A number of seniors walked away from the City Council Chambers Wednesday night with smiles on their faces as the Planning Commission gave its approval to a new senior living community on the Staples Ranch property.
Three Staples Ranch items went before the commission at their meeting: Continuing Life Communities' proposal for a 749-unit senior residential community, Hendrick Automotive Group's plans for an auto mall on 37 acres and a development agreement that will allow for the Staples Ranch property to be transferred from Alameda County ownership to the city of Pleasanton. All sailed through with unanimous support by the commission.
Roughly 50 seniors who were in attendance expressed their support for the residential community proposed by San Diego-based CLC, saying time is of the essence for the project to move forward.
Described by CLC chief executive Rick Aschenbrenner as "casual elegance," the gated community to be named Stoneridge Creek for those 62 and older will be built in phases and could take eight to 10 years to complete.
"I would like to live the rest of my life here," said Howard Matthews, adding that time is ticking for an aging population that desires to live there.
There was only one real bone of contention during Wednesday night's discussion --the housing cap. Commissioner Arne Olson suggested adding a condition to the approval for Stoneridge Creek that the units not count against the city's 29,000-unit threshold, which is nearing closer. But commissioner Phil Blank said he wouldn't support that because he didn't believe it was in the commission's purview to get into politics and Olson decided to drop his motion.
The city is currently under fire for its housing cap, with a lawsuit pending to invalidate it. Just hours before the Planning Commission meeting, California Attorney General Jerry Brown announced he was joining a San Francisco affordable housing coalition in the legal fight, which was filed in 2006.
"Pleasanton's draconian and illegal limit on new housing forces people to commute long distances, adding to the bumper to bumper traffic along (Interstates) 580 and 680 and increasing dangerous air pollution," Brown said in a statement. "It's time for Pleasanton to balance its housing and its jobs and take full advantage of its underutilized land and proximity to BART."
Not part of the commission's discussion were the other highly-anticipated portions of the development, to be built on a 124-acre parcel in northeast Pleasanton, bordering El Charro Road and the Livermore border. They include a Sharks Ice facility and a community park, which will be brought separately. Assistant City Manager Steve Bocian said the city has received a development proposal from the Sharks organization for the ice rink facility and the two parties are currently working on a ground lease. It's expected to go before the City Council in August, he said. A proposal for an 11-acre retail development that would include a restaurant, shops and market by Fremont Land was dropped recently and the city is looking for another developer.
Late last year, after several years of public hearings, the council agreed to develop the land in concert with an agreement with the county and at the same time to allow the extension of Stoneridge Drive through Staples to connect to El Charro and Livermore.
The city is also in the midst of a supplemental environmental impact report, ordered by the City Council, which will analyze negative effects to the environment and offer ways to mitigate them and includes the extension of Stoneridge Drive to connect to Livermore. Bocian told the commission the supplemental report will be ready for the public's review later this summer. It will be completed before pieces of the Staples Ranch development move on to the City Council for approval.
Two environmental groups and a citizens' coalition called "Safe Streets Pleasanton" have asked the Alameda County Superior Court to halt the Staples Ranch project until a study shows the consequences of developing Staples and extending the roadway.