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COMMENTARY: Pleasanton's costly housing cap

Original post made on Apr 9, 2010

The Pleasanton City Council Tuesday night deferred until its April 20 meeting a decision on how to proceed on a court's ruling that declared the city's 1996 housing cap illegal.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, April 9, 2010, 7:18 AM

Comments (33)

Posted by mary, a resident of another community
on Apr 9, 2010 at 8:39 am

We lived in P-Town for 30 years and moved out because of the growth! Many of you reading this have no idea what P-Town means or even care. You just live here because it has become an affluent place to live. So here you are with your Plastic Money and Yuppie ideas and a zillion cars on your little roads. Pleasanton WAS a wonderful place to bring up kids and enjoy the senerity of slow-paced living...........Not anymore!!!

Posted by Claire, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2010 at 8:51 am

I lived in Fremont for over 30 years and moved to Pleasanton in August of last year. If you think it's now bad here, try living in Fremont! I stll feel the small towniness of P-town. The only constant in life is change. I've alway's loved Pleasanton and am now happy to be part of this town.

Posted by Furdog, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

Mary- really need to take another look around you!!! I've lived in Pleasanton for 36 years and Pleasanton is STILL a wonderful place to live and raise a family. Growth is inevitable and I think Pleasanton has done a great job over the years controlling it as best they can.

Are you one of those people....NOT IN MY BACKYARD? If so, that is the lamest rationale I've ever heard! Stop your Yuppie bashing and enjoy what Pleasanton has to offer.

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:17 am

You know, let em' have their way. The process to find a willing builder with adequate funding & an acceptable plan, then to have them manage to negotiate their way through Pleasanton's building permit & new zoning ordinances, city council, local/vocal opposition & constant scrutiny from the citizenry, local media & bloggers like us, this thing will be tied up in both legal & financial limbo for the next 10-15 years. By that time Jerry Brown will be long gone, the urban habitat morons will be a disbanded group of socialist idealists & we'll probably end up getting some nice condo-esque housing that won't resemble the hideous monstrosity on the north side of 580.


Posted by Mom, a resident of Canyon Oaks
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

I think the housing cap has served its purpose. The City needs to rezone areas for new residential development in appropriate areas and not try to defend the obsolete housing cap. Delaying compliance with the court order is irresponsible and will end up being costly. Also, the city will end up loosing the Fortune 500 companies interested in locating here by delaying the compliance. City, go ahead and provide the fair share of housing in pretty Pleasanton. We have too much to loose here.

Posted by J Flack, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:21 am

OK, rezone the quarries and the land around the reclamation center for high density housing, put a spur off of the proposed Livermore BART extension to it, commit the developer fees to paying off the Neal school commitments.... and get on with running the city.

Shame on every elected Pleasanton administration that pretended this 1996 requirement would go away if they just ignored it. The city just completed a rewrite of the City Plan during the law suit. Wasn't this possibility even addressed?

Put it up there with Gov Reagan promising the underpaid state police, prison guards, teachers, and state workers generous pensions that would not have to be paid for a generation (i.e. the bills are now do)


Posted by Joe, a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:41 am

Dear Furdog;
The overturning of the housing cap was done to add low income housing to our mix. Are you intersted in living down the street from "the projets"? How about next door?

Posted by Ngo Loon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 9, 2010 at 9:43 am

The $500,000 in legal expenses is chump change compared to what the residents of Pleasanton will lose in housing values if we are forced to start building a bunch of low-cost housing in Pleasanton. If we are forced to become another city like those on the west side of the hills, the average price of a home may fall say $100,000. If one assumes 25,000 homes in Pleasanton, that works out to $2.5 Billion (yes, that is with a "B"). So, let's do what we can to protect this wonderful city and schools that we have, and the investment in our homes.

Also, remember that Gov. Moonbeam filed a lawsuit against Pleasanton, so for that and a thousand other reasons, vote for whoever runs against him in November. We don't need Moonbeam Senile.

As for the Pleasanton Weekly, I am really, really getting tired of the constant string of left-wing editorials and commentaries coming out of your newspaper. The PW best pay more attention to the what is happening to all the other liberal rags (Chornicle, BANG papers, LA Times, NY Times, etc., etc). They are going broke! Cut the lefty loon editorials or your paper is religated to fish wrap and bottoms of bird cages.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:05 am

Stacey is a registered user.

