News

Pleasanton council finalizes rezoning for proposed Costco site

Referendum proponents have until next week to collect signatures for pending petition

The Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday completed the process of creating a new economic development zone on Johnson Drive near the I-580/I-680 interchange that city leaders hope will become home to Pleasanton’s newest commercial center anchored by Costco, two hotels and other businesses.

With their 4-0 vote, council members formally adopted an ordinance approving a planned unit development (PUD) rezoning of the 40-acre site, a plan that includes strict design guidelines that could help expedite city review of future projects in the marquee area.

The final approval step occurred with little fanfare -- for a proposal at the center of a ballot initiative in 2016 and currently the target of another referendum petition seeking to overturn earlier council approvals of the project.

About a dozen residents were in attendance, including Costco representatives, but no one spoke to the council on the proposal Tuesday night at the Pleasanton Civic Center. Council members didn’t even talk about it, approving the ordinance without discussion as part of the vote on their consent calendar -- with Mayor Jerry Thorne abstaining.

The council members gave initial support to the rezoning plan for the proposed Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (JDEDZ) last month, introducing the new ordinance and scheduling it for a second reading and final approval this week.

Their 4-0 vote Nov. 7 also included final approval of the JDEDZ environmental impact report, a General Plan amendment to allow new commercial uses at the site and a resolution declaring their intent to adopt a JDEDZ transportation fee some time down the line.

With the rezoning ordinance now adopted, city planning staff could begin accepting applications from JDEDZ developers early next month, according to community development director Gerry Beaudin.

That is unless former City Councilman Matt Sullivan and his citizens coalition, Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth, are successful with their signature-gathering for a referendum petition to overturn the council's JDEDZ approvals from last month.

Sullivan and his group have criticized the city's road infrastructure financing agreement with Costco, city officials' transparency during the public review process and the validity of the JDEDZ's environmental analysis.

The coalition has until next Wednesday (Dec. 13) to collect signatures, 30 days after the city clerk certified the council's approval Nov. 7 of environmental impact report certification and General Plan amendment resolution. City clerk Karen Diaz said she attested those documents Nov. 13.

Signature gatherers would need names of 10% of registered Pleasanton voters -- 4,374 valid signatures -- for a successful referendum petition. If completed and the petition deemed valid, the council would either need to rescind its approvals or send the issue to a citywide vote.

It is unclear how many signatures the group had compiled as of Tuesday night. Sullivan, who served two terms on the council from 2004 to 2012, had not responded to a request for a signature-count update.

If successful, the new petition would be Pleasanton's second ballot measure related to the JDEDZ and new Costco. An earlier citizen-sponsored initiative sought to limit retail stores in the JDEDZ to no more than 50,000 square feet, but it was defeated at the polls in November 2016, 63% to 37%.

The city-initiated JDEDZ proposal details rules for how redevelopment could occur at 12 parcels on Johnson Drive and Commerce Circle near the freeways' interchange, including a nearly 20-acre site left vacant when Clorox closed its research center there. Costco and a hotel developer have stated their intent to build on the former Clorox site now owned by Nearon Enterprises.

On the whole, some of the JDEDZ land is vacant while other areas are in use.

Safeguards are included for those operating in the JDEDZ area now, such as FedEx, AT&T, Black Tie Transportation and Valley Bible Church. Existing land-uses would be permitted to continue as is, protected by grandfathering provisions.

The PUD-commercial zoning approved Tuesday comes with specific rules developers must follow for site design for redevelopment in the zone, covering topics such as vehicular, pedestrian and bicycle circulation, landscaping, architectural standards, lighting, signage, parking, drainage, and outdoor equipment and storage.

It is because the JDEDZ proposal details those design guidelines upfront that city officials support allowing many retail operations, including a potential Costco, to need only staff-level permit approval, rather than consideration during a Planning Commission meeting.

Still pending is final council approval of a financing agreement with Costco to fund more than $21 million in roadwork improvements needed to accommodate the new JDEDZ.

The council endorsed a proposed term sheet with the wholesale retail giant in September, which includes a 60-40 sales tax sharing deal with Costco to cover a portion of the costs.

The final agreement was expected to head to the council Tuesday, but it instead will come forward closer to when Costco is ready to apply for permission to construct its third Tri-Valley warehouse store -- and first in Pleasanton.

