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Pleasanton Planning Commission to debate mandating more 'active' business uses along Main Street

Drafted amendments propose clarifying policy, increasing requirements

The Pleasanton Planning Commission is set to consider proposed modifications to the Downtown Specific Plan on Wednesday, including requiring more "active" businesses in ground-floor units on Main Street.

The recommendations from city staff, which follow a City Council discussion last month on commercial activity downtown, include more than doubling the amount of space ground-floor businesses on Main Street must devote to a defined "active use."

The Downtown Specific Plan, updated in August 2019, includes the "active ground floor use overlay" policy, which mandates first-floor commercial operations must be the type of business designed to "promote an active pedestrian environment," such as retail and restaurants.

As written, the policy requires 25% of the depth of the tenant space to be of active use with exceptions to long-term vacancies and purpose-built bank buildings due to the difficulty in the conversion to other types of establishments.

The policy came into question in December 2020 when the city received an application from Iron Horse Real Estate to locate on the ground-floor on Main Street as a multi-use space, incorporating both an active and non-active component, according to city staff

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Community development director Ellen Clark denied the proposal, but the applicant appealed to the Planning Commissioner, which granted the appeal after adjustments to the project that would incorporate the retail component to the front facing Main Street. Commissioners also recommended the City Council to review the policies of active ground-floor use in the specific plan.

Following the suggestions of the council and staff, the commission on Wednesday will consider potential changes to the Downtown Specific Plan, including to the language and definition of active ground-floor use policy and requirements for multi-use spaces.

The drafted language changes, with the purpose of better articulating the definition of the active ground-floor use, included stating the ability to attract walk-in customers and without the inclusion of personal services, according to city staff. More language changes within the policy aim to make clear of the exceptions to the policy and procedures to obtain approval for overlay.

The staff-recommended changes to the active ground-floor use requirements are to increase the depth required for active use in multi-use spaces to 60%, up from its original 25%. An additional requirement mandating 60% of total leasable square footage toward active usage is also proposed, with non-active components to be located at the rear of the space.

With regards to the exceptions to the policy, staff recommended including the requirement of exhibiting clear evidence that the space is vacant, or "has been abandoned or discontinued for a period of at least six months," by photographs of "for lease" signage, vacant storefront, written correspondence, copies of listing, or the like.

A new section is recommended to clarify procedures in obtaining approval for overlay of active and non-active spaces, stating the potential request for additional information by the community development director to confirm compliance with policy, according to city staff

The commission will consider the recommendations made by staff and provide its final recommendation to the City Council on Wednesday (July 28). The planning commission meeting will be held online through Zoom at 7 p.m. More information on viewing or commenting at the meeting is found on the website of the city of Pleasanton.

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Pleasanton Planning Commission to debate mandating more 'active' business uses along Main Street

Drafted amendments propose clarifying policy, increasing requirements

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 5:19 pm

The Pleasanton Planning Commission is set to consider proposed modifications to the Downtown Specific Plan on Wednesday, including requiring more "active" businesses in ground-floor units on Main Street.

The recommendations from city staff, which follow a City Council discussion last month on commercial activity downtown, include more than doubling the amount of space ground-floor businesses on Main Street must devote to a defined "active use."

The Downtown Specific Plan, updated in August 2019, includes the "active ground floor use overlay" policy, which mandates first-floor commercial operations must be the type of business designed to "promote an active pedestrian environment," such as retail and restaurants.

As written, the policy requires 25% of the depth of the tenant space to be of active use with exceptions to long-term vacancies and purpose-built bank buildings due to the difficulty in the conversion to other types of establishments.

The policy came into question in December 2020 when the city received an application from Iron Horse Real Estate to locate on the ground-floor on Main Street as a multi-use space, incorporating both an active and non-active component, according to city staff

Community development director Ellen Clark denied the proposal, but the applicant appealed to the Planning Commissioner, which granted the appeal after adjustments to the project that would incorporate the retail component to the front facing Main Street. Commissioners also recommended the City Council to review the policies of active ground-floor use in the specific plan.

Following the suggestions of the council and staff, the commission on Wednesday will consider potential changes to the Downtown Specific Plan, including to the language and definition of active ground-floor use policy and requirements for multi-use spaces.

The drafted language changes, with the purpose of better articulating the definition of the active ground-floor use, included stating the ability to attract walk-in customers and without the inclusion of personal services, according to city staff. More language changes within the policy aim to make clear of the exceptions to the policy and procedures to obtain approval for overlay.

