East Side planning: It's our commitment to future generations | March 21, 2014 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - March 21, 2014

East Side planning: It's our commitment to future generations

by Jerry Thorne

What does it mean to be a City of Planned Progress? To me, it means that Pleasanton has a commitment to move forward into the future thoughtfully. That is exactly what your City Council confirmed when we directed the East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force to continue its planning.

We talk a great deal in this town about local control. Pleasantonians are independent and proud and want to direct the future of our great city. I do too. But for too long we have operated under the pressure of RHNA, those regional housing needs allocation numbers mandated to us by the state of California. Lately, Pleasanton has zoned and rezoned its required share of acreage for workforce housing (e.g., apartments) because we were required to do so by the state and by court order.

We began the planning of the East Side with our future anticipated RHNA numbers in mind. But the RHNA forecast for Pleasanton has changed; we no longer need to rezone property for high-density housing in the short term. We have enough land rezoned for now. That's really good news for Pleasanton and for local control.

However, freedom from RHNA numbers does not mean that the planning on the East Side should stop. In fact, this reprieve grants Pleasanton an opportunity to plan this area for Pleasanton. What do we want on the East Side? How can we enhance Pleasanton? Do we want trails? Open space? Parks? Family-oriented neighborhoods? Or do we want what is currently there: industrial storage space and abandoned, privately owned quarry areas? What is the vision for the East Side that improves the quality of life for all of Pleasanton?

Creating a plan for the East Side has been a priority of past councils for decades. Its inclusion in the General Plan since 1996 exhibits our acknowledgment that the largest piece of undeveloped land in Pleasanton should be carefully planned and it should honor the voter-approved urban growth boundary. To say we should only create a specific plan for the East Side when we are faced with state-imposed RHNA numbers flies in the face of everything Pleasanton stands for. However, those who complained that the East Side Task Force was operating solely in order to zone for RHNA numbers now argue that we should not plan the East Side until that is once again the case. That is not Pleasanton-controlled planned progress.

The opportunities offered by the East Side planning area are boundless. A Specific Plan can and should be carefully crafted with the input of the entire community so that the result is something that Pleasanton is proud of and will be willing to support. I encourage all Pleasanton residents to participate in the shaping of the East Pleasanton Specific Plan by attending the upcoming community meetings and by providing your input about what we should envision for in the East Side. More of the same? Or plan something better that befits a town like Pleasanton?

Together we can show that the "City of Planned Progress" is not just our motto; it is our commitment to future generations. Come join the discussion.

Editor's Note: Jerry Thorne was elected mayor in November 2012 after serving seven years on the City Council.


Posted by Justin Oberlin, a resident of Ironwood
on Mar 21, 2014 at 3:13 pm

Dear Mayor- More houses is not good planning.

I thought I read that the City has more than 1200 OVERAGE on the RHNA houses. Is that right? This is WAY over our minimum forced by the State of California. I would not call that good planning. Why did you skip that fact?

You forgot to mention that I have been telling my 2 boys for years that one day this area would be a Chain of Lake for recreation, biking, fishing, hiking and boating - not thousands of new houses.

Sounds like spin to me.

Posted by Julie, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 21, 2014 at 6:17 pm

Justin - can you not read?!? The mayor said:

"What do we want on the East Side? How can we enhance Pleasanton? Do we want trails? Open space? Parks?..."

How does this not line up with parts of your vision of what you told your boys?

p.s. Zone 7 won't allow boating. Sorry.

Posted by Justin Oberlin, a resident of Ironwood
on Mar 24, 2014 at 8:42 am

Yes, Julie, I read just fine.

What is missing is that bike trails alone don't pay for 4 lane highways and a new school, which I am told is needed in other articles. 20 or 50 new homes with a small industrial park won't pay for them either.

The heavy burden of roads and infrastructure will require huge scale development, and that is sadly left out of the editorial.

