After losing nearly 2-to-1 in a public vote last November, former City Councilman Matt Sullivan announced a referendum drive to challenge the City Council’s approval of the economic development zone along Johnson Drive. Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth will have to gather about 4,400 signatures in 30 days to give the council the choice of rescinding the decision (quite unlikely) or putting the question on the ballot a second time.
Given the holiday bustle, lots of folks will be out and about, but they will be busy. The group will need committed volunteers because it’s unlikely they have deep-pocketed supporters willing to pay signature-gatherers.
This issue was debated thoroughly a year ago and residents made it clear how they felt. Since then, Sullivan and his backers would argue, the details about how the city and Costco will pay for the substantial infrastructure improvements have been laid out. Sullivan’s group challenges the financing plan—which they label as subsidies—and believe the public’s opinion will have changed.
The last anti-Costco drive, mounted by Bill Wheeler of Black Tie Transportation and the Cox family that owns gas stations in town, was backed with six-figure financial investments. Should this drive get to the campaign stage, the developer, Nearon, and Costco can be expected to spend what is necessary to get their message out. Whether Sullivan’s group will have the financial wherewithal is an open question.
Assuming the Costco plan moves ahead, it will not be the biggest traffic challenge in the valley nor will that be the San Francisco Bay Premium Outlets in Livermore or Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton. Stoneridge, like many malls, is caught in the changing habits of shoppers who prefer the convenience of Amazon and other online vendors.
The biggest traffic challenge almost certainly will be the IKEA store that the retail giant plans for the intersection of I-580 and Hacienda Drive in Dublin. IKEA bought the land many years ago, sold it to a residential developer who could not obtain approvals, so the Swedish retailer purchased the land back in 2016. The city is awaiting the final environmental impact report. That intersection already serves plenty of large retailers, but a 340,000-square-foot IKEA dwarfs any other retailer and is a regional magnet.
IKEA released a report earlier this month that showed revenues to the city for its store and an additional 92,000 square feet would be nearly $2 million a year while city expenditures for police and other services would be about $150K, leaving a nice bump to city revenues. The sales tax alone will boost that revenue stream by about 10 percent, according to the IKEA numbers.
Given Dublin’s uncertain budget a couple of years out, the revenue will be attractive to city officials and the City Council. The key question will be how can the traffic impacts be mitigated on a project that is a regional draw that far surpasses any other retail establishment. The only other IKEA stores in the Bay Area are in Emeryville and East Palo Alto.
The project is expected to produce 580 jobs.