OPINION: Better options for Pleasanton's East Side | April 18, 2014 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - April 18, 2014

OPINION: Better options for Pleasanton's East Side

by Karla Brown

As your Pleasanton council member I was asked, "Should the city of Pleasanton continue to plan for development of 400 acres of vacant land in East Pleasanton?" Would large-scale development in this area make Pleasanton a better city? Is it required? My answers were NO; we need to look for better options.

Planning for future development in East Pleasanton began as a way to solve regional housing mandates, but it is no longer needed. Pleasanton has zoned land for 1,245 more residential units than are required! We are set for at least the next seven years; maybe longer. This was a "game changer" for me, which is why I voted to discontinue the current planning process. Even with this new information, I was the only council member who voted to stop the planning process.

Before my election to the City Council, I was a part of the East Pleasanton task force. During that time, I did months of research and heard from many residents regarding their concerns for growth in this area. East Pleasanton is also known as the "Chain of Lakes," a portion of previously mined quarries located north of Stanley Boulevard, separating Pleasanton and Livermore. Here some facts I took into consideration, before making my decision:

* This area does NOT need to be developed to meet any current local or state mandates, or as part of any legal settlement requirement.

* The 3 nearby lakes (quarry pits) are not suitable for recreation. Two of the lakes are currently banned from human contact and the third is a combination of marsh lands and shallow mud ponds.

* Large-scale development in this area may require the continuation of El Charro Road, plus other roads and infrastructure, estimated to cost $90 million. In my opinion, it is highly unlikely any large-scale development can absorb this infrastructure cost, thereby placing the burden on current and future taxpayers.

* We were told by the Pleasanton Unified School District that this area may require a new elementary school, at a cost of approximately $25 million. Older students would have to attend existing already crowded middle and high schools.

* Development in this area will add cut-through traffic and congestion to surrounding neighborhoods.

* Most of East Pleasanton is outside of our city limits, and would require land to be annexed into the city. Some areas are even outside of our Urban Growth Boundary!

* Large sections of this land are of "geotechnical concern."

* Development ranging from 0 to 2,279 housing units and 1.6 million sq. ft. of industrial space are being studied for environmental impacts. The "Preferred Plan" is 1,759 housing units. Voters approved a 29,000-unit housing cap in 1996. Although it was struck down by the courts, the goal of a small town feel remains. With the Preferred Plan, our total will exceed 30,000 zoned units.

Development in East Pleasanton will be URBAN SPRAWL, not Smart Growth and not Planned Progress. The Preferred Plan, if approved, will increase the burden on our schools, use our limited drinking water, create more traffic and require more police and fire to serve this remote area. No important amenities will be gained, and the impacts will negatively affect current residents.

I think the Chain of Lakes should be evaluated for parks, trails or open space. What do you think?

Editor's note: Karla Brown was elected to the Pleasanton City Council for the term 2012-16, and is a local Realtor. On March 4, she was the only council member who voted to halt further planning of East Pleasanton. She can be reached at KBrown@CityofPleasantonCA.gov.


Posted by George, a resident of Parkside
on Apr 18, 2014 at 8:54 am

This sounds like common sense to me. There is no reason to put homes in the Chain of Lakes area if it is not required by Big Government. Parks or trails are the way to go.

Some of the plans I saw put multi-story condos and apartments out there. I think most of Pleasanton would say no too.

And more students in the crowded middle and high schools - no way. My kid already has 35 students in his class.

Posted by Jtjh, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 18, 2014 at 10:58 am

Interesting though these points were to read, I doubt whether many of them will make much difference to the ultimate decision.

Money talks. Very loudly. So the options selected in any final vote will almost certainly be those which are the most lucrative.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Apr 18, 2014 at 9:51 pm

"No important amenities are gained". Ms. Brown, it is because of you that Pleasanton lost 500 acres of open space, a new one million dollar fire truck and millions of dollars in property tax. Your short sighted views will soon expose your major flaws.

Posted by Arroyo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2014 at 12:18 am

Bob - Thank you for reminding us of the previous sins of the P-town NIMBY crowd.

I think an ice skating facility or a water park would be nice.

Posted by Cheryl, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 19, 2014 at 9:38 am

I think all big developments should go to the voters to decide. Obviously the council is unable to represent about 80% of the public. The mayor and council ran on a small town platform, then they buddy up to the developers to support their next election. Politics in Pleasanton is broken.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 19, 2014 at 1:24 pm

Sports are the best solution for contemporary social problems.

Water polo and skating...preferably speed skating...I'm ready Freddy!

Posted by to Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 19, 2014 at 5:01 pm

Bob, yo are so far off base. The fire truck was a loan and not a gift. There ain't no millions of dollars of property tax from their proposed development.

As for the east side, the general plan has that as a buffer space between Pleasanton and Livermore with a chain of lakes for recreational use as well as water storage. That sounds good to me and I see no reason to change it. We are talking about reclaimed gravel quarries. My guess that roads that are built on that property will be expensive to maintain with all the settling out there.

Karla is 100% spot on with her opinion piece. I am also in agreement with Cheryl above that it makes sens for the voters to vote on all large development. The political contributions from the developers are too tempting to our elected officials. We should remove that temptation.

Posted by Paul, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 19, 2014 at 9:43 pm

I agree and personally feel the voters should vote or approve or deny any monetary initiative which commits us to debt or long term liability. Union contracts et al.

