News

Editorial: Revisiting JDEDZ now is city's best option, given circumstances

Costco remains committed to bringing new store to Pleasanton despite delay

The City Council reversing its decision from last year to approve the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone would be a smart move.

Filing a stipulation in court last month, city officials stated they plan to present the City Council with a resolution -- most likely in September or October -- to cancel last year's JDEDZ approval so further environmental review can take place.

This would temporarily delay the new Costco store and hotels proposed to move into the JDEDZ area.

Counter-intuitive as it might be, delaying the project now would in all likelihood actually move it forward quicker.

Local resident coalition Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth, spearheaded by former city councilman Matt Sullivan, sued the city in December 2017, challenging the council's environmental impact report (EIR) for the JDEDZ. This move came after the group's failing to collect enough signatures to put a second Costco-related referendum on the ballot.

Some people have criticized rescinding the JDEDZ, saying it is a sign of weak leadership, that the city isn't confident in the EIR results it certified or that the city is "giving in" to pressure from Sullivan and his group.

But this is not weakness, second-guessing or capitulation; it's a strategy, and it's a good one.

By canceling the approval and doing supplemental EIR analysis, complete with a public comment period, the council is expediting the ultimate approval because it will stop the lawsuit from languishing in the court system.

By canceling and agreeing to more analysis now, specifically on the air quality impacts on the Stoneridge Apartments complex across the freeway from the Costco site, the city is being proactive.

"Given the inherent delay associated with litigation involving the California Environmental Quality Act, the city has agreed to set aside the approvals so that supplemental environmental review can take place," city attorney Dan Sodergren said last week.

"Although this project has already been subject to extensive environmental review, the city believes that this is the most effective way to provide the public and public officials with information and allow for reconsideration of the project," Sodergren added. "Costco is in support of this approach and is a signatory to the (court) stipulation."

Work has already been stopped once, between July and November of 2016 pending results of the voter initiative (Measure MM) to limit the size of buildings within the JDEDZ to 50,000 square feet or less. Residents spoke loud and clear when the initiative was defeated by 63% of the voters basically a pro-Costco vote.

Costco is in support of rescinding the JDEDZ now because they want this process to move forward too. In the city's online FAQs on the project, Costco representatives are quoted as stating, "Costco Wholesale is committed to our future Pleasanton location ... We believe this location represents a great opportunity for us to better serve our many members in Pleasanton."

Sodergren said he could not estimate how long the JDEDZ supplemental review would take, but he noted the council took a similar approach when faced with a lawsuit challenging the Staples Ranch development EIR in 2009. That project was approved again after the city completed extra environmental review.

It will more than likely take a few months to complete the additional analysis for the JDEDZ, but who knows how long the legal wrangling would have continued with the lawsuit, with the possibility of having to do this same supplemental EIR work anyway.

At least now the timeline doesn't belong to the court.

Kudos to city staff and the council for recognizing the residents of Pleasanton want the Costco built and for remaining committed to it by formulating the best plan to move it forward.

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Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 13, 2018 at 7:52 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

I hope you’re right.


12 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 13, 2018 at 7:53 am

Jack is a registered user.

With all due respect, if the whole Costco thing had been done above board and out in the open and computed with legitimate data, the "given circumstances," that now present themselves could've and should've been avoided the first time around...


8 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 13, 2018 at 10:31 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

oh, just build it. Then my Costco will have fewer bodies/car etc.

Plus, the voters spoke. Loudly, just not here in this protected unadvertised sand box......


12 people like this
Posted by Ellen
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 13, 2018 at 10:37 am

Honest question: Was anything legitimately not above board on the original plan?

2/3 of the voters approved of the plan with our VOTES and this Matt guy just can’t let it go. In the end, when the Costco is built, maybe Matt can repay the legal costs incurred by others as a result of his ridiculous fight.


12 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 13, 2018 at 11:43 am

Nonsense! Without the intimidating law suit and weak city council we would be shopping in a Pleasanton Costco. If it were housing development, it would be built by now, 3 stories high!


12 people like this
Posted by Pat
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 13, 2018 at 6:01 pm

Who is the author of this editorial? If you can’t publish the name of the person that wrote this, then it’s just a biased opinion of the Pleasanton weekly. Pleasanton Weekly please just report the facts and let the residents decide.


