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By Tim Hunt

The president and the governor are right about housing crisis

Uploaded: Sep 29, 2016

It’s not often that I agree with either Gov. Brown or President Obama, but they are both right when they point out the need to build more housing closer to jobs and for communities to start welcoming new housing.
Pleasanton, because of its intransigence in defending its housing cap that violated state law, now is in building boom of high density apartments mandated by the court settlement. Given that no major apartment complex has been built in 15 years, it’s overdue, but what would have been much better was if the units were constructed over a period of years to meet demand as it grew.
I moderated a campaign forum at Pleasanton Gardens last week and it was striking to hear mayoral candidate Julie Testa imply she would not approve any housing units beyond the state’s mandated numbers. She spoke against the unique project approved on Stanley Boulevard that included both a different type of single-family product plus a site for a Sunflower Hill residential facility for adults with special needs.
Many years ago, I told an aide to a local assemblyman that the only way for the state to get cities and counties to take residential growth seriously was to ensure there were both carrots and sticks. The best example of a stick was the $10,000 per day fine the state would impose if the volume of garbage was not reduced—cities raised rates and established recycling programs regardless of public comment.
Pleasanton, the Tri-Valley and the entire Bay Area are facing prosperity challenges with job growth outstripping the growth in housing units. That means crowded freeways, particularly here in the valley with the crossroads of Interstate 580/680. As one who lives near I-680, I can remember the downturns when traffic southbound was quite a bit lighter.
Incidentally, now we routinely see the luxury tech buses plying area streets and freeways. That private transportation is carrying about 34,000 commuters a day, according to a report that was covered by the San Francisco Business Times. Those are a perfect example of companies that value employees coming up with solutions to allow them to be productive and not fight freeways for a couple of hours each day.
Projects need to be considered on their merits, as the council members and commissioners did on the Stanley Boulevard parcel.