Around Pleasanton: Downtown likely to dominate City Council meeting Tuesday

Shell Station at 4212 First St., where the property owners want to build housing on the site. The debate of including the Shell Station site, as well as Barone's restaurant site, with a special overlay label in the Downtown Specific Plan Update is among the key pending policy issues before the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday. (Photo by Jeb Bing)

The Pleasanton City Council is set to continue its review Tuesday of a task force's recommendations for updating a specific plan for the city's core downtown district as well as the possibility of a new "town square" where the library and Civic Center now stand.

Tuesday's review will follow the council's lengthy discussion April 16 of the Downtown Specific Plan Update Task Force's latest draft plan.

"The reason that this is before the council is because final consideration of the task force's policy recommendations needed to be made prior to the final draft document being submitted to the Planning Commission and City Council for review," City Manager Nelson Fialho said. "This enables policy issues to be considered upfront by the City Council, rather than at the end."

This will be the council's third "check-in" on recommendations being advanced by the task force, which has held 17 meetings since launching the downtown plan update Jan. 24, 2017.

The council will continue discussions Tuesday on these five issues:

Massage regulations. Fialho said the council will likely delay implementation of new regulations until a more comprehensive update occurs later this year to strengthen the Pleasanton Municipal Code.

Active ground-floor uses on Main Street. The council is expected to grant regulations that would enhance and encourage ground-floor active uses on Main Street, such as shops and restaurants, while providing Gerry Beaudin, the city's community development director, the ability to work with property owners to discourage more banks, salons or real estate offices on Main Street.

Ground-floor residential in the downtown area. The council voted 4-1 at its last meeting to require that any new developments must have only active uses on the ground floor of buildings fronting on Main Street or on a new "town square" site. Residential units and offices would be allowed on second and third stories of ground-floor retail if built above the commercial properties, but not allowed behind those buildings.

Ground-floor access to those upper floors would be allowed, as it is today, but new development would also have to provide on-site parking so no one is parking on Main Street or in public lots.

Development standards. The council majority voted April 16 to maintain the standard of 40-foot height limit on Main Street buildings, up to 46 feet with a maximum of three stories on future Civic Center site developments and to make Peters and Old Bernal avenues transition zones with new developments limited to 36 feet from today's 40 feet and a maximum of only two stories.

Land-use changes. The council Tuesday will also review, at Councilwoman Kathy Narum's request, its 3-2 vote against the task force's proposal to consider requests by two property owners to annotate or footnote the downtown plan to allow the property owners and the city to consider housing on their properties where they now have businesses, subject to the normal public review and discretionary review process by the Planning Commission and City Council.

Joe Barone and wife Maricela, who own and operate their Barone's restaurant at 425 St. John St., and the Safreno family who owns the Shell station at the corner of First Street and Vineyard Avenue, are asking for the ability to redevelop their sites with a residential project.

Joe Barone told the Weekly that he has no plan to close his popular restaurant in order to build more housing on the largely residential street.

His petition to include a residential review option, similar to the Safrenos', would be an annotation in the city's land-use map that says that a property could be considered for residential or mixed-use or any other combination, rather than have it remain strictly commercial.

The City Council meeting will start at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Civic Center at 200 Old Bernal Ave. Read the full agenda packet here.

In other business

The council will hear a presentation on “Mobility Forward: The Tri-Valley Paratransit Study” and consider adopting the final report.

Council members will review and weigh the final approval of the city’s new Trails Master Plan.

They will also recognize outgoing city commission and committee members and then host the oath-of-office ceremony for new commission and committee members.

The council has a 10-item consent calendar on the agenda, a collection of items deemed routine and voted upon all at once with no discussion unless pulled for separate consideration.

The council has postponed until May 21 its discussion on 2019-20 fiscal year allocations of housing and human services grants and community grant program funds, as well as an action plan for use of Federal Community Development Block Grant funds.

Editor's note: Jeb Bing is editor emeritus for the Pleasanton Weekly.

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6 people like this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on May 5, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Sorry y'all, sjd back with another parking comment! (Who said we can't have fun?)

"new development would also have to provide on-site parking so no one is parking on Main Street or in public lots."

What if any allowances are made for conglomeration of smaller parcels? If a 4-unit complex on one standard lot above retail results in 5 parking spots required on-site, that means either

1) underground parking, which would probably prevent all of this mixed use development. Costs for housing would have double for this to be cost effective for a developer.
2) multiple parcels are bought up and made into a much larger building with more massing, which I assume would meet resistance at city council (down the road - is this the point, passing the buck?)
3) multiple curb cuts, meaning less on street parking and more access roads, less setback space, less retail space, or all of the above?

Can't have it all. Either need to pay into a parking fund for a conglomerated lot, or make other tradeoffs.

7 people like this
Posted by Naveed Khan
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 6, 2019 at 9:43 am

Pleasanton City Council pretends open hearings however is oblivious to what Citizens say. Look at the state of Santa Rita Road, perhaps it is the worst Road in Tri-Valley. Look at how Zone 7 Water District is gouging Pleasanton.

