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Pleasanton: Downtown ground-floor active use policy up for final council vote

Also: PFAS funding plan and biannual policing report on meeting docket

Changes to the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) that would require ground-floor units on Main Street have fully "active" uses for business are up for a final vote at the Pleasanton City Council meeting on Tuesday, starting 7 p.m.

In order to promote an "active pedestrian environment on the ground floor of a commercial building" such as restaurants, bars and retail establishments, the DSP's "Active Ground Floor Use Overlay" policy currently prohibits non-active ground-floor uses along Main Street, according to city staff.

Existing DSP regulations require an "active use" commercial operation for the front 25% of the depth of multi-use tenant space, with some exceptions for vacancies lasting more than six months and purpose-built bank buildings.

At the July 28 Planning Commission meeting, staff recommended "to increase the depth of the tenant space required for an active use from 25% to 60%, coupled with a requirement that at least 60% of the leasable square footage area be dedicated to the active use."

The commission instead suggested requiring that "the entirety of a tenant space subject to the active ground floor use occupancy be occupied with an active use," as well as adding clarifying policies on vacancy "such that the language specifically indicates the vacancy as commencing at the end of a lease." Measures like posting a leasing sign at the site and an active listing "to demonstrate proactive marketing of the tenant space" were also recommended.

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As a future discussion item, the commission also recommended revising the DSP and city municipal code "to allow only an active use or a personal service business to occupy ground floor tenant spaces after a six-month long vacancy rather than any use whatsoever as is currently allowed."

During stakeholder outreach this summer, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce suggested personal services such as barbershops and salons be treated as active use.

Staff said they do "not support making this change, since it was a deliberate and explicit policy decision to exclude such businesses from the definition at the time the DSP was adopted," adding that the exclusion is reflected in the municipal code's definition, but not in the DSP, and has proposed adding it to the DSP "for consistency."

In other business

* A funding plan for the final design of the city's per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and wells rehabilitation project will be presented to the council on Tuesday.

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In June, the council signed off on proceeding with the project's final design to address the detection of PFAS -- synthetic chemicals known to be harmful to humans -- in the city's wells. At the time staff was also asked to prepare the funding plan, which identifies $42.7 million in water operating funds, water connection fees, and debt financing to pay the estimated remainder of the project.

Staff has devised a funding plan strategy to minimize using debt to fund the project, which they said "reduces the impact to water rates while ensuring funding is available when the project is ready to construct and/or procure equipment."

According to staff, the city's water rates can expect "up to an $11.60 increase to bimonthly water bills" by assuming a 4% interest rate. Should the actual interest rate be lower, staff said the actual water rates charged would be adjusted accordingly.

Staff is proposing to allocate an additional $6 million to the project for the fiscal years 2023 to 2025 capital improvement program (CIP), with $4 million of that going to the Water Fund's annual allocation to the CIP.

Another $5.3 million in water connection fees could also be allocated to the project, for about 11.5% of total project costs. Staff said the current water connection fee fund balance is $4 million, "all of which will be allocated to the project."

"The remaining $1.3 million in water connection fee revenues will come from future collections though it is likely that the project will need to borrow against those future collections to have funds in place in a timely fashion," staff said.

The city, which collects the fees from new development to offset impacts on the city's water infrastructure, has not updated its water connection fees since the 1980s. Staff said they plan to update the water connection fees by the end of 2023, after the Water System Master Plan is completed.

To "recover the costs to mitigate PFAS in the city' s groundwater," city officials filed a lawsuit against "manufacturers of fire-fighting foam and the chemicals used to make them."

"The city's lawsuit has been consolidated before a U.S. District Court in South Carolina along with over 500 similar lawsuits," staff said. "It is currently unclear when the city's litigation will be resolved and whether the city will receive a settlement."

Staff continued, "If the city receives a settlement before incurring debt for the project, the debt principal will be reduced. If the city receives a settlement after incurring debt, the settlement proceeds will be used to make debt service payments."

A similar approach has also been recommended if the city is approved a grant up to $1.5 million for PFAS remediation projects from the federal Bureau of Reclamation Smart Water Program.

The city will also seek a state revolving fund loan; staff said they will begin the process to issue revenue bonds, "if it looks like the state is unable to meet (the) project timeline for loan funds by May 2022."

* The first biannual update on the Pleasanton Police Department's operations, services and other activities will be brought to the council on Tuesday.

