BART seeks comments at Pleasanton meeting tonight on plans to extend service to Livermore

Key routing plan would place 40-foot-high elevated tracks over part of Staples Ranch

BART representatives will hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. tonight in the City Council Chambers to discuss long-range plans to extend the rapid transit line east from Pleasanton to as far as Greenville Road and possibly into downtown Livermore.

The long-planned BART to Livermore route is about as old in the planning stages as the BART system, itself. Since 1960 when BART was formed, taxpayers, including those in Livermore, have paid millions of dollars in revenue to expand BART service to the East Bay cities of Pittsburg and Pleasanton, even to San Francisco International Airport.

But Livermore, whose taxpayers have paid just as much per capita, has long been shunned by the BART board which considered the extension too far, too expensive and with too few riders to make it worthwhile.

That has changed, at least as a planning concept, which is what tonight's meeting is all about.

Yet Pleasanton officials say that the decision BART authorities will make with regard to the 2,000-page Livermore Extension Draft Environmental Impact Review, which is the focus of the meeting, will be critical to Pleasanton's development in 2010 even though it's unlikely any tracks would be laid within the next 10 to 20 years.

City Manager Nelson Fialho said that Pleasanton has long supported Livermore's plea to extend BART east, but the favored route has always been in the median of Interstate 580 to as far as Greenville Road.

"BART tracks running east from the Pleasanton station to Greenville Road in the center of the freeway, as trains now operate from Castro Valley, makes sense," Fialho said. "It's the cheapest route to build and, because stations would continue to be on the freeway, would attract the biggest increase in riders."

But BART planners, after discussing Livermore's interests, added several other suggested routes as shown in its comprehensive EIR. Four of them show the BART extension tracks rising to 40 feet in height from the Pleasanton station, crossing over I-580 and then heading south and east toward downtown Livermore. At their highest point, the tracks would also cross over the northwest corner of Staples Ranch, a 124-acre parcel now owned by Alameda County where four multi-million-dollar development projects are planned and property that Pleasanton plans to annex.

The projects, in fact, could be in jeopardy if elevated tracks are built over land that is now designated for a 37-acre auto mall planned by the Hendrick Automotive Group and within eyesight of those who would live in the adjacent Stoneridge Creek complex planned by Continuing Life Communities (CLC), with up to 800 units for assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living residents.

Although it would take years and billions of dollars to ever build the BART extension, the agency's EIR tends to favor the Staples Ranch elevated tracks, which Hendrick vehemently opposes. For Pleasanton, the Chicago-New York City style elevated line would add a new view of Pleasanton's eastern gateway for motorists on I-580, a view which city officials have said they oppose as well.

At a meeting with the Pleasanton City Council Dec. 15, District 4 BART Director John McPartland and BART Project Manager Malcolm Quint insisted that no decisions have yet been made on where to route a BART extension to Livermore. Only four of the nine routing alternatives actually take BART over Staples Ranch, although that could be a preferred route since the tracks would follow mostly vacant, public land, traveling south and then southeast into downtown Livermore.

The downtown location is supported by some city leaders, including Livermore Mayor Marshall Kamena and the city's urban redevelopment agency that see rapid transit to the city center a boon to businesses located there as well as to the future multi-million-dollar performing arts center planned for the downtown. Livermore is in the midst of a massive downtown redevelopment and Kamena sees a downtown BART station as essential to that development.

But a downtown Livermore BART station was largely panned by residents who attended the public hearings. A majority favored the original extension plan that would keep BART in the freeway corridor, terminating at Greenville Road. They said that route would be less noisy with vacant land available for commuter parking and that it would attract less crime. Several also said they would not want BART tracks or a station near their homes.

Quint's and McPartland's appearance before the Pleasanton council Dec. 15 was unscheduled and not an official presentation. Nevertheless, it soothed some ruffled feathers among Pleasanton leaders who had been watching from the sidelines as BART pursued its Staples Ranch flyover plan without consulting them or even inviting them to any of the meetings, which BART held only in Livermore. Quint said the meetings from now on would be held alternately in Pleasanton and Livermore. Pleasanton's Deputy City Manager Steven Bocian was named to an advisory board to confer on the EIR.

"Pleasanton has always been very supportive of extending BART to Livermore," said Mayor Jennifer Hosterman. "We look forward to working with you."

For a map showing the alternative routes, click here. For more information about BART to Livermore, visit


Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jan 5, 2010 at 9:01 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"Board member Valerie Arkin said she wanted to survey the community, although the online surveys wouldn't provide extensive and accurate feedback. Her desire is to learn more about the people in between the extremes and figure out what's holding them back."

A random survey with carefully worded questions is definitely needed. The online surveys suffer from self-selection bias. Some may see that as "business as usual" when hiring a consultant to run the survey, but it is the only way to get a good sampling of opinion. It is better to spend $30K to find out if spending $300K will be worth it than to gamble with $300K.

Like this comment
Posted by To Stacey
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 5, 2010 at 1:36 pm

The search committee for the superintendent is currently seeking community input, so perhaps there can be some info skimmed from that.

Like this comment
Posted by judy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 3:07 pm

BART was in headline, but some people may have not read long enough to FIND the mention of the vitally important BART meeting WED night.
IF you don't think you'll go speak, then by all means....SEND A SIMPLE EMAIL TO .....saying you are a
concerned Pleasanton resident, and do not feel Livermore or BART should intentionaly destroy Pleasanton. They should NOT CUT ACROSS
Pleasanton and ruin Staples, deprive Pleasanton of any hope of a decent financial future, etc. W R I T E E M A I L.