In my opinion, now that the state laws are not forcing us to build, then stop. But I am not the Mayor, just a concerned citizen.

Posted by Julie, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 24, 2014 at 11:09 am


Since you live in Ironwood, you must be aware that at the task force meetings on this subject, the topic of El Charro as well as the school have been discussed. Nothing is a done deal. The beauty of no RHNA numbers is that everything is up for discussion. I don't know why you'd want to stop that discussion and end up with industrial buildings and abandoned quarries. Unless that's your vision for Pleasanton.

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 24, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Since RHNA is not involved in the east side planning, and we are still doing a specific plan, it is probably that the community wants open space, lakes, light industrial, and very little housing, and none that is high-density. Perhaps have senior-only housing community near the lakes. Would be pretty for them and they would not impact the school district at all.

I fail to see how El Charro benefits Pleasanton. Probably benefits Livermore, but not sure. I would not care if the limited housing and light industrial could not pay for the El Charro extension. If you have thousands of homes there then you might need it but with little housing you do not. The planning now should make sure any development out there does not need El Charro to extend.

The thing is that task force has been under the planning that they have to put in a lot of housing for RHNA. With this new revelation, it is time to restart the planning process with the new assumptions.

Here is the danger however.

If we do not plan for much housing, and nothing is built there for a decade or two, and then new RHNA numbers come out saying we have to do more housing, we have to re-do the specific plan. This one would be shelved, plus all the EIR studies will be out of date. So how much more money do we want to sink in a specific plan and the EIR for something the residents want (which is very little in the terms of housing), and the current land owners decide to hold out until they lobby with RHNA to require us to build more housing.

Posted by What, a resident of Apperson Ridge
on Mar 25, 2014 at 8:19 am

Sounds like Julie is another name for a City Council Member.

Posted by Julie, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Mar 25, 2014 at 9:20 am

I'm definitely not on the City Council. Nice try though.

Posted by Brad, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 25, 2014 at 10:42 am

The East Side Study is a Long Range Plan. It took over 20 years of planning and zoning to get Stoneridge Mall. Hacienda is now 32 years old and not complete. Fail to Plan is a Plan to Fail.
Why does East Side have to be predominately housing ?

Posted by brad, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 25, 2014 at 10:43 am

see my previous comment

Posted by local, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

The Hacienda plan was done except now the property owners are trying to make more money by changing the plan to add houses to the commercial entitlements they already have. You even had some of the leadership of Hacienda and property owners there involved in the lawsuit against the city to have the housing cap overturned. Just pure greed there.

For the east side, I think the current plan of recreational use and water storage is good. I do not want all the housing that has been discussed in the task force meetings. If we add commercial then we will later be forced to put in more housing since the RHNA numbers look at your 'job potential' and have you produce more low income housing to keep the theoretical jobs/housing balance. So additional commercial there requires more housing.

Here is a simple criteria for me. I do not want growth out there that will increase traffic in Pleasanton, or add more students to our currently overcrowded schools.

Posted by Resident taxpayer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 3:53 pm

local bird, I agree with you on increased traffic and housing. Your comment, I don't want growth "out there" is interesting. Many of us have moved in recently in the Busch area, and it's right here for us, not "out there". Directing El Charro traffic thru Busch is disgusting, even without any new housing. The 'piling on' is difficult to tolerate. I don't understand focusing on housing, without adequate new roads that do not lead to the Valley/Santa Rita intersection. Nobody is offering realistic solutions, or even discussing. That direct assult without consideration is what is intolerable. If there are no acceptable solutions, then there should be no housing. Street options first, then housing discussions.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 25, 2014 at 4:37 pm

"or add more students to our currently overcrowded schools."

But growth can add more tax dollars so that our schools can add teachers and classrooms. I keep saying that Dublin seems to be doing a much better job than Pleasanton in this area.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

I don't understand why more students means anything bad? duh...

can we all get along?

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