Guest Opinion: Dialogue on Johnson Drive economic zone

Rezoning proposal for 40-acre site intended to spur investment

It's been said that a conversation is an open dialogue as opposed to a monologue between two people. Having an open and transparent dialogue is a basic obligation of government, and one I take seriously.

The give and take between Pleasanton residents and business owners and those of us you have elected to serve is an open dialogue that develops over time. As messy as the give-and-take can sometimes be, transparent dialogue is the bedrock of democracy.

We are having such a dialogue with the proposed Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (EDZ) right now. The rezoning proposal is intended to spur investment in roughly 40 acres of mostly under-utilized vacant land situated along Johnson Drive near I-680 and Stoneridge Drive.

The idea of exploring a Johnson Drive EDZ was endorsed by the City Council in 2014 because rezoning the mostly industrially-zoned property for commercial purposes could allow for a wider, more modern range of uses.

If the land is rezoned, the goal would be to allow the area to transform into a thriving commercial corridor that capitalizes on its location at the intersection of the I-580 and I-680 freeways, creates more opportunities for desirable new uses and services in the community, diversifies our economic portfolio and generates roughly $2 million annually in new tax revenue.

The city is in the midst of a detailed exploration of the benefits and challenges of creating an EDZ along Johnson Drive.

It's true that Costco and two hotels have expressed an interest. Costco has signed a letter of intent with the property owner, which does not guarantee approval unless the City Council first votes to rezone the land no projects are proposed at this time. Issues to be resolved prior to any council approval of the EDZ include mitigating traffic and air quality issues and the cost of infrastructure.

Since the conversation started in 2014, the city commissioned a Draft Supplemental Environmental Impact Report (DSEIR), a typical step in any land-use planning process. The public comment period for that document was extended well beyond the required 45 days to ensure everyone had a say.

The Planning Commission held a public comment hearing to give and take comments on the DSEIR, and city staff held two community meetings, which were advertised through direct mail, newspaper ads, on Twitter, Facebook and Staff also posted fliers at public facilities and placed notices on the city's website to get the word out.

Currently, staff is in the process of drafting responses to the numerous public comments received so far and finalizing an economic study to augment the work already undertaken. The city will be making this new information available to the public for further review and conversation.

After that, there will be a joint Planning Commission and City Council meeting, slated for sometime in April, and I look forward to continuing the dialogue which hopefully will remain civil and respectful in keeping with our Community of Character traits.

Editor's note: Jerry Thorne, now serving his second two-year term as mayor of Pleasanton, is a retired corporate executive with more than 40 years in the private sector. He also served for 10 years on the city's Parks and Recreation Commission.

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17 people like this
Posted by RoslynA
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 5, 2016 at 11:35 am

Ask the business owners on Johnson and Commerce Drive whether they were given a chance at a one-on-one dialog with the Planning Commission staff before they proceeded to eliminate some of the proposed scenarios that would make this whole plan less onerous to them. But I bet the planners had a lot of one-on-one time with Nearon and Costco representatives!Is that what you mean by an 'open dialog' Mayor Thorne?

13 people like this
Posted by Bob QP
a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Mar 5, 2016 at 11:44 am

Who paid for the initial Economic Impact study contained in the draft EIR? Was that impartial input? And who influenced the planning staff to use outdated calculators for the air quality impact, as pointed out by the Bay Area Quality Management District? Sounds to me like there has been a lot of 'back door' input rather than open dialog. You know people aren't going to show up to public comment hearings until they sit fuming in the glut of traffic on Stoneridge, Johnson and Owens Drive, or start seeing the smog generated by large delivery trucks and gas tankers as well as 12,000 additional cars on a road never designed for that kind of traffic.

30 people like this
Posted by West side Observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 5, 2016 at 2:42 pm

As much as the mayor wants a civil discussion he'll never get it. The NIMBYs will try to sink this project as they have Lund Ranch, Stonridge Drive extension to Livermore, and Hacienda Business Park before that. I hope he realizes that the NIMBYs are selfish, useful idiots who pray at the alter of Gaia while driving their fancy cars to their fancy houses with unobstructed views. He must also remember that NIMBYs never bring knives to a gunfight. Yesteryear (mostly because of money) they waved from street corners with homemade signs and decorative vests to make their point. Today, they have enough money to hire lawyers to threaten suits, firms to gather petition signatures, and carry on vigorous media campaigns to prevent property owners from developing their property. After all, that is a small price to pay for keeping their viewshed in their exclusive neighborhoods and preventing evil capitalists from clogging their streets with people wanting to do commerce.

I applaud the mayor and wish him well. However, I am not holding my breath.

9 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 5, 2016 at 6:19 pm

@West side Observer,

Very cogent comments. Hope your neighbor @Sam, who also lists himself as a resident of Oak Hill, caught them, too.

Re: Lund Ranch II, the NIMBYs haven't sunk the project based on a fair compromise decision made by the Mayor and City Council on January 5th just yet.

We'll have to wait until June 7th when all registered Pleasanton voters hopefully get to the polls and vote to see whether the NIMBYs involved on that one will win their phony altruistic crusade (er, charade/farce, that is) to fulfill their selfish desires or not.

7 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 5, 2016 at 10:21 pm

I've read through the numerous documents on city website about it, and it all seems reasonable to me.

8 people like this
Posted by perrymac
a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 6, 2016 at 8:40 am

perrymac is a registered user.

I think we should create a new distinction: EIMBYs. EVERYTHING in My Back Yard. They want everything they want now, convenient and close so they aren't inconvenienced in the least. Forget those that care about clean air and traffic, forget those that want a Pleasanton that has welcoming neighborhoods and a sense of community, forget those that don't want the city to end up being just like Dublin. All they want is MORE and MORE. A massive big box wholesaler in a traffic-clogged area isn't smart growth, it's selfish growth. By the way, I don't have a fancy house on the hill or a fancy car, but I have children I care about as well as a Costco membership card.

6 people like this
Posted by SHale
a resident of San Ramon
on Mar 6, 2016 at 9:26 am

SHale is a registered user.

Newer, closer Costco then what is available now? Bring it on.


2 people like this
Posted by Zoli
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 6, 2016 at 3:44 pm

Zoli is a registered user.

If we are serious about a Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (with a Costco). Then it's time to revisit building the West Las Positas interchange off the I-680 to alleviate some of the traffic congestion. It was on the general plan from the 1980's when Pleasanton was truly a city of planned progress.

14 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 6, 2016 at 4:10 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

West Las Positas interchange off the I-680 was removed from the general plan. it is no longer an option.

2 people like this
Posted by Zoli
a resident of Country Fair
on Mar 6, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Zoli is a registered user.

Michael if something has been taken off a city's general plan, I would assume it could be added back; just like the way it was removed with citizen input.

10 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 6, 2016 at 6:47 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Your assumption is wrong.
It will never happen.

If the Lund Ranch is an issue, reopening West Las Positas as an interchange to I-680 in an attempt to be a part of the defunct general plan will be a huge disaster for the city council.

They know it, they will never approach the subject.

13 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 6, 2016 at 8:08 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

Approving ramps for las positas interchange would be the kiss of death for the city council, we don't need another option for all the "cut-thru" commuter traffic!! Let's start thinking about the locals and quit trying to help all the out-of-towners blowing through our intersections at prime commute time!

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

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