Point/counterpoint: Studying El Charro Rd.

Councilwoman Narum, president Cousins debate topic

As part of its 2017-2018 work plan, the Pleasanton City Council prioritized initiating an El Charro Road feasibility study and traffic modeling in partnership with the Alameda County Transportation Commission – a move that saw supporters and detractors both on the council and within the community.

To promote further public debate on the topic, the Pleasanton Weekly invited Councilwoman Kathy Narum and president Kelly Cousins to share their opposing viewpoints for a point/counterpoint on studying an El Charro Road extension.

Facts (not fear) should drive decisions

By Kathy Narum

I have been involved in local politics for nearly two decades, and as one of your elected council members, I know the best decisions are driven by facts.

The council recently adopted its two-year work plan, which is based on previously established priorities and policies, as well as your comments and input. Because traffic is among one of this region's most pressing issues, I recommended moving forward with a study on the potential traffic impacts of extending El Charro Road at I-580 to Stanley Boulevard.

How we reduce cut-through traffic on city streets and encourage safer alternative transit opportunities are challenges we must face and resolve, and the answers need to be driven by facts.

Some believe connecting El Charro to Stanley would increase cut-through traffic -- others the opposite -- which is why a traffic analysis will provide us with that information.

That this modeling study originated in the now-shelved east side development proposal doesn't mean we shouldn't conduct a feasibility study to examine traffic mitigation measures. Careful gathering of the facts, including soliciting public input, takes time, which is why I placed the study on the work plan well in advance of the final workshop and why I support doing this work.

I do not support development of the east side until we have a new state-certified housing element in 2022. I do, however, believe the east side will eventually be developed -- how and what kind and when remain open questions.

The information we gather from this traffic study (which can be funded in part with Measure BB funds) will help us answer all of these important questions. I will continue to work with members of our community to address these issues and look forward to hearing from you.

* Editor's note: Kathy Narum has served on the Pleasanton City Council since May 2013.

An El Charro extension offers no benefit to Pleasanton

By Kelly Cousins

Hundreds of community members made it very clear through 300 emails to the City Council and by speaking at public meetings that we do not support a plan for massive residential developments in East Pleasanton.

Additionally, we do not support an extension of El Charro Road from I-580 to Stanley Boulevard. It is imperative to wait and see the full impact from 2,000 new apartments and houses already under construction and how it will affect school overcrowding and traffic congestion.

Recently, the council unanimously conceded to voter pressure and deferred planning of the east side for the next two years. Shortly before the close of the public meeting, however, council members Narum, Pentin and Thorne approved a last-minute feasibility study for the construction of an El Charro Road extension. This critical addition to the city's work plan was approved without adequate notice and input from the public.

An extension of El Charro has many negative impacts. It facilitates building the largest residential development in Pleasanton and it would be a conduit to I-580/East Dublin area, bringing even more traffic to our city streets.

The estimated cost of El Charro is a staggering $90 million -- the equivalent of three new elementary schools. Who foots the bill? Perhaps our half-cent sales tax, Measure BB funds, could be used but how does this benefit Pleasanton with more cut-through traffic? Isn't it funded by our tax dollars?

This is a lose-lose proposition. Extending El Charro from I-580 to Stanley Boulevard does two things: It funnels cut-through traffic from I-580/680, and it is a first step for a massive east side development.

Pleasanton residents can direct and influence the future of our city. Email your concerns to and visit to learn more about what is going on in Pleasanton.

* Editor's note: Pleasanton resident Kelly Cousins, Ph.D, is president of

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44 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 31, 2017 at 10:44 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Here’s how things work in Pleasanton: The City Staff, usually prompted by developers or the Chamber of Commerce, decide what’s best for Pleasanton. That could be a housing development, a commercial project, or as in this case, a road. When we have a compliant City Council like the one we have now, the City Manager will get them on board and they will serve as a public relations mouthpiece and try to convince us that the project will benefit Pleasanton as a whole. The reality is that the negative impacts are disguised, the benefits go to the corporate interests behind the proposal, and the result is usually at the public expense.

