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By Tim Hunt

Dublin votes for privately owned open space

Uploaded: Nov 10, 2014

Last week's anti-climactic election on Measure T in Dublin should, for the next number of years, solidify any question about what happens in Doolan Canyon north of Interstate 580 between Dublin and Livermore.
Both cities have eyed the canyon—Livermore with its mind on open space, while Dublin council members originally were willing to consider an active adult community similar to a Del Webb property or Rossmoor on 1,200 privately owned acres there.
Those potential plans were thwarted earlier this year when Dublin citizens gathered signatures to make Doolan Canyon open space and brought an initiative to the City Council. Another group, led by former Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart, gathered signatures for a competing measure.
The city council, however, adopted the citizens' measure and both put Measure T on the ballot and wrote an argument against it.
That left the potential developer, Danville-based Pacific Union Land Co., alone as a supporter and without the very important citizens ready to do the ground work in favor of moving the urban limit boundary to include Doolan Canyon.
The measure was whooped by a 4-1 margin last week, helped along by cash and people investments from the Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mt. Diablo.
A group of investors, led by John Ferreri of Pleasanton, bought in the land back in the 1980s. This was the second time the active adult community idea has been proposed for that land.
The irony is there is no community like that in the Tri-Valley area—the closest options are Rossmoor in Walnut Creek and communities in Brentwood or out in the Sacramento area. Notably, a small active adult community, the Villages at Ironwood developed by Ponderosa Homes, has been a great success for both the residents there and the builder. It is a small scale version and lacks the amenities of many of the larger communities.
The demand, given the huge number of baby boomers heading for retirement or empty-nest lifestyles, is there.
Reflecting on the election, I thought about a panel that the Pleasanton chamber pulled together for its leadership class that included Hacienda developer Joe Callahan, long-time commercial real estate broker and community volunteer Brad Hirst and myself last Wednesday.
Joe and his partner, the Prudential Insurance Co., assembled the land that became Hacienda Business Park, because its location at the intersection of I-580/I-680 was within a 30-minute commute of 40 percent of the workers in the Bay Area. It remains a unique location to for firms looking for ideal areas to locate.
The immense challenge, as Joe pointed out, is that jobs still follow housing. The housing was built and in place before the employment came. There's been almost no workforce housing built in Pleasanton for years. The constricted new housing supply is negatively effecting owners of buildings in both Hacienda and Bishop Ranch in San Ramon from attracting tenants. East Dublin and the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon have been the only major new housing in the Tri-Valley and Pleasanton has approved the fewest units by far.
Brad pointed out that the late Mayor Ken Mercer was a member of the City Council that, in the wake of Proposition 13 that slashed property taxes, had to lay off city employees and turn off street lights because the city could not afford to pay for the power. Brad said Pleasanton had the lowest sales tax revenue per capita in the county—now it has the highest.
Thanks to the leadership of Mercer and others, the foundation was laid for the economic prosperity that Pleasanton enjoys. However, it can be lost.
There was a time that Hayward had everything going for it. Decisions to fight against CalTrans plans for new freeway routings the stage for the city to struggle economically for the last few decades. By contrast, Scott Raty pointed out that Walnut Creek decided to loop I-680 around the city and to preserve the downtown. Today, Brad said that a Walnut Creek location is a must for an upscale retailer looking at the Bay Area.
My takeaway, for Pleasanton, what happens with redevelopment within the business parks and the east side plan could have a profound effect on the community 20 and 30 years in the future.