak Grove)?
Posted by Linda, a resident of the Stoneridge Orchards neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 6:22 pm
You missed my point. I am definitely in favor of more trails and open space - ANYWHERE! While the Oak Grove development is providing some, it is still slicing up the hills and placing 12,500 square foot homes on them! I don't think we should ruin the hills, no matter where they are. It's not just Oak Grove or the east side, I'm against that ANYWHERE! And why, why, why, does Pleasanton need more mega mansions? Don't we have enough of those already? Shouldn't we build more affordable housing, or at least moderate-priced housing?
Why are we approving developments when the General Plan isn't completed yet? That is what is supposed to be a priority for the council and they have ignored that and are proceeding with all these developments. Why? Well, take a look at who has interest in these properties and who they have given campaign contributions to. If you do some research, the answer will be obvious.
I also don't understand the "Aren't you concerned with what the county could do if the MOU is broken?" The basis of this initiative is becasue we are concerned with what happens to this land!!! So, we should just develop the heck out of it so that Livermore doesn't get a chance to? Sorry, I just don't agree with that. I don't understand how it can be wrong to want something nice for our community. No one knows if this would even pass if on a ballot, but why not see what the people want? One last thing, you say that the tax revenue isn't a big deal. You are totally wrong. It's been a huge argument against the initiative (it's been in the papers, blog, letters to the editors, etc).
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 6:44 pm
You wrote: "I also don't understand the "Aren't you concerned with what the county could do if the MOU is broken?". I'll try to explain it in more simple terms.
1) County Supervisor Scott Haggerty has publicly stated "If the initiatives pass, Livermore can have this project and they can have the $3 million that goes along with it ... and if Livermore doesn't want it, Dublin certainly has said they'll take it" (Web Link)
2) The MOU holds Alameda County to the promise that they won't do #1 above.
3) If the initiative passes the MOU is invalid, broken, and severed.
4) With the MOU invalid/broken/severed, the County can change the plans of the project anyway they see fit. No parkland for Pleasanton. Zero.
I hope what I wrote helps you understand that better.
Posted by frank, a resident of the Pleasanton Heights neighborhood, on Sep 13, 2007 at 10:35 pm
Interesting is the no-development-ANYWHERE point of view raised recently by the resident of Stoneridge Orchards in this thread. Over the years I have failed to keep track of all of the new neighborhoods built as Pleasanton has arrived now at the point of near-build-out, but I bet Stoneridge Orchards is in the Stoneridge extension area. Seems there have been developments EVERYWHERE.
Well, in a way I appreciate Mr. Morrison's viewpoint of too much development in that he has been a resident since 1969. I have been since 1979. There were no neighborhoods in this end of Pleasanton other than Pleasanton Meadows at that time. Santa Rita Road was two lanes in this area. The railroad track right-of-way was still active. No Stoneridge Drive existed. No Nob Hill. Only a fire station and a gas station. Cows grazed where Hacienda Business Park now sits. W. Las Positas ended near the apartments on the west side of Santa Rita. No McDonalds or Trader Joes. No Rosewood or car dealers. Nothing. Many, many other areas of Pleasanton were still grasslands. The old barracks in Camp Parks with barbed wire fencing that doubled as Santa Rita County Jail where inmates broke out every other week across the Freeway was still in operation. The neighborhood I now live in on the southeast side of Pleasanton did not exist. The land was a grassy hill. Nothing except the original Vintage Hills neighborhood was there. No Valley Avenue through to Stanley from Santa Rita. No Bernal through road to Stanley. Nothing.
So, if Mr. Morrison and I were to say we are sick and tired of all of the growth in this area it would have some substantive meaning. Somehow, with Pleasanton now at near-build-out, the same phrase written today seems to have little meaning. By the way, look across the Freeway at Dublin. None of that existed until the last five years!!! Yes, they have been worse than Pleasanton in this respect. Everyone who has lived here saw it coming. Dublin politicians have always been pro-growth. Anyways, we are at the end of the growth period for our city. It's history now.
