News

Editorial: Process works -- let's move forward and move on

Economic Vitality Committee set for (second) meeting on JDEDZ proposal

The process worked then and it works now.

In 1982, a lawsuit was filed by a group called Citizens for Balanced Growth, seeking to halt construction of what is now Hacienda Business Park on the grounds the park would create a jobs-housing imbalance that was inconsistent with the Pleasanton General Plan. The effort was led by then-Mayor Ben Tarver and a former Pleasanton mayor, Bob Pearson.

Ultimately the suit failed to prevent Hacienda from going forward, but it did delay the project, which was costly. In 1984, the same anti-Hacienda forces placed a referendum on the ballot in an attempt to overturn the City Council's approval of the project. Pleasanton voters overwhelmingly supported Hacienda and the project proceeded.

More than 30 years later, a group called Citizens for Planned Growth was successful last year in placing a measure on a ballot to limit the size of buildings on a site close to Hacienda Business Park -- the proposed Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone.

"Let the voters decide" if Pleasanton should have a "big box store" like Costco was the group's rallying cry. Just about everyone, including the Pleasanton Weekly editorial board, applauded the effort as democracy in its truest sense.

After an intense few years of public hearings, elections, studies and more studies, public comment and a lot of discussion -- respectful, constructive conversation and otherwise -- the JDEDZ debate took a key step forward when the City Council approved the infrastructure funding plan during a special meeting Sept. 18.

Given direction by the council on a few policy questions, city staff can move forward on a process that will take us through the end of the year and really get the project moving.

Still to come is review of the project by the Economic Vitality Committee (EVC) and the Planning Commission, and then back to the council with its final decision hopefully by year's end.

The JDEDZ was supposed to be the focus of the monthly EVC meeting last week, set just days after the council's special meeting. Several city staff members and Costco representatives were ready at 7:30 a.m. Sept. 20, but there wasn't a quorum of committee members.

With 18 voting members on the committee, it's not uncommon to have a few members absent from each meeting. It was disappointing, though, the committee couldn't gather a quorum for a JDEDZ discussion, especially considering that a canceled September meeting could have had a negative effect on the project by either eliminating the option for EVC members to review the plans and offer recommendations, or by delaying this until October.

Fortunately, Pleasanton's director of economic development, Pamela Ott told us after the cancellation that the city "will work to have the JDEDZ discussion at the EVC, likely at a special meeting in the next few weeks, as we do not want to delay the process."

That special meeting date has been confirmed, for next Thursday (Oct. 5) at 7:30 a.m. in the Pleasanton Public Library's community meeting room at 400 Old Bernal Ave. A Planning Commission meeting on the JDEDZ is scheduled to follow Oct. 11.

We appreciate the extra effort to get more input on this extremely important, controversial project, and in a timely manner.

The voters have decided and the City Council is listening to them, so let's get moving.

Comments

4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 30, 2017 at 5:40 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Who are the eighteen committee members?
Who of the eighteen committee members are no shows for the peoples business?
The no shows must be banned from all future Pleasanton civic committee service.
This is an absolute unnecessary delay!
The people want this business moved forward on the fast track!


11 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 4, 2017 at 10:50 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

The process worked? More like a perversion of the process.

After serving 8 years as a City Councilmember, six as a Planning Commissioner, and as a member of several city committees and task forces over the years, I think I know something about “The Process” and how it should work, but oftentimes – too many times – doesn’t.

The approval process established for Costco is both undemocratic and deceitful. Historically, projects in Pleasanton used what is called a Planned Unit Development (PUD) process, which requires public hearings for all approvals, a City Council vote, and retains the public’s right to overturn those approvals by voter referendum. The JDEDZ is a simple rezoning with no “uses” (like a Costco or hotels) approved. City approval for big box stores or anything else on the site is made later by city staff without advance public notification, a public hearing, or the right of referendum. Costco itself can be approved without the knowledge of the public until the shovels start digging. City Staff has done their best to hide this corrupted process, and they still won’t openly discuss it.

Measure MM was not a shining example of direct democracy. Democracy only works when the voting public has the information they need to make a good decision. During the MM campaign, the city was in secret negotiations with Costco and Nearon for public subsidies to finance the project and refused to acknowledge this even after a Public Records Act Request uncovered it. If the public knew that a proposal was on the table for $20 million in taxpayer subsidies, they very well may have voted differently.

Democracy cannot function without a free and honest press. The Pleasanton Weekly was provided with the emails and other documents received from the PRAR, but it ignored them. They could have reviewed the documents, done some old fashioned investigative journalism, and published the information before election day to fulfill its role to inform the public. They didn’t. But let’s face it. The Pleasanton Weekly is nothing more than a mouthpiece for the Chamber and developers, and always has been.

The PRAR also revealed the complicity of city staff, Costco, the Chamber of Commerce, and even city commissioner’s efforts to undermine the MM campaign and spread false information. The City Manager just recently wrote an Op Ed extolling the virtues of the project and the subsidies. This before the Council even voted on it. City staff must be impartial and provide data and recommendations, but absolutely must not engage in politics.

This editorial is pure propaganda and an Orwellian masterpiece of turning democracy on its head. Democracy for Pleasanton? Not unless you do something about it.


6 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Oct 4, 2017 at 11:04 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Oh, I forgot about the city Economic Vitality Committee. This is nothing more than a city-sanctioned arm of the Chamber of Commerce. It gives the Chamber "legitimate" and unwarranted influence into the the "democratic process". It's a sham.


12 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Oct 4, 2017 at 12:30 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Oh Matt: You do know MM lost by nearly 2/3 of those who decided to vote? You have blathered before that the voters didn't understand what they were voting for or against; but 2/3 of them?? Those brave enough to post here have stated over and over they want a Costco and don't really care who pays for what. Regional wise the same is true; people want a 3rd Costco.
You slather everybody with tar and feather but rarely offer an alternative. and note a new office building as you have suggested previously is NOT an option since that is JUST what was removed.
You insult the voters left and right. Those who you slather have been elected and RE-ELECTED, so your voice is clearly a minority.
What really do you want to happen in the JDEDZ? I've noticed you have all but ignored the possible 2 new hotels there. Waz up with that?


14 people like this
Posted by Progress
a resident of Mohr Park
on Oct 4, 2017 at 12:43 pm

If I recall MS was vehemently against the Stoneridge extension east of Santa Rita. Ir was going to create vast gridlock. So far the times I have used it it has less traffic than all of the other streets in Pleasanton. Just another example of MS "sky is falling" attitude in my opinion.


12 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 6, 2017 at 11:47 am

June is a registered user.

TIME TO MOVE ON. Mr Sullivan knows the process all right. He orchestrated task forces and committees designed to take years to study issues and which he could influence behind the scenes as a commissioner. Isnt that callung the kettle black? Delay, delay, delay is his process. And when he does not get his way, he always claims deceit, conspiracy and doom. AND he insults the residents who volunteer time to spend time on comittees if they dont agree with his zero development opinion. Mr Sullivan needs to find another torch and let this community heal from his negativity.


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