Guest Opinion: Response to 'Downtown Planning: Are developers now making the decisions?'


As President of the Pleasanton Downtown Association (PDA), I would like to respond to your recent article titled “Downtown Planning: Are developers now making the decisions?”

There are several inaccuracies and misrepresentations in this article. In the future, we would appreciate the opportunity to comment when being referenced in one of your articles.

Our response to the claims made in your article:

1. A task force that's about to wind up its 2-1/2-year effort to recommend a new "vibrancy plan" for downtown Pleasanton appears to have changed course.

FALSE: The February 26th meeting (not February 25th as reported) was the first meeting of the Task Force after the publication of the Draft Downtown Specific Plan. This was the first time the Task Force members were asked to formally vote on any item inside of this document.

Taskforce members simply modified staff’s recommendation based on public input. This happens at almost every City Council, Planning Commission or Park & Rec meeting. In fact, it’s the whole point of having a public meeting.

2. Its new recommended plan could now allow ground-floor residential units downtown. (emphasis added)

FALSE: Ground floor residential is already expressly permitted in the Downtown per the City of Pleasanton’s Site Development Standards for Zoning Districts. There are residential units on W. Angela St., Neal St., Ray St., Spring St. and Railroad Ave. This is a bizarre claim.

3. Three- and four-story apartments and condos could be built behind shallow storefront retail shops on Main Street.

FALSE: The task force made no changes to the existing zoning on Main Street. The PDA does not support three- or four-story buildings being built behind structures on Main Street.

Additionally, we believe the Pleasanton Municipal Code would not allow this. Section 18.44.030(b) states “To maximize the efficiency of the central district by limiting or prohibiting uses that break the continuity of commercial frontage are incompatible with an active pedestrian shopping area (emphasis added).

4. “…a majority of the members of the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) task force voted Feb. 25 to accept their recommendations to allow higher-density mixed-use buildings in the core downtown district.”

FALSE: Again, the Task Force took no action to change any density or height in the core downtown commercial district. The task force heard public input and voted to keep the density and height in the newly created Mixed Use Transitional (MUT) district the same as Main St. They also voted to keep the density in the newly created Mixed Use Downtown (MUD) district the same as Main St, but allowed for a slight height increase to accommodate modern mixed-use construction.

5. Nancy Allen wrote: "I was excited about the direction of the DSP task force prior to the Feb. 25 meeting... However, I was concerned with the sudden reversal of DSP recommendations at that meeting.

FALSE: There was no “sudden reversal”. This was the task force's first and only opportunity to react to the draft downtown specific plan and hear public input.

6. More Nancy Allen: "If left to stand, I believe these recommendations will reduce our retail vibrancy and turn our existing Main Street and connecting side streets into more of a dense residential area vs. a vibrant and unique retail-oriented downtown that excites our residents."

FALSE: The PDA believes the best way to increase retail vibrancy is to allow more retail. The recommendation made by the taskforce increases the potential retail/commercial footprint by 50 - 60% in the MUT and MUD districts by simply maintaining consistency with the retail/commercial footprint already allowed on Main St. Apparently, Ms. Allen opposes this recommendation by the task force.

The PDA advocates on behalf of all stakeholders in the Downtown, including businesses, property owners and residents. One of the PDA’s primary goals is to promote and maintain a vibrant commercial downtown for residents and visitors alike while working to preserve the historic charm that is the heart of our city.

Our organization truly believes that our Downtown is worthy of the best planning and zoning processes we can provide so that our future vibrancy and vitality is maintained for decades to come.

Bryan Bowers

President, Pleasanton Downtown Association

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19 people like this
Posted by Bridget
a resident of Birdland
on Apr 15, 2019 at 4:09 pm

I’m going to watch how this all plays out but I’m pretty skeptical. How many realtors are on the task force? I wonder if any illicit payments being made here? The recommendations don’t seem in line with what our community members want.

26 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 15, 2019 at 4:23 pm

This will be a good one to keep an eye on, a lot of sneaky things are going to happen downtown that’s a real slippery bunch making the decisions while they turn a blind eye to what the majority wants!!
2 days ago I noticed that we gave up a thru lane to WorkDay at the mall so that they could have their own turn lane, shades of that overbuilt apartment complex by Bart on Owens where we gave up “our” streets for the benefit of the developer.