The presentation comes almost a year after the council directed the formation of a Community Advisory Board and to have staff deliver twice-yearly reports on community policing and department operations.

An overview will be given that evening of PPD's "calls for service, crime trends, use of force, personnel investigations, crisis response, community policing programs as well as current and future initiatives," according to staff.

Highlights from the report include an update on the final stages of selecting CAB members. Staff have received and reviewed 84 applications, as well as conducted phone interviews to prescreen applicants. Interviews with Police Chief David Swing are "well underway," with 22 of the 84 applicants selected for an interview.

The first meeting of the CAB is expected to take place this month, "with an opportunity for CAB members to get to know one another and talk about the mission of the Board," staff said. "Once seated, the Board will meet regularly to review and provide input on topics of community significance."

Topics may include mental health, homelessness, use of force and school resource officers, though "the board's direction will also be fluid to allow for discussion of topics that rise in significance more spontaneously."

Staff will also review a pilot mental health crisis response program currently in development. Following council direction, PPD has organized "a multi-disciplinary work group of professionals to include schools, County Behavioral Health, and service providers to recommend a service model."

A complete presentation of the pilot program with planned implementation will be brought to the council for approval on Sept. 21.

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Pleasanton: Downtown ground-floor active use policy up for final council vote

Also: PFAS funding plan and biannual policing report on meeting docket

by / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Mon, Sep 6, 2021, 1:09 pm

Changes to the Downtown Specific Plan (DSP) that would require ground-floor units on Main Street have fully "active" uses for business are up for a final vote at the Pleasanton City Council meeting on Tuesday, starting 7 p.m.

In order to promote an "active pedestrian environment on the ground floor of a commercial building" such as restaurants, bars and retail establishments, the DSP's "Active Ground Floor Use Overlay" policy currently prohibits non-active ground-floor uses along Main Street, according to city staff.

Existing DSP regulations require an "active use" commercial operation for the front 25% of the depth of multi-use tenant space, with some exceptions for vacancies lasting more than six months and purpose-built bank buildings.

At the July 28 Planning Commission meeting, staff recommended "to increase the depth of the tenant space required for an active use from 25% to 60%, coupled with a requirement that at least 60% of the leasable square footage area be dedicated to the active use."

The commission instead suggested requiring that "the entirety of a tenant space subject to the active ground floor use occupancy be occupied with an active use," as well as adding clarifying policies on vacancy "such that the language specifically indicates the vacancy as commencing at the end of a lease." Measures like posting a leasing sign at the site and an active listing "to demonstrate proactive marketing of the tenant space" were also recommended.

As a future discussion item, the commission also recommended revising the DSP and city municipal code "to allow only an active use or a personal service business to occupy ground floor tenant spaces after a six-month long vacancy rather than any use whatsoever as is currently allowed."

During stakeholder outreach this summer, the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce suggested personal services such as barbershops and salons be treated as active use.

Staff said they do "not support making this change, since it was a deliberate and explicit policy decision to exclude such businesses from the definition at the time the DSP was adopted," adding that the exclusion is reflected in the municipal code's definition, but not in the DSP, and has proposed adding it to the DSP "for consistency."

In other business

* A funding plan for the final design of the city's per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) treatment and wells rehabilitation project will be presented to the council on Tuesday.

In June, the council signed off on proceeding with the project's final design to address the detection of PFAS -- synthetic chemicals known to be harmful to humans -- in the city's wells. At the time staff was also asked to prepare the funding plan, which identifies $42.7 million in water operating funds, water connection fees, and debt financing to pay the estimated remainder of the project.

Staff has devised a funding plan strategy to minimize using debt to fund the project, which they said "reduces the impact to water rates while ensuring funding is available when the project is ready to construct and/or procure equipment."

According to staff, the city's water rates can expect "up to an $11.60 increase to bimonthly water bills" by assuming a 4% interest rate. Should the actual interest rate be lower, staff said the actual water rates charged would be adjusted accordingly.

Staff is proposing to allocate an additional $6 million to the project for the fiscal years 2023 to 2025 capital improvement program (CIP), with $4 million of that going to the Water Fund's annual allocation to the CIP.

Another $5.3 million in water connection fees could also be allocated to the project, for about 11.5% of total project costs. Staff said the current water connection fee fund balance is $4 million, "all of which will be allocated to the project."

"The remaining $1.3 million in water connection fee revenues will come from future collections though it is likely that the project will need to borrow against those future collections to have funds in place in a timely fashion," staff said.