The extension of El Charro has been a regional goal for over 20 years, and our neighbors in Livermore and Dublin support it because it will take traffic off I-580, dump it onto Pleasanton streets, and thus will reduce cut-through traffic in their own cities. The Growth Coalition of city government, developers, and business interests need ever more circulation routes to accommodate the increased traffic from intensified development. That is why El Charro is "needed". This is the same dynamic that occurred with the approval of the Stoneridge extension.

El Charro can’t be built without significant development to pay for it. This was the push behind the 2,000-home proposal a couple of years ago that was overwhelmingly opposed by the public. While the city says it has “shelved” plans for the East Side - coincidentally doing so just before the last election - this study allows them to take a first step in developing the East Side while deflecting opposition by stating it is simply to get information to make a good decision. I don’t know how many times I’ve heard this same narrative over the years. Who do they think they're trying to kid?

44 people like this
Posted by RU Kiddingmii
a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 31, 2017 at 10:49 am

RU Kiddingmii is a registered user.

The decision to move forward with the El Charro Road extension feasibility study and traffic modeling project will prove to be a disaster to this community.

Their 'models' have often proven to be wrong - case in point is the issue with Owens Drive. Their 'model' concluded that a lane reduction would not be a problem. Well, as we all know 'models' and reality are two greatly different things.

Dublin cannot wait until El Charro goes all the way through to Stanley because that will allow them to bypass 580 for a more direct route to SB 680. It will not benefit Pleasanton residents one bit.

No matter how you slice and dice it, it's and end-run to begin the process of moving forward with the development of East Pleasanton (or the EPSP as it is also known).

35 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 31, 2017 at 12:44 pm

Have to agree with last 2 comments, once that road goes in it will be full speed ahead for the city council and the developers and gridlock for our town, hope people aren't buying what the city is selling!!

39 people like this
Posted by Nancy
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 31, 2017 at 2:16 pm

Putting El Charro through to Stanley Boulevard will add a lot of traffic onto 1st St., Burnal Avenue and Vineyard Avenue where they are in heavy use now during certain times of the day. These roads are currently one lane only each direction. They won't be able to hold the cut through traffic from Stanley Boulevard. This will be a disaster to residential neighborhoods as well as harming the downtown area. Who knows what the parameters of the traffic study are and how it will be conducted?

I believe that current " Pleasanton Planning" is shortsighted and threatens to lose the old town character of the city. Articles in the Weekly praising large housing project and commercial development along El Charro, together with extending El Charro to Stanley Boulevard because the land exists and has't been used yet, are of the same mentality which created the extreme expansion and problems of Dublin.

Do we want our Pleasanton to be remade into Dublin?

38 people like this
Posted by Sebastian
a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 31, 2017 at 2:58 pm

I know how you can save lots of money on that traffic analysis; go have a Friday lunch at the Ohlone Deli on Mission Blvd in Fremont. Make sure you grab a window seat so you can see what happens to Mission Blvd as people start trying to beat the traffic on 680 with this cut through. Even better, after lunch take a stroll down the block to the two residential streets below Mission blvd. Try not to stay past 2pm, people get ugly in that traffic and it's dangerous for the uninitiated.

Stoneridge gets a fair amount of cut through since it opened but nothing like El Charro would; that would be crazy for morning southbound and evening northbound. From a commuter's perspective that would be an even better cut through than Mission Blvd: Exit Sunol, then hang a right on Bernal (because going straight on 1st St is already pretty ugly at 6pm), then Stanley/ElCharro and back on Fwy.

27 people like this
Posted by Susan P
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 31, 2017 at 4:08 pm

Sorry, it is impossible to believe that the City needs a feasibility study to examine traffic congestion through Pleasanton. East Dublin and San Ramon are booming with developments that would love to come straight south (and turn around and go north) on an extended El Charro onto Pleasanton streets to avoid the I-580/680 interchange.

Our Measure BB tax money should NOT be diverted for studying or extending El Charro when it should be used to fix the I-580/680 interchange.

The cost to our residents is not only monetary, it is gridlock and precious time wasted by our residents in their own town.

In that extending El Charro is necessary for the development of the East Side, this study is a way to placate the developer and at the same time prepare the ground work for a massive development down the road.

3 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 31, 2017 at 4:26 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Conversation is not addressing the real problem.
Gridlock is the result of accidents, caused by careless inattentive driving.
It is the accidents backing up the traffic causing gridlock.
Cell phone users are distracted, then there are the irrational drivers, making multiple lane changes with no turn signal, at a high rate of speed, hell bent to assert themselves as king of the road. If there were no accidents, there would be no metering lights, no gridlock.