Like this comment
Posted by former pusd teacher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 5, 2010 at 10:31 pm

What the hell is wrong with you people? You want the best teachers, have them (for the most part) and then aren't willing to pay for it!!!

It's like going to some of the best doctors or visiting some of the better/best restaurants and then being shocked when they cost more! I am a former PUSD teacher of 9 years and I have since moved to a district where the curriculum is so scripted that you are pressured to be on the same page as everyone else. There is no differentiation, no specialists, ... just teach from the book. My new district's scores are comparable to PUSD's, but its because all they do is teach TO THE TEST. There is no librarian, no P.E. teacher teaching the standards and about healthy living habits. (Remember, you have the STATE, and WESTERN REGION PE TEACHER OF THE YEAR). There are no enrichment classes and they only see a music teacher for 30 minutes a week.

PUSD scores are so high because:

#1- The competitive salary allows PUSD to select the best of the best.

#2- There is an incredible parent community that supports their kids, teachers, and schools

#3-Pleasanton kids are taught to "think", not just bubble in the correct answer.

#4- PUSD also has an amazing special ed program that truly meets the needs of special needs students and services students to the best of their ability.

Because I was so vested in PUSD and the kids for 9 years, I continue to look on these blogs, but am sickened when I see so many of you snidely attack teachers with your pompous attitudes and entitlement issues. You have no idea how good your school system is- just take your kid out of PUSD and put them in Livermore or Brentwood, I dare you. Sure there is a lot of waste, but this is not at the teacher's level, so stop attacking them. I am glad that you are examining the district office. Here are some ideas/suggestions. They may be harsh, but they can help and in times like this, anywhere can help.

1. Cut the technology "trainer" jobs at the D.O. who were included in the list of jobs being saved last summer. I have been at PUSD for 9 years and have never once taken a computer course through them, but yet there are two people that have two full time jobs. Hire a capable parent or someone from the community to volunteer or work part time.

2. Cut the Media Center job at the D.O. or at least put it at part time or very limited hours. (2 hours a day). Pleasanton teachers have an amazing resource in the Media Center, but may have to come down to check things our instead of having these things sent to their school site.

3. Limit paper usage. I often copied things for next year and made many copies of things that I ultimately didn't need. At this school, my budget is $200 TOTAL. At PUSD, with the PTA support (which varies from school to school) teachers received roughly $1000 in their budget to spend on field trips, classroom supplies, etc.. I am finding that it is amazing what you can do without.

4. Cut back librarian hours. At this district there is a librarian that works only 2 hours a day and that is to put books away, order, and organize. Teachers are perfectly capable of checking books out and reading to their kids.

Come up with a REAL solutions. As a teacher, (and I know that I speak for many PUSD teachers)... teachers will not and should not take financial cuts to fund what the community will not. That is not fair. I am also so sick and tired of so many of you moaning about the "private sector" being cut and the unemployment rate as if teachers have no clue. THOUSANDS of teachers are out of work right now and it's not like they're sitting in their cushy Pleasanton houses, driving their beamers, and worrying about "cutting back" when they cancel their HBO subscription.

Hopefully you will come together as a community, realize what incredible teachers you have there, and not ask them to sacrifice additionally from their families by funding this burden by taking a salary cut. They took in larger class sizes, cut their staff development days (which are usually very professionally helpful), are now dealing with more behavior problems with lack of VP and counselor support, the list goes on.... Stop pointing fingers, grow up, and come up with some fair solutions.

Report Objectionable Content

Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 5, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Or you could just freeze (not faux freeze) wages until additional funding is once again available through the tax WE ALREADY PAY (like the public sector has done) and cut 5% across all employees (less than the public sector has done in most cases) and the problem is solved. The real problem for the union is that most in this town are educated enough to realize this. And even if they vote with their heart instead of their head it still would take two yes votes for every no vote plus a tie breaker. And that is just not going to happen.

Like this comment
Posted by Huh?
a resident of Val Vista
on Jan 5, 2010 at 11:02 pm

"(like the public sector has done) and cut 5% across all employees (less than the public sector has done in most cases) "

What the heck do you mean by "the public sector"?

Like this comment
Posted by Mary
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 5, 2010 at 11:31 pm

Sorry … should read private sector

Like this comment
Posted by parent
a resident of Del Prado
on Jan 6, 2010 at 7:59 am

I bet most people aren't aware that PUSD lost $2,600,000 for all absences in the 2008/2009 school year! That would be enough money to keep class size reduction PLUS the kids would learn more since they'd be attending school. Don't get me wrong, if the kids are sick they need to stay home. What about all of the families who take the week or partial week off before the Thanksgiving week so they can enjoy Disneyland with less of a crowd? Those types of absences are wrong in my opinion. Taking your kid out of school like that costs PUSD $51/day.

There's an easy fix for that.... PUSD could charge parents $50/day for unexcused absence.

Like this comment
Posted by Grandma
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 6, 2010 at 8:54 am

Let's forget about searching for and hiring a Superintenedent. What a $ avings that would be!

Look at the mayor/council form of governance. In the same way, school board members would be selected to fill the superintendent position every two years or so.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Couples: Reading List
By Chandrama Anderson | 2 comments | 1,027 views

New Donlon school is at least four years away
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 715 views