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City Council endorses changes to Hacienda planning regulations

Comprehensive update focuses on development rules, design guidelines

The Pleasanton City Council gave its initial endorsement Tuesday to a series of changes proposed for the policy documents governing development in Hacienda Business Park.

The updates are comprehensive, aimed at resolving inconsistencies and outdated regulations while consolidating guidelines currently spread across multiple documents, but the revisions don't increase Hacienda's development capacity or intensities, city officials said -- though they acknowledged residential expansion could be examined on a case-by-case basis in the future.

City staff sees the modifications as streamlining rules and procedures for Hacienda leadership and individual property owners by creating documents that are “easy to navigate and understand,” according to community development director Gerry Beaudin.

"This helps to meet the primary objective of attracting new businesses to Hacienda, while ensuring impacts of development are appropriately mitigated and enhancing the design quality of the area," Beaudin told the council in his pre-meeting staff report.

The council, after hearing a presentation from Beaudin and associate city planner Jennifer Hagen and considering light public comment Tuesday night, voted 4-0 for initial approval of the proposed changes to the Hacienda Planned Unit Development (PUD) development plan and design guidelines documents. Vice Mayor Karla Brown was absent.

The ordinance is due to return for second reading and final approval during the Feb. 5 council meeting.

“The Hacienda Business Park is really our economic engine. It helps us fund our (city) activities,” Councilwoman Kathy Narum said in voicing her support for the revisions. “And I think given the competition to the north, anything that we can do to make it more user-friendly -- in terms of building buildings, modifying buildings, talking about the permitted uses, one set of design guidelines for the entire park -- is a plus.”

Encompassing 833 acres in north-central Pleasanton, Hacienda is home to office buildings and commercial operations large and small, including some of the most recognizable companies with headquarters or major satellite offices in the city, such as Oracle, Kaiser Permanente and Roche.

Over time, Hacienda has evolved into a mixed-use neighborhood that also boasts apartment complexes and other housing, shopping centers, restaurants, hotels, parks and other community amenities. Officially, it is the area bounded approximately by Interstate 580 to the north, Arroyo Mocho to the south, Hopyard Road to the west, and Tassajara Creek and the Iron Horse Trail to the east.

But with the expansion in Hacienda, piecemeal rule changes and revisions to other citywide regulations over the years, the policies and design guidelines governing Hacienda growth developed some inconsistencies and became cumbersome for property owners and city staff, Beaudin said.

City staff, along with consultant firm Van Meter Williams Pollack and the Hacienda Owners Association, set out starting in 2014 to overhaul and consolidate Hacienda's design documents.

Two years ago, the council made it a city priority to complete the updates to the Hacienda PUD development plan and design guidelines. The proposed changes, laid out in the draft documents presented Tuesday, have been endorsed by Hacienda leadership and city Planning Commission.

Hacienda General Manager James Paxson lauded the revisions, saying, “We’ve gotten a lot of things cleaned up and set straight so that, again, we have a much easier process for people to follow when they want to bring in projects.”

Paxson told the council he likened the lengthy update process to “putting a new foundation on your house. It has to get done. It’s grueling; there’s a lot of work and then you don’t get to see the results. But you do get to know that there is a firm base for everything else that you do.”

The updates are divided into two main categories: development regulations and design standards.

One key modification on the development side would be creating a unified methodology for calculating the development capacity in Hacienda, according to Hagen.

The updates do not increase the development cap of 9,889,000 square feet, but they do change the formula that tracked Hacienda projects differently depending on rules pre- and post-1993 (when a major rezoning occurred). The result would be Hacienda has 740,682 square feet left for potential commercial growth going forward.

Hagen was quick to point out that the cap does not apply to residential development already completed in Hacienda nor for seven other lots identified for possible housing in the Hacienda area, including the BART property.

Currently Hacienda has the capacity to maintain up to 3,452 housing units, but Hagen noted that during the next mandated regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) cycle, the city may need to rezone one or more Hacienda properties to address state law or local housing site shortfalls. Changes to accommodate new residential units would be analyzed on a case-by-case basis in the future, she said.

Regarding future development, the recommended updates also aim to create consistency between the Hacienda PUD and the Pleasanton Municipal Code for permitted and conditionally permitted uses within all Hacienda planning districts.

City officials think the new methodology and other revisions would provide a unified approach for future projects while ensuring new development adequately mitigates its impacts, Beaudin said.

As for design guidelines, the updates focus on consolidating current rules into one document and aligning Hacienda design standards with current city practices and adopted regulations, according to Hagen.

She noted there are no changes proposed to development intensities or onsite parking requirements.

Design guideline changes include in the categories of ground cover and turf specifications, making signage regulations consistent with current practice, encouraging roof-mounted installation for solar canopies, keeping in line with Pleasanton's water efficient landscape ordinance and recycled water implementation strategies.

City and Hacienda leaders see the updated design document as a consolidated version of all the original design guidelines that will aid in streamlining the development review process.

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