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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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Big change in council majority for Pleasanton

Uploaded: Nov 12, 2020
Housing policy in Pleasanton likely will shift when Karla Brown is sworn in as mayor next month.

Councilwoman Brown easily defeated Councilman Jerry Pentin and three others in the five-candidate race to succeed Mayor Jerry Thorne. Thorne, Brown and Pentin were all termed out.
Jack Balch and Valerie Arkin won the two open council seats. It’s expected that Brown, Arkin and incumbent Julie Testa will vote together (if you can draw any conclusion from those signs showing up together in the same yards).

Take, for instance, resuming planning for the 1,100 acres in East Pleasanton that Ponderosa Homes is leading. The council voted 3-2 in March for the process to get that moving (it already had been made a priority on the two-year work plan in 2019). Brown and Testa opposed that motion. The process has been stalemated with the city staff leadership holding the formal agreement for Ponderosa to pay for a staff planner to work on it. Where it goes from here is an open question.

There’s a definite time factor because the contract Ponderosa has with the other major landowner allows that company to walk away with 30 days notice. The land has existing industrial zoning so the firm could pull out of Ponderosa agreement if the city does not get the process going and then develop the land with warehouses. Warehouses are a hot land use, particularly in areas where last-mile delivery hubs can be operated.

From a Pleasanton standpoint, a carefully planned residential community with up to 500 units of affordable housing would serve better than a warehouse development like those big warehouses on Isabel Avenue in Livermore.

Notably, this is the first time a mayoral candidate backed by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce’s political action committee has not won. When the chamber established the committee in the mid-2000s, the city council majority was composed of people who viewed residential development with skepticism—to put it mildly. When Brown and Arkin are sworn in, it will make the first time since then officials with their viewpoint controlled the council.

The Army sure is a family business for retired Lt. Col David Maurer who was the featured speaker at Las Positas College’s virtual Veteran’s Day observance Wednesday. Both of his parents served in World War II, his dad as an officer who fought in North Africa, Italy and in Europe during the Battle of the Bulge. He was a career officer and retired as a full colonel.

Growing up, David had his uniform and every time his dad got promoted, he was promoted—always a rank behind so he could use his father’s emblems. After graduating from Seton Hall University, he was commissioned a 2nd lieutenant in the Army’s Adjutant General Corps and served 22 years rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. He’s worked in the private sector since retiring and maintains his love of the family business.

One son is an officer in the JAG Corp., while another serves in the military police. Maurer told one great story about his son’s promotion to captain. His captain bars went on one collar, while his dads were pinned on the other collar.

One highlight of the observance was English professor Jim Ott’s reading of veteran’s writings from his English class specifically for vets. They write 15 minutes a week in response to a prompt from Ott that range from a humorous experience to a sad experience to comparing civilian life to the military.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by Willy, a resident of Old Towne,
on Nov 13, 2020 at 9:47 am

Willy is a registered user.

No more housing needed in Pleasanton!

Posted by AntiNimbyGranny, a resident of Vintage Hills,
on Nov 13, 2020 at 2:17 pm

AntiNimbyGranny is a registered user.

Gee, Willy, if that's true, why do we hear so many people begging for places to live in our community? Places they can afford. Places that don't rent for $5,888 a month! There are only 40 rentals here at the moment. The least expensive for 1 bedroom and 1 bathroom is $1700 and change.
Just because you've got a nice home in Pleasanton doesn't give you license to say I'm here, now the rest of you find someplace else to call home! Some would call that a selfish attitude. Me included.

Posted by Matt Sullivan, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Nov 13, 2020 at 4:17 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

I'd like to make two points on the column and the comments thus far:

1. This is the first time in almost 15 years that we have a Council majority not controlled by the Chamber of Commerce, big business, and developers. This election was a historic and positive accomplishment for local democracy.

2. The high density housing built in Pleasanton and Dublin in the past several years is not affordable. It's housing for fairly affluent tech workers. Developers don't want to build affordable housing because it's not profitable. And since our state legislature collaborates with the tech industry and our (former) City Councils collaborate with developers we have what we have. The old, tired arguments don't work anymore. If someone wants to have a real conversation about homelessness, income inequality, and truly affordable housing, I'm all ears.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 13, 2020 at 8:44 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Valarie Arkin understands Bart to Livermore remains viable.

How did Pleasanton elect her?

Posted by Bryant Annenberg, a resident of Downtown,
on Nov 14, 2020 at 1:03 pm

Bryant Annenberg is a registered user.

@ Michael Austin

and why is BART to Livermore not viable?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Nov 14, 2020 at 5:45 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

As reported in the Pleasanton Weekly May 2018 - The BART Board of Directors voted against a full BART extension to Livermore.

The door remains open for the Tri Valley Regional Rail Authority to fill the void

Posted by Bryant Annenberg, a resident of Downtown,
on Nov 14, 2020 at 7:45 pm

Bryant Annenberg is a registered user.

@ Michael Austin

I know the BART vote in 2018.

But that vote has no correlation to "viability"

New BART Board members may have a different attitude.

My point is this **** If BART is not viable, why would the Tri-Valley Railroad authority product/service be viable?

It's essentially the same thing as BART, with the added inconvenience of having to switch trains in order to use BART


Posted by factchecker, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 15, 2020 at 9:57 am

factchecker is a registered user.

Bryant, the state legislature passed a bill in 2018 that created the ValleyLinks JPA if BART decided not to extend to Livermore by the end of May 2018 (I think that's the correct month but not 100% sure.) That also took funding from BART for the extension and gave it to ValleyLink. Funding for BART to Livermore identified in the Measure BB sales tax is also being reallocated from BART to ValleyLinks. Look at the past BART vote about BART to Livermore and this past election didn't change anything that would change that vote. Its really unfortunate but thankfully people like Catharine Baker and Scott Hagerty championed the creation and funding of ValleyLinks. BTW, ValleyLinks will operat similar to the connection between Pitsburgh/Bay Point and Antioch where riders have to get off the BART train and walk across the platform to get on a differnt train to go to Antioch. Don't hear any complaining about that.

Michael, I believe 2 reasons Valerie got elected--name recognition from being on the school board and endorsement from the Alameda County Democratic Central Committee. Many voters don't pay close attention as evidenced by how many votes Druthi Ghanta received for Mayor even though she came out and said can't serve--don't vote for me vote for Monith instead.

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