The staff-recommended changes to the active ground-floor use requirements are to increase the depth required for active use in multi-use spaces to 60%, up from its original 25%. An additional requirement mandating 60% of total leasable square footage toward active usage is also proposed, with non-active components to be located at the rear of the space.

With regards to the exceptions to the policy, staff recommended including the requirement of exhibiting clear evidence that the space is vacant, or "has been abandoned or discontinued for a period of at least six months," by photographs of "for lease" signage, vacant storefront, written correspondence, copies of listing, or the like.

A new section is recommended to clarify procedures in obtaining approval for overlay of active and non-active spaces, stating the potential request for additional information by the community development director to confirm compliance with policy, according to city staff

The commission will consider the recommendations made by staff and provide its final recommendation to the City Council on Wednesday (July 28). The planning commission meeting will be held online through Zoom at 7 p.m. More information on viewing or commenting at the meeting is found on the website of the city of Pleasanton.

Comments

been there
Registered user
Del Prado
on Jul 28, 2021 at 9:59 am
been there, Del Prado
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 9:59 am

This is all very confusing. It seems to me that the Planning Commission does not have the authority to "mandate" anything. (Maybe just a poor choice of words.) We really need to make every effort to revitalize our downtown and not put more restrictions on potential tenants. The effort mentioned here is aimed at solving a problem the Main Street no longer faces. We have way too many vacant first floor commercial spaces as it is. If you read the complaints on this forum and in the news paper about closing Main Street on weekends to promote restaurant business, they are all coming from first floor store front tenants requiring parking and not foot traffic. Maybe it's time to deal with the real reasons there are so many vacant properties and be less worried about what tenant MIGHT want to occupy the space that produces revenue for the City in terms of taxes, business and vibrancy. If you look at purchasing trends, the physical retail shops/stores are not able to compete with online purchasing AND to pay the extremely high rents demanded by our local landlords/developers. In case you disagree check out Stoneridge Mall as a local example.


Ennis
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 28, 2021 at 11:48 am
Ennis, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 11:48 am

Frankly, the 2019 plan was out of date before it was written. Planning commission -Amazon has 3.4 million sqft of warehouse space in Patterson and is intent on crushing everyone from the small guy on Main St to the mall department store. How does an individual(s) open a store to compete with that? They don't. Will a bank give a loan for a business that has this level of risk attached to it? They won't. As a result, they won't be opening a store in downtown Pleasanton, particularly with rent levels, parking issues, shut-downs that benefit only the restaurants, and the changing demographics of Pleasanton. Get your heads out of the sand, get a clear understanding on the direction of the retail business locally and nationally, and then be open to ideas that you may not like. You are creating and advocating guidelines that are 10 years out of date and have a vision that doesn't seem to reflect market conditions, demographics, or reality.


pja
Registered user
Birdland
on Jul 28, 2021 at 1:14 pm
pja, Birdland
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 1:14 pm

Main Street's only hope to avoid the continuation of heavy turnover is to attract 1-2 anchor tenants that bring customers in and drive business for all the local shops around them. We all want to support local businesses, but also need outside money coming in to make our local businesses successful. So why not offer serious discounts to put in an Apple store, a Potterybarn, or 1-2 similar anchor tenants that will bring in more clientele for our beloved local businesses?


Rodger
Registered user
another community
on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:16 pm
Rodger, another community
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:16 pm

Just turn it into a parking lot !!!


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:18 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jul 28, 2021 at 4:18 pm

Go look at Livermore
Go look at Danville

Copy / paste

Go look at Walnut Creek
Don’t do that


VAB
Registered user
Downtown
on Jul 29, 2021 at 9:07 am
VAB , Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 29, 2021 at 9:07 am

Pleasanton Weekly,
Yesterday I commented on the planning commission mandate to increase retail space on Main St. Downtown Pleasanton.
Can you please tell me why my comments were not posted ?


Gina Channell, Publisher
Registered user
Downtown
on Jul 31, 2021 at 3:50 pm
Gina Channell, Publisher, Downtown
Registered user
on Jul 31, 2021 at 3:50 pm

@VAB - There are no posts from you on that thread. The last one from you is on "Livermore removes totem pole from Centennial Park, cites 'maintenance evaluation'"


50 Years Here
Registered user
Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 1, 2021 at 5:53 am
50 Years Here, Pleasanton Heights
Registered user
on Aug 1, 2021 at 5:53 am

Downtown needs some winds at its back... not in its face...


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