Council to meet again June 16 to consider controversial East Side land use plans

Mayor scuttles plan to seek voters' views after county says special election would cost $500,000

The Pleasanton City Council will meet July 16 to take action on pending plans for developing 1,100 acres of the city's mostly vacant East Side.

The meeting will follow a decision last Tuesday to scuttle a proposed special advisory ballot measure about land uses on the East Side after learning it would cost about $500,000 in county election costs.

A resolution to place the strictly advisory measure on the Nov. 3 ballot was the main issue on the council's agenda with about 30 objectors in the audience ready to speak against it.

Even after Mayor Jerry Thorne opened the meeting to say he had changed his mind about holding a special election because of the cost, nine speakers went to the lectern to voice their opposition and suggest that the East Side planning process simply be stopped.

"I applaud you for your decision," said George Bowen, a leader of the opposition to East Side development and an unsuccessful candidate for the council in last November's election.

He urged the council to cancel any plans to develop the 1,100- acre largely undeveloped land east of Valley Avenue that extends to the Livermore city boundary, plan that have been largely criticized because of the current drought.

"My sense is that a vast majority of voters don't want any more major development in our city even if it rains," Bowen said. "We still have traffic and school problems. I'm asking that you make it clear in your actions that you are bringing this development planning process to a halt."

Scott Raty, president of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, agreed.

"Right now, water availability is our concern and there are steps we can take to ensure that," Raty said. "We need to focus on recycling projects and new water agreements with Zone 7 and other providers to add certainty to our supplies. We need to put the brakes on (the East Side planning) at least for the next12 months."

He said the council was once set to move forward with planning for a new civic center and public library when the recession hit. It backed off on those plans, only resuming them again earlier this year now that the economy has improved. He urged the council to impose the same type of delay in planning development of the East Side until the drought is over.

In the end, the council voted 4-0 to cancel plans for a special election and instead to hold another pubic hearing at its next meeting on June 16 to determine the next steps for considering future land uses on the East Side.

Councilman Arne Olson, whose home in the Ironwood community is next to East Side properties, recused himself from voting on the issue.

Even so, wearing his "citizen's hat", he was the first speaker at Tuesday night's meeting.

"I said earlier that I thought the planning process should continue as did three of us (on the council) while campaigning in the last election, which we won," Olson said. "But I think this has become a divisive issue because of the drought and should be stopped."

"I don't think the work of the (East Pleasanton) task force and the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) are a waste," he added. "They can be reviewed and updated whenever planning resumes for the east side."

Objectors cited other concerns in building 1,300 housing units on the East Side as the task force has considered, including overcrowded public schools, traffic, a surging population, even the lack of adequate hospitals to serve the region's growing housing numbers.

Suggestions mentioned at Tuesday's public hearing for land uses on the east side ranged from having the city buy the property from its current owners for use as a park or for building senior housing.

"So we stop now and when we take this up again, we will talk about those other issues," Thorne said. "I would also suggest that if we do decide (June 16) to pause this process, that would-be developers there look outside the box for a plan that wouldn't have quite as much of an impact on the public."

"We might want to consider age-restricted development because people 55 and older don't have an impact on schools and more of them spend their money here in Pleasanton," Thorne added. "That would make sense to me."

Although a final decision on dealing with the current East Side planning process will be made June 16, Thorne indicated how he will vote.

"I hope others on the council will join me in signing a letter thanking the members of the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force for their many hours of work they did on this project," he said. at the close of Tuesday night's meeting.

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5 people like this
Posted by Marian Conning
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jun 3, 2015 at 7:10 pm

Why not a big solar farm in the East Pleasanton area?

18 people like this
Posted by pleasanton was nice forty years ago
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:21 am

I think we should build single family homes and retail shops and call it the caucasian gateway to recognize the vast contributions the white people have made to the city of pleasanton. Any objections?

10 people like this
Posted by Lee Phan
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Jun 4, 2015 at 8:41 am

Let's take another vote. I had NO idea I voted for 3 people that got elected to the council and were supporting building this huge development. You did a good job of tricking us telling us it is just a "plan" Mr. Olsen.

Put this project in a big black hole and leave it there for 100 years. No one wants this huge project, even after it rains.

13 people like this
Posted by Lugnut
a resident of Avignon
on Jun 4, 2015 at 9:16 am

The comment that the person did not know he/she voted for people advocating building in East Pleasanton, just follow the money. Dude, the Chamber and Developers control this Council through Campaign Donations. People stood up to say no and the Chamber made council back off on the "accelerator". Raty down there talking to make Chamber look like they are about what is best for the City. Wool being pulled over the eyes folks.

11 people like this
Posted by Concerned Citized
a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 4, 2015 at 9:17 am

Thank you Karla Brown for hearing and taking forward our voiced concerns.

8 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 4, 2015 at 10:54 am

@Marion…you may be on to something with the solar energy farm for more reasons then you may know. In the repose to the notice of preparation by the EPSP task force, the FAA made it quite clear that any development that supported wildlife near the airport perimeter ( 2 miles from the airport runways, for turbofan aircraft )would be in violation of FAA and USAF aircraft safety standards. That means, regardless of what the task force states or our city or council leaders say, this area is not to be used in a way that encourages wildlife such as development of a recreation area. There are two things that jet pilots hate to see 1) homes near the ends of runways and 2) areas near runways that encourage flocks of birds. Jets are allowed to fly 250 knots below 10,000ft. Hitting a Canadian goose at 250 knots would destroy a jet engine and if it hit the canopy or windscreen, could kill the pilot.
Since this area already has protected boundaries, it would be a natural fit to use the land for a solar energy farm. The solar farm would give the residents of Pleasanton and surrounding areas a source of clean energy while at the same time protecting the Livermore airport from animal and human incursions. 32 acres of land is needed to support 1,000 homes. So if the entire land area was covered with solar panels, every home in Pleasanton could be powered by solar energy with energy to spare. The city of Santa Clara started their own electric utility when they were the size of Pleasanton. The residents of Santa Clara have benefited by paying the lowest utility rates in the Bay Area.

8 people like this
Posted by 2 that agree!
a resident of Danbury Park
on Jun 4, 2015 at 12:05 pm

To "Pleasanton was nice forty years ago" - I howled just now when I read your comment about the Caucasian Gateway. My husband and I joked about this when we heard about that Pacific Pearl Asian Gateway coming soon by the Outlet Mall. We thought - why is it okay to have an Asian Gateway? If a shopping center were called "Caucasian Gateway" people would be outraged, up in arms, screaming prejudice! Why is it okay for all the other races to be able to do what they want, but not Whites. Truth be known, we are sadly a minority here and should be allowed to speak our minds too....just like all the other minority's.
We are all for the Caucasian Gateway!!
Thank you "Pleasanton was nice forty years ago"!

2 people like this
Posted by sknywench
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 4, 2015 at 2:55 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

Ummmm, Pleasanton was not nice forty years ago. Downtown was all seedy bars and businesses. The houses were standard tract developments. So, let's get real people. As far as "the plan" is concerned, it is planning law to prepare a master plan for large areas typically developed over 20 years or so. OK with me to defer it until water is figured out, but I would also like to see all senior housing there, We have excellent senior services here and many want their aging parents close by. Or are wanting to scale down and move into a single story home. Count me in. IT IS NOT THE DEVELOPERS causing the over-population and need for housing. It is everyone having a bunch of kids and the government who allows too many foreign VISAS to move here with their extended families.

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

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