"We" are not afraid of the initiative. We think it harms the greater good for Pleasanton residents at this point in time after many years of growth that was not stopped. Nobody in Pleasanton is realistically going to enjoy "open space" provided by this initiative which effectively targets only Staples Ranch. The reasons have been exhaustively listed in this thread. Issues pro and con have been presented and discussed. In the big picture, Staples Ranch is the last small parcel of developable land in this corner of Pleasanton and its development as planned at this point in time has much more beneficial significance to greater Pleasanton than it would have remaining as unrealizable open space with hypothetical trails, etc. And, I believe, most residents know this. I would like to have the vote tomorrow if it were possible.
So, the viewpoint that was expressed of being against any development ANYWHERE despite the facts seems disingenous.
Lastly, I try to keep my focus on Staples Ranch, but now it seems the discussion has spread to Oak Grove. Strangely, the desire to see moderate priced housing got dragged in. Boy, try telling the Oak Grove neighbors to trade the 51 "mansion" housing sites for much higher density moderate priced housing!
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 7:49 am
One last thing I don't understand. You wrote that you want to see more "affordable/moderate-priced housing" in Pleasanton rather than low density mega-mansions. How do you propose that Pleasanton provides that without increasing the crowding and traffic that you are also "sick and tired" of?
I like to sum up what you described as "drawbridge mentality versus planned progress" in the Oak Grove fight.
Posted by Stacey, a resident of the Amberwood/Wood Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 14, 2007 at 9:51 am
Dave Osterman has a letter to the editor in this week's edition of the Weekly that echoes my feelings and thoughts on the matter:
"What that leaves in Staples Ranch is a park and an undeveloped parcel that is marked for future commercial use. Friends of Pleasanton, how about working to see if that undeveloped parcel can be added to the planned park space? To me that is far superior than taking a chance that Alameda County will decide to develop all of Staples Ranch as commercial property and then turn it over to either Livermore or Pleasanton."
Posted by Becky Dennis, a resident of the Foxborough Estates neighborhood, on Sep 15, 2007 at 12:17 pm
Linda – Stacey is correct. Loss of control over the development of Staples Ranch is the Number 1 reason for the broad based concern about these initiatives. Yes, Pleasanton residents fear the negative impacts of the initiative. People living around Stoneridge should be most afraid of all, since they will be hit the hardest by any development that’s not controlled by the MOU between Pleasanton and the County.
I don’t know how long you have lived in Pleasanton, so I’d like to offer some perspective on a few of the points you raise.
Many Pleasanton residents who actively oppose the FOP initiative are longstanding open space advocates who have successfully preserved literally thousands of acres of open space within and adjacent to our community. As a result, Pleasanton is perhaps the most park rich community in the Bay Area. In addition, the City of Pleasanton has worked with Livermore and Alameda County on a program which has permanently protected and restored over 3000 acres of agricultural lands, primarily vineyards. Adding agricultural acreage is unheard of in counties that are as heavily urbanized as Alameda County.
Linda, you say, “Why can't we have some open space and sports fields/trails that our community can enjoy?”
Some? Few cities have more open space and sports fields/trails than Pleasanton. Our residents have, through a variety of methods, supported the creation of almost 1100 acres of city parks and recreational facilities, including a 103 acre sports park, the 237 acre Augustin Bernal park on Pleasanton Ridge, and a 425 acre municipal golf course with trails and open space. In addition, residents have organized efforts to support land acquisitions by our Regional Park District. Today we enjoy almost 5000 acres of publicly accessible open space on Pleasanton Ridge, and 266 acres at Shadow Cliffs where families can swim, fish, picnic, and bird watch. That’s a total of 6300 acres of open space. Add in the protected agricultural lands and residents enjoy an approximate total of 9347 acres of permanent open space.
But are we satisfied? NO. We have higher goals.
We also plan a 318 acre park for the Bernal Property, a 17 to 22 acre community park for Staples Ranch, and we hope to acquire an additional 496 acres for a natural open space park at Oak Grove. This morning’s Valley Times reports that the East Bay Regional Park District is arranging to purchase an additional 1476 acres to add to Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park. (Web Link will bring us to a total of 11,659 acres of parkland and protected open space in and directly adjacent to Pleasanton. That’s 18.2 square miles. The entire City of Pleasanton is only 16.2 square miles. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the 33 miles of trails in and around our town, outstanding recreation programming, youth sports, and the City’s recreation scholarships for lower income youth and seniors.
