City Council unanimously approves new General Plan

Tuesday night vote gives city environmentally-focused blueprint through buildout in 2025

The City Council last night unanimously approved a new General Plan that will serve as the blueprint for continued and future development of Pleasanton through the city's projected residential buildout of 2025.

Although the comprehensive document was approved in a 5-0 vote, a portion of it dealing with the extension of Stoneridge Drive and Staples Ranch was bifurcated to allow for ongoing review as lawsuits affecting that project proceed in the Alameda County Superior Court. In effect, that action amended the new General Plan as soon as it was approved.

Even so, the final approval was a major accomplishment for hundreds of individuals who served on committees, commissions and even the City Councils elected over the seven-year deliberation process to produce the new plan, which now supersedes the 1996 General Plan. Major changes, as outlined Tuesday, include new guidelines and restrictions in the areas of climate change, green building, energy and water conservation, air quality and other key environmental issues that weren't even thought of when the 1996 plan was enacted.

Still in the new plan is a 29,000-unit housing cap on residential units, a restriction that both an affordable housing coalition and State Attorney General Jerry Brown are contesting in court. Their argument is that the cap prevents Pleasanton from fully utilizing available land for low-to-medium income and so-called workforce housing which the state and the Association of Bay Area Governments insist should be greater than 29,000. The City Council has instructed City Attorney Michael Roush to defend the housing cap on the grounds that the measure was approved overwhelmingly in 1996 by Pleasanton voters. To change it would require another public vote authorizing the change or a judicial ruling.

Anticipating a requirement to add more housing, the council agreed to also rezone a large portion of Hacienda Business Park for mixed use, which would allow more residential housing in the city's primary business district.

Although councilmembers spent more than two hours discussing the draft General Plan and tweaking the language in the multi-page document, it was once again the proposal to extend Stoneridge Drive to El Charro Road that produced the most rancor.

Councilman Matt Sullivan said he assured his constituents in the Mohr-Martin neighborhood who would be most affected by the extension that the new roadway would not be built until other Tri-Valley cities made similar improvements to their arterial streets first and that an action plan with funding to widen State Route 84 between interstates 680 and 580 were in place. He said the General Plan fails to include any of these requirements.

"I went out to the community and convinced people who were very skeptical that we would keep these requirements in the plan, that at the end of the day we would have these checks and balances," Sullivan said. "That was the basis of my agreement when I voted to keep the Stoneridge extension in the General Plan."

"I made that personal commitment to people, which I want to honor," he added. "This council also made that commitment which it isn't honoring."

Councilwoman Cindy McGovern, who has long objected to extending Stoneridge Drive, also called for considering the extension separately from the General Plan until the lawsuit and a new environmental impact study on its effects on local neighborhoods can be completed.

The bound General Plan document of text, color photos, maps, sketches, charts and lists will be the guiding rulebook for the final buildout of Pleasanton in the year 2025. A key component, however, is the continued inclusion of the voter-mandated housing cap of 29,000 units which are expected to be completed at buildout. Whether the cap stays or goes, city officials said this new General Plan is capable of handling any future unplanned development through growth management restraints and other measures that the city also has in place.

The rapid pace of development under way when the last General Plan was considered has given way to almost no new developments today with fewer than 2,000 residential units to complete under the housing cap. This pull-back from a builders' frenzy to the slower pace of 2009 affects every part of Pleasanton, from school enrollment to traffic to infrastructure such as sewer and water capacity.

That's why officials said the new plan has taken much longer, with city planners carefully writing the plan based on discussions with the school district, neighborhoods, downtown merchants, Stoneridge Shopping Center, Hacienda Business Park, the Chamber of Commerce and the changing times. The Planning Commission and City Council, separately and in joint workshops, held discussion meetings with these civic groups to make sure this new General Plan put the right finishing touches on completing the city of Pleasanton.

What distinguishes this new General Plan from the previous one is that, first, it contains a vision statement that clearly articulates the future roadmap for the city. The vision statement, a brief two-paragraph statement on page 5 of the General Plan document, which had much input and many rewrites before it was accepted, was especially useful in guiding the development of the General Plan over the last several years. It speaks to the high quality of life in Pleasanton, the city's diversified economic base and its commitment to sustainability for the future.

This sustainability theme is woven throughout the plan, not only in its emphasis on environmental issues and safeguards, but also on the city's long-term fiscal sustainability. It's carried through in the various goals stated in the plan, including policies and programs related to land use and traffic.

The new plan also places more emphasis than before on mixed use housing, both high density condos and apartments and more affordable housing units.

Councilmembers said the new General Plan will help secure Pleasanton's future sustainability as a fiscally strong community committed to the quality of life that Pleasanton residents and businesses have come to expect and enjoy.

