The Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday held off on hiring an environmental consultant to review the proposal from Simon Property Group to build nearly 500 apartments and other amenities on land the company owns at the Stoneridge Shopping Center.
The proposed contract with FirstCarbon Solutions was listed on the council's consent calendar, but city staff requested at the beginning of the meeting that the matter be postponed indefinitely. City Manager Nelson Fialho told the Weekly afterward the delay occurred because of city officials' concerns with Simon's initial design proposal.
"We need to work with them on the design before we place the contract back on the agenda," he said.
Fialho, speaking generally about the proposal, said "it doesn't fit the expectations that we have. It's not uncommon for someone to submit a pre-development application and for us to spend months working through it. So, we want to get that nailed down before we initiate the (consultant) contract."
Fialho said he anticipates the contract with FirstCarbon will return to the council by the end of the year.
Simon representatives had not responded to a request for comment on their apartment complex proposal as of Wednesday morning.
Few specifics about Simon's development plan have been revealed publicly since the firm applied for a planned unit development (PUD) development plan approval on Aug. 21. The council was presented with a three-page staff report outlining only basics of the new application, focusing more so on the environmental review contract instead.
The initial proposal calls for constructing 486 apartment units, a new parking garage and related site improvements on a southeast portion of the Stoneridge Shopping Center property, assistant city manager Brian Dolan wrote in the staff report.
In a follow-up interview, city planning manager Ellen Clark clarified that the apartment complex would replace the parking lot between the old Sears building and Macy's near the intersection where Stoneridge Mall Road loops back onto itself. The new parking garage, located closer to the mall side, would be a combination of spots for Stoneridge patrons and apartment residents.
That part of the mall property has been long been linked to potential redevelopment with high-density housing. The site was among nine locations across Pleasanton designated or rezoned for future large-scale residential as part of the city's 2012 Housing Element update, according to Dolan.
FirstCarbon Solutions, already familiar with the Stoneridge housing site, is city staff's preferred consultant to lead the forthcoming environmental analysis, which would be an addendum to the supplement environmental impact report finalized in 2012 for the Housing Element, Dolan said.
The proposed contract with the firm that was pulled from the council agenda Tuesday called for a maximum amount of $93,275, to be paid for by Simon.
Earlier this year, Simon also received city approval to demolish the now-vacant Sears building and parking garage the company owns at the mall and replace them with a movie theater, grocery store, a lifestyle health club, an outdoor courtyard, and new retail and restaurants.
The Sears site redevelopment has not begun yet. Clark said her understanding is Simon plans to wait to start work there until after its apartment project is approved.
In other business
* The only full discussion item on the council's agenda Tuesday was a proposed ordinance to update city regulations for massage establishments.
The ordinance, unanimously endorsed by the council, is designed to phase out the existing massage technician permit program issued by the Pleasanton Police Department in favor of requiring California Massage Therapy Council (CAMTC) certification for all massage practitioners in the city.
It also creates new operational requirements for massage businesses aimed to protect the health and safety of customers and prevent unlawful activities such as prostitution and human trafficking, according to city staff.
"It's really too bad because I know some massage therapists that donate their time to charities, they donate their time to hospitals. And it's really too bad that this industry has been hijacked by some of the most unsavory people on the planet ... human-trafficking of kids," Mayor Jerry Thorne said.
"Even though there may be some special regulations here that may not apply to other businesses, I think it's appropriate that we do our very best to protect the health and safety of the public," he added.
The new massage ordinance would likely take effect in mid-October, after a required second reading and final adoption vote Sept. 17. The council is also repealing the existing urgency ordinances put in place last year to halt new or expanded massage establishments in downtown while city staff worked to create the new, citywide massage regulations.
* Nearly 50 Muslim-Americans turned out to the meeting as the council presented a proclamation in support of August as Muslim Appreciation and Awareness Month in Pleasanton.
The council also approved proclamations for National Senior Center Month and Constitution Week on Tuesday night.
* As part of the 11-item consent calendar, council members approved the second reading and final adoption of two ordinances related to the 2019 Downtown Specific Plan Update, which the council first endorsed two weeks ago. Councilwoman Julie Testa recused herself, following state regulators deeming she lived too close to the DSP area.
* Also on consent, the council confirmed the 2020 officers for the Pleasanton Business Improvement District, who also act as the executive committee for the Pleasanton Downtown Association.
They will be president Bryan Bowers (downtown property owner), president-elect Terri Terry (Cellar Door), past-president Jim DeMersman (Museum on Main), treasurer Todd Utikal (SideTrack Bar + Grill) and secretary Bernie Billen (community volunteer).
Other consent business included a $3.34 million contract with Imperial Maintenance Services over the next three years to provide custodial services at 27 city-owned buildings, 17 public restrooms and Museum on Main; an additional $149,000 (for $241,544 total) to Toole Design Group for designing alternatives for the West Las Positas Boulevard bicycle corridor plan; and a $155,550 agreement with Vintage Contractors to resurface basketball courts at Meadowlark and Ken Mercer Sports parks.