PW wrote: "Pleasanton, like other cities in California that never bothered with a fixed housing cap, now has in place growth management controls that have yet to be contested by the state or organizations such as Urban Habitat. In Pleasanton, new residential development is limited to 350 permits a year, far more than the number issued in the past three years. Some cities limit the number to as low as 50."

It would be useful to specify what these controls are that haven't been contested. For example, limiting the number of permits issued per year has already been contested in court and stood up. Look up Petaluma's housing cap and lawsuit from back in the '70s.

Posted by Newby, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:09 am

I moved here from the southbay last summer to get away from places like Milpitas and San Jose, Milpitas which use to have the small town feeling now its just like being in another country. I hope Pleasanton does not turn out like that. I support the cap or at least keep it within reason. We do not want to turn into a place where no one wants to live.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:13 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Ngo Loon,

Your supposition is that housing values will go down due to the building of low-cost housing (however you envision what that means). Back in the fall I tried to look up information about that because it is a valid concern. What I found was that surrounding property housing value is sensitive to project design. Get a good design in there and it can actually increase housing value. I'll try to dig up the link again. Let's not get a poor design like they've got in Dublin, with huge blocks of high-density housing and people still have to get into their cars to drive to obtain basic necessities.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:16 am

Stacey is a registered user.

One of the issues with Pleasanton's housing unit maximum cap isn't quite the cap itself, but that the RHNA numbers ended up exceeding the cap. A look into how RHNA is calculate reveals that Pleasanton's large commercial/job production is out of balance with our residential. Perhaps if Pleasanton didn't have so many jobs available, our RHNA allocation would be smaller and it would've been further in the future before the cap was challenged.

Posted by Christina, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Apr 9, 2010 at 1:45 pm

I support the housing cap. Our family pays a premium to live in Pleasanton - we want there to be limited housing. We certainly don't want Pleasanton to start resembling Dublin.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 9, 2010 at 3:47 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's the book I saw: Web Link "Growth management and affordable housing: do they conflict?" One of the chapters talks about nearby housing value.

And here's a rather telling review of the book: Web Link

Posted by Repleasnacrat, a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 9, 2010 at 4:04 pm

Go take a ride thru Antioch and Pittsburgh (and now parts of Brentwood)area if you wanna see what low/subsidized housing contributes to an area! While no one wishes any ill will towards people of lessor resources, you can't help to think this would be disastrous for pleasanton. This reminds me of the trillions of dollars spent on forced busing in 60's thru 80's. Absolutely nothing was accomplished and every cent wasted. Both teams are resentful! Urban Habitat would serve its constituents far better by trying to better educate people and building a stronger sense of community within Oakland. Trying to relocate poorer folks to wealthier neighborhoods has NEVER,EVER worked before. We this be the end of Pleasanton, I doubt it. Will it serve anyone more than the "urban Habitat" folks, I doubt it. And I don't think this has anything to do with race. I see 1st gen. Asian, Indians and Caucasian that commingle everyday in Pleasanton.

Posted by Bowler, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:01 pm

I strongly disagree that disallowing the housing cap will ruin Pleasanton. Please remember that Pleasanton has not been ordered to build anything, and it certainly does not have to build anything within a certain time frame. We merely have to rezone to allow for the increased units built sometime in the future. Developers still need to come up with the proposed land plans, the architectural designs and the cash to build, not so easy in this economy.

And the term "affordable" is relative to the local housing market. In a town with so many million dollar homes, "affordable" is still over $650K. Affordable is not the same as "subsidized", which means direct government support for renters. In all probability these affordable units will be for-sale family residences, just like most of Ptown neighborhoods.

So, does that sound like the riff raff are invading, or we are building block after block of subsidized housing in the immediate future? Not even close. The change will be gradual, it will be done in compliance with state laws, and, as citizens of the Republic, we will have done the right thing here in Ptown.

Posted by Bowler, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 9, 2010 at 10:05 pm

And as to our State Attorney General and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown being a party to this suit, he would have been derelict in his job if he had not sought action against the city. I plan to vote for him in Nov., because he did the right thing.

