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Guest Opinion: History repeats itself over housing in Pleasanton

Pleasanton Unified School District approached the city of Pleasanton about rezoning surplus school district property for housing. The staff from both entities worked together in good faith and sent it along to the Planning Commission. Further discussion ensued and the commission made a recommendation to the entire council.

Cheryl Cook-Kallio, former Pleasanton councilmember and current Alameda County Board of Education trustee. (Contributed photo)

The recommendation was thoughtful and considered the unique nature of downtown and other concerns anytime a development is proposed. The most important aspect of this proposal is the access of more affordable housing for teachers and other school district staff while creating much needed funds which will be used to the benefit of students. Usually these recommendations are tweaked, not ignored.

To most people's surprise the City Council in a 3-1 vote reduced the density so much as to make the development unviable. Using words that spoke about concern for the city's charming downtown and the worry about the increase in traffic they ignored the hard work of many. They refused to balance the benefits with the costs.

The three that voted to reduce the density also did so fully aware of AB 2295, which allows by right zoning of 30-40 units an acre for the purpose of teacher housing. The City Council would only be able to weigh in on the design guidelines. The council chose to reduce the density despite state law.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? A month after I was elected to the City Council in 2006, we were sued over our lack of affordable housing. For five long years the council fought the state on this issue.

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We tried to create a united front but privately we were repeatedly told that we were on the wrong side of this, and we were now deciding how much money we wanted to throw in this hole we were digging. Two of us regularly sought solution after solution and were repeatedly voted down.

I couldn't understand why we continued down this long road that resulted in a multimillion-dollar settlement that left us with by right zoning. It was called a settlement. This is a misnomer. We lost and were forced to scramble to get what we could and get out without worse damage.

The current City Council is not paying attention. The school district worked with the city to come up with a development that would enhance the community, fill a need and realize a financial benefit. PUSD honored the collaboration process, compromised, and lowered the density to fit in with our community.

The majority of this council ignored their own staff and the Planning Commission and imposed density limits that will force PUSD to use state law AB 2295 to do what is fiscally responsible with excess school property. The City Council majority is forcing PUSD's hand. Is fighting a lawsuit how you want to use your hard-earned tax dollars?

Editor's note: Cheryl Cook-Kallio is a former member of the Pleasanton City Council and a retired public school teacher. She is currently serving her first term as the Tri-Valley's representative on the Alameda County Board of Education.

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Guest Opinion: History repeats itself over housing in Pleasanton

by Cheryl Cook-Kallio /

Uploaded: Mon, Jan 23, 2023, 10:19 am

Pleasanton Unified School District approached the city of Pleasanton about rezoning surplus school district property for housing. The staff from both entities worked together in good faith and sent it along to the Planning Commission. Further discussion ensued and the commission made a recommendation to the entire council.

The recommendation was thoughtful and considered the unique nature of downtown and other concerns anytime a development is proposed. The most important aspect of this proposal is the access of more affordable housing for teachers and other school district staff while creating much needed funds which will be used to the benefit of students. Usually these recommendations are tweaked, not ignored.

To most people's surprise the City Council in a 3-1 vote reduced the density so much as to make the development unviable. Using words that spoke about concern for the city's charming downtown and the worry about the increase in traffic they ignored the hard work of many. They refused to balance the benefits with the costs.

The three that voted to reduce the density also did so fully aware of AB 2295, which allows by right zoning of 30-40 units an acre for the purpose of teacher housing. The City Council would only be able to weigh in on the design guidelines. The council chose to reduce the density despite state law.

Does this sound familiar to anyone? A month after I was elected to the City Council in 2006, we were sued over our lack of affordable housing. For five long years the council fought the state on this issue.

We tried to create a united front but privately we were repeatedly told that we were on the wrong side of this, and we were now deciding how much money we wanted to throw in this hole we were digging. Two of us regularly sought solution after solution and were repeatedly voted down.

I couldn't understand why we continued down this long road that resulted in a multimillion-dollar settlement that left us with by right zoning. It was called a settlement. This is a misnomer. We lost and were forced to scramble to get what we could and get out without worse damage.

The current City Council is not paying attention. The school district worked with the city to come up with a development that would enhance the community, fill a need and realize a financial benefit. PUSD honored the collaboration process, compromised, and lowered the density to fit in with our community.

The majority of this council ignored their own staff and the Planning Commission and imposed density limits that will force PUSD to use state law AB 2295 to do what is fiscally responsible with excess school property. The City Council majority is forcing PUSD's hand. Is fighting a lawsuit how you want to use your hard-earned tax dollars?

