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.