Pleasanton council supports plan for redesigning downtown parking lot | News | |


Pleasanton council supports plan for redesigning downtown parking lot

Also: City's 125th anniversary, LGBTQ Pride proclamation, Gatetree Circle complaints

This municipal parking lot between Abbie Street and Bernal Avenue parallel to Main Street could see up to 81 new stalls added next summer under designs reluctantly endorsed by the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday night. (Photo by Jeremy Walsh)

The Pleasanton City Council approved plans for redesigning and expanding the city's downtown parking lot on the old railroad corridor between Bernal Avenue and Abbie Street on Tuesday night.

The 4-1 vote after nearly two hours of public discussion and three failed motions represented a reluctant endorsement by the council majority of city staff's initial designs after being unable to find an acceptable compromise to better balance competing interests of maximizing parking and trail width on the narrow, 75-foot-wide property.

"One of the reasons I've really struggled with it is because both points are valid," Mayor Jerry Thorne said during the hearing at the Pleasanton Civic Center.

The debate hinged on the new trail that would span the length of the property alongside the parking lot, whether it should be 8-9 feet wide as staff recommended for a slow-speed recreational pathway for pedestrians and bicyclists or 12 feet wide or more as the cycling community wanted for a multi-use regional transportation trail.

The problem given the property dimensions and other site challenges was that the wider the trail, the fewer new parking spots could be added -- at least 33 fewer new spaces to accommodate a 12-foot-wide trail, according to city staff.

The council majority, agreeing that 8 feet was unsafe as too narrow, directed staff to proceed with the design that maximizes new parking but look for ways to cut back on landscape buffers, retaining wall width and even lose several parking stalls to make the trail a minimum of 9 feet wide throughout.

"Having sat on the Downtown Specific Plan (task force) for a little over two years, I can tell you that every meeting the issue of parking came up," Thorne said. "Maybe there doesn't have to be a lot of landscaping and what have you, and maybe we can maximize parking and have a trail that's usable."

Councilman Jerry Pentin, an avid bicyclist and cycling advocate, cast the dissenting vote.

"We should have looked at this as a transportation corridor first, and a parking lot second," Pentin said. "(The trail) is just not wide enough ... It will be a sidewalk, and I don't think we're accomplishing our goal if that's what we end up building."

The city-owned lot on the south end of downtown, located between Main and First streets, currently contains 59 diagonal spaces in a dirt/gravel strip in the so-called transportation corridor -- former Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way running through downtown that the city purchased from Alameda County in 2008 to increase parking and trail connectivity.

With corridor improvements being developed in phases as funding allows, the council in 2017, as part of prioritizing more public parking throughout downtown, supported a proposed project to redesign the Bernal-to-Abbie section of the transportation corridor to create a lot more similar to the Firehouse Arts Center parking lot that was also built in the old railroad corridor.

City officials have allocated $3.2 million for the project, and city staff and contractor HMH Engineers are ready with partial designs (known as "65% complete plans").

Their plans call for installing a two-way drive aisle, a 90-degree parking configuration on each side, a concrete walkway and landscaping improvements while creating a total of 140 parking spots, an increase of 81 stalls.

The project would also include a retaining wall, site lighting, electric vehicle charging stations, drainage improvements, stormwater treatment, curb, gutter, asphalt pavement and striping, according to Steve Kirkpatrick, the city's director of engineering.

When city staff took the plans to the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Committee for review in March, committee members thought the designs too unevenly favored parking over cyclist and pedestrian needs, specifically opposing the trail's 9-foot width, with four pinch points at 8 feet wide, according to Kirkpatrick.

The staff design concept took its lead from the Firehouse parking lot construction in 2011, which added an 8-foot-wide concrete trail, although other city guiding documents call for a minimum width of 10 feet with buffers for a multi-use trail, Kirkpatrick said.

The committee voted in March to recommend the project be redesigned to "consider both parking and bicycle/pedestrians more equally," he said. Though not formally endorsing a specific new layout, the committee did discuss widening the trail to 12 feet by mixing 90-degree and parallel parking -- instead of all perpendicular, as city staff urges -- for 107 spots overall.

With the competing recommendations, city staff wanted the council to weigh in Tuesday night and decide whether to advance the 65% complete plans for finalization or send staff and consultants back to the drawing board to create a new layout with a wider trail.

Kirkpatrick pointed out several key factors at the site don't really allow engineers to create a layout on city property that widens the trail to 10-12 feet without losing dozens of parking stalls, including a slight slope, a Kinder Morgan gas pipeline below ground and the fact the available city land is only 75 feet wide (compared to the Firehouse lot, which is 100 feet wide).

