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Around Pleasanton: Council candidates spar at forum, though they mostly agree on issues

 

It's almost certain that the next Pleasanton City Council, where two seats will be filled in the upcoming Nov. 6 election, will be much the same as what we have today.

Council incumbent Kathy Narum is seeking re-election with challengers Joseph Ledoux, Joe Streng and Julie Testa also in the race. Councilman Arne Olson has chosen not to seek re-election.

The four sparred at a recent Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce candidate forum, although sparring may be too strong a term. The four mostly agreed on issues that will be before the council in the coming year, while answering a series of questions by moderator Brad Hirst.

The main exception was whether to restart the planning of development on Pleasanton's largely empty 400-acre east side. Ledoux and Streng said yes; Testa and Narum said let's wait a while.

Testa claimed the state wants to take away local control on land-uses in order to build more high-density housing. Proposed legislation would require cities to allow buildings at five to 10 stories tall along mass-transit lines. In Pleasanton, that would include BART, ACE Train and even Wheels bus routes.

"I want our next generation, teachers and first responders to be able to afford housing in Pleasanton," Testa said. "These high-density requirements will not accomplish that goal. They would allow 80-90% high-end market rate housing, with only 10-20% for low income, affordable units."

Narum agreed. She said that before adding more high-density housing here, we need to address the "elephant" in the room -- which is the infrastructure needed to support it. This includes the need for expanded and upgraded schools, water, sewage and much more.

"We have to make sure we have adequate infrastructure to support additional housing," Narum said.

The four candidates said they support the planned Costco membership store on Johnson Drive and pair of five-story hotels next door.

"About two-thirds of Pleasanton voters supported Costco," Streng said. "I voted for it because I think we should be keeping our tax dollars right here in Pleasanton and not driving to Livermore (to shop at Costco)."

He's glad the city is taking a new look at an environmental impact report on the Johnson Drive site. "Eventually, we'll move forward with Costco," he added. "When that starts, this will have been one of the most heavily vetted projects in the history of Pleasanton, and I think that's a good thing."

Asked about Assembly Bill 2923 that would essentially allow BART to develop properties on its current parking lots, including at the East Pleasanton station in Hacienda, Streng said BART is a transit agency, not a real estate developer.

"It should focus on keeping its trains safe, clean and running on time," he added.

Narum agreed, calling the bill now on Gov. Jerry Brown's desk "probably one of the worst pieces of legislation I've seen in the last 20 years."

With strong opposition from all four council candidates, it's likely that they would support challenging the bill in court, if it's signed by Brown.

"What's the legality is of a transit agency controlling our housing and planning housing in our community with no input from us, yet we have to supply services, such as police, fire, schools and more?" Narum asked.

The four will go at it again before a larger audience this Monday at the Pleasanton Weekly's candidate forum, a 90-minute program that starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Civic Center's council chamber at 200 Old Bernal Ave.

That forum will also be carried live on Tri-Valley Community Television's Channel 29 and rebroadcast several times before the election.

The Pleasanton Chamber's candidates forum was videotaped by Roberta Gonzales Productions for viewing on the chamber's website.

Editor's note: Jeb Bing is editor emeritus for the Pleasanton Weekly. His "Around Pleasanton" columns typically run on the second and fourth Fridays of every month.

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Comments

3 people like this
Posted by Frank Lynn
a resident of Valley Trails
on Sep 13, 2018 at 11:34 am

Let’s not “move on up” to the Eastside until will get some more schools built. Which we can’t seem to do despite passing a bond measure with that intention. High density housing developers don’t have to pay as much for school impact fees as single family homes, and pro-growth demographers can lie all they want and tell me that school age kids won’t live there-that doesn’t make it true. Let’s not turn Pleasanton into a developer’s playground while shortchanging our kids. Message to council candidates as to why people move to Pleasanton, “It’s the schools, stupid.”


