GUEST OPINION: Pressing 'Stop' on East Pleasanton

'Stopping the planning process for now is a good decision,' Mayor Thorne says

Timing matters in our personal lives, business, politics, and even city planning. The City Council recently voted to rescind placing an advisory measure on the ballot regarding East Pleasanton in favor of stopping the entire process.

Now that we have formally adopted this action. I hope everyone agrees that stopping the planning process for now is a good decision.

We are in the midst of a drought, the likes of which our Golden State has not seen in our lifetime. This, coupled with my conviction that planning the East Side deserves to have the entire community weigh in, necessitated stepping back from current deliberations.

When we voted to send the issue to the ballot, we were unaware of the cost implications. When we discovered it could be as much as $600,000, we didn't need much conversation to decide against it. So a decision was made to stop the process.

What does stop mean? It means that all planning with respect to East Pleasanton ends; it means that any work on a draft Environmental Impact Report stops; it means that the East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force gets dissolved. It also means that public hearings and a vote must be taken by this Council, or a future Council, to formally restart a planning conversation.

As you know, Pleasanton's East Side, comprised of roughly 1,100 acres, is our city's last parcel of undeveloped land. Because being a city of planned progress is more than mere words, we believed then, as I do now, that a proper planning process is needed to make sound decisions about the best use of this land for our residents.

The Task Force (landowners, developers and neighborhood representatives) had been working for nearly three years on a plan to make recommendations for future land-use and suggestions for financing infrastructure. After three years and many meetings, we still had no clear directive. What did become clear, however, was we needed more time to explore inherently complex issues, and we needed, among other things, to get through the drought.

Pleasanton is the "City of Planned Progress." We don't make important decisions without careful consideration. We seek broad input. We look at long-term implications and short-term impacts. Planning properly is finding the sweet spot between a community's current wants and needs balanced against future projected ones. Add to this the fact that as one of 482 incorporated cities in California, we are obligated (like it or not) to participate in the state's overall planning process, and you start to understand the challenges we face and the importance of getting it right.

I am proud of Pleasanton's ability to sometimes take a step back when needed and be realistic about what we face. We previously paused planning our new library and civic center when the recession hit a few years back. But now the time is right to restart that conversation, and it's one I look forward to.

Now, due to the drought and other factors, we need to step back from planning for East Pleasanton. Making decisions like this is what you elected us to do. We have to be able to take a step back from an issue when it's needed. We did that last Tuesday for all the right reasons.

Jerry Thorne is the mayor of Pleasanton.

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4 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 8, 2015 at 3:30 pm

mooseturd is a registered user.

It must be summer. We are having reruns.

Like this comment
Posted by Gee Jerry-ya think?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2015 at 8:06 am

I am insulted that Jerry never bothered to mention the hundreds of us that came to the City meetings and voted with our signs and raised hands. Over 98% of those that attended were against this 1100 acre giant mess. We do not care if the drought is over, the east side's huge project size is not good for Pleasanton. It should never have been discussed more than 5 minutes.

Jerry, do not forget, we elected you and it is the citizens that you should listen to as you lead from your head chair. Yes, "stepping back" is wise because most of this council was standing on a political cliff.

6 people like this
Posted by Ptownr
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 9, 2015 at 8:18 am

Rather than criticizing the mayor, how about applauding what was a brave decision? Do you think it was an easy one to make in light of the investments of the planning committee and the developers? I, for one, am thankful that the mayor exemplifies the city's commitment to planned growth.

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Posted by Bob L
a resident of Ironwood
on Jul 9, 2015 at 8:52 am

Since when is the mayor supposed to decide the future of Ptown based on the Committees and developers? They did not elect him, and if they become the key basis of his planning decisions, maybe those 15 votes can re elect him, if the even live in Ptown.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 9, 2015 at 11:23 am

Ptownr - did you even read the replies from the various agencies that were required to be notified after the specific plan was released? If you did you would realize that we, the taxpayers, have spent far, far more in money to get this plan approved then the land owners, Lionstone and others, have spent. Some of the requirements to get approval were, improvements to El Charro interchange, extension of Stoneridge to El Charro, completion of the Iron Horse Trail, and improvements to Arroyo Mocho flood basin at the chain of lakes area. You think these projects were done for the current citizens of Pleasanton. No way, they were done to get the east side specific plan approved by outside government agencies. For twenty years these projects have been talked about with nothing happening. All of sudden the east side specific plan comes about, Lionstone throws some money around, and viola all these projects get completed. Coincidence, no way! There are a number of projects more deserving then these that are on the city’s drawing board.

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