Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown told the Weekly she was relieved after finding out earlier this summer that she was unchallenged for the upcoming Nov. 8 election.
Brown said she saw it as "a positive affirmation that I've worked hard for the last 10 years in elected office to represent residents."
"I won easily in the last election, in 2020, and then in 2016 as a council member I had more votes than anyone in the history of Pleasanton when I was elected," she said.
"So I think that is affirmation that I am doing a good job for our voters, for our residents and our businesses," Brown added.
Poised for a second two-year term as mayor, Brown previously served as a regular City Council member from 2012 to 2020. Since she won the mayoral seat in the November 2020 election, Brown has been a leading voice on the council in addressing several issues that are still ongoing.
Affordable housing developments
Brown said tackling the state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation law stating Pleasanton must create nearly 6,000 new housing units will be one of the council's biggest challenges.
"That is a lot of housing units that we're looking to zone land for, but the city doesn't build housing -- we only zone land," Brown said.
She said the council is working diligently to ensure that those units are in locations that don't negatively impact existing residents and businesses, which will require careful planning from city staff.
"That's the art of successful community planning, is putting these new houses in locations that have access to transit and what we call walkable communities," Brown said.
But she said that because Pleasanton isn't that big of a city, they are starting to run out of space to put these affordable housing sites.
She said developments like the proposed five story, mixed-use building with 46 affordable housing units on Harrison Street pose a challenge to commercial services that the city still needs. She said her main problem with the Harrison Street project, apart from the lack of parking, is the height -- and she hopes the city can work with the developer to follow city guidelines for building height in the downtown area.
"It's unrealistic that you could have 46 units and no parking in our community," Brown said. "The ACE train does not provide enough transit options for trying to live without a vehicle; it's not a good fit."
But affordable housing options for the Stoneridge Shopping Center property is something that Brown said she was excited about and is looking forward to working with staff in revitalization efforts.
"How to make that development area updated, with an increase in the housing density, but making it feel like Pleasanton is going to be a big task in front of the City Council," the mayor said. "I really want that area to feel like Pleasanton. I want it to have a historic vibe in the open air and be family-friendly."
She said working with current land owners of the Stoneridge Mall and neighboring residents to come up with a comprehensive plan will be difficult, but not impossible.
JDEDZ and Costco
Another big-ticket item that Brown said she is excited to see through is the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone, which is tied to the construction of a Costco Wholesale store with a gas station in Pleasanton.
The council recently approved revised traffic mitigation plans so Costco can construct the necessary road and transit infrastructure to redevelop approximately 40 acres of land fronting Johnson Drive, near Stoneridge Drive and Interstate 680.
Brown said now that the traffic mitigation litigation is complete, she got word that the Costco could open as early as next September.
She said she thinks because of the proximity from the freeways and the fact that residents have been asking for a Costco in Pleasanton will make the store very successful and will bring in a lot of sales tax for the city.
"I think it's going to be a very successful store," Brown said. "A lot of residents in Pleasanton shop at the two regional Costcos in Danville and Livermore, so it'll be a good tax base for us. It will be a busy store."
Safe drinking water
Outside of housing developments, water safety and drought conservation is Brown's other top priority heading into her second term.
She said she is proud of residents for meeting, and exceeding, the 15% water reduction goal the governor asked for the city's cut back in irrigation and outdoor watering.
She said that apart from using recycled water for irrigation throughout the city, more still needs to be done in regards to finding other ways of increasing Pleasanton's water supply and treating the city-owned wells that are contaminated with PFAS.
PFAS, technically known as per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, have been widely used and long-lasting chemicals, components of which break down very slowly over time. In recent years, city officials have discovered PFAS in the city's groundwater supply facilities -- specifically in the city-maintained wells -- and have been working to address the problem.
"I want to support clean drinking water, safe drinking water for all of our residents," Brown said. "So we're looking at options like taking all of our water from Zone 7. We're looking at options of cleaning the water in our own three wells before it's distributed. We're looking at drilling new wells, and we are looking at rehabbing the wells we have."
Editor's note: A previous version of this story included incorrect verbiage in a Brown quote regarding residential zoning, due to a transcription error. The quote has been corrected to accurately reflect Brown's words. The Weekly regrets the error.