Guest Opinion: City of Planned Progress: Fighting for local land use control


As your Mayor, I would like to provide you an informed perspective regarding the issue of growth, state-mandates and growth management.

I appreciate the efforts of but without a careful understanding of the issues and the strategic decisions made over the past decade by city leaders, we risk once again of subjecting ourselves to state mandates unnecessarily.

In 2006, the state of California, along with a housing advocacy group, sued Pleasanton. This suit argued that our voter-approved Housing Cap of 29,000 residential units was illegal and discriminatory because it prevented the city from making long-term plans to accommodate housing for all income categories.

The plaintiffs also argued that municipalities like Pleasanton should be limited in their ability to regulate housing, meaning, a local city would not have the freedom to limit the size, massing or quality of construction, nor have the ability to mitigate development impacts, such as traffic and school impacts.

For several years, the city aggressively defended its position in the courts on the grounds of local control. While we fought the good fight, ultimately the court sided with the state on the first argument, concluding our voter-approved housing cap violated the state's regional housing goals (also known as RHNA). This resulted in the city having to rezone approximately 70-acres of land to accommodate the court order.

As to the second argument, the court's decision was less clear. During settlement discussions with the plaintiffs, Pleasanton successfully safeguarded our discretionary review and our ability to establish local standards for home builders to follow. Why is this important? Our development standards are now among the most rigorous in the state.

To that end, we will soon update Pleasanton's Housing Plan. Protecting our community from uncontrolled growth and preserving our small town feel is my Number One priority and we will do it without inviting additional lawsuits against the city. Our mission will be to preserve the quality of life that we have grown accustomed to without violating state law. The current draft housing element achieves this objective (currently available on the city's website) and is not proposing additional re-zonings; additionally, I will be proposing the down-zoning of some property as a result of the good work we've done to date while also ensuring that current and future state obligations can met.

Furthermore, by continuing our existing growth management policies our limit on new housing permits is currently set at 235 units annually; the lowest ever in the city's history.

This forward thinking, multi-year(s) approach underscores our commitment to being a City of Planned Progress. This approach continues to preserve our local discretionary land use powers, limits future neighborhood disputes, and averts costly lawsuits against the city. Please join me in preserving Pleasanton's legacy of careful, balanced and thoughtful planning.

Editor's Note: Jerry Thorne is completing his first two-year term as mayor of Pleasanton after serving seven years on the City Council. A retired corporate executive with more than 40 years in the private sector, he also served for 10 years on the city's Parks & Recreation Commission. n


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Posted by Concerned Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 24, 2014 at 9:01 am

Dear Mr. Mayor:

Your opinion ignores the fact that you've endorsed and voted for all of the high-density housing that we now have to live with, and also ignores the fact that neither your nor the the City Council has any control over our water supply.

Did you or the City Council ever research or look into how water supplies were going to be affected by all of this new high-density housing that's going to be built in the years to come?

Did you or the City Council ever research or look into establishing a recycled water infrastructure delivery system to serve the public landscaping watering needs (e.g., city parks, Sportspark, Callippe Preserve golf course)?

I think we all know the answer to both is a resounding 'no.'

Now you and the City Council have to figure out how you're going to squeeze more water to serve all of this new, forthcoming housing.

You don't exhibit strength or leadership when it comes to 'local control,' nor, in my opinion, have you shown a strong willingness to listen to or fight for the interests of the majority of residents and taxpayers who live here, rather, you and the City Council have acquiesced to the wishes of ABAG, Gov. Jerry Brown, and Urban Habitat.

Unfortunately, you have NOT protected our community from uncontrolled growth nor preserved our small town feel. Just ask around town. I'm sure it'll be an eye-opener for you.

Former Mayor Tom Pico and former City Councilman Matt Sullivan have described these issues and more in their prior guest opinion in the Pleasanton Weekly, and quite accurately, I might add.

It's time for new leadership in Pleasanton, and I certainly won't be voting for you in November.

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Posted by Mark
a resident of Parkside
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:25 pm

I completely echo what "Concerned Resident" wrote. I have been writing letters and going to the city meetings. The fix was in from the beginning.

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Posted by Billie
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 24, 2014 at 2:43 pm

Mr Mayor,

With all due respect and I mean it, please explain to me why we should vote for you this time. I truly do not understand what your strategy is or what you are trying to accomplish. On one hand we have not had much water the last couple of years and thus have no water. This was very predictable but what did the city do and more specifically what do you do as a leader to set the example in terms of water reduction around town and for that matter what did you do and what is currently being done to secure more water for the city? I have heard absolutely nothing other than you are going to spend $200,000 dollars or OUR money to a public relations firm to tell us we have no money. This is absurd and a complete waste of money. While we are on the issue of OUR money please explain for us why we are spending $500,000 for a dog park? Why we are spending $420,000 for a park for the rotary club? Why we needed to spend that money for SUV's for the police department when the vehicles that we had could have been maintained and kept for a longer period of time? Are we using the police the way we should or are we using them to issue tickets? I know the answer as do you. As I write this there is a motorcycle policeman sitting in St Elizabeth Setons parking lot with his engine running and with a radar gun trying to find someone going over the speed limit and at the other end of Stoneridge after the bridge before you enter Livermore a female police officer is sitting in her police SUV with the air on talking on her cell phone. We all see this and you should also.

If we have extra money then give us some of it back because it is certainly being wasted around here

Again, Mr. Mayor what is your strategy and what is your direction?

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:00 pm

You still have not explained what you meant by "my hands are tied". To me a statement like this shows weakness. It also shows you are willing to let outsiders walk all over the residents of this city. Maybe we should name the Summerhill 60 foot edifice of developer greed and city council stupidity the Jerry "My Hands are Tied" Thorne Towers. We'll even waive the requirement that you have to be dead for 5 years.

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Jul 24, 2014 at 3:57 pm

folks that enjoy stirring the pot have a legal right to do so...keep up the good work and fun stuff will come your way...


Pololo Mololo

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Posted by Me Too
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2014 at 12:03 am

I'm not sure what's wrong with the police trying to stop people from speeding? And I would appreciate another dog park. Maybe you wouldn't but you are not the only person in Pleasanton. I vote to sell the sports park and make a lot of money.

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Posted by liberalism is a disease
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 25, 2014 at 10:03 am

liberalism is a disease is a registered user.

Me, too...the issue was not necessarily whether it would be nice for you to have another place for your mutt to socialize (as important as that is to all of us). So, you don't think half a million for a dog park is excessive? Is this really a priority, compared to investing in recycled water infrastructure?

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Posted by Cheryl
a resident of Country Fair
on Jul 25, 2014 at 5:24 pm

I'm with you "concerned resident." I think you should run for "Mayor." I too am sick of what is going on in our town & I am concerned about the future of Pleasanton. If its true that over 1600 housing units have been approved & given permits, the 235 annual unit limit is useless at this time. This high density residential, are we talking "section 8" housing?
I've seen how this has destroyed the quality of life in other towns, a good example is Antioch. I pray,that if there is anyway we can reverse some of the housing that has been approved, that we TAKE IT...even if it means giving up the money for a new park to fight it!

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

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