"Terms will appear in a financing and infrastructure development agreement when Costco is ready to proceed," city spokeswoman Tracy Dunne said in an interview this week. "It will come back for vote prior to consideration for final Costco project application, date unknown."

One portion of the financing deal would see Costco front the city $6,785,000 in cash for the infrastructure work -- just over a third of the overall design and construction pricetag -- and the city repaying the money with 40% of the sales tax revenue generated by the Costco until the debt is repaid, with the balance subject to 1.5% annual interest.

Any other developer who builds on the JDEDZ in the future would need to pay their proportional share of the infrastructure costs back to the city, and city officials plan to use those funds to pay down their debt to Costco. The council is expected to set the JDEDZ transportation fee early next year.

The other portions of the financing deal, to pay for roadwork design and construction, call for $6.4 million to be paid by city traffic impact fee reserves and $6,785,000 in a separate cash payment from Costco as part of its developer fee package.

Sullivan has condemned this proposal as a "sweetheart deal" that amounts to millions in public subsidies to a multi-billion-dollar company, all to mitigate the impacts of Costco coming to Pleasanton that Costco should pay fully for.

Mayor Thorne has recused himself from the JDEDZ debate after revelations he owned Costco stock in a retirement managed portfolio earlier in the JDEDZ consideration process -- stock he no longer owns.

Comments

36 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Dec 6, 2017 at 12:17 am

How does it compare to having someone put an office building there, and collect the city taxes on payroll and the sales taxes on lunches for the commuting population?

That location WILL be developed. We need the revenue. It's a nice, and expensive city to run. Permit revenues are dwindling. Car lots are always at risk.

Will Costco give us more revenue from that spot than an office building with commuters?

That's really the only relevant question. Matt doesn't really think about economics. He's bringing up the wrong questions. We need the money. It WILL be developed. What gives us the most money long term?


32 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:54 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

It would be quite pointless to put an office building there where there once WAS an office building. Wouldn't have been a reason to knock said office building down.


44 people like this
Posted by Buc Lau
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 8:46 am

I was at the City Council meeting last night. NO Matt Sullivan and NO speakers in opposition. It was on the Consent Calendar (which means that it was grouped with other approvals) but anyone could have requested it be pulled for discussion. Seems their courage to speak out is greatest only if they have a keyboard to hide behind.


11 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 6, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

The corporate coup d'état of Pleasanton city government is complete.

All cities, including Pleasanton, are in the business of development thanks to regional, state, and national polices that promote growth and tie this to municipal revenue. Pleasanton, like all Tri-Valley cities, are in an unsustainable race to the bottom to grab as much property and sales tax dollars as possible to keep the wheels of government turning. This has always led to cozy city relationships with developers and lobbyists like the Chamber of Commerce, and to the disregard of the public.

However, with Costco, this has risen to a new level of corruption not see before. Documents obtained through a Public Records Act Request (and provided to this paper) revealed collusion between the city, Costco, Nearon, and the Chamber to withhold information on the public subsidies in order to undermine the Yes on MM campaign. Because of this, and the confusing ballot question, MM is not a legitimate barometer of public support for Costco. I’ve talked to many, many people, some of whom support Costco, but not at a $20 million price tag.

Flawed economic studies, the loss of good local jobs and damage to small businesses, understated traffic and environmental impacts including public health risks, improper diversion of traffic fund reserves, and a deceitful and un-democratic approval process were glossed over – despite impartial peer analysis to the contrary – with false arguments to convince the public that the project would be beneficial. All democratically dissenting views were dismissed or ignored. While city government is generally in bed with developers and will give them the approvals they want, this time we actually chipped in $20 million of public money as a bonus! And what about our elected “representatives”? They are nothing more than Chamber hacks doing their duty. As for the local press, instead of serving as a watchdog over government and searching for the truth, they filled their role in the corporate state by disseminating disinformation and propaganda to promote the project.

The stage has been set for those who in their arrogance of power will do even more damage to what’s left of our democracy in the future. What will happen next time? You may like your $1.50 hot dogs, but it comes at a high price.

The corporate coup d'état of Pleasanton city government is complete.


46 people like this
Posted by Buc Lau
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 3:00 pm

@Matt
Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah and...blah. If you have said evidence of “collusion” then you should contact the District Attorney or better yet Robert Mueller. Wasn’t it your own “Yes on MM”signs that stated “stop the $20 million giveaway”? Don’t try to say now that the costs weren’t known.