Editor's note: Cheryl Cook-Kallio is a former member of the Pleasanton City Council and a retired public school teacher. She is currently serving her first term as the Tri-Valley's representative on the Alameda County Board of Education.

Comments

Pleasanton Valley Rez
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:32 pm
Pleasanton Valley Rez, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:32 pm

...wait until the facts come out...the district is looking for a scapegoat...they've purchased a new facility and need the sale of their current site to pay for it...maybe it's not the city being difficult but the district being greedy...


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:58 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jan 24, 2023 at 4:58 pm

>>they've purchased a new facility and need the sale of their current site to pay for it

that was always the plan, nothing new there. District doesn't control what the site will be appraised for if that is closer to what you trying to say?

Just remember if the city doesn't play ball, the state will force the issue and the city can't do a thing. Something to noodle on.


Bill Brasky
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jan 25, 2023 at 9:25 am
Bill Brasky, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2023 at 9:25 am

I would appreciate it if someone could answer these for me; my apologies if they have been discussed in previous posts.

*What are there any guarantees and % of this housing going to teachers and staff in the district? Or can international investors purchase?

*Does PUSD receive 100% of the sale, or is it spread to other districts in Alameda County?

*Who is providing the data to PUSD, and what 3rd party real estate firm have they consulted with?


SHale99
Registered user
Village High School
on Jan 25, 2023 at 3:44 pm
SHale99, Village High School
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2023 at 3:44 pm

>>Does PUSD receive 100% of the sale

PUSD fully owns the site and is the listed owner. They would get all net proceeds.


Pleasanton Valley Rez
Registered user
Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 25, 2023 at 8:04 pm
Pleasanton Valley Rez, Pleasanton Valley
Registered user
on Jan 25, 2023 at 8:04 pm

*What are there any guarantees and % of this housing going to teachers and staff in the district?

The district has not guaranteed any specific number of houses/dwellings going to teachers/staff.


MsVic
Registered user
Mission Park
on Jan 26, 2023 at 9:40 am
MsVic, Mission Park
Registered user
on Jan 26, 2023 at 9:40 am

Many are missing the point. Whether teachers buy the houses or not is not the main issue here. The issue is that the school district will go the route of state law AB2295 which will make the decision on how many houses and density of the housing and it will be completely out of the hands of our city council. The reason PUSD will do this - because 3 of our city council members voted not to go with the proposed PUSD plan, they wanted lower density and fewer houses. With AB2295 state law the housing density will be more than double and up to 5 stories on the Bernal property and a mixture of very low housing and moderate housing. Our city loses control - this is the point. 4 of our council members think they can win against the state. Another costly lawsuit and from past experience a losing venture for our city. Let your council members know they need to reevaluate their stance and accept PUSD offer! Send emails today or attend the meeting tonight.


Vin Kruttiventi
Registered user
another community
on Jan 27, 2023 at 8:54 pm
Vin Kruttiventi, another community
Registered user
on Jan 27, 2023 at 8:54 pm

Very thought-provoking article by Cheryl where she balanced the views with practical outcomes with a win for all parties. Another losing lawsuit for the city and wasted effort and money in the making. I feel there is a significant bias against lower-income housing and lower-income residents, and everything is done to create roadblocks in the name of "density" and "infrastructure."

PS: Moller Ranch needs to be added in the communities list.


Pleasanton Parent
Registered user
Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 28, 2023 at 5:05 pm
Pleasanton Parent, Pleasanton Meadows
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2023 at 5:05 pm

Interesting.
PUSD takes taxpayer money for a new school they don't intend to build.
PUSD provides raises to administration before teachers
PUSD failed to listen to the community on reasonable bond measure commitment language
PUSD wants to sell land that belongs to taxpayers for their new offices.

PUSD has been notably absent from the top rated / distignuised school list this past year.
PUSD has failed to provide students with state mandated minimum instruction hours during covid, or make them up.
PUSD has failed to attract enrollment even though the number of students moving into Pleasanton is greater than those leaving.

Think its time for a board and administration change at PUSD.


MsVic
Registered user
Mission Park
on Jan 28, 2023 at 6:42 pm
MsVic, Mission Park
Registered user
on Jan 28, 2023 at 6:42 pm

The good news is that the 3 city council members who voted against PUSD proposal in December changed their minds, maybe enough public push back? Now they have accepted the original PUSD proposal rather than a fight with the State.


Kathleen Ruegsegger
Registered user
Vintage Hills
on Jan 29, 2023 at 9:51 am
Kathleen Ruegsegger, Vintage Hills
Registered user
on Jan 29, 2023 at 9:51 am

PP, great summary, and I suspect just the part of the iceberg that is showing.


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