4 people like this
Posted by res
a resident of Valencia
on Apr 15, 2019 at 5:43 pm

I'm also not a fan of the overbuilt apartment complex on Owens. Map, regarding the street near Bart on Owens, if you look at it, it is just a mess.

Maybe the developer or city never did finish the street or just left it a mess.

For example, if you go to Starbuck's that replaced Arby's, the stop light at the corner on Owens and that street in the middle of the read has several feet of coiled wires coming out all over the bottom of the stop light at the bottom of the sidewalk. Also, there are large screws sticking up from the bottom of the concrete at the bottom of the stop light. Not only that, it looks like it was installed on a pole that has barber shop stripes on it spiraling up it with some sort of orange day-glow tape.

Also, have you noticed that none of the Owens street lights seem to work on the west side of Hopyard for nearly a block from the gas station, Tommy T's and so on?

Maybe the developer and the city are trying to save money by using used parts for poles, traffic lights and can't be bothered to buy light bulbs for the street lights.

5 people like this
Posted by 3 lanes to One still
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 16, 2019 at 10:50 am

This is what "Planners" or maybe the term should be "Incompetent Planners" think makes sense. If you try to get past at rush hour, plan on being delayed.

Fake it 'til you make it?
They claimed they'd remove this mess in a year, but apparently that was either a scam or a lie.

It looks like part of the Plan was Retail on the first floor- none is there- just another example of Poor Prior Planning! I can show you first floor Retail on similar projects in other cities still vacant after 10 years.

4 people like this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:34 pm

"overbuilt apartment complex"

Come on, say what you really mean.

16 people like this
Posted by a concerned citizen
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Apr 16, 2019 at 1:35 pm

Isn't the author of this article, Bryan Bowers, the same person who developed the new 3 story tall residential townhouses being built on Peters street? Feels kind of like the fox guarding the henhouse.

Bryan idea of vibrancy is more townhouses taking up our retail space. My idea of vibrancy is more retail space with restaurants, entertainment and more to serve our community.

14 people like this
Posted by Nancy & Jeb nailed it!
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Apr 16, 2019 at 2:47 pm

I direct the public to

Web Link

Key points:

Page 2...Staff clearly states that this modification was made to appease various interest group...NOT THE PUBLIC.

pAGE 4...Changes were made based on comments during Nov/Dec outreach

Page 6(lines 13 ~15)...prohibit ground floor residential in the three land use districts

Page 6 (lines20 ~ 25)...Letters from the Development community...

Page 25... Letter dated Feb 19, 2019 from PDA...Co-signed by Laura Olson.

Nancy & Jeb could not have been more accurate...this is a clear, last minute "end run" orchestrated by the development community, Chamber of Commerce & PDA...All special interests with a financial incentive.

11 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 16, 2019 at 9:21 pm

I’m betting that somewhere down that narrowed road those empty retail spaces get turned into apartments and “voila” the developers win again and we lose the full use of our streets that our taxes paid for!!
Keep a close eye on Main St. the smoke and mirrors are coming, the developers and realtors are running (ruining) this town.

6 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Apr 17, 2019 at 8:01 am

Jack is a registered user.

The "Developer" in this situation is, the largest land owner in the area being studied, the City of Pleasanton.

6 people like this
Posted by PapaDan
a resident of Danbury Park
on Apr 18, 2019 at 9:33 am

Downtown Pleasanton is no place for additional residential property. It is a place for restaurants, entertainment, and other retail outlets that will generate foot traffic. That is the only definition of "vibrancy" that makes any sense. Landowners who have a different view of downtown need to take their "business" elsewhere.

1 person likes this
Posted by Frequentwalkermiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 18, 2019 at 3:55 pm

Just look across the freeway at the previously rolling green/yellow hills of Dublin, the prospect of all that tax revenue is the call of the sirens to City Hall and developers.

There just aren’t that many Citizens for Responsible Growth left, it seems, nor the totally unrelated Citizens for Planned Growth. How odd.

1 person likes this
Posted by Laura
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 14, 2019 at 1:57 pm

Please please please no tall buildings (3 story or greater) on Main Street !!!
Keep Pleasanton’s Main Street quaint! (The very reason many of us moved here in the first place.)
Please! Thank you.

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