You accuse others of collusion and hiding of material facts, however you remain silent on who the backers of your so-called group of concerned citizens. Like I said; blah, blah, blah, blah, blah...


6 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 6, 2017 at 3:05 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Buc - Anonymous comments on the lack of transparency are not legitimate.


45 people like this
Posted by Buc Lau
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 3:09 pm

@Matt
What an absurd statement when I use my name. I am sorry that you feel than a non-Anglo name must be anonymous. Shameful.


3 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 6, 2017 at 3:12 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Oh, and Buc, blah, blah, blah is not a very good counter argument on your part.


39 people like this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 6, 2017 at 4:04 pm

Matt, does this mean that you are not able to collect enough signatures to get the project on the ballot for a second time? resorting to name call of the city council seems a bit juvenile. Its beginning to look more and more like you are fronting for one or more unions who seem to want the citizens of Pleasanton to pay higher food and gas prices unless they choose to drive 10 miles to the nearest Costco. Doesn't that make you a political hack by your definition as well? Just sayin'


37 people like this
Posted by also wondering
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 6, 2017 at 5:37 pm

I'm also wondering, Matt - if you care so deeply about this, why weren't you at the city council meeting? Or one other person who opposes Costco? Does everyone really oppose it?


26 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 6, 2017 at 5:48 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

So Matt: I know you are sensitive, so this won't hurt. Since you have waived the white flag, will you and your clients now seek redress in the courts? You know, via a lawsuit?

because, if your sigs are valid and there is another vote and it wins...the developer WILL sue you and your ghost clients for illegal taking of land....because that is kinda really what it would be...

See, not painful at all.


37 people like this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Dec 6, 2017 at 6:45 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Matt Sullivan:

There was no change in local government illegally or by force!

The local government remains seated as elected by the majority of voters in this community. That Seated Government supported the wishes of the voting majority in this community to vote as necessary to build a Costco in Pleasanton.


16 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 7, 2017 at 5:36 am

So if enough signatures aren't collected who foots the bill to pay these people their $1 per? Someone is out of pocket for this. Has anyone (Matt) ever come forward to say who is funding this?
Some of you are really good at digging up info, surely it can be found out.


22 people like this
Posted by Vicki LaBarge
a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 7, 2017 at 6:10 am

@Jeff - if not enough signatures are obtained Matt “etal” are responsible for the cost of the people collecting signatures. Since Matt is not now willing to say who is funding this initiative it will only be found out if enough signatures are gathered. If and when it goes to ballot funding for opponents and proponents becomes public - at least this is my understanding.

I am hoping the people getting signatures do not get enough. Unfortunately when the value ($1 up to $5) per signature goes up, which usually does toward the end especially if numbers are short, the hired signature collectors will tell even more outrageous lies to get people to sign. The higher the dollar value of signatures climbs it brings in more aggressive paid people.


33 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:21 am

Again Matt, why won’t you come clean with the truth about who the big money is behind the opposition to a Costco? Why are your signature gatherers telling LIES if this is so righteous? Your claims of a government coup are asinine.


33 people like this
Posted by Frank
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 7, 2017 at 7:49 am

All this stuff Matt says and he won't answer the questions asked....and he expects people to back him. We're not that stupid. We want answers!


26 people like this
Posted by Bella
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Dec 7, 2017 at 10:58 am

Bella is a registered user.

Matt - just think. A developer built the house you live in and the building you go to work. Businesses provide your groceries, appliances, paper, computer, furniture and clothing. And you do drive on streets built and maintained by taxes and fees that developers contribute. How do you think BART is funded in good measure.
California has and always will attract new residents needing homes and jobs. There is poulation growth as well. Do you have children?
Why dont you try a positive approach to balancing growth instead of always being negative and raising conspiracies. You are like Trump citing fake news.


27 people like this
Posted by Resident/taxpayer/voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 7, 2017 at 11:45 am

Matt,

Yes, all cities in California are trying to, in your own words, "to grab as much property and sales tax dollars as possible to keep the wheels of government turning."

Why wouldn't they? Certainly you must be aware of the growing costs of all California cities to maintain services and plan for ever-growing benefits and pension costs to retirees.

