Houses or church site? Council to decide tomorrow night

Ponderosa Homes seeking to rezone part of Centerpointe Presbyterian property for new homes

The Pleasanton City Council will decide at its meeting Tuesday night whether to rezone a church site for new houses in the midst of a drought emergency.

Then it will also vote on a plan to raise water rates across the board for those whose homes are already built.

It's by coincidence that the two issues come before the council at the same time, but both are vitally linked to the drought and the city's mandatory 25% water-use cutback.

Public protests over possible development on Pleasanton's East Side centered on the drought. Complaints continue to come in over apartment projects whose tenants will need more water in a city already facing short supplies.

Water shortages also will likely be an issue Tuesday as Ponderosa Homes seeks to rezone property at Valley Avenue and Busch Road owned by Centerpointe Presbyterian Church. The city already has approved use of part of the site by Montessori West, a private school that will add another building as it expands enrollment in preschool and kindergarten through sixth grades.

But the rest of the site, including the church's large dirigible-shaped sprung structure, would be rezoned and cleared under the Ponderosa plan for 20-25 houses with landscaped streets, new trees and front yards. The Pleasanton Planning Commission was only lukewarm to the plan, which at the time called for 27 homes. After a 3 1/2-hour public hearing, three commissioners voted for approval, two abstained.

The Rev. Mike Barris, pastor of Centerpointe, said the church is in the process of acquiring another site and needs to sell the Valley/Busch property to finance the deal. In response, one Planning Commissioner suggested keeping the current zoning and letting Centerpointe sell the site to another religious organization.

But others in the community have asked what religious organization would want it or could afford it? Several Pleasanton churches, such as Centerpointe, already face mounting debts. Others, including Congregation Beth Emek and all of the major Christian denominations, have their own and adequate sanctuaries. CrossWinds in Dublin might have been interested, but it just moved into its new building next to the Outlet Mall in Livermore. Smaller congregations meeting in schools and office buildings here lack the funds to pay Centerpointe's cost.

Muslims might have the money and the need to build on the site. The Muslim Community Center of the East Bay, which is serving a growing population, meets in office space in Hacienda. Another Islamic group gained city approval several years ago for a small mosque on Dublin Canyon Road, near the Pleasanton Marriott, but that facility was never built.

Last month, after a Pleasanton Weekly story reported on the Planning Commission meeting, a Town Square commenter responded to critics of Ponderosa' plan for houses there.

"Sure," the commenter wrote, "maybe a church, mosque, ashram or temple would be interested to build there. But you miss the point. Any such campus would create traffic and noise during the week and weekend, at least a lot more than a dozen of houses would in that neighborhood. This campus was approved before the neighborhood there was even built, and now that people actually live there, a less impacting use would be better. And as far as the church bailing out, I understand they could not raise the money to build the new campus from their congregation so that is why they need to sell and relocate."

Yet with the council likely to approve water-rate increases Tuesday, Ponderosa may find the council and others opposed to the rezoning bid, putting concerns over the drought ahead of housing.

The council meeting will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

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20 people like this
Posted by Kelly
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Oct 2, 2015 at 9:08 am

Thank you, Mr. Bing and the Weekly, for your story about the potential zoning change to our General Plan, the main planning document for our town. Ponderosa and Centerpointe Church are asking for a change from public and institutional zoning which was granted as part of the approval process for Ponderosa's 300+development of the Busch Property (The old Pumpkin Patch). This area owned by Centerpointe Church, along with another section of the property, which was also zoned for a potential school site and has since been rezoned for an additional 80 homes developed by Ponderosa, is of great importance to remain as zoned. Public and Institutional Zoning is limited and can offer space for the much needed infrastructure of our growing community. With Pleasanton's rapid growth in housing, areas zoned for public facilities like schools, churches, day care centers are a critical provision for the entire community and its neighbors and a mitigation that was part of the original approval for more residential development. Our General Plan was designed for a balanced community that enhances the "quality of life for existing and future residents". The Genral Plan does not include rezoning of property to assist financially troubled churches to make more money on the sale of its property but to preserve the land to allow other churches and facilities to get the same "below retail market" access to buy the property as originally afforded to the Centerpointe Church members. The past efforts of the many people who helped bring about this balance in housing and community facilities is why we now have the Bernal Property for parks, community facilities and open space instead of thousands of homes there, why we have protected hill sides and why Pleasanton home values are higher than Dublin. If the #1 concern in a recent city survey was too much growth and development, why would our City Council vote to approve this plan by Ponderosa and Centerpointe Church? Our entire community needs to take notice of these changes in zoning and let our leaders know that our concerns about more unnecessary residential development erodes our quality of life and what makes Pleasanton a City of Planned Progress.