Take a queue from the people who have had the most success protecting open space and providing recreational resources for Pleasanton. The Staples Ranch initiative, if it does pass, will only deprive Stoneridge neighborhoods of access to a new 17 acre park and an indoor skating facility. Traffic will exceed what is anticipated under Pleasanton’s MOU plan. Stoneridge residents will have to go to Livermore, Dublin, or Oakland to complain about the impacts of more intense development because what happens on Staples Ranch won’t be under Pleasanton’s control. Meanwhile, Pleasanton’s other planned park facilities will come on line ever more slowly because we’ll be out at least $5 million of annual sales tax revenue plus Staples Ranch property tax revenue.
However well meaning the initiative's sponsors, the initiative itself is very poorly thought out. It will bring only unintended consequences, all of them bad for Pleasanton.
Posted by Linda, a resident of the Stoneridge Orchards neighborhood, on Sep 18, 2007 at 9:54 am
Sorry, I've been working a lot lately and haven't had the time to respond back. I appreciate everyone's comments, whether I agree or not. I detect a bit of animosity amongst some of the writers here (especially against Matt Morrison), so I would like to ask that everyone be respectful. I really do realize that we all have a common goal - of keeping Pleasanton a beautiful city. I hope everyone remembers that!
Regarding Livermore taking over this land, from what I understand, it would have to be in their General Plan, voted on, etc. I also think that there has to be common boundaries with the land in order to annex, that would then exclude Dublin. I'm sure this would end up in the courts and decided there, not just one person saying "okay, they can have it!". Some writers here make it sound simple, but I think it's anything but.
Becky, I most definitely respect your viewpoint, however, I can't agree with your opinion that we already have enough parks. True, we have a lot (and that is great!), but have you seen the sports park, amador park, muirwood park, alisal school, on weekends? We have more and more kids in this community than in years past and we still don't have enough places for them to practice and play games. I just read in the paper that our school enrollment is (again) up. With our good schools, more and more people with kids will be moving here (as the older generation with grown kids may move out). Therefore, we need more parks, for now and in the future. And, we don't have any on the east side. Since this is the last large piece of land on this side, why not devote a lot of this to park land and open space? Why does this side have to have all the development dumped on it when the southeast hills and the west hills have some protection? I'm only asking that this side get the same treatment that the west side (Pleasanton Ridge) got.
Frank and Stacey, you both mentioned the "affordable" issue. Well, if homes are going to be developed (and we aren't at the cap yet), I would rather see affordable, or at least moderate priced homes. Frank misunderstood me in his response regarding affordable priced homes in Oak Grove. I'm not talking specifically about affordable in Oak Grove. I just don't think 12,000 square foot homes are the answer. I mean really, are they serious????!!!? I don't believe in slicing up hillsides for any homes, but especially not that size. In Pleasanton, in general, we should be building either affordable or moderate-priced housing, not mega-mansions. It would be nice if our children could afford to move back here. Becky, you are an affordable housing advocate, I think you would agree.
Frank, one other point. You mention we are close to build out. However, there are some groups in this community (including some council members) who would like to see that cap raised. We now have a pro-growth majority, at least what I can see, on the council. I'm not as confident as you regarding that cap.
Becky mentions losing $5 million in revenue if we lose the Staples Ranch project. Where does that number come from? The proposed auto mall will be bigger than what it is now, but it will be on county land which means part of that tax revenue will go to the county. Has anyone realized that? I don't know the exact percentage, but maybe I'll try and find out. Right now, the auto dealership tax revenue is all in Pleasanton. So again, where does the $5 million come from? I keep hearing that, but I don't hear any facts to back it up. Plus, some of you are mentioning the tax dollar figure, but what about the cost of developing this land, i.e. the infrastructure? Police and fire services, water, sewer, etc. All of that has to be in place. I think that's misleading by implying that this would be a pure profit center with no cost to our city.