Staff did present the council with alternatives to consider such as a smaller lot, diagonal parking (31 new spots), eliminating landscape buffers, or the mixed perpendicular-parallel parking suggestion from the committee (48 new spots).

But the council majority considered the parking loss too great if widening the trail to 12 feet, so after struggling to find a workable compromise, they ultimately told staff to find ways to reduce landscaping around the trail to get the minimum width of 9 feet -- and saying engineers could remove up to 10 parking spots if necessary to accomplish the goal.

"Nobody's happy, so that means we did our job," Thorne quipped after the vote on the fourth and final motion attempt.

With the council direction confirmed, city and consultant engineers will work to finalize designs by the fall so the project could be sent out to bid and begin construction by the winter or spring. If that timeline holds, the renovated parking lot would reopen during summer 2020, according to Kirkpatrick.

In other business

* The council opened the meeting with a ceremony recognizing the 125th anniversary of Pleasanton's incorporation as a city -- which occurred on June 18, 1894.

The public ceremony, which followed a dessert reception in city hall, included a historical overview of the incorporation process, recognitions from county, state and federal officials, and Pleasanton teen Lauryn Hedges performing her original song "Our Home" for the occasion.

The council's ceremony served as the kick-off event for Pleasanton's "Summer of Celebration," with a slate of programs and activities in honor of the city's quasquicentennial

* Council members presented a proclamation declaring June as LGBTQ Pride Month in Pleasanton.

* They also anointed Jeffrey Williams as Pleasanton's 2019 Ambassadog, a program partnership with the Valley Humane Society to recognize one local pup as the city's canine representative for the year.

* During non-agenda comment, the council heard from a handful of Gatetree Circle residents critical of the decision to designate their neighborhood as a drop-off and pick-up point for families in the fall during the school district's Amador Valley High parking lot closure.

* The council adopted the city's two-year operating budget (with $192.3 million in expenditures for 2019-20 and $196.1 million for 2010-21) as well as the city's four-year capital improvement program (CIP), with $168.3 million worth of projects between 2019-20 and 2022-23.

The budget and CIP, which were initially reviewed by the council during a public hearing two weeks ago, were approved as part of Tuesday night's 17-item consent calendar.

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11 people like this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 19, 2019 at 4:41 pm

"Nobody's happy, so that means we did our job,"

This is nonsense Mr. Thorne. The city's own data shows this parking lot, even with the existing number of spaces, is not even 70% occupied at peak hours. You sacrificed a functional trail for expansion of a lot that won't fix the central downtown parking issues.

Web Link

5 people like this
Posted by Todd
a resident of Mission Park
on Jun 19, 2019 at 4:56 pm

Council noted that the recommended plan seems unsafe for pedestrians and cyclists, but voted to proceed without addressing safety. The existing lot is underutilized, probably because it's too far from downtown shops and restaurants. $3.2M, I hope people are willing to use this lot! Aside from Farmer's Market time, I've never seen it close to full (38 of 59 is maximum measured data, per City docs), and Staff provided no supporting projections so why not compromise down from the 140 number? Narum suggested 132 and couldn't get support. Brown suggested ~137 and couldn't get support. Simply no willingness to compromise for safety.

2 people like this
Posted by been there
a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 20, 2019 at 10:45 am

sjd, is it possible that Mayor Thorne was being sarcastic?

As for the number of parking spaces in the redesigned lot, maybe a one way drive lane would accommodate the wider bike lane, making it safer and possibly a few more parking stalls if they were all on an angle. This has been done successfully in other cities in the Bay Area, like Menlo Park, Burlingame and others.
Just a suggestion to consider.

Whether the lot is currently full or not when you happen to view it, is NOT the issue. There is a severe and well-documented lack of public parking downtown. So ANYTHING that adds to the available parking would be helpful. Also the idea of making it a long garage with 2 or 3 levels is a great idea. The trail could be on the ground level and covered in part by the upper level(s).Heck they could even provide bicycle parking on that level! Napa has done this type of parking very successfully by squeezing in a multilevel garage on some properties with access from alleys or one way driveways. They are all free to the public and their downtown is THRIVING.
But maybe Pleasanton doesn't want to be like Napa or any other up-scale community.
If that's the case, we will be left out of any economic gains for downtown shops, restaurants and businesses because people still drive their cars and need a place to park while spending money downtown. Or else they can more easily go to Dublin or Livermore. It's that simple!

4 people like this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 20, 2019 at 11:06 am

@been there,

I was actually at this meeting, and we’ve been through these suggestions. It is fair to raise them, but they simply aren’t viable.