Read lately what's going on in Oakland? Here's the editorial from today's (12/7) edition of the East Bay Times: Web Link

Secondly, your accusations of a "corporate coup d'état of Pleasanton city government," and claims that "..with Costco, this has risen to a new level of corruption not seen before. Documents obtained through a Public Records Act Request (and provided to this paper) revealed collusion between the city, Costco, Nearon, and the Chamber to withhold information on the public subsidies in order to undermine the Yes on MM campaign." beg the questions:

-Have you contacted the California Fair Political Practices Commission with your claims of corruption and collusion for them to investigate?
-Have you contacted Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's office with your claims of corruption and collusion for them to investigate?

You keep making serious, and I would presume, potentially criminal allegations on Town Square and elsewhere against Pleasanton elected officials and others.

You also consistently exhibit a belief that we, the majority of voters in Pleasanton, are incredibly ignorant, specifically because we are unwilling to believe your opinions on this matter. We're neither ignorant nor stupid.

If you truly believe the accusations you've stated are true, then you need to provide evidence of your claims and allegations to the proper authorities, and I also suggest that if you have better ideas on how to generate substantial future revenue to cover growing municipal financial liabilities that all cities throughout California face, including Pleasanton, please provide those as well.

Otherwise, you can turn off your megaphone--no one's going to be listening.


32 people like this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 7, 2017 at 2:01 pm

Matt -

You seem to be fixated on $1.50 hot dogs - you bring it up in every post about how everyone in favor of Costco wants cheap hot dogs.

Have you ever given any thought that there are many people in Pleasanton, those that live on well below the medium income of Pleasanton citizens, actually need to save some money by shopping there? They also need need Walmart - another business you disdain.

I don't shop at Costco, but I am a supporter of our democratic, representative government. I don't think people like you or Bill Wheeler (and whatever special interests that support you) should be able to hijack the democratic process because you don't like what the majority of the city voted for. If you don't like the representatives we have, then work to vote them out and get it people you can support.

Oh, but it's clear what you support does not align with the rest of us, so I guess you are stuck. You can continue your angry tirades, calling all of those who disagree with you stupid, uninformed, corrupt, dis-honest, etc. And the rest of us can continue to tolerate you since we all support your right to freedom of speech.

I for one am very glad I do not know you personally - you are one of the most unpleasant people I have every come across.


15 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 7, 2017 at 5:53 pm

Can’t wait for our Pleasanton Costco! Shopped at Livermore store today and hard to find a parking spot! Did enjoyed the prices ...and delicious hot dog...only 1.50 !


17 people like this
Posted by LanceM
a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:14 am

LanceM is a registered user.

$1.50 hot dog you say! I'm more the chicken bake kind of guy, but to each their own.

I don't know you Matt, but you appear to be a complete idiot. I don't know you personally, but from what you have represented on these forums, you are most certainly an idiot.

Maybe we can be friends one day, who knows. I have several friends who are idiots. It doesn't mean I don't like them, it simply means that I know never to listen to anything they say.



3 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:34 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Throughout history, dissidents have always been targeted by the power structures of the time in efforts to silence them. Personal attacks, smear campaigns, threats to their economic security – and in the most extreme cases of the global power structures, at the risk of their lives. While Costco and the Power Elite of Pleasanton are petty in the grand scheme of things, there is no difference here.

I exercise my right and duty as a citizen to criticize the actions of our government. The majority of bloggers on the so-called Town Square respond not with valid counter-arguments, but viscous personal attacks. I have no idea what your actual direct experience participating in government is, but there is a world of difference between the two. The fact that the Pleasanton Weekly allows these kinds of posts shows they don’t understand it either, or that they are a part of the elite backlash that I have provoked.

Some of you may be just regular folks who like Costco and disagree with me. But I suspect the majority are closely tied with Costco, city government, or the Chamber of Commerce, because without the motivation to try and shut me down, why would you spend so much time and energy to continue with these lengthy posts?

Your basic – and incredibly undemocratic – argument is that I should shut up and let our elected “representatives” do what they want and don’t complain. If I challenge it, this is what happens. Well, sorry to disappoint you, but I’m not going away. My motivation is grounded in self-government, not greed, selfishness, or power.


12 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 8, 2017 at 9:50 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Oh Matt, for a very very sensitive guy you certainly dish it out. Some of us have been with this since the schedule of knocking down the old office building was announced. Where were you and your clients then?

Very certain that not one single poster here is 'associated' with Costco in anyway. Well, owning mutual funds and such I'm sure I might have a few shares. Haven't looked lately. But only a very confused person would think that might be relevant.

