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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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City Council faces major housing challenges

Uploaded: Mar 25, 2021
The Pleasanton City Council will have some particularly challenging decisions facing it when it comes to housing.
The governor and Legislature likely will turn up the heat to deal with the state’s huge housing crisis. The number of new housing starts in the last two years fell despite the governor’s aggressive goals. The Legislature passed a few bills, but there’s a fundamental debate between the local control exerted by city councils and boards of supervisors and the overwhelming need for more housing felt in the state capitol and by potential homebuyers.
Now on the council’s plate is updating the housing element of the city’s General Plan to reflect updated regional housing goals. State law requires the housing element be updated and approved by the state every eight years. The state continues to tighten the rules to force compliance.
Planning Director Ellen Clark outlined what’s facing Pleasanton in a staff report earlier this month.
The bottom line is that Pleasanton will need to zone land for housing to accommodate 5,965 units, nearly triple the number in the current cycle. The number increased by about 1,100 units after criteria was adjusted. That was driven by the release of the draft Plan Bay Area 2050. The criteria includes proximity to transit (two BART stations), quality of schools (excellent) as well as jobs (abundant—pre-Covid the unemployment rate was 2%).
For comparison, the city currently has 25,245 housing units so it’s a major increase.
Pleasanton’s goals actually dropped significantly in the current cycle that launched after the Great Recession. Clark’s report noted that meeting the low-income housing goals was going to be an ongoing challenge—353 were produced in the current cycle, about 23% of the goal. The numbers in the very-low and low-income categories will increase by over 1,600 units, while above-moderate (a class that is easy to build in Pleasanton) climbs by 1,700 units.
Council members discussed appealing the allocation. Clark said that it was unlikely, based on past experience, that they would change much. Any change to lower one goal would require increasing another city’s goal so only minor changes could be expected.
The current council majority ran on a platform to slow down growth and already has pulled the city out of a valley-wide study to determine alternative sources of potable water including highly treated effluent. That ill-advised decision came a couple of months before Zone 7 announced voluntary conservation because Northern California is facing another critically dry season. Rainfall to date is 5.53 inches, threatening to be the lowest total of all-time.
Nice timing for such a bad decision.
Returning to housing, remember that Pleasanton has a dubious reputation in Sacramento because of its former housing cap that was overturned in court after the city spent millions defending it. So, potential plaintiffs will be watching and there’s no telling what will come down from Sacramento this year as the vaccinations increase and life starts to get a bit back to whatever is “normal.”

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Posted by Lahommed, a resident of Dublin,
on Mar 25, 2021 at 2:43 pm

Lahommed is a registered user.

Maybe the cities of Dublin,livermore and pleasanton would be better served if they had City council members who would stand up and say NO. Maybe if the cities had mayors with backbone who would stand up and say NO! But sadly the city council's and Mayors will fold like a deck of cards. They will do whatever they are told no matter how stupid, unnecessary and and disastrous it will end up being. What is needed is leadership in these cities and less growth. One question asked is where is all the water for all these projects? we have had droughts and been made to pay for such droughts however the valley keeps expanding? how is that possible if we do not have the water table? Somebody is lying to us....and since there is so much money to be made with development no wonder the city council's and mayors never say NO. Corruption and a blind eye sure do help to line one's pockets!

Posted by Kevin, a resident of Castlewood,
on Mar 25, 2021 at 8:01 pm

Kevin is a registered user.

I agree - bad decision and very poor timing of canceling the project to find alternative sources of potable water. More housing is inevitable so let's hold the elected officials accountable to develop smart housing plans to meet the need.

Posted by Dirk Svensen, a resident of Country Fair,
on Mar 26, 2021 at 11:16 am

Dirk Svensen is a registered user.

While the article is focused on housing, I think we all have opinions on water as well. A Potable Reuse program ("Toilet-to-Tap", TtT) was being considered in which there are strong feelings on both sides. But this was likely an all-or-nothing proposition; support the entire study, or don't support the entire study. So the entire thing may have been dropped over TtT I suspect. A poison pill?

I wonder if we really have a water problem, or is it Cali's environmental restrictions creating this (no new storage, no new dams??). Isn't anybody talking about water storage? If I understand this, every time we have a good water year, massive amounts are dumped into the ocean because it exceeds our limited storage capacity...Mother of God. Storage may be more expensive than TtT, but we are never given the option. They might be surprised what residents are willing to pay to avoid TtT. But I may be wrong....

Posted by Alfie, a resident of Birdland,
on Mar 31, 2021 at 1:29 pm

Alfie is a registered user.

I thought the population of CA was declining.

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