No, it cannot have a one way drive aisle because 90 degree parking requires pull out space. The compromise design the council turned down had 3 ADA angled spaces at the front where the lot transitions, but a fully angled parking option gives FAR less parking than the bike/ped compromise design does.

My 70% use was not an anecdote, it was referenced to the city study in my web link in my first comment. Don’t make assumptions please.

A 2 or 3 level garage on this skinny lot is simply not in the cards and the city does not have the funds allocated for it anyways.

The city still has access to all the lots along this route to add parking as they go, but they are throwing away the work of many people for a parking lot that doesn’t even address the downtown parking issue at all.

1 person likes this
Posted by Frankie
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jun 20, 2019 at 11:11 am

Frankie is a registered user.

With future plans for the City Hall site and growing population, we need more parking at that location. The bike trail location itself isn’t too safe crossing mid-block. Bicyclists should consider Peters instead or even Second Street as an alternative route through downtown instead of being on pedestrian pathways.

2 people like this
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 20, 2019 at 11:20 am

Peters has buses on it every 7 minutes and you can’t get to second street from the south because this parking lot would have been the connection. Those are not all-ages appropriate facilities.

It is not hard to make safe mid block crossings. What exists there now is not the final product.

Future plans for city hall and the south side should be encouraging more multi-modal travel and should have their own parking lot as part of that plan, not upending the 4 plans we’ve already done that include this trail amenity.

This isn’t about existing bicyclists. It’s about new ones.

7 people like this
Posted by J Houston
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Jun 20, 2019 at 12:18 pm

This is an opportunity to put a mixed use trail to provide connectivity that would be a fundamental piece of a long term plan to encourage people to go downtown without their car. Serious bikers do not use and never will use these kinds of trails.
All over the world more and more cities are kicking out cars ( Oslo, Madrid, Barcelona, Paris, London etc all now have plans to go car-less and in the US there is growing realization that getting people downtown does not need to equate to more cars/parking - everyone pays the same towards infrastructure whether they are in a car, walking or on a bike- so why is it taken for granted that others get less priority? Cars just take up too much valuable downtown space, are inefficient , polluting, and a threat to others not in cars.
The main bone of contention for me in this case though was if the city staff had followed their own guidelines and plans the mixed use trail would have been determined and designed first and the parking allocation second. This would have been a win win - especially as has been highlighted even when there is no parking spaces down town this lot at present remains 2/3 empty.
My prediction is In 20 years time there will be zero cars downtown. Main Street will be completely pedestrianized and there will be more people using the downtown businesses as a result not less. We should be thinking that way when decisions like this are being made.

4 people like this
Posted by D. Fisch
a resident of Downtown
on Jun 20, 2019 at 2:56 pm

I still wonder where the concept of 'sacrificing' parking spots comes from.

We are sacrificing safety and access to downtown for children, elderly people and families.

Merchants at Division and Main Street, somehow think that these parking spots which are 0.6 miles away are going to help their customers get to their shops. The Firehouse Theater has plenty of parking spots and is only 0.1 miles away.
Oh, but the firehouse parking lot is hidden and no one knows it's there! How about installing some parking lot signage to direct motorists to this and other under-used parking lots? This would surely cost less than $3.2 Million dollars.

The truth is that once in your car, you want to find the closest possible parking spot and this is what keeps motorists driving up and down our lovely main street looking for that prime spot. Expanding the parking area at between Bernal and Abbie won't change a thing.

I also object to these artificial fiscal responsibility argumenw made that prices the $3.2 million expense based on cost per additional parking spot. The staff pushed this misleading metric and Vice Mayor Karla Brown latched on to it. This dismisses the value of beautifying the area, landscaping, grading, providing safe family access, and improving the parking lot for all the cars in the lot. The compromise plan that was rejected by 3 out of 4 council members would have replaced the 59 existing spots with 108 quality spaces, ADA compliant parking and would have preserved multi-use access. The real comparison is 108 vs. 140, not 32 new spaces vs. 81. To illustrate this argument, if the number of spaces was the same before and after and the area was simply upgraded for a cost of only $1, the cost per additional parking would have been Infinite! Give me an argument that we need 140 spaces and that 108 is just not enough, and I'll be quiet.

6 people like this
Posted by Steve McGinnis
a resident of Sycamore Heights
on Jun 20, 2019 at 4:01 pm

As a member of the city’s Bicycle, Pedestrian and Trails Committt, we voted unanimously against the staff’s 65% plan. Not because it would be inconvenient, but because a trail less than the city’s minimum standard is unsafe as a mixed user trail. The 64% plan will mix young children walking or biking to the Meadowlark or Farmers Market. That is a foreseeable use that will result in people being injured when a student riding home from one of the two nearby high schools runs over a child.