8 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 13, 2018 at 9:24 pm

I understand the reasoning, but what guarantee is also being stipulated on Matt and his "above board" financing group? They clearly dont want costco built regardless of reason. This isnt about traffic or air or someone owning a costco stock. Its a pure financial protectionist approach to continued raping of Pleasanton gas users.

So concerned about air quality Matt? How about a ban on all combustion engines in Pleasanton- electric vehicles only. If youre going to move the needle make it meaningful Matt.

So after this, whats next? Endangered frog? Special mosquito? You fight under the guise of false pretenses for interests that don't want to be known...why? Such noble causes, but are they really? youre a coward at best, as you fail to stand for the true motivation. I could disagree still, but respect the position.


30 people like this
Posted by Diana
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 14, 2018 at 6:37 am

Matt Sullivan bashing has become an allowable exception to Town Square Terms of Use.

• You agree to be respectful of others…
• You agree … nor post any information that is hateful, …or offensive to any individual…

Matt Sullivan has served this community on the planning commission and City Council for decades. He has been consistent with a position of conservation, social justice, transparency, and accountability. He does not hide behind anonymity, he does not have potential for personal gain. Suggesting that Matt has a pro-profit agenda is disingenuous at best, that is not who Matt is. You may not agree with him, I have not always agreed with him, but I respect his commitment to hold the City and electeds to transparency and accountability. Matt has a deep understanding of issues that most of us do not, I want to hear and understand what he has to say, it is healthy, government is better knowing people are paying attention. PW, please honor your terms of use.


3 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 14, 2018 at 7:29 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

I don’t know about that, Diana. It’s PW’s website, and they are free to enforce any terms they want of that sort, but I’d hope they’d allow individuals to express strong opinions about public officials and other people who have presented themselves publicly—Matt is both—whether the opinions are offensive or not, so long as they aren’t objectively gratuitous, racist, or otherwise so personal that they can’t be reasonably connected to the public behavior of the individual in question.

Matt sued the city of Pleasanton. That means the citizens of this city need to be allowed a venue to express their strong opinions about having their city sued. And that would be true whether Matt sues for the right reasons or the wrong ones. So far, I’ve been grateful for PW for spending their own money on a website that allows for these conversations, and for those opinions, or else I’d have very little idea why this Pleasanton Costco hasn’t been built yet outside of rumors.

Unfortunately, a public official who has done great work in the past for the city can easily see it sponged away in a moment by a later act. Such is public life.


23 people like this
Posted by Diana
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 14, 2018 at 8:13 am

I am a strong advocate of expressing opinion and calling out wrong-doing, but the Sullivan bashing is allowed to degrade to innuendo and name calling, as in the post from "Pleasanton Parent" above. Past threads have become a vicious free for all of vitriol that would only be allowed when directed toward a few individuals.


8 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 14, 2018 at 8:46 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Ok, I went and looked back at PP’s post. I don’t usually agree with PP. However, I’m failing to see how PP said anything that isn’t earnest and appropriate. In detail

1) PP suggests that Matt’s getting the funding for the suit from a financing group that is not above board, as in specifically that they are raising environmental issues in bad faith and really are trying to prevent gas price competition. PP’s suggestion is unproven, but legitimate inference, since gas station owners backed Measure MM.

2) PP then directly calls out the bad faith by raising the point that if the environmental protection is the point and not gas station protectionism, then banning cars—bad for said stations—would also be supported to be consistent. Is it snarky? Yes. Is it inappropriate against a public figure? No. Is it itself in bad faith? Not necessarily. I support environmental causes, and yet can also recognize that the CEQA is used to stop developments for irrelevant reasons, and is prime for manipulation. PP is suggesting that it’s being manipulated here, and I think that’s an important question that needs answering.

3) Then PP said that Matt is a coward for not revealing his true motives. You and I can’t call each other cowards: we’re not public figures (and it wouldn’t be true anyway). But Matt is a public figure. And I think it’s allowable to call a public figure a coward if you suspect with good reason that the person has a hidden agenda. It’s not polite, but politics is not polite. It’s real. It has real consequences, and expensive ones. If Matt is right, then building Costco will require twice the price to remediate the damage done to the neighborhood and the streets. If he’s wrong, then we may be stuck with equally damaging development but not get a Costco nor the tax revenue it brings in, something the voters clearly demanded.