This entire deal started with BlackTie not wanting to lose their free parking and gas station owner(s) not wanting competition. A few tried to bring up traffic, that was/is not relevant as region wise there would be LESS traffic. When that didn't work the 'deal' became the spotlight. However, the deal doesn't cost Pleasanton tax payers a penny. Well, if they shop in the zone I suppose one could argue that they were, but the sales tax would be paid anyway, so not much hope of that argument. MM went down in flames by nearly 2/3 of those deciding to go out and vote. Maybe 3 or so percent were confused on voting YES or NO and what either meant. But still, a clear mandate from the majority.

Since whining about the deal didn't get much traction we now have a phantom sig campaign paid for by you your clients? Who knows.

You seem quick to make noise and create initiatives, but very slow to do the one thing that 'might' work. A lawsuit. Afraid the judge/jury wouldn't go you way or afraid you have no case?

And remember if this latest scam is successful and goes your way the developer will have a case to sue YOU and your clients. Thot about that much lately?

Me, I just want a closer Costco, with maybe a bigger parking lot etc. I only go once a month or so, but still a closer one would be nice.

Pretty sure you will lose again and in near future a Costco and a few new hotels will be built.

It's an apple.


11 people like this
Posted by Jeff
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:18 am

@Matt...
You said, "Some of you may be just regular folks who like Costco and disagree with me. But I suspect the majority are closely tied with Costco, city government, or the Chamber of Commerce, because without the motivation to try and shut me down, why would you spend so much time and energy to continue with these lengthy posts?"

Yeah, I'm 'regular folks' and I like Costco and I disagree with you. To say that the majority are closely tied with Costco, city government or the Chamber is just plain nuts!! How do you know that? And take a look at how much time and energy YOU take trying to fight this.
Give it up Matt, it's done. Go find another issue to rant about.


15 people like this
Posted by Resident/taxpayer/voter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:20 am

Matt,

I can't speak for others, but regarding myself, I'm neither "closely tied with Costco," nor with "city government, or the Chamber of Commerce," and I'm certainly not trying to shut you down.

What I am saying/doing is that if all of what you claim is true, then I request that you please provide the proof, to the proper authorities, as I've outlined in my previous post.

Otherwise, all you're doing is making unsubstantiated claims.

Talk in platitudes and complain and challenge all you want--if you can't prove the accusations against others that you're making, your words don't resonate with me or others.


12 people like this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:22 am

Matt -

Typical bully - when the people you bully push back, you turn things around and declare yourself the victim.

If you don't want the $1.50 hot dogs, I understand Costco sells bulk packages of Kleenex you can use ti wipe away your tears.


18 people like this
Posted by Vicki LaBarge
a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 8, 2017 at 10:27 am

@Matt, I am not connected, even with stock, to Costco, I am not closely tied to the City Government and not at all tied to the Chamber. I cannot believe that you would make that kind of a statement. What does upset me is that we the citizens have already voted and because one person didn’t get their way is now throwing a tantrum and trying to overturn the voice of the voters. Probably never told no (or heaven forbid spanked - to all - not starting a debate here on spanking lol) as a child.

Costco is a good deal for our city and our citizens IMHO and I am looking forward to having it and the tax revenue come to our city.


Like this comment
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Dec 8, 2017 at 12:25 pm

WHY is the Pleasanton Weekly allowing naked, blatant personal attacks like the following??? This place is a mad-house! :

LanceM: "I don't know you Matt, but you appear to be a complete idiot. I don't know you personally, but from what you have represented on these forums, you are most certainly an idiot."

Now I'm going to flag both LaneM's post AND this post for removal. We'll see if anything happens.


1 person likes this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:22 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Sam,

"touched a nerve"?


Like this comment
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:24 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Sam,

I do see your point. It would have been better if the other posters had said that Matt's remarks and opinions were idiotic, rather than saying Matt was an idiot.


1 person likes this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Dec 8, 2017 at 1:50 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Sam: instead of posting a complaint, why not 'report objectionable content' or 'email town square moderator'?

It's an apple.


5 people like this
Posted by WOW
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Dec 8, 2017 at 3:18 pm

Why is it that MS treats everyone like an idiot and he calls everyone corrupt and uninformed. He is very condescending and is constantly trying to enlighten us poor peons with his wisdom.


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

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