The city, which collects the fees from new development to offset impacts on the city's water infrastructure, has not updated its water connection fees since the 1980s. Staff said they plan to update the water connection fees by the end of 2023, after the Water System Master Plan is completed.

To "recover the costs to mitigate PFAS in the city' s groundwater," city officials filed a lawsuit against "manufacturers of fire-fighting foam and the chemicals used to make them."

"The city's lawsuit has been consolidated before a U.S. District Court in South Carolina along with over 500 similar lawsuits," staff said. "It is currently unclear when the city's litigation will be resolved and whether the city will receive a settlement."

Staff continued, "If the city receives a settlement before incurring debt for the project, the debt principal will be reduced. If the city receives a settlement after incurring debt, the settlement proceeds will be used to make debt service payments."

A similar approach has also been recommended if the city is approved a grant up to $1.5 million for PFAS remediation projects from the federal Bureau of Reclamation Smart Water Program.

The city will also seek a state revolving fund loan; staff said they will begin the process to issue revenue bonds, "if it looks like the state is unable to meet (the) project timeline for loan funds by May 2022."

* The first biannual update on the Pleasanton Police Department's operations, services and other activities will be brought to the council on Tuesday.

The presentation comes almost a year after the council directed the formation of a Community Advisory Board and to have staff deliver twice-yearly reports on community policing and department operations.

An overview will be given that evening of PPD's "calls for service, crime trends, use of force, personnel investigations, crisis response, community policing programs as well as current and future initiatives," according to staff.

Highlights from the report include an update on the final stages of selecting CAB members. Staff have received and reviewed 84 applications, as well as conducted phone interviews to prescreen applicants. Interviews with Police Chief David Swing are "well underway," with 22 of the 84 applicants selected for an interview.

The first meeting of the CAB is expected to take place this month, "with an opportunity for CAB members to get to know one another and talk about the mission of the Board," staff said. "Once seated, the Board will meet regularly to review and provide input on topics of community significance."

Topics may include mental health, homelessness, use of force and school resource officers, though "the board's direction will also be fluid to allow for discussion of topics that rise in significance more spontaneously."

Staff will also review a pilot mental health crisis response program currently in development. Following council direction, PPD has organized "a multi-disciplinary work group of professionals to include schools, County Behavioral Health, and service providers to recommend a service model."

A complete presentation of the pilot program with planned implementation will be brought to the council for approval on Sept. 21.

Comments

50 Years Here
Registered user
Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 6, 2021 at 10:19 pm
50 Years Here, Pleasanton Heights
Registered user
on Sep 6, 2021 at 10:19 pm

Something is not right when a Barber Shop is a prohibited use for Main Street...


Robertbush81
Registered user
Mohr Park
on Sep 7, 2021 at 11:12 am
Robertbush81, Mohr Park
Registered user
on Sep 7, 2021 at 11:12 am

While I am all for a more vibrant downtown, how is this legal? Shouldn't pedestrian safety being a higher priority? How about finding non-traditional way such as creating bike paths, pedestrian bridges over Del Valle Creek and pedestrian overpasses of roads like Bernal to draw more people naturally into the downtown. Also this seems short-sighted in the need for a diverse range of business types for a downtown to be truly successful.


VAB
Registered user
Downtown
on Sep 7, 2021 at 12:44 pm
VAB , Downtown
Registered user
on Sep 7, 2021 at 12:44 pm

To the Pleasanton City Council.
A portion of my building has been vacant since the retirement of Rick’s Picks in December of 2019. (20 months)
My building is 146’ deep, in my case a 100% retail requirement for downstairs retail would be extremely unreasonable. At the July 28, meeting a recommendation by the staff for a 25% to 60% retail requirement would be more than adequate. The rear or back portion of my building is much more suited for non retail use as it has a rear access. I have been fortunate over the years to have always had excellent retail tenants. However retail has changed dramatically over the last few years, it is nearly impossible for moderate to midsized retailers to compete with internet sales.
I support retail as well as those businesses that create pedestrian traffic. A vibrant Downtown should include personal service businesses that may not be considered retail. Language such as not permitted is quite strong. I would urge the Council to be cautious about painting this issue with a broad brush, when buildings are vacant everybody loses.
Not all buildings on Main Street are suited for small retail stores.
Respectfully,

Velio (Al ) Bronzini
Downtown property owner


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