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Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jul 22, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Glad to finally have a General Plan approval after years and years of community input. This is probably a record for the longest adoption process with the most lawsuits pending. Makes me wonder how much money will be spent on defending the plan and if P-Town will get an image black-eye for refusing to provide its share of affordable housing and market-rate housing to balance jobs: residents. Aside, I find Sullivan's comments interesting about the Stoneridge completion and that he doesnt favor it because he promised his constituents in Mohr/Martin, who are the most affected according to him, that it would not happen. Wow, I guess he still doesnt get it. Everyone on the east and southeast sides of town who must use the bottle-necked Santa Rita and Valley to get home every single day to their families are also affected. I seriously dont think he's ever actually driven it at commute because he commutes to San Francisco from the westside of town. And I guess its OK with him to add more lawsuits from the County and our neighbor cities over transportation funding. I thought elected officials were supposed to solve problems, not create more.

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Posted by Lee
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 23, 2009 at 9:49 am

June - I think Matt Sullivan has seen the traffic you are talking about. However, coming from SF he also sees the eastbound gridlock every afternoon on 580. I believe that he is probably concerned about a lot of that ending up heading eastbound on Pleasanton Streets. This is a genuine concern. I am concerned and I live on the west side so it doesn't really affect me. I am just saying there are some legitimate concerns regarding the Stoneridge extension that I hope are factored carefully into the planning of it.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 23, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Matt's (and Cindy's) comments were ENTIRELY (for emphasis, not shouting) about smart planning.

Although the Stoneridge Drive extension (SDE) was a big part our community discussions throughout the General Plan update process, the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) approved with the General Plan does not include any information regarding the impacts and possible mitigations of the SDE. As a result of a lawsuit, the City recently began a Supplemental EIR (SEIR) that is specific to the SDE. Until that SEIR is completed we have no idea what impacts will need to be addressed with the SDE - impacts that will most probably include traffic circulation as it affects our whole community, not just the East side.

Stoneridge Drive is planned as an arterial route, not only within our town, but in the region as well. Preliminary traffic studies showed little to no reduction on currently over-burdened commuter routes when Stoneridge Drive is extended, while traffic on Stoneridge was projected to be heavier than Valley is today. As I understood information out of Tuesday's Council meeting, we cannot constrain Stoneridge Drive at El Charro as a gateway (like we currently do with our other heavily traveled commuter routes) because of an agreement with the gravel company. Staples Ranch development is moving forward. I do not think that it is uncalled for to ask that our City Council know what the impacts to our whole community will be with the extension of Stoneridge Drive, and, to have potential mitigations identified.

I applaud Matt and Cindy's efforts to stay ahead of the planning process by trying to ensure that the SEIR data for the SDE is noticed and addressed.

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Posted by David
a resident of Del Prado
on Jul 23, 2009 at 3:59 pm


Have you seen the traffic studies? They absolutely show a reduction in traffic at the horrific Valley and Santa Rita intersection as a result of Stoneridge going through, as well as other locations. Maybe you can find a copy online at the City website.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm


I've seen them. May I direct you to what was most recently published with the Staples Ranch documentation?

Web Link

Take a look at Attachment 16 titled "LAFCo letter and City Response dated July 18, 2008". The pertinent charts start at pg 6 of 9 (PDF doc) in the City's Sept 2008 response to LAFCO. As noted, the data was extracted from the "Stoneridge Drive Specific Plan Amendment Traffic Report".

As you can see, the charts on Pg 6 reflect the Level of Service (LOS) at several intersections. Keeping in mind that these documents are for Staples Ranch, the data is reflected under three scenarios: (1)Vacant Site No Stoneridge Extension (today), (2)Vacant Site with Stoneridge Extension (n/a), and (3)Project with Stoneridge Extension (future). The first chart is without signal timing and the second one is with signals optimized for the expected traffic volumes.

As you can see, on the PM commute for scenario 1 and 3, the Santa Rita & Valley intersection LOS increases from an E/67 to F/87 without timing and from an E/67.4 to E/72.2 with timing. No improvement. Santa Rita & Stoneridge intersection LOS increases from an D/35 to F/96 without timing and from C/32.6 to F/80.2 with timing. Both views of future LOS at Santa Rita & Stoneridge are higher than Valley & Santa Rita today.

Additional charts in this document reflect the impact on Livermore and Dublin intersections, arterials and the freeway. Not much improvement in any area.

That's why we need to stay ahead of the planning process.

