A plan to rezone a 15-acre commercial site on Stanley Boulevard for a 95-home development and an adjoining site to accommodate housing for autistic adults is under consideration by the Pleasanton Planning Commission.
Mike Serpa discussed his application on behalf of three property owners and Sunflower Hill before the commission last week at an informal workshop session. After the two-hour meeting, at the commission's direction, city planners took the proposal under advisement to consider changes before scheduling a public hearing in the next few months.
The site, familiar to passing motorists for years, has been marked by a long-closed family market and a rusting tractor as well as three farm-like homes owned by the Irby, Kaplan and Zia families.
Serpa wants to replace that with two- and three-story homes and the Sunflower Hill community, a Pleasanton-based nonprofit whose goal is to provide home living options for individuals with special needs. The proposed facility would be similar in scope to senior living with live-in units.
The Pleasanton City Council, after hearing pleas by Susan Houghton, a founder and director of Sunflower Hill, made finding a suitable site for a special needs housing a top priority of its current work plan.
Serpa asked the city to approve his plan to consolidate and develop the three family properties last year with Sunflower to provide the affordable housing part of his plan. The 95 separate homes would be sold at market rates.
The Irby and Zia properties are located at 3780 Stanley Boulevard and 3988 First Street, with different addresses because First becomes Stanley at the traffic light where Old Stanley splits off to connect to Main Street and downtown Pleasanton. But the Irby, Zia and Kaplan properties are connected.
The Irby and Zia properties were developed as single family compounds around 1887, with homes, barns and agricultural buildings. The home on the Irby property has been determined to be an historic resource. Planning commissioners said at their meeting that they want that home to be restored and preserved.
The proposed development would include extending Nevada Street from Bernal Avenue along the backside of the proposed homes and then north through the development to connect at Stanley with the junction at Old Stanley. The extension, long a part of the city's street plan, would open another access to Stanley from Bernal.
The proposed development also would include a new multi-use trail along the Arroyo del Valle on the south side of Nevada Street.
Serpa is proposing four home models, including two two-story designs and two with three stories with those approximately 35 feet in height.
Houghton told planners that there are more than 700 special needs individuals in Pleasanton who need housing. She said the units planned for Stanley Boulevard would be similar to college dormitories with common areas for recreation, kitchens and dining. One large building would serve as a community center, and the compound would include a swimming pool and other outdoor amenities.
"Most of the adults with special needs who would live here will never marry but they will live together," she said. "Most don't have physical disabilities, just mental."
Several speakers told commissioners that a special needs facility such as the one Sunflower is proposing is much needed in Pleasanton.
"I have a son with autism," one speaker said. "It took us four years to find a group home in Livermore. We would like to have him back in Pleasanton where he can live comfortably."
Others spoke about their concerns that as they grow older, they need a facility like Sunflower Hill is proposing to be sure their autistic children will be cared for when they're gone.
"Sunflower Hill brings these special needs individuals together and helps them find work they are capable of performing," a mother said.