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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Costco opponents trying to get ahead of the City Council

Uploaded: Mar 24, 2016
Bill Wheeler of Black Tie Transportation and his business neighbors along Commerce and Johnson drives have their work cut out with their anti-Costco initiative drive.
Pleasanton residents, like many Californians, routinely sign way too many petitions—often seemingly without any thought. Nonetheless, I would not put money on their chances of convincing 10 percent of the registered voters to sign the petitions banning retailers larger than 50,000-square feet from locating on the Johnson Drive spot that once held the Clorox Co. research center. Citizens for Planned Growth needs to collect 4,017 signatures by May 17.
Neither the City Council nor the Planning Commission has formally considered the Costco, although earlier zoning changes paved the way for a potential approval.
As I wrote Tuesday, a Pleasanton Costco store will be seen as a convenience by many members —not a detriment. The traffic impacts are limited to two neighborhoods and businesses such as Black Tie.
This is not a particularly easy issue for signature-gatherers—paid or volunteer to spin. Opponents of the Lund Ranch II project could easily point at hills and say something about ridges, oak trees and open space and get residents to sign. Even with paid gatherers, they barely hit the 10 percent mark. Voters will consider the council’s approval of the project on the November ballot.
Time will tell whether this measure and a potential school bond also show up on the general election ballot.
School trustees this week received very good news from a polling firm that assessed the public’s view of a school bond of $312 million for renovation and updating of facilities. Given the gently declining enrollment predicted over the next 10 years, there’s no need for a new school.
School trustees have to be delighted with how positively the community views the schools (about 62 percent of those surveyed were not parents with kids in school) and their willingness to pay more in property taxes to maintain the quality of the facilities. It was basically a green light to put the bond on the November ballot.
The November election is considered advantageous because the polling firm believes the presidential election will drive a larger turnout and support for the bond consistently ran above the 55 percent required for passage. School bonds can pass with 55 percent approval, while parcel taxes take a two-thirds majority.
Voters have rejected parcel taxes three times since 1996, although the last two tries in 2009 and 2011, both received over 60 percent affirmative votes. By contrast, citizens have not considered a school bond since 1997 when it passed with more than three-quarters positive votes.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by WantingtoVote, a resident of Castlewood,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 9:14 am

The point of the proposed initiative is to let people have a say in what they want. If they can't get enough signatures, so be it. But at least those that have an opinion get to express it--since the city government doesn't seem to keen to hear what the man in the street has to say on anything. I hope they get to their goal, just so I can vote on whether I want more big box stores littering up the landscape.

Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 11:26 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Once built (if built that is) the customers coming and making purchases will be the official vote.

Posted by Wondering, a resident of California Reflections,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 12:01 pm

So Tim, it seems you are a big Costco fan. Do you shop there much? I would think that you and anybody concerned about the issue would love to see a vote, to settle the matter once and for all. Or are you afraid the anti-Costco side might win?

Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 12:03 pm


Regarding your comments on the anti-Costco referendum petition drive, "This is not a particularly easy issue for signature-gatherers—paid or volunteer to spin. Opponents of the Lund Ranch II project could easily point at hills and say something about ridges, oak trees and open space and get residents to sign. Even with paid gatherers, they barely hit the 10 percent mark. Voters will consider the council’s approval of the project on the November ballot."

Yes, the opponents of the Lund Ranch II project indeed did just that--in fact, it was proven that the paid signature gatherers, at the very least, and at worst, also perhaps involving some volunteers, made false statements to get that 'barely 10 percent mark.' See Councilmember Kathy Narum's remarks, on the record, from the 3/1/16 City Council meeting for anyone doubting this.

A big difference from when those referendum petition supporters submitted their 6,000+ signatures with big smiles on their faces, and when the Alameda County Registrar of Voters subsequently confirmed just barely enough signatures (just under 300 signatures above the amount from the required minimum number) were actually determined to be valid.

The Lund Ranch II referendum supporters' website is also full of false statements, making voters believe homes in the project are being built on hillsides, when in fact, NONE are. Misleading statement after misleading statement from a group supported by City Councilmember Karla Brown, who lives on a hillside, btw.

Interesting how former City Councilmember Matt Sullivan has pretty much gone silent of late with respect to further commentary regarding Lund Ranch II. Instead, he seems to now be much more focused these days on commenting on the Costco/Johnson Drive issue and a potential referendum on it. Perhaps that's because that's close to his own neighborhood.

Recommend voters should also read or re-read your 3/3/16 blog post on the Lund Ranch II project.

Posted by PleasantonLover, a resident of Las Positas,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 2:46 pm

Big difference is that this is an initiative--getting input before big mistakes are made rather than after it. And people can vote Yes or No--so it makes a lot of sense to me. Unlike Lund Ranch,the vote would be held during a regular election, so there are not a lot of extra expenses. Why wouldn't the city want this kind of input before making such a big decision?

Posted by Bob QP, a resident of Rosewood,
on Mar 24, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Bob QP is a registered user.

I was at the Pleasanton Chamber's Community Awards dinner on Wednesday, and saw that Black Tie was a major sponsor of the event. That company has grown up with Pleasanton, and really does a lot for the community! What is wrong with Bill Wheeler trying to protect his business, and give us all the chance to have some input that we otherwise wouldn't have? I'm grateful he is promoting the initiative,because it gives me the chance to vote that otherwise I wouldn't have.

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 7:25 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

Bob Qp,

The data used by those supporting the initiative is utter bull. Its been discussed in other threads.

Black Tie is a successful business. They are successful because they provide a good service, not because they have a good deal on a parking lot. That they will have to adapt is something that a lot of business' have to do at one time or another.

They will survive.

I noticed that someone took down the anti-Costco sign at the Park and Ride...heh!

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Mar 25, 2016 at 4:27 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

I was at the DMV in Pleasanton this morning. As I left the building I was stopped twice by a lady taking signatures for something. She asked twice if I was a registered voter. I informed her twice that I do not sign anything. I do not know whom or what she is gathering signatures for.

If she is gathering signatures for a Pleasanton issue, it seems to me that the DMV building is not an ideal location for gathering signatures, because most of the people exiting the DMV in Pleasanton are from out of the Pleasanton area. Not registered voters residing in Pleasanton

Posted by Pleasanton Transplant, a resident of Birdland,
on Mar 30, 2016 at 9:48 am

I am very much in favor of a Costco in Pleasanton. I think the old Clorox site is PERFECT! Right off the freeway - no cut through traffic and in a business area.

I would much rather spend my money here in P-Town and have the city get the tax benefits than traveling to other cities to spend my money.

I sure hope the deal goes through...I won't be signing any "anti-Costco" petitions!

Posted by Rod, a resident of Old Towne,
on Aug 2, 2016 at 9:50 pm

Hi Tim,
Haven't heard from you in a while on this issue. Seems like The Citizens for Planned Growth surprised you. Don't be surprised if they win in November.

I think they have a good cause. One that resonates with voters.


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