18 people like this
Posted by Robin Taggart
a resident of Laguna Vista
on Oct 2, 2015 at 9:15 am

It is important for all of us to see and feel our community. City Council I am asking you from the bottom of my heart to NOT approve this transaction. At this time there are too many people living in our Tri-Valley area.

There is too much congestion and allowing more homes to be built would only add to the now pain staking driving moments for me and my fellow neighbors.


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 9:23 am

It would be nice to make another dog park. Hopefully it would help minimize the amount of dog feces found around town.

14 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 2, 2015 at 10:11 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

All of you who care about our community please email the Council and go to the meeting. Don't just assume they will reject this insane rezoning proposal. TELL THEM NOW!

7 people like this
Posted by That's how it is.
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 2, 2015 at 10:14 am

Seeing that our population is becoming non-religious at a much faster pace than few imagined, it makes sense that this property is no longer needed for religious institutions. Fully 1/3 of Millennials have no religious affiliation. In New York, the Catholic Church recently (this past year?) shuttered 72 of their parishes. People want nothing to do with organized religion. It's just a sign of the times. So, we should adapt as well.

2 people like this
Posted by Vintage resident
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 2, 2015 at 10:24 am

Single family homes seem to me to be the best option because it will be the lesser impact on traffic. The option to widen Valley/ Bernal at Stanley is now lost thanks in part to the ongoing construction of the apartments and strip mall at Stanley and Bernal without acquiring any for road widening. The area is highly congested. I would ask the council and planners to get on the road and drive that area from 7:00 to 9:00 am and 3:00 to 6:00 pm on weekdays before making any more decisions. Don't take our traffic relief we at least have on the weekends. That relief goes away when the strip mall and apartments are completed, so approval of a facility mainly used on weekends would make it worse.

14 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Mohr Park
on Oct 2, 2015 at 11:17 am

This proposed project is unneeded infill. Ponderosa is always on the look for ways to profit by pouring more pavement and building for the sake of their profit. This land is zoned for churches, schools and day care centers. It should should stay that way. It was zoned this way years ago as part of the General Plan and part of a deal to have housing elsewhere in town. When new housing was proposed in the past, in order to have a balance of what is needed in town, this area was designated for churches, schools and day care centers. Ponderosa knows that but now they want to violate this and cram in more for profit,houses and pretend it is to help a church. When will our city leader stand up to these self serving tactics of builders? If Ponderosa goes unchecked they will continually look for ways to fill up our town with more and more and more housing. Do we want our town to resemble Dublin? Just look across the freeway at Dublin for your answer. Say no to Ponderosa and support City Council members who want Pleasanton to indeed be a community of "Planned Growth" planned by people who care about the town as a whole versus developers and others who care about making economic profit instead if doing what is best for tHe town as a whole. We have a good quality of life here that surely will erode if developers like Ponderosa go unchecked allowing their never ending drive to build more and more and more causing Pleasanton to become the next Dublin.

4 people like this
Posted by Linda
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Oct 2, 2015 at 11:36 am

There is no need another church. Make room for progress.

16 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Mohr Park
on Oct 2, 2015 at 12:05 pm

"Make room for progress"? What does that mean? Just stand by and rubber stamp whatever for profit developers want? Again, look across the freeway at Dublin and you will see what so-called "progress" looks like. Try driving across Dublin's "progress" during rush hour.

2 people like this
Posted by Linda
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Oct 2, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Get a grip sam. What do you know about development? Progress is a step in the right direction.

7 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Mohr Park
on Oct 2, 2015 at 3:27 pm

Linda: your comments are devoid of substance and contain an accusation again without knowledge. You are free to voice your comments but your style and input is akin to shooting yourself in the foot.