30 people like this
Posted by here we go again
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 31, 2017 at 4:30 pm

Tagging onto Matt's comment above, from past experience I have seen that the traffic models can prove any outcome you would like. With El Charro, the city staff wants this to happen so they can get more houses in the east side. More houses means the city staff planners have a job for longer. City planners are scared that with no more housing that there will be no need for their jobs. Add on to that the Chamber of Commerce finances the political campaigns in our city and will strong-arm the council to develop the east side so their development partners will make lots of money. So the traffic study for El Charro will conclude with the desires of city staff, that the road is beneficial to the city. Just like Casablanca "I am shocked that there is gambling going on here!"

Here is what the study outcome will be:
1) El Charro extension is good for the city
2) We need to approve 1,000+ homes in the East Side so that project can pay for the El Charro extension.

13 people like this
Posted by Feasibility comments
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 31, 2017 at 4:34 pm

If there is a feasibility study of the El Charro extension, I believe as there will no longer be a land barrier between Pleasanton and Livermore, and then the Pleasanton Unified School District needs to be merged into the Livermore Valley Unified School District.

First of all, reading the letter to the editor today, there is always a push to never build another school EVER in Pleasanton. Even when the land is available, the Pleasanton school district always sells it to developers.

Completely disbanding the Pleasanton Unified School District and having the Livermore Valley Unified School District take over all management functions will be better in the long run. Livermore Valley also can build new schools. Livermore Valley can also attract and retain principals and a top school chief.

Pleasanton Unified's dysfunction cannot be corrected. Heck, they even collect Citizenship information on the sixth row, far right column of their enrollment form. Web Link

Livermore Valley Unified also seems to be able to launch programs that would bring the CDC in help analyze and correct the destructive Pleasanton management of the school environment that is so terribly hurtful to our youth that the number of student suicides in Pleasanton in the last decade now exceed's Palo Alto's.

The Federal government CDC and Office of Education both need to be brought in to fix the problems, but having Livermore Valley Unified in charge of the schools in Pleasanton would be a step in the right direction. A similar study like Web Link could be initiated.

If traffic were more free flowing between Livermore and Pleasanton with El Charro connected, with one school district - Livermore - managing the schools, students could be given options to attend any school of their choice in both communities.

Pleasanton does not have its on fire department. Like that was merged with Livermore, it is now a good time to merge the management of schools with Livermore as well.

5 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 31, 2017 at 5:55 pm

No benefit to Pleasanton today. No rush to study today for plans for tomorrow. Much more pressing issues to focus on

20 people like this
Posted by Irene Gupta
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on Mar 31, 2017 at 5:57 pm

I completely agree with Dr. Kelly Cousins. I live very near the East Pleasanton, and I know we do not need more cut through traffic from I580. Our city streets are very busy. My husband and I commute to San Jose for work and we do not like the traffic problems we have now. We work very hard and we ask for two things from our city council, improve our drive by adding more lanes on I680, and stop all cut-through traffic here in town. At the start of our daily commutes, we have to wait at many city lights in Pleasanton because of Dublin and Tracy drivers. That is not good.

I am very respectful of you Ms. Narum for your service, but please do not waste any more money with traffic modeling and studies. El Charro is a terrible idea. Please do not study or build it. Please help fund more lanes on I680. Thank you.

20 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 31, 2017 at 6:09 pm

@ MA -- "It is the accidents backing up the traffic causing gridlock."

That is about the dumbest explanation for gridlock that I have ever read. Sure, accidents contribute to gridlock. But to say that even with ten million more cars on the road, if there were zero accidents there would be no gridlock just makes no sense. More cars, more stupid drivers and yes, more accidents, all contribute to gridlock. Giving the cut throughs another way to add more cars to our streets is beyond stupid. Whether or not they get into accidents.

4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 31, 2017 at 6:15 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

So resident, you agree accidents cause gridlock?

20 people like this
Posted by Pleasantonian
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 31, 2017 at 6:30 pm

This is a ridiculous waste of time and money! Money that should be going towards, possibly, hiring more police officers to catch all the red-light runners and speeders that are our cutting through our town as it is!

