The city of Pleasanton is seeing an explosion of growth and development not seen since the 1980s when Hacienda Business Park and Stoneridge Mall were constructed.
This time it is driven by an alliance of tech companies and the State Legislature forcing cities to rezone enormous amounts of property for tech worker high-density housing and by our city governments' desire to increase growth-related revenue.
It would be bad enough if the impacts of this growth -- traffic, air pollution and quality of life -- were spread equitably to all parts of town. But most of this new growth regime has focused on the city's northwest area.
This started with Costco and the hotels and other retail development at the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone, the Workday and 10x Genomics high-tech office complexes at the mall, and the recent approval of zoning for up to 2,000 housing units and an expansion of retail uses at Stoneridge Mall.
This development will disproportionately affect the Muirwood and Val Vista neighborhoods by concentrating the impacts on these residents. This is a clear case of environmental injustice perpetrated by the city government on its residents.
But the people in this area have little recourse to oppose these projects. When the City Council established election District 1, these residential neighborhoods were combined with Hacienda Business Park. This districting violated the state guidelines that communities should be contiguous and have common issues.
This has resulted in our neighborhood's disenfranchisement and left us without the political power of the vote to stop this. Only Jeff Nibert, the District 1 councilmember, is at risk for any constituent backlash and, to his credit, opposed the Stoneridge expansion. But one vote isn't enough to stop a project. The rest of the council voted for these projects and are immune to voter repercussions because of the districting.
In the bigger picture, this growth is not sustainable. When replicated across every city and town in the country, it puts all of us at risk for climate catastrophe and biosphere degradation. What is needed is a revisioning of the city's growth, development and fiscal policies and the prioritization of neighborhood integrity, quality of life, environmental justice and sustainability.
Editor's note: Matt Sullivan served on the Pleasanton City Council from 2004 to 2012 and is a former Pleasanton Planning Commission member. He has been active in civic issues locally for more than 25 years, including as a member of the resident group Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth.