As the Alameda County Registrar's office marks the deadline Friday for submissions to be printed in voter information booklets for the Nov. 8 General Election, both sides of a ballot initiative meant to block Costco from building a membership store on Johnson Drive in Pleasanton have filed their statements.
The initiative, labeled Measure MM on the ballot, is the result of a successful voter signature signing campaign by Citizens for Planned Growth, headed by Bill Wheeler, owner of Black Tie Transportation which is located on Johnson Drive.
If approved, the proposed measure would become part of the city's General Plan and would limit the size of new retail buildings on a 40-acre commercial property on Johnson Drive along the east side of I-680 to no more than 50,000 square feet. Two hotels also planned for the site would still be allowed, although it's unclear if they are part of Costco's development plan.
Opponents of rezoning the former Clorox research center site to allow big-box stores like Costco have argued in public meetings that these stores would add traffic congestion and air pollution in west Pleasanton. They said smaller businesses, including restaurants and hotels, would provide more jobs and serve those in the Tri-Valley who aren't Costco members.
Those supporting Costco's tentative plan contend it would save them a trip to the membership store's other operations in Livermore and Danville and would keep the sales tax they pay at those stores in Pleasanton. Costco has reported that it has 12,000 paying members in Pleasanton.
In support of Measure MM
Those signing the ballot argument in support of Measure MM are Paul Southern, Craig Schwab, Connie Cox, Kristen Edwards and Wheeler. Their ballot statement follows:
"The city of Pleasanton is planning to create a big box shopping center in the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone along a portion of Johnson Drive near the intersection of Interstates 580 and 680, bringing more traffic and pollution to Pleasanton.
"The city's current plan, including a new Costco, will generate an additional 12,000-15,000 vehicle trips and heavy truck traffic on a daily basis, impacting traffic at critical intersections in the Johnson Drive area, Stoneridge Drive and I-680. Do we really need more traffic in Pleasanton?
"The city's own consultants characterize these traffic impacts as "significant and unavoidable." And they describe the pollution associated with the increased traffic as "significant and
"In addition to traffic and pollution, the project is estimated to cost $16 million for infrastructure improvements and other expenses, with potentially up to $11 million being subsidized by taxpayers.
"But there is an alternative. Measure MM will:
Provide for the development of small scale retail, office and other commercial uses, opening opportunities for local businesses while still creating diverse jobs and a steady revenue stream, instead of a big box store that will offer mostly low-paying jobs;
Help ensure traffic and air quality impacts are less than if the city's plan were adopted, and,
Encourage the city to devise a better plan, with a view towards creating a gateway "lifestyle center" that provides interesting entertainment, shopping and dining options for local residents and the region and that preserves what makes Pleasanton a great place to live.
"Vote YES on Measure MM to ensure we get the best plan for the new Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone.
Against Measure MM
Those signing the ballot argument against of Measure MM are City Council members Kathy Narum and Arne Olson, Michaela Hertle, John Sensiba and Judy Wheeler. Their ballot statement follows:
"We urge you to vote NO on Measure MM. Measure MM will unnecessarily tie the city's hands as we work to produce the best plan
for the new Johnson Drive Economic Zone. It puts a blanket prohibition on all stores, like Costco, larger than 50,000 square feet in the Johnson Drive area.
"Nearly everyone in Pleasanton benefits from Costco -- families, youth sports teams, churches, parent groups, small businesses. Costco will locate somewhere near us. We can have our own Costco on Johnson Drive -- but only if we vote NO on Measure MM.
"This kind of prohibition would have prevented popular stores like the new Safeway, Kohl's, Target, and Dick's Sporting Goods from coming in -- every one is over 50,000 square feet.
"The public process for Johnson Drive has a long way to go. The Economic Zone plan must go through at least five more public hearings before the Planning Commission and the city Council. Why tie their hands?
"Part of the process involves significant improvements to the Economic Zone area, including road widening and better circulation. These improvements will be completed before Costco opens and Costco will pay its fair share.
"Sales tax revenue plays a major role in helping the city pay for services to our community. As a community we have so many needs we've already identified -- a new library, downtown improvements for parking and parks, and the completion of Bernal Community Park -- and they're long-term community benefits that currently lack funding.
"A Pleasanton Costco would result in $1-2 million dollars in new sales tax revenue every year to help pay for these improvements. Why would we want to send that money to a neighboring city?
"Measure MM is the wrong idea at the wrong time. We strongly urge you to vote NO on Measure MM."
Sample ballots will be sent to registered voters Oct. 10. Those qualified to vote by mail can start returning their completed ballots on that date.