On other note, if you think the El Charro extension is a bad idea, wait tell you see the real story about what sort of ideas are being promoted for the Downtown plan. Consultants are pushing the idea of adding 3-story buildings and 3-story garages to the Task Force Committee members, and the City is considering the possibility of adding subsidized housing including "micro units" to the downtown area (all included in the attachment to the recent Task Force meeting)! Our Downtown area will become a massive ugly depressing wall of 3-story structures and housing we don’t need!

There is no NEED for the El Charro extension, nor any 3-story structures (or any structure of 40’) or any type of housing added to the Downtown area (or any more housing added to our City, period!).

The City and Downtown Task Force Committee Members need to be held accountable and listen to this Community about what we want and what we DON’T want in our Downtown area and City!

16 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 31, 2017 at 6:38 pm

@ MA -- I agree as stated that accidents CONTRIBUTE to gridlock but they are not the sole CAUSE of it. If that were the case then you could have a single car accident on a completely deserted road that would instantly manufacture gridlock out of thin air. Likewise, you could have zero accidents but line up ten million cars end to end on one freeway and you would have NO gridlock. The primary cause of gridlock is an excess number of cars that simply cannot possibly move through their range of travel at any reasonable rate of speed.

Opening up El Charro to add even more cars from surrounding cities will put those excess cars right into our downtown. Accidents or not, traffic cannot move when cars are end to end on every street.

10 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 31, 2017 at 7:05 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The complainers on this forum represent approximately 30% percent of the registered voters in Pleasanton. The silent majority approximately 65% of the registered voters in Pleasanton agrees with the elected officials. After all they voted them into office. The voters approval of Measure MM is a glaring demonstration. Anonymous posters have absolutely no credibility.

19 people like this
Posted by Naima
a resident of California Reflections
on Mar 31, 2017 at 7:41 pm

So Mr. Austin, if you are part of a losing argument, then you must be on the side of the silent majority? That is unfounded logic. I have heard that you are retired and no longer commute on either 580 or 680. Mr. Austin, have chosen to blog to fill you days with wasted pontificatation about people that do not speak to you personally. Please talk to people outside of your circle to learn more.

Many people I know voted to support Costco with Measure MM. We want more shopping and Costco is okay with us. But if I and my friends are allowed to vote on 900 more houses and a road directing 1000's of out of town traffic down our streets, then step back before you are trampled by the NO vote from everyone I know. That is what you will learn if you talk to people in Pleasanton and we are not silent.

14 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 31, 2017 at 8:01 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.


I am engaged as a small business owner, licensed with the city of Pleasanton. I am on the Bay Area freeways five to eight hours each and every day. I drive approximately 200 miles each day on bay area freeways, central valley freeways, south coastal freeways, north bay freeways. There are some days I drive 500 miles in one day.

Naima: you are simply another anonymous poster, with absolutely no credibility. Note: I never mentioned El Charro Road in any of my above posts.

15 people like this
Posted by Franco
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Mar 31, 2017 at 9:04 pm

Franco is a registered user.

The NIMBY discussions that I read in this thread are ridiculous. I have lived in Pleasanton 38 years and all of these claims about cut through traffic never come true. Most recently it was said that if Stoneridge was put through to El Charro, devastation would happen. However, nothing really happened. There is no significant traffic during commute hours in either direction on Stoneridge-no gridlock or anything of the sort. Now similar claims are being made where cut through traffic is going to inundate an even more less likely route, single lane portions with many traffic lights and ending in metering lights to re-access the interstate. Not going to happen. Twice a week I commute to San Jose and avoid trying to get on I680 at either Sunol Blvd or Bernal but instead take Isabell/Rt84 since it is quicker. I live in south Pleasanton. And don't compare the I680 northbound traffic through Fremont out of the Santa Clara valley to anything we deal with in Pleasanton. Anyone living east has only three choices to get home: I680/Sunol, Niles Canyon, or, less likely, I580/Dublin grade. There lies the real problem.

7 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 3, 2017 at 4:41 pm

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

"There is no significant traffic during commute hours in either direction on Stoneridge-no gridlock or anything of the sort"


Stoneridge is bumper to bumper between Santa Rita and Hopyard at commute hours. If this was sarcasm it's on a whole other level.

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

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