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By Tim Hunt

Wrangling about Wal-Mart's neighborhood store

Uploaded: Apr 17, 2012

The long-awaited new anchor store in the Meadow Plaza Shopping Center on Santa Rita Road should finally receive its final clearance at the City Council meeting May 7.
Councilman Matt Sullivan exercised his option to appeal the Planning Commission's approval of Wal-Mart's plans to locate one of its neighborhood markets in the former Nob Hill store. The center has been without its anchor since Nob Hill closed the market in 2010 and other merchants have been suffering.
The center management submitted an application for Wal-Mart last summer and the application has been wending its way through the Pleasanton planning morass since that time.
The Planning Commission already has heard the issue twice and this will be the second hearing before the City Council.
This is a classic case of a non-issue if the operator was going to be any outfit other than Wal-Mart, which the unions detest. It's an identical use—market for market—with no expansion of space or lengthening of business hours.
What it will do is give the surrounding neighborhoods back a shopping option and generate foot traffic that should help other tenants in the center.
What's remarkable is just how long it has taken to replace one market with another. A full range of appeals have been used in this process that should finally wrap up if the four council members who supported the Wal-Mart application do so again.

SPENDING LAST WEEK relaxing in southern Orange County with a timeshare unit facing the Pacific Coast Highway and the Amtrack/Metrolink lines, it's amazing how many empty passenger trains go by in a day.
We were in our unit during the morning and evening commutes most days and it was discouraging to see trains that had lots of seats available speed by Capistrano Beach.
Metrolink runs two trains during commute hours, while Amtrak operates 10 trains daily during the week.
No wonder Amtrak requires such a huge subsidy. If a train were half full, we would have been shocked.
The tracks run right along the coast so the scenery is wonderful. But the ridership is anything but.
The Amtrak lines connect San Diego with downtown Los Angeles with connections to the Metrolink going east available. Certainly, the LA and Orange County areas are poorly suited to transit—you can say the same for much of the suburban East Bay.
Seeing how low the ridership was on the Amtrak line calls into further question the absurdly inflated ridership estimates for the high-speed rail in California. San Joaquin County routes call for ridership increasing 10-fold once the speedy trains are running.
You have to wonder what those folks were inhaling or imbibing when they dreamed up those numbers.