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.
President, Pleasanton Downtown Association