Pleasanton's downtown has a strong sense of historic preservation and distinctive architecture that makes our town unique.
However, this core foundation has been weakened, as a result of the final adoption and approval of the updated Pleasanton Downtown Specific Plan (DSP), finalized by our City Council. The updated DSP does not go far enough to protect and preserve our historic downtown areas.
Adversely, the approved ordinance No. 2193 paves the way for rezoning designations for several properties within our downtown. For instance, certain public land-use properties are now approved to be rezoned as "mixed-use downtown" areas, including where the Civic Center resides.
Mixed-use zoning means the first floor is used commercially, and subsequent floors are used for residential housing. These newly zoned "mixed-use downtown" areas allow for buildings up to 46 feet in height and three stories maximum -- though a developer could try for four stories through a planned-unit development (PUD) application. These changes go against what many residents surveyed in 2017 stated, "No more housing downtown!"
DSP historic preservation goals were ignored in the plan by including revised standards that are "out of scale" to the architectural compatibility of nearby downtown areas.
In my opinion, the updated DSP falls short of seeking comprehensive solutions and lacks a clear vision for our residents. Instead, there is an over-emphasis on rezoning land-use areas, with a shortsighted solution to relocate the Civic Center to Bernal Park.
The updated DSP should have diligently searched for multiple solutions on how to revitalize our downtown areas, instead of prioritizing expansive building projects. It also should have included more strategic options for improving existing public land-use areas, such as by redeveloping the existing Civic Center into two stories or adding a community center.
Looking beyond many debates held during the DSP review process, we must not lose sight of the real battle at hand. We must remember, the residents still have a voice to preserve public land-use areas by keeping the existing Civic Center in its current location.
How? The public must stay firm and vote against the relocation of the existing Civic Center to Bernal Park.
Why? Because then, Pleasanton city staff and the City Council must go back to amend the DSP, as it relates to the existing Civic Center site. Simply stated, the mixed-use downtown zoning area would most likely be rezoned back to public land-use.
As residents, we must consider what makes Pleasanton's downtown unique and remember it's about protecting and preserving the small-town, historic buildings, its downtown areas and the downtown public land-uses. Until the time comes for us to cast our final vote, remember that no decision is permanent!
Until then, I urge all residents to email our City Council at CityCouncil@cityofpleasantonca.gov and ask for concrete next steps and assurances for the preservation of our historic downtown areas.
Why? Because many elements of the updated DSP leave room for potential undesirable outcomes, that are contradictory to historic preservation and do not reflect the many voices of our residents.