9 people like this
Posted by Sick of it
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 6, 2019 at 10:06 am

What in the world is going to be done about about parking and road congestion. The big discussion is all about the future of building without addressing our current problems. People are giving up on trying to shop downtown (I work in a retail store) due to time looking for a space. Also, Neal street has become and absolute NIGHTMARE to drive thanks to the drive thru at the dairy. I think either the city or the owners have to find a solution before there is a serious injury or car accident. Summer traffic is already here CITY OF PLEASANTON, and soon the Music in the Park will begin. The PDA continues to promote every flavor change with no thought to how the traffic affects other business in the area. You can't depend on people to obey traffic laws in this area if it is not policed (by the Police Dept.) or they just "look the other way" for the business.

17 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 6, 2019 at 10:39 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

As long as city council members (and board members by their school district staff) follow staff, then staff will be the leaders with, I think, little care for, and no responsibility to, what voters have to say. Elected officials choose to be friends (not just friendly) with staff. The relationship doesn’t have to be adversarial, but the tough questions should be coming from elected officials—the community shouldn’t have to point them out. It is the rare few who challenge staff direction at either of our local government entities.

Like this comment
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on May 6, 2019 at 11:39 am


The city is finishing the outreach on the Santa Rita Road bike/ped project (especially for schoolkids) before they repave, otherwise they would have to do it twice.

1 person likes this
Posted by Couldn’t agree more
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on May 7, 2019 at 11:42 am

Couldn’t agree more is a registered user.

Kathleen, thank you for challenging all of our City Council leaders to challenge staff assumptions. That is why we elected them.

And to put aside any friendliness they may have with staff or developers and always ask, “how does this idea make things better for our entire community?” To find the answer they need to find ways to get better community input.

The downtown task force had lots of broad community feedback in 2017 and 2018. Then in 2019 some let special interests trump.

Like this comment
Posted by MeToo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2019 at 9:07 pm

"Look at the state of Santa Rita Road, perhaps it is the worst Road in Tri-Valley."

In what way?

Like this comment
Posted by MeToo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 7, 2019 at 9:10 pm

"To find the answer they need to find ways to get better community input."

Sure, but even when they follow what the community wants (even voted on) someone will stop/change it with a law suit.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 8, 2019 at 6:58 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

MeToo, if I heard correctly, the Chamber showed up at the last meeting regarding the downtown and they undid at least some of what had been agreed to by the committee. If true, how do we stop the Chamber from running our community?

3 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 8, 2019 at 10:17 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.


The Chamber has run this town for years. Through their BACPAC, they have funneled tens of thousands of dollars to their favored candidates - those who pledge allegiance to the Chamber’s alternative General Plan, the 2020 Vision. They have managed to get their candidates elected and have held the City Council majority going back to the early 2000’s.

City Staff is in cahoots with the Chamber, and they regularly work together to serve their common goals:

1. Advancing business interests through the control of local government
2. Increasing sales and property tax revenue to the city coffers by means of endless growth

There have been a few independent Councilmembers concerned about the public over the years including Ben Tarver, Tom Pico, Cindy McGovern, Karla Brown, and now Julie Testa. I consider myself among this group. But since the Pico administration we’ve always been in the minority and have been just more or less a thorn in the side of the establishment.

I don’t know the outcome of last night’s meeting, but with the pro-growth, pro-Chamber Council majority in place we know whose interests will be served. Not ours. And as long as the people of Pleasanton keep electing Chamber stooges to the City Council nothing will change.

Sources and references:
Web Link
Web Link
Web Link

2 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 8, 2019 at 11:42 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Thanks Matt. I don’t think most people realize what is happening.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 8, 2019 at 6:21 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Matt Sullivan:

Okay, the chamber endorsed candidates.
What other candidate were available that they did not endorse?

2 people like this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on May 8, 2019 at 6:34 pm

Yes, those pro growthers and development types have been in control for so long that the city got sued for allowing too much housing in 2009

Oh wait, no, that's not what happened.

5 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on May 9, 2019 at 9:12 am

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

I think the point of my post was proven by what happened Tuesday night. The Task Force had been working two years (?) on a new DSP. At the last minute Joe Barone and the owners of the Shell station showed up and wanted residential zoning for their properties. This will provide the opportunity for immense profits when they sell, but the fact that their properties are rezoned as part of the DSP the cost of the EIR will be borne by the public. If they asked for this rezoning after the plan was approved they would be on the hook for this cost.

Barone is the consummate insider and has a history of this kind of influence. Several years ago when he wanted his Thursday night Mardi Gras parties approved that violated all city noise and alcohol sales ordinances and with strong opposition from nearby neighbors, Chamber members flooded the Council chambers with support. Of course, the Chamber controlled Council at the time approved what he wanted. Now he wants to make a killing when he retires and they will give him what he wants again and we will foot the bill. This is a clear demonstration of how this city works. What do you think would happened to those Chamber-money-soaked Councilmembers if they voted against this?

Kathleen is right. Unless you have lived it – like I have – the general public doesn’t know about this corruption in city government. What is needed is a massive public education campaign leading up to the next Council election so they will know before they vote.

1 person likes this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 9, 2019 at 12:11 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Michael, Testa’s recent win was a surprise to the Chamber. They backed two people who lost. It is difficult to win when running against incumbents and more difficult without endorsements.

sjd, Pleasanton had a housing cap—that is why we were sued. Since we lost that battle, every piece of land or potential for tear down is a spot to build and at height. It’s also why Fialho now wants to move the city offices (Dublin envy).

As a Livermore resident, what is your particular interest in Pleasanton?

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

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