New banks could face restrictions in downtown Pleasanton

Council to consider limit on financial institutions to no more than one office in the same block on Main Street

The Pleasanton City Council will consider a new rule tonight that would require banks and other financial institutions to seek conditional use permits before opening in any downtown locations.

The ordinance amendment also would "discourage" the city's Planning Commission from approving more than one financial institution within any block on any side of Main Street.

As it is, financial institutions, including banks, can open new facilities in any office or commercially zoned district in Pleasanton, including downtown. From 1973 to 1995, in fact, the city government required that banks and savings and loan association first locate a branch in the downtown district before they would be allowed to open facilities elsewhere in the city.

But the Pleasanton Downtown Association asked for the zoning rule change after Opus Bank reportedly sought to open a branch in the Past Time Pool building on Main Street. That would have added an eighth bank downtown.

Although Opus said it was not interested in the Past Time Pool building, which is for sale, the PDA and others continued with their effort to change the rules to force a detail review of any applications for new financial institutions downtown. The PDA wants more retail stores downtown, not banks, and especially seeks to reserve key corner locations on Main Street for new retail operations and restaurants. Banks now are located on seven corner downtown locations.

The Planning Commission recently voted 4-0 to approve an ordinance that would require new banks to submit to a timely and costly review process that, in the end, would still give the commission the option to reject their applications.

The City Council was poised to approve the ordinance a month ago until Councilman Jerry Thorne asked for more time to study the proposal.

The PDA argues that banks don't attract shoppers. Bankers' hours from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and often on Saturday mornings are much shorter than those of retail shops and restaurants.

The ordinance amendment before the City Council Tuesday night would essentially allow the city to make an "informed decision" about the placement of banks, not ban them outright, explained Nelson Fialho, city manager.

The change would not prohibit banks downtown but simply allows some evaluation so that shopping, dining and entertainment-related uses such as restaurants and retail are not permanently eliminated from the downtown, Fialho said.

"Banks are vitally important, but the exact location is also a relevant consideration," he added. "The (ordinance) change would provide time for that type of deliberation."

Although the council meeting will officially start at 7 p.m., it will assemble at 6:20 p.m. for a reception honoring outgoing and incoming city commission and committee members.

Both the reception and the council meeting will take place in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.


Like this comment
Posted by downtown biz
a resident of Downtown
on May 1, 2012 at 10:20 am

I'm wondering if the Comerica in the old Kolln Hardware building is long for this world. I'm a business customer, but I seem to be the only one in there every time I go. Maybe it's because they give you the hard sell every single time you're there? No, I don't need an equity line of asked me that yesterday.

Like this comment
Posted by steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 1, 2012 at 10:34 am

Sounds like the three stooges are at it again. It's only a bank. I don't need some socialists telling me I can't have a wide choice of banking options. Dear Downtown Biz, about that equity line ... do they give away a free toaster as a teaser on that?

Like this comment
Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on May 1, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Maybe Small Business Owners need to visit an actual bricks and mortar bank location, but other than that select group, I see no reason to actually go into a bank. Most, if not all, banking services can be done online in the privacy of your home. Why take up valuable real estate downtown with banks that attract very little traffic and have very little halo effect on nearby businesses. Sounds like the "Three Stooges" are pretty strategic in their thinking.

Like this comment
Posted by NoMoreBanks
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 2, 2012 at 8:16 am

Please, please, NO MORE BANKS DOWNTOWN!!!! Why don't city administrators understand that banks are not what people seek when they come to stroll Main St??

Like this comment
Posted by JeffS
a resident of Mohr Park
on May 2, 2012 at 11:09 am

So, after all the people that urged the Council to institute a conditional use permit policy for all of Pleasanton to help in making the right decision for the new WalMart grocery store at the old Nob Hill location on Santa Rita - and were shot down, the Council is planning to do exactly that but, only for the downtown area. I guess the residential neighborhoods just don't matter any more. It sure appears the Chamber of Commerce and Downtown Association are taking over this town.

Like this comment
Posted by AlamedaCountyNative
a resident of Foothill Farms
on May 3, 2012 at 8:13 am

Steve, calling our council members "The Three Stooges" is really offensive and I think you need to stop doing that. The real Three Stooges proved they knew something about marketing themselves and understood business. Whereas our council have proved they know nothing. Please give the real Stooges a break.

