The Pleasanton City Council delayed further discussion about the project approach and scope of work for the new East Pleasanton Specific Plan process until next month after a council member was out sick Tuesday.
Council members had been scheduled to consider confirming the staff-recommended concept initially endorsed by the council majority two weeks ago, but with Councilwoman Kathy Narum -- as well as City Manager Nelson Fialho -- absent, they opted to continue the item without discussion until their first regular meeting in January.
Mayor Jerry Thorne at first suggested setting the new hearing date for Dec. 17, but Vice Mayor Karla Brown urged her colleagues to wait until January to avoid any conflict for interested residents who might be too busy to attend the week before Christmas.
The council majority agreed, voting 3-1 to reschedule the hearing for Jan. 21. Councilman Jerry Pentin dissented; he was in favor of keeping the Dec. 17 hearing date.
The city typically holds only one council meeting in January because of the New Year's Day holiday week, so the next regular meeting is Jan. 21 -- although the way the calendar falls in 2020, the first Tuesday of the month would be the week after the holiday, Jan. 7.
Though they postponed the public hearing without discussing the topic themselves, council members did allow residents who turned out for the scheduled debate Tuesday to share their thoughts about the east side.
Four speakers went to the lectern, three of whom expressed general concerns about significant new residential development in East Pleasanton and a lack of necessary infrastructure such as roads, clean water and schools, while the other urged the council to prioritize more affordable housing.
"It is my concern that this public process is not going forward quite as transparently as we would like," said Kelly Cousins, president of the slow-growth citizen group PleasantonVoters.com.
"What's the rush?" Cousins added, a day after her group sent a mass email to supporters in a call for an advisory vote from the public on the east side before the plan is drafted. "Let us residents have a time to vote ... This is a very important issue; we'd like to work with you to help plan this area."
The East Pleasanton Specific Plan would be the city policy document that lays the groundwork for future development on the large swath of land on the far southeastern edge of the city long eyed for potential redevelopment with residential, commercial and other uses.
Narum's vote could ultimately prove key as she joined Thorne and Pentin in voicing support for city's staff recommendation for the planning process when the council first discussed the concept on Nov. 19. Brown and Councilwoman Julie Testa were more hesitant, though no formal vote was cast that week.
The recommended public drafting and review process centers around workshops and meetings overseen by the Planning Commission, with regular check-ins with the council along the way, as opposed to creating a new task force like what happened the last time the city undertook east side planning several years ago.
The final city deliberations on the specific plan, once completed, would occur before the council -- though a public vote on ratification remains a real possibility.
The east side was the subject of a city planning effort, including intensive task force work, from 2012 until mid-2015 when the council opted to halt the project amid public concerns about the drought, school overcrowding and general over-development in Pleasanton.
Before restarting the process this time around, city staff is looking to the council for direction on the project approach and scope of work.
City staff expects to begin the estimated 18- to 24-month planning process later this winter or in early spring, depending on when the council gives its final direction. The process would be paid for by Pleasanton-based developer Ponderosa Homes, which has secured agreements with the major private property owners on the east side, but all consultant contracts would be retained and managed independently by the city, staff said.
If the Jan. 21 date holds for the east side debate, it could be a busy meeting night.
City staff said Tuesday night that the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone -- the city's policy effort to provide the framework for a Costco store and other new redevelopment on land near the freeways' interchange -- is currently scheduled to return to the council on Jan. 21 for new deliberations after additional environmental work spurred by a lawsuit over the council's previous JDEDZ approval.
In other business
* The council's main discussion topic Tuesday was a presentation with an update on state legislation and a review of the city's position on certain housing and non-housing bills out of Sacramento.
City staff walked the council through outcomes of key bills during the 2019 legislative year, including their probable impacts on Pleasanton, as well as a look ahead at what to expect in the 2020 legislative cycle.
Local Assemblywoman Rebecca Bauer-Kahan (D-Orinda) was on hand for the discussion and spoke to the council about her legislative accomplishments in 2019, goals for 2020 and her own expectations for housing bills moving forward. The council also heard from Tri-Valley cities' lobbying firm, Townsend Public Affairs.
* Council members presented a proclamation declaring Dec. 4 as Josh Burger and Awareness of Atelosteogenesis Syndrome Type III Day in honor of the Amador Valley High alum and motivational speaker who has faced the extremely rare genetic condition since birth. Wednesday was Burger's 29th birthday.
Friends and family are also working on Josh's Drive for Independence Fundraiser to help generate funds to purchase a van fitted with special equipment so he can drive on his own. To learn more, visit www.32auctions.com/JoshBurger.
* The council pulled two items off Tuesday's consent calendar, continuing them to a yet-undetermined future meeting for unspecified reasons.
The first was a proposed $732,548 loan agreement with the Hacienda Business Park Owners Association to renovate landscaped areas in Hacienda. The second was a new ordinance that would give voting authority to youth members on the city's Human Services, Civic Arts, Library, and Parks and Recreation commissions.
The other seven items on the consent calendar were unanimously approved without discussion.
The list included confirming the council's 2020 meeting schedule, a maximum $334,695 contract with Suarez & Munoz Construction, Inc. for the Centennial Park bocce ball court renovation project, and a resolution creating new fees for processing small cell wireless facility applications -- $3,779 per site for facilities in a public right-of-way and $3,552 per site for private land.