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Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jul 23, 2009 at 4:53 pm

Lee, I agree the I580 traffic, but given the number of traffic signals on Stoneridge and with correct delayed timing, it is unlikely people will get off the freeway. I see SDE as giving east and southeast Pleasantonians and yes our neighbors in Livermore another way home. The traffic is solid gridlock on Valley because those same residents only have one way to reach home. In my mind are not about staying ahead of the planning process. My gosh, we are totally behind schedule in providing the arterial street system needed to disperse traffic which was first mapped and planned for in the 1980's as part the the City General Plan and subsequently constructed to its current terminus. That is why Valley and Santa Rita are utterly grid-locked as people are NOW trying to get to their homes in Pleasanton as well as Livermore. Stoneridge is to take pressure off that single east-west route. To say the impacts havent been fully evaluated at this point is simply a delay-delay-delay tactic. Frankly, Ive been driving through Mohr/Martin to get home in order to avoid Valley/Santa Rita intersection when its really bad.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 23, 2009 at 5:08 pm


The last time I counted, Valley has 17 light and stop signals in the short 3.5 miles between I-680 and Stanley. That many opportunities to stop hasn't slowed down east-west or west east cross-town traffic during commute hours.

I'm glad the Council agreed to Program 1.6 in the "Circulation Element" of the General Plan which has Pleasanton working with Regional and Tri-Valley traffic representatives (one more time) to come up with a prioritized and funded plan for freeway, highway and arterial streets that are still needed.

However, I don't believe anything is actually going to reduce commuter traffic for any of us. I think there will just be more and more traffic that needs to be spread over lots of commuter routes. That's why we need to plan.

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Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jul 23, 2009 at 6:20 pm

Billie, I couldnt agree more when you said there will be more traffic that needs to be spread over lots of commuter routes. Dispersing traffic and providing additional west-east routes are needed across the Tri-Valley in addition to the I580. The freeway will never be fixed because it will always serve the Central Valley and I5 access to North & South California. Regarding P-Town, I think what's missing also is this. The traffic study LOS provides delay time assuming the street is free-flowing once the vehicle makes the turn movement. In Santa Rita and Valley, the cars are stacked and block intersections making the delay in actuality much longer. And if an accident occurs in that reach, no one moves, period. Im still scratching my head. Do you think Scenario 1 & 3 with no development on Staples and with development respectively actually results in the same LOS impacts to our two favorite intersections. Fuzzy logic me thinketh

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 23, 2009 at 7:48 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Maybe Pleasanton can counter-sue Jerry Brown for the State's failure to provide timely funding to critical regional traffic infrastructure projects. This failure has contributed to global warming as cars and the proportionally large number of trucks sit spewing into our air. Too little, too late, Mr. Brown.

Billie wrote: "Preliminary traffic studies showed little to no reduction on currently over-burdened commuter routes when Stoneridge Drive is extended"

That's because the reduction occurs on the currently over-burdened residential side-streets, putting the commuters back on the arterial routes.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 24, 2009 at 10:50 am

Fuzzy logic in the traffic data? I don't know. . .I think Stoneridge will definitely be more congested than Valley is today because it will be easy for 680 commuters going East to get off on Stoneridge and head down to El Charro to access the 580 - bypassing the 580/680 interchange. Add the Hacienda BP workers going east to that mix, and you have a bunch of traffic. I don't think the City is going to be able to constrain the gateway at 680 & Stoneridge for long, because once commuters start getting off the 680 in numbers, the traffic will back up on the freeway and they'll be forced to open it up.

I think Valley will continue to have the delay indicated because there will be plenty of commuters to go around.

If by "over-burdened residential side-streets" you mean the Kolln between Mohr and Valley, I travel it almost every day during commute hours, and I don't think it's that busy - although, I'm sure it's busier than the residents would prefer (we do like our quiet streets). I just don't think that much traffic is going to be moved to either Valley or Stoneridge.

If you meant Valley, I don't consider that a residential side street. It's just like Stoneridge in that it doesn't have home driveways directly off it. I think the folks that have been thinking the SDE is going to drastically lessen the congestion on Valley are in for a surprise - and not a good one.

But that's just me and why I continue to say we need to get ahead in the planning by completing the SEIR for the SDE.

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Posted by Carolyn
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 28, 2009 at 10:33 pm

I am SO sick of Billie's whining & blabbering. The best part of getting it over either way, would be to stop her ILlogical whining. How sad the Council bought into babying, & generally acting like fools stating the obvious " we don't want a raceway" duh! Mitigate the irrational, etc. etc. Childish, unnecessary stalling.
Nobody is responsible for "personal committments" Matt made..except Matt!..that's HIS problem. He has no right to make "PERSONAL" side deals. majority vote rules !!! It's over. Grow up to all the self-centered, selfish, illogical whinning latecomers. Shame.

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