4 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 3:37 pm

Sad the church is leaving neighbors in a mess. Sad the city arrangement was not air-tight, better protecting the neighbors. sharing the road. The presence of houses or occupants are not a problems by themselves. Wheb residents complain of too many people, they mean, too many drivers of cars!! Traffic is the problem. How many live, human driver of autos tests for that number waiting through light changes at the Busch intersection, More importantly, that backup waiting to even get to Busch light of Livermore drivers waiting to turn right, And, listen up, Ruby Hill. Ruby Hill & Vintage Hills will be in que at New Leaf, to creep up to Stanley, rubbing fenders with the huge Livermore inflow. Ruby Hill residents need to be given and honest presentation of the backup just to cross Stanley. Oh, but wait, they can't cross Stanley because Busch residents are also trying exercise their right to their street, to get to the Santa Rita light, also.
Traffic is the problem, not people. Still a church, as planned, is the best use. Montessori only adds to 8: and 5: congestion. The traffic issue must be solved FIRST, and fully explained to all the neighborhoods impacted in that Ruby Hill to Santa Rita Rd corridor. The school would be AM in AND out, repeated again, PM in AND out....triggering light & backup to Stanley each time. Homes would likely be 1 or 1 1/2 average, leaving at various commute times. Other family use would be staggered times.
The church should still be made to happen as first choice. Second would be houses.
The only possibility for Montessori would be a legally binding city contract for Montessori to provide, for the life of the school, shuttle
pick ups offered maybe one or two AM, required, pickup options, and two pm options, no more. The Busch intersection flow is the key. Busch and Santa Rita are very serious business. Those impacted the length of that corridor must be considered first, last, and always. Looks, likes, and wants outside that corridor are of no consequence or consideration. McDonald's shops and housing aren't even build yet, so we cannot imagine just how bad it will all be. Ruby Hill needs to be in the loop. They will be impacted by the backup waiting to cross Stanley.
Two weeks ago there was a major article in the Livermore paper about several giant, CA required 'housing projects'. Several types, mostly apartments at Isabelle and Stanley, THOSE NUMBERS MUST BE PART OF ANY "MODEL" NUMBERS AS WELL. They will alter Stanley /Valley traffic, just like Livermore does now, driving to Hacienda.

7 people like this
Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 5:23 pm

Reread Vintage resident. Right on!. Vintage is impacted, as I mentioned, feeding into the que waiting at the light to cross Stanley, to join the Valley crawl, which already with stops at Busch. This discussion is about adding to the current pile up stopped and waiting at the Busch light. Whatever 'structures' might go there is NOT the question. It is cars added to coming out of Busch intersection lights, which can STOP all cars coming across Stanley from Ruby Hill and Vintage Hills. It boils down to how MANY cars, and at WHAT TIMES. Period. Number of vehicles and time of day. AND, all that is before the under construction traffic (across McDonald's) hit the street. Plus, massive future Isabelle apartments, and this new Busch whatever, added to Busch stoplight rotation. Whew! Widening Stanley approach does absolutely nothing to improve the situation. It's a funnel which MUST NARROW to fit on Valley to the Santa Rita stoplight. Unless they
plan on demolishing many, many house, and enduring lots of lawsuits. Don't even go there. This mentality of a Stanley makeshift to 'widen' and feed onto Valley, is nonsense, a waste of money, and will worsen the Busch light backup. Only worsens the 'stoplight' pileup. Crazy talk! to placate the few gullible enough to fall for it.

Like this comment
Posted by Montessori Mom
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 2, 2015 at 6:54 pm

WE SUPPORT THE HOMES AND KEEEPING THE DAYCARE/PRIVATE SCHOOL. It is less traffic and noise that would be created by the big church campus that is approved there but not built yet. The houses and preschool will be more compatible for our neighborhood. We received fliers from the group Kelly must belong to opposing the houses but advocating for much more intense development like the campus, government buildings, or a community center. That is THE logic in that?? And these people dont live here so they can talk lofty about losing places to worship without experiencing the traffic and noise. There are 400 parking stalls in that lot so that should give people having any sense what the approved campus or governmental buildings would cause! Strange everyone gets excited about a few housing but no one talks about stopping new office buildings or even a CostCo which are the really hugh traffic creators. If you dont live adjacent to this project, butt out. And we too will remember how the council votes to protect our neighborhood.

6 people like this
Posted by Gina Channell-Allen
president of the Pleasanton Weekly
on Oct 2, 2015 at 8:09 pm

Gina Channell-Allen is a registered user.

We received the following Letter to the Editor from Tim Hunt of Pleasanton on behalf of Centerpointe. I am adding it to this thread because our next print edition will publish after Tuesday's meeting.


We are concerned with Jeb Bing’s column on a few points:

1. The lead implies a significant increase in water usage if the homes are built on the current church site. Our calculations, based upon our actual water bills from the city, show that it would make an insignificant difference of about 700 gallons/day for the homes and the preschool. We believe water usage is not an issue in the application.

2. Ponderosa’s latest application to the city reduced the number of homes to 25 and added a private park in addition to other changes to satisfy concerns raised by two planning commissioners and city planning staff.

3. The author did not attempt to contact any Centerpointe person for comment or explanation about why the church wants to sell two-thirds of its property to Ponderosa Homes.