Posted by Insane, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Apr 10, 2010 at 12:09 am

Building more low income housing will only bring more thugs, drug dealers, and prostitutes to P-Town. We need to fight this at all cost.

Posted by resident, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 10, 2010 at 8:12 am

"slow-paced living"

Where do these people come from?

Posted by Repleasnacrat, a resident of Stoneridge
on Apr 10, 2010 at 8:49 am

Pleasanton, Livermore and Dublin have done a great job with their subsidized housing. You may not be aware that most of the senior housing built in the last several years is MOSTLY gov. subsidized! What would be nice is if Ptown could offer city employees favorable int. rates or loan packages tied to employment. Of course this would be considered elitist by UH and contrary to their ultimate goal that we should all live in peace and harmony. While I cant quibble with that wishful thinking...I have NEVER seen an instance where that philosophy has worked. While on the other hand, I can cite millions(if not billions) of tax dollars wasted on the subsidizing "Great Society". The ultimate issue for stepping from poverty to middle must come from within! And that motivation is clearly NOT come from the "leaders" of less affluent areas! I would rather see sub. small business. The failure is very high, but at least they were given an opportunity to try! And Jerry Brown, please don't get me started on that nut job!

Posted by Bowler, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 10, 2010 at 11:34 am

Repleasnacrat -- Again, this suit and the subsequent ruling has nothing to do with subsidized, government sponsored housing. It is about affordable housing, as defined by county housing authorities, which can take many forms, including:

Non-profit housing developers like Mercy Housing and Eden Housing develop residential properties and sell or rent them to families with median incomes.

Mortgage credit programs and first-time buyer incentive programs aid median income families obtain affordable housing.

Habitat for Humanity is considered a provider of affordable housing.

I hope you understand the difference and see that affordable housing is a category of home finance, not a category of people.

Posted by Mary, a resident of another community
on Apr 10, 2010 at 5:19 pm

Furdog, Honestly, Pleasanton is still a lovely town. The problem is the traffic. Just trying to get through town or anywhere in Pleasanton takes forever....WHY? Traffic. What makes traffic? Growth!!! New housing AND business developments.....breed TRAFFIC!!!
....and NO, I don't like traffic in my backyard!

To the others that are against growth because of their fear of "The Projects" moving in, well that's just a whole 'nother story. (One thing you won't have to worry about if that happens is poor people travel by foot and by bus......they certainly won't add to the traffic problem.. lol)

Posted by Sue, a resident of Foothill Farms
on Apr 10, 2010 at 5:28 pm

Has anyone thought of the school costs of more low income housing? The taxes are so low they won't pay for the expense of more kids. It will make our schools even more financially strapped!

More police, more teachers, more schools, more sewer, more traffic, more of everything! What is wrong with a small town, Jerry Brown? Oh, yes, you live in Oakland and would not know the benefits of a small town. I think he wants the people of Oakland to sprawl out to outlying towns like Pleasanton.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 10, 2010 at 5:59 pm

Gee what is up with those NIMBY folks, they WANT hills and ridges in their backyards, not more houses. Crazy folks. Reminds me of my grandparents.

Don't they know the land owner from Taiwan wants to make a buck off of those hills and he doesn't mind mowing off the top of this hills, burdening the neighbors with construction traffic, earth movers, hikers, and politicians just to make some money?

Posted by Question, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 10, 2010 at 7:23 pm

Last time I checked, Pleasanton has over 70K people. How is this considered a small town?

Posted by Bowler, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 10, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Back in early Nov. 2009, and as reported by the PW, the Pleasanton City Council allowed rezoning for a mixed-use development on three sites located in Hacienda Business Park close to the BART station. This was in direct response to the lawsuit filed by Urban Habitat and the state. The city knew they were going to lose, and hoped this vote would mitigate the severity of the final ruling.

The land includes 11 acres at the southeast corner of Owens Drive and Willow Road, and 8.2 acres at the north corner of Hacienda and Gibraltar drives, and 12.4 acres south of Gibraltar Drive and between Hacienda Driver and Willow Road.

