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By Tim Hunt

Civic center site key to fresh downtown plan

Uploaded: May 31, 2018

Downtown Pleasanton continues to evolve with restaurants expanding onto streets beyond Main Street and a task force and city planners updating the specific plan for the second time after its original approval in 1989.
Gerry Beaudin, director of community development and Sweta Bonn, senior planner, recently updated the Pleasanton Men’s Club on the lengthy process that is scheduled to end next year. The milestone this year will be completion of the environmental impact report in the fall. It started in 2016.
The lynch pin is the current civic center site with its mixture of permanent buildings and modular units that are nearing the end of their useful life. An earlier civic center task force recommended moving the civic center to the Bernal parcel. That will require a public vote because the public approved the existing plan that includes a performing arts center on what now is designated for the civic center.
So, the key question is what to do with the 13-acre site bounded by Main Street, Bernal Avenue and Old Bernal Avenue. It also includes the vacant parcel west of the library that the city bought from the city and county of San Francisco. The total land in the plan covers 300 acres. In addition to the civic center site, planners also identified 170 internal inconsistencies in the 2002 updated document.
The current thinking for the site would be a mixture of uses, including retaining the existing library building for another use (perhaps a food hall). No residential development would be permitted on the first floor. The plan calls for 124 dwelling units with 257,000 square feet of retail and commercial.
Plans include a boutique hotel that could provide a bookend to the Rose Hotel at the other end of Main Street and buildings that could be five stories (40 feet tall).
One goal of the plan is to encourage businesses to locate on the side streets such as it being seen on St. Mary between Main and Peters.
One street that they are going to experiment on is Division between Railroad and Main. It feeds right into the Firehouse Arts Center and Lions Wayside Park, so it will be closed for some events as a pedestrian zone. Potentially, it could be a permanent pedestrian-only area. That also could spark the revitalization of some older, under-used buildings along that street.
Another change will be as street trees die off, they will be replaced in bulb-outs between parking spaces so there will be more space on the sidewalks, particularly around restaurants with outdoor dining.
The former San Francisco parcel likely will be used for a parking structure, although Beaudin indicated it would be built so it could be converted to another use depending upon how ride-sharing and autonomous vehicles change how people use cars—or whether they even own a car.
As I have observed previously, sadly the school district parcel at the corner of First and Bernal is not included in the plan for potential other uses. That could be a huge point of leverage for the district that needs to renovate schools and a golden opportunity for cooperation between the two agencies on equipment, maintenance and public facilities. For instance, why are two council chambers/board rooms necessary? That’s a simple one.