News

Guest Opinion: More housing without additional schools is not 'planned progress'

 

Is Pleasanton leadership leading our community toward catastrophe?

Pleasanton is under pressure from the state and developers to approve more housing. A recent city meeting included a presentation on how Pleasanton could maximize housing on our current civic center site, despite a city survey showing 75% of our citizens do not support housing in downtown.

There is significantly more housing development in Pleasanton's future with a lack of infrastructure to support it. We will be burdened with more traffic, demands on our water supply and overcrowding at our schools. Our community should care.

Pleasanton Unified School District has historically been unwilling to use available funding to build schools. In years past, the need for a third high school was identified and approved but never built. The students are here but the land and funding are gone; the high school will never be built.

Our school board is now discussing using taxpayer-approved money, designated for an elementary school, for alternative uses. A new school was used to get voters to approve the $270 million bond; this is a dishonest bait and switch.

The result will be another capital asset lost to our community and additional debt for homeowners. Taxpayers should be angry.

The California Department of Education has a formula for best practices for school size. That best-practices formula was used when PUSD asked the city to identify school enrollment guidelines in our General Plan, which is Pleasanton's planning constitution.

Pleasanton schools currently exceed those limits at all grade levels. We like to think Pleasanton exceeds the state minimum standard we don't.

PUSD has in essence abandoned any enrollment limits. All Pleasanton middle and high schools exceed city and district enrollment limits, with no plan to ever build additional 6-12 schools. As PUSD moves to abandon building the one taxpayer-approved elementary school, our city will grow with unlimited enrollment at our current schools.

District employee costs not students, families or the community are the factors driving these decisions (think pension liability). Parents should be concerned.

Planning law makes clear and common sense dictates, comprehensive city planning requires building schools. In the past, there has been better cooperation between the city and school district that has resulted in schools getting built. Pleasanton needs to get back to that level of cooperation again.

Email your elected representatives. Tell our school board to honor their commitments made to the taxpayers, and act in our students' and community's best interests. Remind the City Council that housing without infrastructure is bad for Pleasanton; it is their responsibility.

Taxpayers should be angry, parents should be concerned, our community should care.

* Editor's note: A 30-year Pleasanton community advocate, Julie Testa is a former member of the Pleasanton Human Services Commission and has participated on various budget committees and planning task forces.

Comments

6 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:07 am

June is a registered user.

We voted for the bond measure to make upgrades and improvements to existing schools only, not an additional school with added administrative costs. The fact that a bond measure was needed in the first place and all the early retirements for big pensions does not give us real confidence that even more bond measures wont be asked for approval in the future even though Pleasanton is always top ranked and award winning. With respect to Ms Testa, she might try to look at the glass half filled instead.


33 people like this
Posted by Tamom
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:32 am

With respect to housing, if 75% of residents surveyed don't want housing downtown, why are they even considering it?


15 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 13, 2017 at 11:53 am

Pleasanton Parent is a registered user.

So how does one get a ballot measure created to allow pleasanton voters to vote down the bond measure previously approved (or perhaps refund it) as its not being used as advertised (or at least the remaining portion not used for a new school)


15 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 13, 2017 at 1:00 pm

June is a registered user.

I guess we just go to the school board and give our opinions. I dont think the bond money has to be used for a new school if the enrollment projections do not support it and if the existing facilities can be improved to accommodate and serve the students (not the parents or school administrators). I suppose Pleasanton Parent’s question should be asked officially if a bond can be terminated if the money to be collected is not warranted. I will say the additional taxesi is tough for us given college expensesand aging parent care.


I am probably a minority but I dont find some additional apartments or townhouses in downtown offensive. We like seeing young adults patronizing restaurants and shops especially if they can walk there. Perhaps it would add more life at night.



3 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 3:14 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@tamom,

Source on that 75 percent?

@June

I don't know if you're in the minority in that opinion. I would like to see more downtown townhouses and apartments too.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 3:19 pm

BobB is a registered user.

Julie Testa provides no source for claim that 75 percent of our residents support no housing downtown.


9 people like this
Posted by FalseNews & AlternativeFacts
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 4:46 pm

Re: The 75%

The source is the City of Pleasanton (City Hall).

The City has done quite a bit of community outreach related to the Downtown Specific Plan revision/update.

The outreach has been through First Wed & Farmer's Market to name a few.

The City also conducted an online survey related to the downtown.