1 person likes this
Posted by sjdunbar
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 13, 2018 at 11:55 am

"I want our next generation, teachers and first responders to be able to afford housing in Pleasanton," Testa said. "These high-density requirements will not accomplish that goal. They would allow 80-90% high-end market rate housing, with only 10-20% for low income, affordable units."

Alright, so let's force developers to build 100% affordable housing!

Oh, developers stopped building any housing in Pleasanton and the average price of other homes shot through the roof?

Oh.


Like this comment
Posted by sjdunbar
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 13, 2018 at 11:58 am

@Frank "and pro-growth demographers can lie all they want and tell me that school age kids won’t live there-that doesn’t make it true."

"Won't live there" and "statistically fewer families will live there" are two very different things. Per person, high density statistically means less expensive trash pickup, way lower water use, lower maintenance costs due to less infrastructure requirements.


2 people like this
Posted by sjdunbar
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 13, 2018 at 12:01 pm

"She said that before adding more high-density housing here, we need to address the "elephant" in the room -- which is the infrastructure needed to support it."

And who will pay for that if we never expand that tax base to support that expansion? The current residents aren't going to support higher taxes to overdevelop infrastructure. That's just a delay excuse.


6 people like this
Posted by Been Around the Block
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Sep 13, 2018 at 12:21 pm

SJDunbar - not sure where you get your facts from but read up a little more. Traffic is a TOP issue for Pleasanton residents, and I am tired of seeing more construction of new homes without the expansion of roads to accommodate the additional cars. And NO I am not going to ride my bike to work. Instead of expanding the roads, the opposite is happening with Hacienda and some council members voting to restrict Owens Drive - now I am backed up getting to BART. Then all of the money collected for traffic improvements throughout town is being spent on the boondoggle Costco's $21M in road expansions. Do they think we are going to collect taxes on groceries? No. Brain dead leadership but I feel better after venting.


6 people like this
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 14, 2018 at 12:43 am

Forget building in the east area unless there is a street connection to Stanley Blvd and Stoneridge Drive via the El Charro roadway. Any new development can not put more cars on Valley Avenue which is the heaviest used route in town for commuters, as well as parents driving to Alisal, Harvest or Amador, and big industrial trucks. And it should be a majority of senior housing so schools are not further impacted and less cars are added during the busiest hours. Seniors neeed affordable housing too in apartments, townhomes and detached houses at all density levels. Even another continuing care community with the hospitals and medical buildings nearby.

I doubt Ledoux and Streng have ever sat in traffic at Santa Rita and Valley or witnessed the backups on Valley extending to Stanley on a regular basis trying to get home especially when an accident on the freeway has re-routed all cars to this area. I cant imagine adding more schools or high density family houses to that area to choke off access to the southeastern parts of Pleasanton.


2 people like this
Posted by Not a Narum Fan
a resident of Ironwood
on Sep 15, 2018 at 9:57 am

Talking about the East Side, I attended a few meetings about development in East Pleasanton and Council member Cathy Narum was up in the front running the meetings where almost everyone was from the development industry and they could not wait to get a few thousands new homes approved in the East Pleasanton (over by the rock quarries). She wants houses there but I am told by a friend she lives on the other side of town. REALLY Council woman Narum - pushing more houses on us. How about approving a few thousand homes on your own side of town first? And second, do you want to grow right up to the Livermore city limits too?


6 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Sep 18, 2018 at 3:34 pm

David is a registered user.

Dear Not a Fan,
The state requires all cities to have a certain amount of land zoned for high density housing in order to build a required number of housing units and affoordable units. If Pleasanton does not comply, then the state could take away money or the city could be sued just like they were several years ago by an affordable housing advocacy group. The other possibility is that the city will lose its authority in these matters does giving up local control.
I’m not crazy either about developing the east area plan unless there is sufficient parks, Street connections, and appropriate densities. But please understand that Pleasanton really has no other choice but to plan in a responsible way to meet the state regulations.


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

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