What on earth were the members of the Pleasanton Planning Commission thinking when they voted 4-0 to reject a bid by longtime local builder Ponderosa Homes to tear down the remnants of a run-down trailer park on (Old) Stanley Boulevard and replace it with 12 moderately-sized new homes?
Could they really believe that the developer should deal with the 1912-vintage house on a Lutheran Church-owned quarter-acre at the front of the property before building the homes?
Ponderosa took its original plan to tear down the house and build 14 new homes to the Planning Commission at a workshop meeting more than a year ago. It downsized its project at considerable cost to 12 homes after several on the commission and at a neighborhood informational meeting asked that the old house be saved because of its possible historical value.
At the Planning Commission's meeting July 10, Ponderosa sought approval of its revised plan, showing that the church would decide the best use of the old house and the 0.23-acre lot it sits on. The church reportedly is already considering an offer.
Clearly, the old house is not Ponderosa's problem, and shouldn't be. At its own expense, it hired structural engineers and building preservation specialists to look at the two-story run-down structure. Renovation of the structure would be possible, but at considerable expense. Even then, the house would still have small rooms, the back half of the house that is falling down would have to be shored up and rebuilt, the converted second floor apartment also is crumbling along with the flat roof that was installed in the 1950s.
None of the experts said the house would qualify under federal or state, or even local guidelines as a building of historical significance. With some renovation, the front rooms of the house might be used by a small business, such as a salon or real estate office, but even then thousands of dollars would have to be spent to make it safe under 2013 fire and building codes.
Ponderosa's proposal to build 12 homes and rip out the unsightly trailer park once owned by the late Jerry Wagner goes to the City Council late next month or in September for reconsideration. On its part, Ponderosa might show the possible uses for the church-owned property, including demolition, and have a representative from the Wagner trust that the church now holds to join in supporting the 12-home project.
After all, new homes in a nicely designed cul de sac as planned by Ponderosa would help the church market the property much to the advantage of the neighborhood which has lived with this eyesore for more than a decade.