The city in the past has ignored warnings that their designs were unsafe. Now they are ignoring it again.

2 people like this
Posted by S Piekarki
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 21, 2019 at 4:51 pm

The City of Pleasanton vision statement reads in part "Pleasanton is a great place to live, raise a family, work and do business. As our city approaches buildout in the next few years, we will strive to maintain these desirable qualities by continuing to develop a safe, convenient and uncongested circulation system; by providing a comprehensive system of bicycle and pedestrian trails; . . ."
We keep hearing about lack of parking downtown. The Draft Downtown Specific says there are currently over 3,500 parking spaces in the study area and that overall parking is adequate with Main street being impacted only during peak times.
"Bicycle Access and Trail Connectivity Improvements" is one of the top 5 priorities listed in The Downtown Parking Strategy and Implementation Plan of 2017. This plan has an 8 page list of ways to address downtown parking, many of them quite inexpensive.
The Trails Master Plan that was approved by Council only 4 weeks ago has a 14 page description of the Railroad Corridor Regional Trail. It states "This trail would have significant recreation and transportation benefits in Pleasanton, especially downtown.
A trail on this corridor is also part of a regional trail on both EBRP Trails Master Plan and Alameda County's as well.
There is simply no need to eliminate a full multi-use trail for one block of the Railroad Corridor. The current plan would simply become a hazard for users.

6 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jun 21, 2019 at 5:25 pm

The last few posters got it correct. That is why we should not combine pedestrians including small children with bicyclists. This trail section should only be for pedestrians because the trail is mid-block and presents dangerous Nike crossings. There are other streets in downtown that can be designated for bicyclists like Railroad, Peters, Division, etc. or other east/west streets. We still need parking for special events, when Main Street is closed, and for people who can’t walk far. We all are not cyclists because we have physical limitations so parking distributed throughout downtown is essential.

Like this comment
Posted by David
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Jun 21, 2019 at 5:28 pm

That’s mid-block crossings are dangerous...

1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 21, 2019 at 5:39 pm

Pedestrians and cyclists should never share a trail.
It is dangerous!
There will be collisions between pedestrians and cyclists.
There will be injuries!

2 people like this
Posted by DT
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jun 24, 2019 at 10:16 am

Re the corner lot at Peters and Angela, maybe this is known to most, but it was news to me today this is not a public lot. From the city: regarding the Bank of America property and parking lot, Bank of America owns their entire property on one lot and it is considered private property. The City does not have any rights to use the property for public parking purposes and cannot require the bank to allow public parking. Since it is private property the bank is permitted to restrict the use of their lot to customers only at all times, not just during business hours. The property however is not just occupied by Bank of America, there is a vacant tenant space adjacent to the bank that is currently under renovation to establish a new Zachary’s Pizza including outdoor dining. Although it appears the property has more than enough parking, once this new tenant is operational, there will be additional parking congestion within their private lot.

The bank owns the entire corner lot plus their own parking lot and can restrict all those spaces to only their customers - even before their business hours. I went to the Farmers Market this past Sat at 9am and a 3rd party parking attendant working for the bank told me I couldn't park in that lot - one hour before they were open.

Having the bank own so many parking spaces and not allowing it for public use whenever they want is ridiculous, in my opinion.

Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jun 24, 2019 at 10:41 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

It is the case for many lots near Main, which is why people “cheat” or complain. Inklings, Chase, True Value, and the spaces behind Nonni’s and the other restaurants on that stretch of Main are private. I think those behind Studio 7 and Rising Loafer may be private, or at least some are. I understand those businesses need spaces for paying customers. The businesses can’t provide enough parking and should cater to those who visit their establishments.

Which is why the city needs to(should/must) fix the problem.

Like this comment
Posted by Bob M
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 24, 2019 at 11:04 am

The trail was offered as an alternative to removing parking from First Street for a bike lane. Is the city now preparing to remove parking from First? From Main Street or Abbie?

Like this comment
Posted by Bill
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 26, 2019 at 2:51 pm

So many comments outside of the government's own public forum opportunities.

It reminds me of Emo Philips, "I like Twitter because it combines my two favorite forms of communication: texting, and throwing a note in a bottle out into the sea."

I chuckle at that every time people voice their indignation with our local government on this site.

Like this comment
Posted by sjd
a resident of Livermore
on Jun 26, 2019 at 8:43 pm


All the people commenting here for a better trail were at the meeting.

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