So I guess I’m missing why you think Matt should not be spoken about this way, as a public figure who has sued the city. Are you objecting to his being discussed impolitely or indelicately? I didn’t see anything ad hominem per se here.


7 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 14, 2018 at 9:57 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Diana: Have you seen Matt's dropping here in this forum? I'm going with a no.

And while you are berating everybody else, can you get Matt to list all the clients who pays 'his way' with his silly anti-everything?

We await.


7 people like this
Posted by Vicki LaBarge
a resident of Mission Park
on Aug 14, 2018 at 10:10 am

When someone, namely Matt Sullivan, wastes taxpayer money in a friviouous lawsuit, then that named someone, Matt Sullivan, deserves to be called out. My two cents.


9 people like this
Posted by Poor Matt
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 14, 2018 at 10:54 am

Poor Matt!

Seems everyone forgets his multiple attacks over many years concerning the stupidity, corruption, criminal, etc. (you name it)towards those who do not agree with him.

You reap what you sow as far as I'm concerned.


2 people like this
Posted by Tommy T
a resident of Country Fair
on Aug 14, 2018 at 12:02 pm

Diana must be related to Matt Sullivan...money under the table..no doubt!!!
Wake up and smell the coffee or what ever turns you on.


7 people like this
Posted by OK
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 14, 2018 at 12:53 pm

Wasn't MS the one who vehemently protested the Stoneridge extension to Jack London claiming that it would bring terrible congestion on Stoneridge east of Santa Rita. Did that happen? I drive it quite a bit between Livermore and Pleasanton and it is rarely crowded but quite convenient. Another rant with nothing to back it up but stopping progress.


7 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Aug 14, 2018 at 6:08 pm

Not agreeing with someone and challenging their true intent is not bashing. Challenging someone for the sane transparency they are requesting is not bashing.

Ive openly thanked matt for his service. And still believe we owe him gratitude for his contributions- those also dont insulate him from criticism on current issues.


15 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Aug 15, 2018 at 8:07 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Against my better judgement, I will respond to the attacks on my character by the anonymous users of this blog.

My motive is and always has been my opposition to big-box stores due to their unfair business practices and the resulting damage to local economies and the unprecedented $20 million in public subsidies to a multi-billion-dollar corporation. My resolve has been strengthened by the city’s dishonest approval process and the hiding of the proposed subsidies from the public during the election, which if made public likely would have changed the outcome.

My work against Costco has been that of a citizen activist, something I’ve done in Pleasanton for over 20 years. No one is paying me for this work or any other of my activist activities in the past.

I have criticized the City Council majority as corrupt because they are. Just look at their campaign financial reports, their votes, and their promotion of Chamber of Commerce priorities. As a past two-term City Councilmember I feel I’m qualified to make this judgement. And it is my right as a citizen to do so.

I’m not wasting taxpayer’s money, the city is. They approved a faulty EIR hoping to hide the real environmental and public health impacts of the project. The fact that they are voluntarily going back to fix it is an admission of quilt. I’m exercising my legal rights in a (so-called) democratic society and you are advocating that I should be precluded from doing this. Fascism?

Now that I have responded this should give enough fodder for the foaming at the mouth Costco trolls to keep this thread going for another week. Fortunately, anonymous posters have no real impact on governing or democracy. They are just noise buzzing like a mosquito in your ear.


9 people like this
Posted by Diana
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:01 am

RESPECT!!
Matt Sullivan is No coward!
I do not always agree with Matt on all points but I respect Matt for being true to his convictions and the value he brings to community engagement.


2 people like this
Posted by Grumpy
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:03 am

Grumpy is a registered user.

Matt, I’ll admit that a lot to people on here don’t like you, although I have no opinion myself.

I’m willing to believe that you simply dislike big box stores, and that you have no affiliation with gas station owners or what not. There is the question of who is paying your legal bills, as if it is not you then there is a question of whether you’re being a dishonest broker in the conversation. You haven’t answered the question, and you don’t have to, but it would be nice for those of us who aren’t worked up to hear you say something on that point.

