Ever feel not wanted in downtown Pleasanton?

Developer frustrated in continuing bid to build retail, residential project off Main Street

Sometimes it's hard to build a few retail stores and apartments in downtown Pleasanton, even on a narrow, unpaved and empty lot a few feet from Main Street that has a history of failed businesses.

Still, James Knuppe and his partner, Galen Grant of FCGA Architects, keep trying. They've spent tens of thousands of dollars already to sell their project to city planners and, over the past month, to the City Council with little success.

Last Tuesday, council members turned the project away (not down) for another look. Council members said they liked the architecture, "though the building's colors need to be subdued."

The 4,000-square-foot building will blend in nicely with nearby Main Street buildings, "although it needs to be set back farther from Spring Street." The mixed use of having apartments and small retail shops in one building is in step with proposed downtown guidelines of more mixed-use developments, "but people who live there will park in the store spaces.Bamboo will be planted at the rear of the property to screen the building from the neighbors. ("Really, do you want bamboo? It's a fast-growing weed.")

The development will be short seven required commercial parking spaces, meaning that Knuppe will have to pay $19,117 per space into the city's in-lieu parking fund

Even the Pleasanton Downtown Association opposes Knuppe's plan, with executive director Laura Olson saying the PDA doesn't want more downtown dwellers "because they complain about noise from nearby nightlife."

The 0.39-acre property is unusual, consisting of a narrow street front and extending back to the rear fence of a house on Ray Street. A two-story commercial/office building would face Spring Street with a second-floor apartment. Three-story, multi-family residential units would be built along a 20-foot-wide driveway stretching to the north.

Parking is also an obstacle for the developer, as his plan only includes a one car garage and one driveway for each of the four 3 bed/3 bath apartments. Again, those who objected to the plan Tuesday night said that won't be enough. They said that tenants are likely to use their garages for storage and workbenches and park in the driveways, meaning guests or the drivers of second and third cars will park on Spring Street and Main Street, adding to already filled and too few on-street parking spaces.

The development will be short seven required parking spaces, meaning that Knuppe will have to pay $19,117 per space into the city's in-lieu parking fund. That fund, which has been charged for years to downtown businesses that lack their own parking, has been used to acquire the once-county-owned railroad corridor between Main and First streets and to pave other available properties.

Knuppe submitted his application to build on the Spring Street property in May 2014. He and architect Grant held a number of meetings with the city's planning staff related to land-use compatibility, aesthetics, architectural styling and consistency with the Downtown Specific Plan. Thinking the two parties had ironed out all of their differences, Knuppe, with the planners' agreement, submitted his formal development Planned Unit Development Rezoning and Development Plan, a multi-page detailed document with architectural drawings and land-use information.

An informal work session was held Aug. 26, where planning commissioners added more comments and suggestions for changes. At the request of planners, Knuppe hired a firm to install story poles on the site for a better look at the placement and height of the buildings. A full public hearing was held Dec. 9 with the commission voting 3-2 to approve the project.

The proposal moved to the City Council Jan. 19, but the hearing was postponed to last Tuesday after a majority of council members expressed reservations about the project. Last Tuesday, still not supportive, Knuppe's bid was postponed for a later council hearing, when he can go through all of it again.

For now, downtown shoppers and store employees can keep parking on Knuppe's dirt lot for free.

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4 people like this
Posted by Downtown Resident
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 10, 2016 at 7:38 pm

You've got to be kidding me. It seems the goal of Pleasanton City Council is to ensure a rejuvenation of the downtown area falls far from the success fostered in Livermore. Meanwhile, approval of anthill-like vertical living farms grow near Bernal and 680 as well as Santa Rita and 580. Increasing population density while prohibiting social space expansion will lead to higher crime and flight of long-time community contributors as they seek a breath of fresh air.

I moved here a few years ago, and the first thing I hear from those that have been here before 2K is how things have just decayed while people crowd in from Silicon Valley raising housing costs and depressing cherished local lifestyles.

5 people like this
Posted by no user name
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:38 am

no user name is a registered user.

The issue is the parking! As long as the City continues to collect fees rather than demanding parking spaces be created we will have the problem. Where have all of those fees gone? Where is a parking structure that was supposed to be funded from the builder parking fees? You cannot build a structure like that and expect that the residents will actually us their garages for CARS rather than JUNK. These residents will take up street parking and just cause more issues downtown. This is not a viable way to use the property until parking is required to be provided for every single new building downtown. After that, someone can get a good lawyer to put language into the contracts for the buyers about how they will be living downtown and need to expect the noise and traffic that comes with that. No more whiners.

5 people like this
Posted by Correcting the facts on parking
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Feb 11, 2016 at 2:57 pm

The article stated each residence had a 2 car garage and 2 driveways spaces. That is incorrect. The developer only proposed a one car garage with a small driveway behind it for each 3 bed/3 1/2 luxury apartment dwelling. There was no stand alone dedicated spot for a 2nd car, 3rd car or even guest parking. Our muni code requires that 3 bedroom units have at least 2 stand alone dedicated parking spots (vs. developer just proposed 1).

In addition, the developer did not provide the required number of spaces for the commercial building, exacerbating the downtown parking situation.
If we want our existing downtown businesses to stay vital we need to insure new developments that have the space meet their fair share of required parking.

Thank you to the Council for insuring this project is reworked to provide required residential and commercial parking. Meeting our parking needs is critical to maintaining a vibrant downtown.

5 people like this
Posted by no user name
a resident of Downtown
on Feb 11, 2016 at 3:22 pm

no user name is a registered user.

These units would have most likely added 2-3 vehicles parked on the street to the already crowded downtown. Not acceptable. For all of you downtown merchants, please tell your employees not to park all day in the prime spots that should be available to customers. There is plenty of parking available in the railroad corridor and on streets a block off of Main. I am happy to see the PPD now enforcing the parking limits and ticketing people who park too long on Main street. If you want customers then don't take up all of their parking. If only the employees in the shops in the 400 block would leave even one space open for customers they might be surprised at the added business.

2 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 11, 2016 at 7:24 pm

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

3 bed room apartments with 1 "garage" and a short "driveway"? What if the occupant rents out the rooms like the example lauded in the "Unseen Struggle" article and ends up with 7(well more like 9 or 10 with 3 bed rooms) people living there?

3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 12, 2016 at 4:44 pm

Good call on shutting this one down, single car parking when we know there will be at least 2 cars per unit finally some common sense, now let's see if the city can stick to that decision and not give in for a change

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