Plans to develop Staples Ranch stalled Tuesday when a scheduled public hearing on the development had to be postponed by the Pleasanton City Council because notification of the meeting had not been handled on time to meet legal requirements.
The postponement—now to a special council meeting Aug. 24—angered Mayor Jennifer Hosterman who called the delay "absurd."
"I've had it," a red-faced Hosterman shouted into the microphone. "These (delays) have got to stop!"
It was hoped that Tuesday's meeting would lead to a council vote on a supplemental Environmental Impact Report needed to start the specific approvals of planned developments on the 124-acre Staples Ranch site. These include:
* Hendrick Automotive Group, which wants to build a new auto mall on its 37-acre portion of Staples, next to the junction of I-580 and El Charro Road, directly across El Charro from a 160-plus store outlet mall that Livermore has approved.
* Stoneridge Creek Pleasanton, a 45-acre senior continuing care community to be developed by Continuing Life Communities (CLC), with up to 800 units for assisted living, skilled nursing and independent living residents.
* An 11-acre retail center.
* Sharks Ice Center, a two-story, four rink facility to be built by San Jose Arena Management, a subsidiary of the San Jose Sharks, with the facility to occupy about 10 acres of a 17-acre public park that the Sharks would also develop for the city.
Although the Planning Commission approved the Supplemental EIR last month, the council took the latest postponement in stride. A few tempers flared at the start of the three-hour meeting, but the discussion turned calmer at the end. In the closing hour, long after the public had left the council chambers, council members engaged in a somewhat acrimonious, disjointed discussion with questions about the need to move forward on Staples anytime soon sounding much like those several years ago.
Seizing on a comment made during the meeting by John Carroll that the city of Livermore had abandoned its plan to extend Jack London Boulevard west to El Charro, where it would link to an extended Stoneridge Drive, McGovern said there is no need to extend Stoneridge, at least not now.
However, Livermore City Manager Linda Barton told the Weekly yesterday that Carroll's statement was incorrect. She said the Jack London extension is still planned, though the start of that project has been delayed along with a planned adjacent retail center because of the sluggish economy.
"We very much are committed to extending Jack London Boulevard to El Charro Road," Barton said.
McGovern also pointed out that it could be several years before Hendrick builds the proposed auto mall.
But Troy Bourne of CLC said his firm is ready to build the independent living and assisted care facility as soon as the plan is approved. Some have already placed deposits for housing units at Stoneridge Creek and are ready to move in.
One of those, Sarah Albert, said she is 81 years old and accepted the CLC offer five years ago "so that my kids don't have to be my caregiver."
"I am a true believer that responsibility and doing the right thing were and still are of critical importance," Albert said. "That's why I signed up when I received a notice five years ago that this would be built in Pleasanton."
"I urge you to begin building this now because the clock is ticking for many of us—for me and (looking at the council) for you." she said."
Her husband Ysan Albert said he is worried that he now may be rejected for a housing unit at Stoneridge Creek since he recently learned he is suffering from Parkinson's disease. The facility requires that those moving in be in good health, although once in they can stay for a lifetime.
CLC's Troy Bourne also told the council that the Stoneridge Creek project has been under consideration for so long in Pleasanton that his wife gave birth to their three children during the processing period. He urge the council to move forward on CLC's long-standing application.
But if Mayor Hosterman wanted to speed things up, as she vowed to do at the start of the meeting, council members spent the last hour of their Tuesday night meeting arguing with each other over how fast they would agree to move the Staples Ranch plan along.
With structured requirements in place on how the various projects must be handled, the council and City Manager Nelson Fialho set aside the September council meetings in addition to the special meeting on Aug. 24 for public hearings and council debate, but acknowledged even those might not allow enough time.
McGovern added another possibility: that the project, including the proposed extension of Stoneridge Drive, might not win approval at all--chastizing Hosterman for referring to the future meetings as a time when Staples might be "approved." She said the mayor should have said "considered."
After all is said and done, if the project is ultimately approved, it could take another six months before LAFCO, THE Local Agency Formation Commission of Alameda County, hears the petition by Pleasanton to annex Staples Ranch so that development can get under way. That moves the earliest date for CLC to start construction on its first Northern California retirement community well into 2011.