After being on pause for several years, the Pleasanton City Council is set to revisit a proposed transportation fee that would be paid by developers who build in the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (JDEDZ) by the I-580/I-680 interchange, during its regular meeting on Tuesday, starting 7 p.m.
With the location for Pleasanton's newest commercial development proposed to be anchored by a Costco, two hotels and other businesses, staff is recommending the council approve the transportation fee rates to "help mitigate the impact new development in the JDEDZ will have on the city's transportation system."
The revenue collected "will be spent to directly offset this burden by improving the existing transportation infrastructure as well as constructing new infrastructure to accommodate the projected growth," staff said. Fees will be assessed according to land-use and the building square footage being proposed.
The transportation fee was originally adopted by the council in 2018, but rescinded several months later so the city could conduct additional environmental review of the project to resolve an initial lawsuit. After completing the review, the JDEDZ was formally approved last year -- though that decision was hit with litigation, too, which is headed to the state appellate court.
The project's approval would also change land-use designations and zoning in the city's General Plan to "spur investment" in the 40-acre area near Johnson and Stoneridge Drive.
Several transportation improvement projects totaling an estimated $27.6 million are needed "to accommodate the current traffic and the increased traffic that the JDEDZ will create at full build- out," staff said in a report. Among other improvements listed, two signals on Johnson Drive as well as widening the road and the on-ramp to I-680 at Stoneridge Drive would be funded by the transportation fee.
Project costs have increased by $6.1 million -- from $21.5 million since the original budget was set four years ago. A sales tax-sharing agreement at a 1.5% interest rate with Costco lasting 25 years would pay for about $6.8 million of the necessary transportation improvement costs.
"If assessed on all future non-Costco development," staff said the fee would generate about $8.6 million -- enough to reduce the city's mandatory reimbursement to Costco. If fee revenues are received after the city has fully reimbursed Costco, those amounts would be used to reimburse the city's General Fund.
About $1 million of right-of-way costs is included in the $8.6 million; staff said "most of the needed ROW is within the parcels that would be charged the proposed fee," and is recommending a credit against the fee to property owners equal to the contributed ROW value, as well as extending credit for previously completed JDEDZ work, including California Environmental Quality Act and preliminary transportation design work.
There is also $440,000 to cover preliminary costs in the total project costs, "and therefore the $8.6 million allocation to future development," staff said.
Staff also suggested allocating a $5.2 million grant from the Alameda County Transportation Commission to "reduce the amount of Traffic Impact Fee funds that the city will need to allocate towards the Stoneridge Drive Queue Spillback project" (decreasing the city's cost between TIF and cost contributions by about $151,500) and spending $1.8 million from the Dublin Freeway Reimbursement Reserve to fund the city's obligatory half of the ROW expenses, as well as 50% of any project costs that exceed estimates from 2017.
The master fee schedule may also be amended on Tuesday to reflect fees of $38.16 per square foot to develop retail for currently vacant parcels, and $14.12 per square foot for hotels. If the council adopts staff's recommendations, a second reading of the ordinance would take place at the May 18 council meeting and the fee would go into effect 60 days later.
In other business
* Council members will continue discussion of the city's draft work plan from their special meeting and workshop last Wednesday, which lasted about six hours. Much ground was covered that night -- about 17 out of 27 pages in the work plan document -- but the council agreed to reconvene later when Mayor Karla Brown said she was feeling the effects from receiving the COVID-19 vaccine earlier that day.
Nearly 100 residents phoned in for the meeting's open comment portion, lasting almost three hours, and asked the council to prioritize multiple community projects such as completing the Bernal Park Community Garden Master Plan, adding cricket facilities, improving the city's broadband infrastructure, and revising the proposed master plan for Century House and Bicentennial Park.
Outstanding items in the work plan up for discussion on Tuesday include developing a plan and framework for addressing homelessness in Pleasanton, enhancing the city's minimum Americans with Disabilities Act accessibility requirements, developing a fund for improving local designated historic homes, addressing water quality issues, and updating and implementing Climate Action Plan 2.0.
* A municipal code amendment to add a voluntary campaign contribution limit and decrease voluntary expenditures for candidates running for city office candidates is set for approval on Tuesday.
Last month, the council voted, 3-2, to cap voluntary campaign contribution limits to $1,000 and reduce campaign spending in city elections to $24,000 for council member candidates, and $30,000 for mayoral candidates.
Councilmembers Jack Balch and Kathy Narum voted against the limits, arguing in part that transparency would decrease by having donors funnel money to political action committees, which could then spend on behalf of candidates instead, and that the limits could unfairly restrict candidates from being able to effectively reach voters during the pandemic.