I have to go, so those are my thoughts for now! Thanks everyone for sharing and have a great day!
Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 2:43 am
Becky, of the acreage you mention about 90% is ridge land on the west and south sides of town. Pleasanton has done terrific work there, but why should Pleasanton approve ridge top development as a means to protect land that couldn’t be developed anyway? What is the limit to the wilderness trails Pleasanton can maintain and the liability we assume from owning increasingly out of the way parks more appropriately managed by the East Bay Regional Parks District?
When flat land parks are examined, Pleasanton is running out of room to grow, in particular on the north side of town.
Linda is correct that the housing cap is under a threat both from members of our community (Becky Dennis is one) who want the cap increased and by city staff proposing to exclude traditionally cap-designated housing as a means to add more units under the cap.
The most logical approach to affordable housing and traffic mitigation would be several hundred Transit Oriented Development (TOD) units of condominium/duplex in a pedestrian friendly neighborhood with retail and office mixed in on properties surrounding the BART station.
A large sports park at Staples Ranch would only be a short bike or bus ride down Stoneridge Drive. Youths in these neighborhoods would certainly utilize outdoor sports fields more than an indoor, paid-admission-only, ice facility.
Lastly, I had some interesting conversations with some of our Livermore Friends. Notwithstanding the Honorable Mayor Kamena, the consensus is that there would not be majority support on Livermore’s city council to build a commercial retail development adjacent to and in competition with Livermore’s fledgling retail outlet mall.
I’m told the investors in Livermore’s El Charro development have poured and are intending to pour a ton of money into this upscale shopping center.
They would not stand for Livermore to support competing retail on Staples, Livermore is already on record opposing any housing for the site, and commercial office real estate market is flat at best. What would Livermore build?
Plus, prior to even considering such an ill-fated plan, my slow growth Livermore Friends believe Livermore’s growth conscious residents would never approve the required public vote to alter the city’s General Plan to include Staples.
As to Dublin, the Pleasanton city council was to approve the funding arrangements for the I-580/El Charro/Fallon improvements. In the staff reports I didn’t see anything about sewer or water lines from Dublin heading over the freeway to Staples. I suppose Dublin could annex promising enviro-friendly “dry-flush” toilets and bottled water, perhaps?
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 7:32 am
Without exception, all of our sports in Pleasanton need more playing fields including night play capability.
We need them now.
We believe that the current plan approved by the City Council gives us the fields sooner than if we wait for a vote.
It is also our understanding that if the initiative is a success, that County Supervisor Scott Haggerty will make good on his promise and Pleasanton will lose it's opportunity to make Staples Ranch part of our city.
The sports community also recognizes the fact that the ice skating community has the fewest number of ice facilities available for the proportional number of ice skaters in our city. The development of the skating community in our area has for years been affected due to lack of available icetime.
The measure of our community is the ability of our sports community to come together with unified support of the Sharks Ice facility at Staples Ranch.
Right now, we measure up just great and our the skating community thanks you for your support.
The money to build the Staples Ranch Sports Park is available right now.
If the Staples Ranch goes to city ballot, how and when will the sports park be paid for?
A bond measure. More waiting for a funding drive that most residents probably will not support. We lose again. We have the property for the Bernal Sports Fields, but have no money and we are losing time while we wait.
If we build Staples Ranch with a commercial ice facility, it will give our sports community the confidence that we don't have to wait any more.
The sports community has come together to end the wait.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 19, 2007 at 4:06 pm
Paul, where did you hear that the money to build the Staples Ranch Sports Park is available right now? My understanding, and speaking with city management is that the master plan for this site has lighted sports fields but there is currently no money to pay for any of it. Based on how we have many more projects than money, this could realistically be several decades out. Until then there would be some trails, open space, and possibly the skating arena (the Sharks have an interest in doing a skating arena here but they have not committed to it yet; things could fall through).
