Given the brown lawns that abound in Pleasanton, it was stunning Tuesday afternoon to see lots of fresh green turf being laid in front of what will be a major U-Haul storage center on Sunol Boulevard next to Richert Lumber Co.
The site has been vacant for a number of years, but the owner has poured a major investment into the property to remake it into a self-storage facility with indoor spaces. Judging by the amount of time the renovations have taken and the fresh new look of the building, clients will likely be pleased as will investors.
Yet, the front lawn will require irrigation on an ongoing basis and did not appear to be a drought-resistant variety such as Zoysia.
When I emailed Brian Dolan, the city's planning chief, to ask what was going on, he wrote back that the project was approved in July 2013, 10 months before the city's formal water rationing took effect.
He noted that the city staff worked with the applicant to reduce the amount of turf by two-thirds and the new landscaping is subject to the State Water Efficiency Ordinance that requires a prescribed water budget.
So, it is an improvement over the grass when the facility was operated previously, but it still grates to see turf grass being laid down when we have no clue what the winter will hold in terms of rain and snow.
Reviewing stories on the Danville-San Ramon.com, I was struck by how many students now attend schools in the San Ramon Valley. The district enrollment is estimated up 500 students this year to 31,900. I remembered the days not too long ago that about 24,000 students were enrolled, but that was before the Dougherty Valley was really rolling.
No preliminary numbers for other districts were readily available, but last year Pleasanton (14,786) and Livermore (13,634) were less than half of the size of San Ramon Valley, while rapidly growing Dublin was at 8,270.
What's interesting about the Pleasanton vs. Livermore number is that Livermore's population is 83,547, more than 11,000 more residents that Pleasanton, yet Pleasanton has more than 1,000 more students.
It reflects both the family desirability for Pleasanton and Livermore policies that directed higher density housing into the downtown area and focused single-family units on the very expensive areas on the southside. It also shows how the existing housing stock in Pleasanton has continued to transfer from long-time residents to younger parents with families. Pleasanton certainly has not been approving affordable housing for working class folks.