Like this comment
Posted by Jimbo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 3, 2012 at 8:26 am

I keep wondering who in their right mind would drive to downtown Pleasanton to go to a bank and deal with traffic and parking? Downtown Pleasanton is dyeing a slow death. Lack of parking, lack of new restaurants & night spots is making downtown Pleasanton kind of boring. Downtown Livermore has surpassed downtown Pleasanton in my opinion. Interesting restaurants, wine bars, traditional bars, lots of live music, and the place is packed at night. I understand the permit fees in Pleasanton for new restaurants is staggering. Maybe the city should lower some of the barriers to starting a new bar or restaurant, allowing new businesses to come into downtown and add some energy. They need to do something, or we will start getting homeless people sleeping in downtown Pleasanton in search of peace and quiet

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Leonard
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 3, 2012 at 8:43 am

Michael Leonard is a registered user.

We certainly don't need any more banks downtown. We also don't need any more nail salons or day spas. It's time to attract some new business that will revive the downtown. I agree that downtown Pleasanton is slowing dying. I'm driving to Livermore in the evenings as there is a lot more going on. A city is like a business, it needs to be run like a business. Creating barriers to business will only hurt our city. Pleasanton needs to streamline the new business process like Livermore has or else it will become a ghost town.

Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on May 3, 2012 at 9:11 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Jeffs, your irrational comparison might make sense if were it not for that fact that the issue is was like business replacing another in the same business (one grocery store with another). The right decision has already been made...don't you have a picket line to stand in, a business to interrupt, dues to collect, or nonunion business to vandalize? Or is your business micro-managing the business sector to fit your utopian plans?

Like this comment
Posted by Virgil
a resident of Foothill Farms
on May 3, 2012 at 9:52 am

Downtown needs parking desperately, we have enough banks, the Past Time Pool property would be Ideal for a City Owned lot, put in a toll kiosk to make it pay for itself, I love shopping Downtown but I can't find parking so I spend my money elsewhere.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 3, 2012 at 10:55 am

Banks create jobs for people. They are clean and efficient, and each and every one is a job creating heroe. We are a town of wealth as the country has acknowledged. What better way of showing off then to have more banks along the downtown strip?

Like this comment
Posted by Al
a resident of Downtown
on May 3, 2012 at 12:02 pm

The downtown needs fewer banks and Italian restaurants, it needs diversity. The downtown also needs a parking structure, movie theater, and wider sidewalks. You cannot walk hand in hand down Main Street. Look at the sidewalks in Livermore. Eliminate some street parking and widen those sidewalks. If people can’t park and walk downtown, they will not visit downtown.

Like this comment
Posted by Informed Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 3, 2012 at 12:40 pm

The Downtown area is challenged in a variety of ways - particularly by new businesses - in Peasanton, Dublin & Livermore. Perhaps the biggest chalenge is a City Government that constantly makes it tougher for a business to open & then stay in business. If we really want to make Downtown better, then we should study why it is so hard to open a business in town in the first place.

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 3, 2012 at 5:13 pm

What is our downtown plan? Don't tell me that it's to provide a nice place to stroll. Currently, I think it's a place to have an expensive, lack luster meal and listen to loud motorcycles.

Unless our City Council can come up with a plan, I'm afraid more banks, day spas, and mediocre (but expensive) restaurants will move in until they stop. Then our downtown will begin to look like Fremont.

I'll say it again. We need a movie theatre, a juice bar dance club (for the 16-21 crowd), several inexpensive restaurants (has anyone seen the crowd at the Habit?!?), a skate park, several chain clothing stores (who shops the boutiques?), and several up-scale bar/snack clubs for the 20 something crowds.

Then, the City Council takes a plan like this and advertises Pleasanton's willingness to help businesses that fit into our plan, because THEIR success is OUR success. We establish rules upfront that ENCOURAGES particular businesses. Discouraging businesses AFTER they show interest only makes other business shy away. Why should any business waste their time only to be denied or restricted.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 3, 2012 at 6:39 pm

Oh, yes, and despite what I have stated above, I continue to believe that each and every local P-town bank is a job creating heroe that will take us into the 22nd century.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 4, 2012 at 10:35 am

Despite my previous comment, I never call Pleasanton "P-town" (nor do I say "Frisco"). I must have been drunk when writing that comment.

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