Chamber hosting Pleasanton municipal election candidates forum at 7:30 a.m. today

Pleasanton Weekly hosting evening forum Sept. 19

Candidates for mayor and three vying for election to the City Council will participate in a "Meet the Candidates" forum hosted by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce at 7:30 a.m. Friday in the Veterans Memorial Building in downtown Pleasanton.

The candidates are Mayor Jerry Thorne, who is seeking re-election to a third two-year term, and challenger Julie Testa. The three candidates seeking the two available seats on the council are incumbents Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin and challenger Herb Ritter, who is chairman of the city's Planning Commission.

The candidates will face questions about community priorities, including the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone, transportation, water, workforce housing, the proposed construction of a new civic center and library and what they envision in a new the downtown specific plan.

They also will be asked to describe how they differ on issues affecting the city's business community and Pleasanton voters as a whole.

Moderating the forum will be David Stark, who is director of Public Affairs for the Bay East Association of Realtors, headquartered in Pleasanton.

On Monday, Sept. 19, the Pleasanton Weekly will host an evening candidates forum in the Pleasanton City Council chamber.

Doors will open at 6 p.m. with the forum for Mayor Thorne and challenger Testa from 6:30-7:20 p.m. The three candidates for council will follow at 7:30 p.m.

Moderators for that forum will be Gina Channell, publisher of the Pleasanton Weekly, and Jeb Bing, its editor.

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3 people like this
Posted by justthefacts
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 10:49 am

Mayoral candidate Julie Testa was not there. As Mayor, can't pick and choose who you represent.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood

on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:21 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

11 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:22 am

Sorry I missed the forum, but most of us presumably had to be at work this morning.

In any case, everyone should keep in mind that none of our elected officials could stop the high-density housing being built now--a hot topic these days for many.

For all who've lived in Pleasanton for any length of time but aren't familiar with the history behind this, Pleasanton's housing 'cap', enacted in 1996 to prevent massive housing developments and 'fast-track' building/growth, was challenged in state court earlier this decade by Gov. Jerry Brown and a San Francisco-based housing coalition, Urban Habitat, as being illegal, as it prevented Pleasanton from meeting its state-mandated housing requirements (known as the Regional Housing Needs Allocation, or RHNA).

Learn more about RHNA here: Web Link

Gov. Brown (who was CA Attorney General at the time), and Urban Habitat successfully sued the City of Pleasanton, with a state judge throwing out/invalidating Pleasanton's voter-approved housing cap, and ordering Pleasanton's elected officials, including Councilmember Karla Brown, et al, to rezone large, vacant parcels throughout Pleasanton to accommodate the high-density housing you see going up throughout our city.

No elected Pleasanton representatives, nor Mayoral candidate Julie Testa, nor Councilmember Karla Brown, other Councilmembers, current Mayor Jerry Thorne, the City Manager, nor any other Pleasanton elected or appointed official can reject or ignore accomodating state RHNA housing requirements.

In that regard, it's interesting to note that Councilmember Brown, in recently announcing her re-election bid come November 8, "vows to stop ‘runaway growth, high density housing that the city is not required to build’".

That's a very convenient disclaimer, or 'out' at the end for her, as she very well knows all of the above is fact, and that she also voted FOR the re-zoning of the ALL of the parcels designated for high-density housing, and subsequently FOR the building of ALL of the "runaway growth, high density housing" that is currently being built on those parcels, representing what the city is required to build right now to satisfy that court decision and meet current RHNA requirements for Pleasanton.

Julie Testa, if elected, will face the same reality the current Mayor and Council have been dealing with ever since Pleasanton lost that lawsuit.

If you want real change, get rid of the politicians at the state level who insist on forcing high-density housing upon cities across California whose local residents don't want it.

It's state control vs. local control, and the state is winning this battle.

The only victory came when Assembly Bill (AB) 2522, sponsored by Assemblymember Richard Bloom (D) of Santa Monica, and supported by Gov. Brown, got killed in committee in Sacramento last April (In fact, Bloom himself pulled it from further consideration), after vehement opposition by the League of California Cities, including Pleasanton (via our currently elected officials, including Mayor Thorne), among other elected officials.

That bill, if it had passed this summer, known as the 'by-right' housing proposal, would have seriously curtailed, if not entirely eliminated, local control regarding local city governments' ability/authority to approve or disapprove of and manage their own local housing as proposed by developers. If developers met certain housing requirements in their development proposals, the state would, 'by right,' have the authority to force local governments to accept the development, regardless of whether the local government wanted the development or not. It would have also allowed the state to ignore California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requirements and the protections it provides, along with bypassing Environmental Impact Reports (EIRs), for that matter.

Gov. Brown and Assemblymember Bloom also had planned/tried to include it/attach it as part of the 2016-17 budget bill, an effort which also failed.
Assemblymember Bloom has stated he plans to reintroduce this bill in the next legislative session, btw, so it's not going away.

So, neither Julie Testa, nor Councilmember Brown, for that matter, have any kind of 'magic wand' to wave to stop any housing that Pleasanton "is required to build."

Thus, despite some of the rhetoric you may be hearing (and may have heard this morning, if you were able to attend this forum), which makes for great positioning statements by telling people what they want to hear, it's just that--rhetoric, not based on the practical reality of what's going on.

This is what I'd keep in mind when voting at the local level, and most especially at the state level, come November 8, and beyond.

I know I will be.

2 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:27 am

Why wasn't Julie Testa there??? First she drags the City to court and loses and then she decides not to show up at election forums.

Definitely not acting like a serious candidate, not to mention un-mayoral.

