The Pleasanton City Council tonight will vote on whether to continue planning possible development of the city's East Side or scuttle the planning work altogether.
A public hearing scheduled to start at 7 p.m. promises to be one of the most contentious the council has seen in its current term.
It comes just two weeks after nearly 200 crowded into the same council chamber for a neighborhood meeting by the city's Planning Commission to hear about proposed land use plans for 1,100-acre site east of Valley Avenue in an area surrounding the Pleasanton Garbage Company's recycling center on Busch Road.
Most did not like what they heard.
Planning Commissioner Herb Ritter led the two-hour discussion with members of the city's planning, engineering and traffic staff at his side. They answered questions and at times took some verbal abuse from the many of the 24 speakers, most of them denouncing a proposal by the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force to continue the planning effort.
The task force, its members appointed by the City Council, has been meeting for more than two years to determine possible uses the site that extends north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the Livermore city limits. Mostly vacant except for the recycling plant, the site has been called "Pleasanton's last frontier."
Without expanding the city's boundaries, it represents the largest vacant property in the city suitable for development.
The purpose of the Specific Plan was to guide and coordinate the basic land use pattern, development and design, roadways and other public infrastructure, environmental protection, financing, and implementation requirements for development of the area.
Currently, the land is zoned for light industrial development. If the East Side plan is scuttled, companies owning parcels on the site could built it out with light industrial and commercial offices, similar to Valley Corporate Park on the other side of Valley Avenue.
Since the task force was appointed and began its studies, however, conditions have changed. The current severe and possibly long-term drought has soured public attitudes toward more building, especially of housing and parks that would require water as the East Side site would, and also because the state- and court-mandate additional affordable and high density housing requirements imposed on Pleasanton have now been met, at least through 2022.
Tonight, the council will consider one of three options:
Continue the planning process to completion.
Pause the planning process but consider at least certifying the costly Environmental Review Report so that it would be ready if and when the East Side planning process resumes.
Stop the planning process now as well as the EIR preparation.
Only four of the five members of the City council, including Mayor Jerry Thorne, will be able to vote on the East Side issue tonight. Councilman Arne Olson must recuse himself since his home in the Ironwood Estates backs on to the East Side site.
That means it will take three votes to take any action tonight. Two council members -- Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin -- have already publicly stated that they want to stop the East Side planning process.
The council's meeting will take place in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.