It was from the results of the Survey FROM THE CITY, that showed 75% of respondents did NOT want any more housing to be built.


John


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:38 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@John,

Do you have a link to that survey? How old is it? What questions specifically were asked? How representative were the samples?


37 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:44 pm

Community Survey results 6/20/2017:
Web Link
Summary page 2, "75 percent did not support more housing downtown"


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 13, 2017 at 5:45 pm

BobB is a registered user.

A graph on this survey shows that greater than about 52% are against more housing.

Web Link


Like this comment
Posted by FalseNews & AlternativeFacts
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 13, 2017 at 6:54 pm

@ BobB

Are you referring to page 30?

John


47 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:14 pm

Thanks Julie for staying on issue: Schools in Pleasanton. We see growth, even more medical facilities being built, Dublin building schools, more growth in Pleasanton. But school board is still studying the issue! Comments wander off to growth, pages of a study and no call for building more schools on disappearing available land, sitting in ancient modular classrooms, over crowding. Like the current council, no interest in education and new facilities!


49 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 13, 2017 at 7:20 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

No housing downtown, Let’s not forget that the city wants to vacate that property at the end of Main Street and move to the Bernal Property to build themselves a new city offices complex at a cost of 200+million tax payer dollars. If modulars are good enough for our students then they are good enough for our city employees


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 10:00 am

BobB is a registered user.

@John,

I was referring to the graph on page 12.


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 10:03 am

BobB is a registered user.

@Patriot,

The 75% thing came from Julie.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 11:01 am

BobB is a registered user.

More housing downtown would be an improvement.


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 14, 2017 at 3:17 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Julie Testa,

Thank you for the link. It was the phone survey of Pleasanton residents likely to vote in the November 2016 election.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 14, 2017 at 4:47 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Stack and pack housing downtown area will best serve the downtown businesses while providing maximum housing units on the limited space downtown has available.


17 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2017 at 7:28 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

“Stack and pack” housing in our downtown, yep that’s a great idea, if you want to see a parking nightmare on our downtown streets let them slip that idea pass the citizens!! Check out the Safeway parking lot on Bernal and look at who’s parking there now that those stack and packs are occupied! Hopefully the locals never let the city’s royalty build that Taj Majal on the Bernal Property, we need more retail and restaurant storefronts in our downtown not residential units.


4 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 14, 2017 at 7:42 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Ten story luxury condos would go well in downtown Pleasanton.
I am amiss why developers are not jumping on this opportunity!
Ten story luxury condos, twenty condos each floor at one million
pop per condo.


28 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Oct 15, 2017 at 2:22 pm

Patriot,
I am hoping our community sees this is not a “school issue”. That illusion lets our City leadership off the hook for their responsibility of comprehensive planning. This is an issue for families, a taxpayer issue, a quality of life issue for our community whether you have school-age kids or not (traffic impacts and property value), therefore… a City planning issue.

PUSD has not been able to manage growth mitigation left to their own devices. Someone recently said, “given the opportunity to do the right thing PUSD will do the wrong thing every time”. The only way schools have been built in the last three decades was with significant City cooperation. Even that didn't always work but it got four schools built.

The “Capital Assets” that bond dollars pay for serve our community in perpetuity. Taxpayers need to understand what we lose if this bait and switch is accomplished.

State Department of Ed best practices enrollment guidelines are forgiven for communities that can not afford to honor what is in their student’s best interests. There is no excuse for PUSD when Pleasanton taxpayers have approved the tax burden to build a school.

(1)School Facilities Planning, California Department of Education
Web Link
“findings indicate that reducing school size can produce considerable benefits across a range of outcomes”
“None of the research finds large schools superior to small schools.”
“The researchers say the case study analysis reveals that on average, smaller schools can provide a safer and more challenging school environment that creates higher academic achievement and graduation rates, fewer disciplinary problems, and greater satisfaction from families, students, and teachers. “

1/28/2000 PUSD Approves High School
Web Link
Funding was identified, City offered land, enrollment was expected to peak at 4,600 to 5,100 students in 2015, we are at 5021 but not yet at peak. Meaning we have the students but not the high school.


24 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Oct 16, 2017 at 1:46 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

@June, "We voted for the bond measure to make upgrades and improvements to existing schools only, not an additional school with added administrative costs."