4. We debate the characterization of the Planning Commission as “lukewarm” to the proposal. Two commissioners raised concerns, but neither one voted against it. There also was no public testimony against the plan.

5. Considering the interests of the community as a whole, 25 homes to finish a neighborhood, built by a respected development company based in Pleasanton, amounts to a tiny infill project. The homes amount to less than one one-thousandth of the city’s housing stock (a rounding error).

9 people like this
Posted by Sal
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 3, 2015 at 9:35 am

Isn't it wonderful that Centerpointe spokesman, Tim Hunt, is also a writer for the Pleasanton Weekly? No conflict interest there! If Tim Hunt's myopic, intolerant articles are a reflection of what they preach at that Centerpointe, then we aren't losing much.

7 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 3, 2015 at 11:20 am

What will these new homes do to benefit and take the load off of local schools? Harvest Park is busting at the seams with 34 kids/room. With the location I would guess Harvest Park would be the middle school the children from these new homes would go. I've seen traffic, water and parking discussed not impact on local schools.
I'm guessing Centerpointe bought this property as an investment with no intention of setting down roots and are looking to squeeze as much profit as they can like any business would.

4 people like this
Posted by William
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 3, 2015 at 2:29 pm

Are we supposed to accept Tim Hunt's calculations about water use with no proof? Besides it is small minded to look at it from the perspective of only this development. Water is a community wide resource and any more draw from it should be based on what the existing draw is plus the new draw from development already in progress and approved. A common refrain heard from looters is "but what I took is so much less than the other guys." Don't get wrapped in the looter analogy, it is just an illustration to show the self- focused rationalization of Tim Hunt.

Like this comment
Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 3, 2015 at 9:02 pm

WILLIAM. Doesnt 27 homes use less water than 80,000 square feet of a church and school campus? Then we should not approve any more residential expansions because people shouldnt grow their families. And stop all commercial businesses too. Forget CostCo because that is a big looter as you call it. Ive been hearing the Stoneridge Mall is expanding to stay competitive so forget that too. Lets just declare bankruptcy

1 person likes this
Posted by Marie
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 4, 2015 at 9:25 am

If you talk with the city the first biggest water user is a resturant the 2nd is a school, so yes even homes would consume less water than a school.

3 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 4, 2015 at 12:25 pm

Why not a new school? Our children are still in trailer pods, we are apparent interest by school board. Dublin now concerned about overcrowding due to out of controlled growth. Water is always an issue. Remember this council and who voted for more development at election time.

4 people like this
Posted by jay
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 4, 2015 at 12:28 pm

I seem to remember during the general plan review that there were many in the church community that wanted more land zoned for church/institution. The rational, a church cannot afford to purchase land that is zoned for residential.

Keeping the land zoned for church/institutional will keep the value of the property the same and will allow another church the opportunity to afford a purchase of land. Zoning to residential raises the value and ensures that churches will not be able to purchase land in Pleasanton. If that land was first zoned residential, there is no way the current church would have been able to afford to move there.

Not to mention that Ponderosa would never have been able to get their plan approved if there was housing there instead of a church. They sold the community on housing, property reserved for a new school, church, and improvements to ironhorse trail. There is absolutely no way their plan would have been approved by the city if the church and school land was not there. First Ponderosa bought out the option with the school district and put housing there. Now they are doing the same with the church. Classic bait and switch and should not be allowed by the city council.

4 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 4, 2015 at 12:46 pm

mooseturd is a registered user.

@Marie, "If you talk with the city the first biggest water user is a resturant (sic) the 2nd is a school, so yes even homes would consume less water than a school." Yes but we don't need 27 restaurants either.

6 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Oct 4, 2015 at 12:50 pm

mooseturd is a registered user.

I wonder if any council members are Centerpointe Church members.

2 people like this
Posted by kbenson
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Oct 4, 2015 at 5:45 pm

We need more <----Sarcasm

Seriously though, I think that particular location is ideal for either a 7-11/gas station combo or maybe Shell? Valley is a high flow traffic area (especially during commute time) it could be a money maker.

Another option would be a daycare site or even a coin op laundry (Does Pleasanton even have one of those?)

10 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 4, 2015 at 7:47 pm

If the church can't afford their property, they should sell it and move, like any of the rest of us would be forced to do. If Ponderosa wants to buy it and at the same time assume the risk that they might be denied their 25 houses or any houses at all, that'd be fine too. But to act as though they are "coming to the rescue" of the church by purchasing their property pre-approved for 25 houses?
The church should have to honor their commitments, and Ponderosa should play by the rules...

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

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