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 20, 2007 at 9:41 pm
Paul, I agree that partnerships are helpful in getting parks and recreational facilities. However, as far as I know, there are no partnerships from the developer or other enterprises that will build the lighted sports fields on Staples Ranch. You states that "the money to build Staples Ranch Park is available right now." Could you educate me in where the money is coming from? The City says they do not have the money. From what I have heard, the businesses that want to build on Staples Ranch are not going to build, or pay for, lighted sports fields there. I even ask someone from the Parks & Recreation Commission who said the plan was just that, a plan. However no money was available directly or indirectly to build the park in the short term.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Sep 21, 2007 at 8:42 am
Steve, there are several examples of public/private recreation development.
The current proposal from the San Jose Arena Management is a prime example of a company ready to invest millions into facility development at Staples Ranch.
Development of recreation facilities began over a decade ago with a public/private venture called Twin Creeks in Santa Clara, which is a softball/baseball facility with night play capability and provides thousands of players and teams with a fantastic baseball facility.
Big League Dreams, based out of Chino Hills, has been developing their sports parks throughout several communities in California.
The point is that many of these companies are now competing to be in this marketplace for the opportunity to invest in our community.
Many of these companies are capable of rapid development, but need suitable locations. Both Staples Ranch and Bernal Sport Park should be considered for a PPP immediately.
Posted by Steve, a resident of the Another Pleasanton neighborhood neighborhood, on Sep 24, 2007 at 9:15 pm
Ok Paul, I think maybe I misinterpreted your previous posting where you first stated, "Without exception, all of our sports in Pleasanton need more playing fields including night play capability." and then in your message you said, "The money to build the Staples Ranch Sports Park is available right now." I thought you were saying that we had money to build the lighted sports fields on Staples Ranch. We do not have the money to build the Staples Ranch Sports Park today as it is currently Master Planned (from the Park and Recreation Commission). There is the potential for the ice rinks but the rest of the master plan has no funding. Don't think you would see 4 ice rinks and a "field of dreams" baseball facility on the same park.
The "field of dreams" is an interesting business but the city would be financially liable for its problems. The way that deal is structured is the "field of dream" company gets a bond to cover the expense of the facilities but the city co-signs. So if they go out of business or hit hard financial times, the Pleasanton taxpayers would have to foot the bill.
While I agree that partnerships can be a great asset to the community, I don't think as a taxpayer I want to be on the hook financially if they do not succeed.
Posted by Paul, a resident of the Foothill Knolls neighborhood, on Sep 25, 2007 at 8:51 am
Not all Public/Private partnerships need bonds to build and develop their facilities.
In the case of Staples Ranch and the Bernal Sports Park, a group could be independent of any City support and name Pleasanton as co-insured.
Typically, the lease agreement is constructed to return the property back to the city at some point into the future.
Should the business fail, the city would take the property back with all the property improvements in place and in the interim, keep the park open for the public until management decisions are considered.
San Jose Arena Management has stated that they will not need any financial assistance from our city to build and develop the skating community here in Pleasanton.
There is considerable data that shows the demand for ice skating and the public's support for this facility, combined with the economics of our community, the excellent location with highway access from Highway 580, and a management company that has demonstrated their ability to provide the public with a superior entertainment facility, the risk is at best minimal.
In the quest to find an operator for the Staples Ranch Sports Park, perhaps we need to look no further than our own Soccer, Football, Lacrosse and Clubs here in town.
There are many families in Pleasanton that overlap into several sports at the same time, so why not form a coalition of sports to become partners in recreation development for our multi-use benefit?
Posted by Nancy, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Sep 27, 2007 at 11:06 am
"Why? Well, take a look at who has interest in these properties and who they have given campaign contributions to. If you do some research, the answer will be obvious."
What an insult to the hard working public officials that try to do the best job they can to represent this city. Regardless of your opinion of them as individuals, they do a fairly thankless job that many of us would not want. I appreciate their willingness to step up and serve. If you watch the meetings, our Council struggles through making these tough development decisions. I think it is great that you have an opinion and wish to express it but let's do that through reasoned, critical thought, not through insults. What happened to civil discourse? At the end of the day, a decision has to be made on whatever issue we are discussing. What happened to "let's agree to disagree?"