That is incorrect. I have posted it on other threads, so no need to do it again, but the new elementary school was (a) stated in the 75 word ballot language and (b) called out in the supporting resolution passed by the board. The added administrative costs are talked about without mentioning savings. Teachers move from where they are to a new school; leased portables cost us over $200,000 a year, so that would be a savings; larger elementary schools will be reduced in size, meaning vice principals may no longer be necessary, and you would also have close to a 1:1 transfer of utility costs per classroom to the new school. What generally is additional are classified staff: secretary, librarian, custodian (which can be shared).

Most importantly, we have three schools over 700 students, one of which is over 800, and elementary students in portables at many sites. We also have over 100 students who cannot attend their neighborhood schools, with one mother who spoke at a board meeting about driving past Walnut Grove and Alisal to Valley View every day.

It is not acceptable to presume any of this is acceptable for any child or family. The need for a new school is evidenced all around us.


12 people like this
Posted by patcher
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 16, 2017 at 4:12 pm

"Taxpayers should be angry, parents should be concerned, our community should care."

Yes. I, for one, am and do.

The push for more and more and more housing, with no regard for the consequences, remains baffling.


5 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 16, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Posting anonymous serves no one, serves no concern!

Reality is, California liberal government will mandate it!

If you do not like what is on the agenda, stand up, identify yourself
and be heard. Rambling anonymously is simply STUPID!!!


7 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 16, 2017 at 7:25 pm

BobB is a registered user.

On the whole, I see schools that are more crowded, but crowded with better students as an improvement over schools with stagnant enrollment, lower student density, and lower student outcomes (test scores, college placements, etc.)

I say bring on the housing. It is an improvement.


3 people like this
Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
23 hours ago

June is a registered user.

I completely with with with Bob B on his last comment.
To Kathleen R comment to me, iam saying why I voted for the bond. Mea culpa.
To Julie T, you know the School Board and not the City has the responsibility and authority to make decisions about school facilities, and why fid you support the bond if you dont trust the school board to manage the money?


14 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
19 hours ago

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Growth isn’t a singular problem. The problems come with how we grow and how we plan for supporting that growth. Support obviously includes roads in proper condition, traffic flow, police, fire . . . and schools. Building schools takes 3-5 years even when the land is identified and owned. The pots of money may be different, but working together has already given taxpayers three dual use gymnasiums. We need these entities to work together for the benefit of all our residents.


17 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
17 hours ago

I know that planning law makes clear, and common sense dictates that the City shares the responsibility to ensure schools are built. I know that the only way Pleasanton schools have been built in the last three decades was with significant City cooperation. I know PUSD was trying to sell the land that had been made available for Hart Middle school. I know that the City cooperation is the only reason we have three middle schools in Pleasanton.
I know that PUSD had made such a mess of their capital debt that without a bond there was no way to dig out and mitigate growth. I know that would be bad for Pleasanton. I know that there were pleas that the community trust them and promises of accountability. I know that if this bait and switch happens the community will Never trust them again!

You know my name, we do not know yours.


6 people like this
Posted by Jen
a resident of Birdland
17 hours ago

So Julie, what I'm hearing you say is that you want the City to save the School District? Seems like the School District should right its own ship with its massive influx of Bond $$. The City is a good and conservative steward of the public $$ and the public trust. Why should we let the School District pull the City down into its financial morass? Doesn't seem right.


18 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
16 hours ago

Pleasanton's kids are better for joint cooperation. Our families are better for joint cooperation. Our taxpayers are better for joint cooperation (shared resources/cost savings). Our community is better for joint cooperation (property values/traffic impacts). Pleasanton is better for the joint cooperation. There is no downside to the City taking seriously their responsibility for comprehensive planning, there is a serious downside to not. City/PUSD cooperation has always been good for Pleasanton.


5 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
15 hours ago

Of course the buck stops with the Mayor! Good leadership would focus on education and new schools.


2 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
10 hours ago

Flightops is a registered user.

Using @ BobB’s “formula” if we cancel any new schools to be built, stack and pack our kids in overcrowded portables we would most likely have them all graduating as Rocket Scientists, Engineers, and Brain surgeons at the very minimum, if that’s the case then I say full speed ahead don’t stop at 3&4 story units let’s reach for the sky nothing is too good for our kids, let’s destroy this town if that what it’s going to take for that “formula” to work.


2 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
9 hours ago

BobB is a registered user.

@Flighops,

I would have no problem building more. What is it exactly that you are worried about? Pleasanton is not quaint. It is right next to a major, growing metropolitan area. That is just reality.

And yes, that is a major force in driving positive outcomes for our schools.


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