Dublin seems corrupt from what people say. Are you suggesting that Pleasanton is equally so? We’ve done a good job of holding the line on reckless development, to the point wheee the state had to come in and sit on us. So are you trying to state that the mere support of Costco is corrupt per se? Or do you see particular illegal acts you can describe?

I’m just trying to understand. I personally want a new Costco because I like Costco and want the tax revenue. But I am generally against growth that produces environmental problems. It’s unfortunate that for all the talk about stock held and EIRs skipped nothing beyond that has been shown.


5 people like this
Posted by SHale99
a resident of San Ramon
on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:07 am

SHale99 is a registered user.

Matt: Can you acknowledge that you speak for a minority? The voters made it pretty clear they want a Costco. Unsure how you feel Costco is not a 'fair' business? Are they breaking the law in anyway? Or rather do consumers change their behavior (to save money?) can go to a Costco vs where they were going before?
Seems even employees of Costco are happy and have nice benefits.

As I've asked you so many times before what businesses (viable, not pie in sky) to do see taking up the same space as Costco and the proposed hotels that will generate revenues.
And you say you act alone? Try again?

PS and note no office buildings because THAT is what was there and then torn down.

We await.


6 people like this
Posted by My opinion
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 15, 2018 at 10:43 am

My opinion is a registered user.

And the pot calls the kettle black. Says Matt Sullivan, "I have criticized the City Council majority as corrupt because they are."

Years back, when you and hosterman were on the council there was a time when the two of you tried to overrule CA state building and safety codes in order to allow a favored person keep up their illegal structure. The fire inspector and the building inspector gave all of the reasons that the building was not safe to inhabit and needed to be brought up to code. You and hosterman tried to overrule them. The inspectors held their ground and the building was eventually brought up to code.

Don't you dare talk about corrupt, your actions at that time defined it. I am not certain that you have changed all that much.


4 people like this
Posted by Eric
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 15, 2018 at 4:28 pm

Matt your character? Pshh. I was flat out lied to by your signature collectors. You’ve still never come clean on who is bank rolling you.


4 people like this
Posted by Karl Aitken
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Aug 15, 2018 at 5:12 pm

Matt - I have lived in Pleasanton for 45 years, and I have observed your entire political career in this town, I have read all of you letters to the editor and listened to you in city council meetings.

You may want to sit back and reflect on your past comments made in these various forums. You have done more than just criticize the city council as corrupt. You have consistently attacked, insulted and vilified all parties who have not agreed with your opinions and vision for this city.

While you may have served this city in a number of positions and for a number of years, all of you attacks have negated, in my mind, any positive contribution you have made to this city.

Yes, you have the right to free speech.

Yes, you can believe you are fighting for what is right.

Yes, you can say "revolution" is good.

Yes, you can say you are representing the residents of Pleasanton.

But in reality you have lost an opportunity to truly lead and influence the people of this city because you have attacked all who disagree with you. You have gone down the same path many of our politicians have taken - rather than work in a positive, collaborative way with the people who have different ideas and opinions, respecting all points of view - you vilify, insult, demean and attack.

You are just another example of what is wrong with politics in today's world. I hope you will reconsider your approach and work to improve Pleasanton in a positive, respectful and collaborative way. You're obviously an intelligent man and you have a lot to offer.

You can call this a personal attack, but as you like to point out, we all have a right to exercise our free speech.


7 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 15, 2018 at 9:18 pm

Jack is a registered user.

If Matt was wrong, why would the city back down?
I'm not an expert, but I did take the time to read the documents.
The reports indicate that five properties, comprised of a church, Patio World, A dog kennel, a limo company, and a "consumer learning center," are going to generate the SAME AMOUNT OF TRAFFIC AS COSTCO!
Those 5 properties are responsible for 44%, Costco 44% and the two proposed hotels 12%.
When Matt say the EIR is a joke, I would tend to agree with him!
And I want Costco! But I'm happy to keep driving over to Livermore until the leadership in this town starts telling us the truth...



4 people like this
Posted by Not MS
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 16, 2018 at 6:53 am

Nice response Matt. Always with the insults. You claim you are being trolled but you are the name caller and hater in your last response. Keep making a name for yourself. Also how about the Stoneridge extension you opposed. Seems to be working out pretty well.


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

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