The land use change allows residential development on the sites with a density of at least 30 units per acre with buildings up to six stories tall. The city's inclusionary zoning ordinance would require that at least 15 percent of the 950 housing units that could be built on the three sites be affordable to low and very-low households.

The units dedicated as affordable will look no different than any other unit in the complex. The sewers are in place already, as is coverage by police and fire. Again, no impact.

This is the first step to meeting our statutory requirements, and our moral obligations.

Web Link

Posted by Pleasanton Parent, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Apr 11, 2010 at 10:37 pm

Well worth the fight IMO

Low income housing will drop housing values in two ways -
1 - Existing homes near low income housing will drop in value as they will be deemed less desirable.

2 - On average, low income housing will introduce underperforming students (on average) into the school system which will inevitably drop test scores. Test scores have been one of the contributing factors to home values.

Posted by Pete, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 11, 2010 at 10:57 pm

Bowler... tell us what to do Bowler. You have an uncanny ability to understand... even at 10 years old.

Posted by IMHO, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:08 am

In my humble opinion, Judge Frank Roesch of the Alameda County Superior Court, appears to have a pro development agenda. Isn't he the judge that has been repeatedly ruling against our community in favor of pro development, Signature Properties verses Pleasanton Unified? And wasn't his ruling against Pleasanton citizens, infavor of the Lin development, overturned by a unanamous decission of his peers? Why does he continue to get all of the development cases when his verdicts seem so predictable?

Posted by Bowler, a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:11 am

I agree that we all moved to Pleasanton for a life style that we perceived as better than in surrounding cities. I have lived here for 25 years, and I hope to be here 25 years from now.

But the fact remains that Pleasanton's arbitrary limits on housing do not conform to state law, and we must change. Land planning policies have changed all over the country in past 15 years to recognize that suburban sprawl is environmental unsound, and transportation hub developments are far more efficient and responsible growth.

The largest parcels of undeveloped land in Pleasanton are in Hacienda Business Park, which is where you will find most of the denser housing projects built in the future, if additional rezoning is pursued. All of those future projects are required to have a component of affordable housing included. It is not an option.

These parcels are close to BART, which is a major factor in reducing the environmental impacts of housing and keeping additional traffic out of our neighborhoods, and adds to the value of any development.

For those interested in further information regarding land use policies, I recommend the Urban Land Institute Web Link, a global leader in research and policy on land use issues.

Posted by Dan, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:47 am

I am very concerned by what I was told by one of the leaders in this local movement. In order to achieve the very high density that they want in Hacienda they will pave over some of the streets in Hacienda, connecting large parcels to create much larger parcels which will allow for very large multistory high density developments. What are now streets will create more land for more density.

This is just the beginning, there is also desire to reclaim quarry land connecting Pleasanton to Livermore. There is a huge amount of land there!

Affordable housing should be our older housing stock and older apartments not expensive new construction that only supports development.

Every school in Pleasanton is overcrowded by state standards. The latest school demographer report says enrollment will not decline and we need to build schools PUSD can no longer afford.

Pleasanton and Tri-Valley traffic is terrible!

Can we count on our City Council to stand up to protect Pleasanton's quality of life?

Posted by low income high crime, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 12, 2010 at 9:51 am

I have to agree with Pleasanton Parent about how low income housing attracts low performers on many levels. Look at the low-lifes leaving the continuation school on First and Bernal every afternoon. Smoking, swearing, trashing the yards of the houses on their way to their low income housing on Vineyard Ave. People who live on First St have nothing but problems with those kids. Some of the older folks lock themselves in their homes when school gets out. What does that say for our fine town that we let a school like that operate in the middle of what should be a nice neighborhood? Does that make me a NIMBY? Probably, but if you had to live under siege in your own home from these nasty little convict kids you would not be voting to put more low income housing -- and kids like that -- into your back yard.

Posted by Mao, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 15, 2010 at 9:45 pm

Pleasanton does NOT have a traffic problem. Pleasanton DOES have a traffic LIGHT problem.
Exhibit A: Take a ride down Hopyard at any time day or night. Half the time it takes for your trip will likely be spent waiting for yet another traffic light to change from red to green. And, usually, there is very little, if any, cross traffic.
I rest my case.

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