Houses or church site? Council to decide tonight

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

The Pleasanton City Council will decide at its meeting tonight 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 tonight 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 Ponderosa's plan for 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. in the Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.

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7 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 5, 2015 at 12:48 pm

Seems a logical site for infill housing construction. It already sits between two other neighborhoods, and the wide open space next to the garbage transfer station (so, maybe not the most desireable site). All the handwringing about possible religious denominations purchasing the site seems out of proportion to the problem at hand, and invites the kind of contentious parochialism so often seen in these pages. But, without a commitment from a church of one kind or another, I don't see the big problem of developing the site as housing (housing, after all, brings in its own problems of congestion).

9 people like this
Posted by jay
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 5, 2015 at 3:14 pm

I see no problem leaving it zoned as public and institutional. That is what Ponderosa promised the community not too many years ago.

Or are you saying that if I want to sell my property and I can get a better valuation with a different zoning, the city should just rezone?

I see no compelling reason to rezone to increase their property value. Perhaps there is another non-profit that would like to purchase this at the price the church paid for it.

10 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:17 am

WE LIVE NEXT DOOR and dont want a 6 acre, big compound next to us. If you read the report, there is an approved plan that allows several 2 and 3 story buildings here. Anyome who thinks a church, ashram, mosque or some other big religious compound should be built here instead of 25 homes and keeping a daycare, just does not get it or does not care about our neighborhood, or does not think traffic is already bad on Valley Avenue. These big organizations have activities all day and everday.

And Councilwoman Brown wants governmental buildings here if this church sells its land according to a flier that was left at all of our homes. Does that mean the City of Pleasanton wants to buy the land now?

If the Ironwood residents support this new plan, then please respect our wishes

Like this comment
Posted by Monressori Mom
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 8:41 am

THANKS DAVID for your comment as we feel the same.

We are amazed when increasing traffic and other impacts are always considered undesirable, that some Pleasanton residents (who dont live in this neighborhood) and public officials now actually are saying that 80,000 square feet of church or some other religious group, or even a suggestion for new government buildings, which create more traffic, noise and water impacts should be at this property. We have not seen the flier but will ask our neighbors about it.

2 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:09 am

Anything with commute hours, Mon - Fri is not acceptable to anyone from Ruby Hill to Valley/Santa Rita light. Those impacted in that corridor are the only ones to be considered and weighed accordingly...or nothing on the East will ever be built again.

8 people like this
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:45 am

I hardly think it matters one way or the other as in terms of traffic we are way beyond the tipping point. I would like to have our city leadership have some serious discussion on a traffic plan. No bs but a real plan.

11 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:04 pm

Looks like a great location for a school ! We are so overcrowded and need to examine locations for a new school site. Actually, we need to slow down the process due to serious drought and lack of water for development....

18 people like this
Posted by 51 year Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 12:41 pm

We Don't Need Any More Homes in Pleasanton
We are too crowded
We are in a drought

21 people like this
Posted by Jing
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:18 pm

We should see if the land is fertile for agriculture use or build a park for the neighborhood. Building home or religious institution is ridiculous.

8 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:28 pm

We don't need any more commuter route backups. It is unfortunate the 'politicians' of the past have blocked off and shut down all circulation routes possibilities. Some mistakenly did little special treatment favors for selfish neighbors. Sad we are now stuck in concrete. No more whimsical favors allowed. We are out of choices. Berkeley II has one route coming out of Ruby Hill and Vintage Hills to our what otherwise, could be a world-class job center. The number of 'light' stops at Busch intersection is the key to all points East 'working' or not. Valley is full. Out of options, unless we open some of those streets to ease the 'flow'. And this 'flow' requires zero water !!!
Let's put real traffic planning first this time. ..the patchwork method hasn't worked very well.

1 person likes this
Posted by Disappointed in the Weekly
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 6, 2015 at 2:55 pm

I am insulted that the Pleasanton Weekly would highlight any negative stories in which an international church would be unacceptable to the area. Here is the quote: "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.."