2 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:29 am

The chamber is the biggest special interest in Pleasanton. Julie has already stated that she would represent the residents of Pleasanton and not the special interests of developers (which the chamber PAC represents). I give her credit for spending her time in the community and not at a chamber event (had a great conversation with her at the First Wednesday Street Fair that is open to all for no charge). The chamber is hostile to those who do not favor uncontrolled development. Not showing up to a chamber event lets me know that Julie would not be a pawn of the chamber.

5 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:36 am

"Pleasanton Voter", you are not correct. We were required to build housing to meet the "fair share allocation". The current council sees this as a mandate to build as much as you can. We had already exceeded our housing requirements but this council keeps on approving new developments. If the council approved what was needed to meet our RHNA numbers, that is doing what they have to do. Going above the RHNA numbers is an action the council made/makes that is not required and counter to the desires of the residents who approved a housing cap.

To "Julie", Julie Testa tried to work with the city to have them do the right thing without a court order but they refused. Unfortunately, she had to spend money on a court case where the judge agreed with her stand but since Julie was trying to work with the city to fix this injustice, she missed the legal deadline. Shame on the city! The city was wrong and they knew it but they wanted to intimidate her.

26 people like this
Posted by JJ
a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Sep 9, 2016 at 11:46 am

JJ is a registered user.

We need to keep Karla! Herb announced that he was endorsed by the other 4 current Council members. If he is elected, all 5 would then be voting in unison. We need one voice to debate issues with the other 4.

Both Karla and Jerry Pentin did a good job in presenting themselves. I was not impressed with Herb.

I am voting for Karla and Jerry. It seems Mayor Thorne has no competition.

6 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 9, 2016 at 12:03 pm


We can agree to disagree, but I do believe I am correct.

Re: the 'fair share allocation,' (in reference to Pleasanton meeting its current RHNA requirements/what we're required to build now) and your comment that "the current council sees this as a mandate to build as much as you can," that's your opinion, and you're entitled to it. I don't agree with it, though.

In that regard, property owners are also entitled to their 5th Amendment rights.

Look at those who've owned those vacant parcels along First Street, who are now seeking to move forward with housing there.

I'll be the first one to tell you their timing is sure bad, and also that I don't want to see housing there (or more housing being built in Pleasanton, especially high-density housing like what's being built right now), but they own that land, have owned that land for a long time (from what I've read in recent PW news articles on this), and they have a right to pursue development on their land, or try to sell it to developers, as private property owners--you can't escape the Bill of Rights, and local elected officials are struggling with how to honor Pleasanton's private property owners rights (especially in the case of that proposed development proposal along First Street/Stanley Boulevard), balanced against keeping a hold on more development/houses/apartments being built.

Councilmember Karla Brown and mayoral candidate Julie Testa can choose to ignore these realities, or acknowledge that the above is the practical reality.

The "I've got mine [property and situation that I'm happy with], now you can't have yours [right to do with my property what I'm entitled to through due process]" attitude regarding use of private property isn't something either of them can't simply write off by pursuing a "just say no" platform.

It doesn't work. See: life's not black and white--there's a lot of gray in between.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood

on Sep 9, 2016 at 12:04 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

2 people like this
Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 9, 2016 at 5:48 pm

local is a registered user.

"Pleasanton Voter", you example of the development at First Street/Stanley Boulevard is a perfect example. That is not zoned for residential. The owner can develop there as it is currently zoned with no problems. The council should not be considering rezoning that to residential as it is not required for RHNA allocations. This is not taking any rights away from the owner. Their property is zoned but not for residential and they are welcome to build it that way.

I do not have an issue with properties zones as residential to be developed as residential. Not in favor of taking away rights. At the same time, I am not supportive of rezoning properties that are already zoned for a specific purpose and rezoning to residential. This is not the taking of any rights.

In the case of First Street/Stanley, the developer is using the non-profit to help them convert the land to residential without any assurances the non-profit part of that development will ever be built. If the developer were willing to develop the non-profit part of their plan, and have it complete before occupancy of the rest of their project, I could argue that the developer is giving something in consideration for a community resource and would entertain potential rezoning. That is not the case however.

6 people like this
Posted by Alexis B
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 9, 2016 at 8:39 pm

Alexis B is a registered user.

Julie Testa RSVP'd to the event. Everyone waited for her to show up and it even started late waiting for her. Finally they started without her.

So she wants to be mayor but she can't even bother showing up to public forums she RSVP'd for?

Seems super flakey.

Thought the other candidates did well, especially liked Herb Ritter and Jerry Pentin. They seem very genuine, wanting to keep Pleasanton special and guide it thoughtfully into the future.. I like that.

3 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Sep 10, 2016 at 6:28 am

Flightops is a registered user.

Big disappointment with Testa not showing up so now we need a 3rd option for mayor, Thorne is finished, Testa seems to be a no show so now what?? Ritter did a great job and might have swayed my vote especially after Brown stumbled on her explanation on how she's just not worried about east side development at the moment.

4 people like this
Posted by Looking to the future
a resident of Mission Park
on Sep 11, 2016 at 7:34 am

Looking to the future is a registered user.


With regards to Irby Ranch, while it is not currently zoned for residential, the city staff reported that this land would be appropriate to rezone to either residential or commercial (based on surrounding land use).

The problem is that commercial zoning would have resulted in significantly MORE traffic impact than residential.

The planning commission wanted to minimize traffic impact, so they focused on the Irby Ranch residential project.

All planned units for developmentally disabled adults would be a part of the PUD, a legally binding document that would ensure the homes would be built as planned.

Finally, let's say the planning commission said "you know, right now people are against new development.. let's revisit this in 5-10 years." Major Problem: The state mandated new RHNA numbers will be released in 2020. All available land for development will be subject to compliance with state-mandated low-income housing numbers.

Which means we approve about 90 homes now, or likely face hundreds of high-rise apartments in 5 years.

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

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