Get used to us. Pleasanton is not all snow white anymore and we are here to stay. Our churches are beautiful too. Thanks for making us all feel unwelcome.

8 people like this
Posted by Avonb
a resident of Carlton Oaks
on Oct 6, 2015 at 3:12 pm

Follow the money to Council Coffers, that will tell the tale. Did Ponderosa contribute to campaigns? Other Developers? Hmmmm.

8 people like this
Posted by Le
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 4:17 pm

25 Houses are better than any other big institution - whether governmental, educational or religious. And I don't really favor homes, either, as there is no water and already there is too much traffic in this corridor - with no plan for offering public transportation, a new parking lot at the BART station for the number of cars that need to use the place, etc, etc.

I love the idea of open space and a park; we could use more of those and it might help everyone be more civil.

7 people like this
Posted by Mr. & Mrs. & Family
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 9:02 pm

I only hope all of the folks who have strong opinions on this proposed development were/are at the City Council meeting tonight voicing your opinions where they actually will have some impact.

At the end of the day, I am confident that the City of Pleasanton will vote and side with whichever project will generate the most tax revenue and other income for the city with little or no regard for the well being of the citizens, open space and community at large.

4 people like this
Posted by Rob
a resident of Mohr Park
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:28 pm

25 single family houses is a lot for that land. I walk by there frequently and think 15 would be a lot.

4 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 6, 2015 at 10:42 pm

Recall the "Pumkin Patch".... Perhaps we can all get behind this as a great place to grow pumpkins and enjoy the changing seasons. Then we can sign the property..."coming in early October".

1 person likes this
Posted by not too much
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 6, 2015 at 11:53 pm

@Disappointed...what was said by the PW that insulted you? Correct me if i'm wrong but I read the statement a few times and i wasn't insulted in the least. I am a Muslim too. Please explain yourself.I hate insults.

4 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 7:59 am

So much for the "Separation of Church and Stateā€¦"

3 people like this
Posted by Spudly
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:36 am

@Not too much and Disappointed,

I also did not find the statements regarding Muslim usage offensive. Please help us understand your point. It seemed factual that Muslims have the money and the need and could make use of the site. Why is that a problem? Why the snow white comments? The PW did not say Muslims should not build. They are pointing out a viable group that could use the site and keep the site as a religious base.

Like this comment
Posted by Cthulu
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2015 at 4:51 pm

Lord Cthulu will happily make his home there. Build a temple to Cthulu upon that land and summon The Great Old One from the darkness. Cthulu is great in his zoning, for the sacrificed die in an instant of terror before they can let out a cry and few dare to enter His sanctuary and thusly traffic is minimally impacted.

1 person likes this
Posted by Jaded
a resident of Walnut Hills
on Oct 7, 2015 at 5:33 pm

Does anyone know the outcome of the meeting? Will PW post a follow-up? Maybe it doesn't really matter, since the Council does what is in their best interest anyways.

4 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 6:35 pm

I watched the TV coverage and wondered why people were discouraged by the Mayor from speaking their mind just because someone else said the same thing? What happened to freedom of speech? It's a 3 minute time frame compared to the length of time (30 minutes each) allowed to the staff and Ponderosa, who seemed to be working for the same end, to give their presentation. The only person on the Council who asked good questions was Karla Brown. She was the only "no" vote for the project so more houses for Pleasanton (why?) and fewer areas for churches, schools and open space. Bad decision for us good decision for the developers! Why did I pay these high prices for real estate when I could have stayed in Fremont?

Like this comment
Posted by Curtis
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 8, 2015 at 1:00 pm

Hey Sam, don't feel bad that you left Fremont. Won't be long and Pleasanton will have you feeling just like you ARE back in Fremont.

Like this comment
Posted by East Sider
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:18 am




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

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