Posted by Roberta, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:32 am

As a resident of east Pleasanton, I can say Ms. Brown does not speak for the area. Changing the eyesore of the quarry to a chain of lakes, yes with houses, sounds like a great idea. Also an elementary school in the area? Yes, please. The school district already owns the property originally designated as the Neal School, but bad decisions by the council and district stole that school from our neighborhood. Hasn't Ms. Brown cost our city enough in money, public open space, and missed opportunities? Maybe it's time she listen to the people she is supposed to represent.

Posted by Karen, a resident of Southeast Pleasanton
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:59 am

Dear A Resident of Birdland,
How would the 2007 approved development of Oak Grove's 122 housing units and a golf course (at the end of Karla Brown's cul-de-sac) not have meant millions of dollars in tax money for our city?
Stop drinking the Karla KoolAid and do the math.

Posted by Robert , a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Sounds like the familiar whines of the past. I along with most of my friends voted against houses on the hills, and If I get the chance, we will also vote against houses in the east. Finally we have someone in office that is supporting the public! How can we keep her for the next 10 years? My 2 boys will be voting soon, and they will support Ms. brown for what ever office she wants to run for in Pleasanton.

Thank you for standing up to the whiners of Karen, Angela Holmes and Roberta.

Posted by Robert , a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:22 pm

Sounds like the familiar whines of the past. I along with most of my friends voted against houses on the hills, and If I get the chance, we will also vote against houses in the east. Finally we have someone in office that is supporting the public! How can we keep her for the next 10 years? My 2 boys will be voting soon, and they will support Ms. brown for what ever office she wants to run for in Pleasanton.

Thank you for standing up to the whiners of Karen, Angela Holmes and Roberta.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Sure Robert, and don't forgot to oppose the building of more cell towers. That's important too.

Posted by Roberta, a resident of Ruby Hill
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:47 am

Dearest Robert,
Could we please make this a forum for posting opinions on city issues instead of one for name calling of those who disagree with you?

Posted by ThankYou, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:52 am

Thank you Karla for representing the concerns of the Residents of Pleasanton. Not sure why the other four council members are backing more building, even after the city has exceeded RHNA requirements by over 1200 units.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

To "ThankYou",

More building would be good for our town and our schools. Maybe that is the reason.

Posted by What, a resident of Amador Estates
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:56 am

Not sure? The other 4 members and mayor are getting paid. That's a definite.

Posted by P-Town, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2014 at 8:58 am

Most of you writing in haven’t been around long enough to remember the days of last real mayor (Ken Mercer) and City council. Main street the very symbol and core of what and who we are as community is dying while Livermore and Danville figured it out. Livermore floundered for decades until they finally got mayor and council that figured out the key to success was to revitalize the downtown. Diablo Magazine ran article on what was happening in the area and Pleasanton Downtown was the only Tri-Valley City that’s down town did not have something exciting happening. Unfortunately we have reversed rolls with Livermore and we need to take a step back and take closer look at our priority’s folks.

Posted by guy, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Apr 23, 2014 at 1:41 am

!I support karla brown as an east side resident. It was ridiculous the city caved to ABAG and agreed to build so many new housing units. No further developments are necessary.

Someone mentioned pleasantons downtown is a failure. The chain of lakes recreational area would be a crown jewel of the tri-valley

Posted by dirtmcgirt, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Apr 23, 2014 at 11:47 pm

running trails and disc golf

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Apr 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

There's is a bigger tax base with more cute homes...hahahahahahahahahahaa

can we all get along?

Posted by June, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Apr 24, 2014 at 12:00 pm

Ms. Brown is a single issue mind who likes to make sound bites to grab attention. All fluff and no substance. I still mourn the loss of 300 acres of public open space in South Pleasanton because she did not want to lose her private hillside next to her fancy house instead of getting walking trails for the common folks in the flat lands. The planning for the east side was not initiated because of the required regional housing fair share or quotas. The property owners want to develop their lands, like it or not, and there should be a planning process for such a big area. I live nearby and would like to see the defunct industrial and quarries removed along with the vacant weedy fields. We have another chance for public open space and recreation areas along with senior housing which is badly needed in Pleasanton. Unfortunately Ms. Brown does not understand that development provides parklands, open space, and revenues for schools, roadway improvements, etc. Scary that she is reviewing the City budgets and does not understand this.

Posted by Housing, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2014 at 9:13 am

We are not talking about 200 or 300 more housing units, but ~1750 additional housing units. Say that out-loud - 1750!.

So yes, more building would be good for Pleasanton, no-one is arguing that point (Just because we do not agree with the current "high-impact on current residents" plan, does not mean we do not think in general planning is a bad thing). And replacing the weeds with a few new housing would be ideal. The problem is the amount, should be a lot less - and if that does not support infrastructure costs, then do not build at all.

An no, building (1750 - 3000) more housing units it not good for Pleasanton. Traffic is already bulging on our local roads. Sunol entrance to 680 is backed up every weekday, in addition to first street and this will all spill over to Bernal/680. Plus all the other common impacts.

I challenge you to go into work tomorrow and tell 10 of your coworkers that their local city representatives are planning to build over 1000 (and closer to 2000) housing units within a couple miles of where they live. I'd bet all 10 of them would say "are they crazy?" (unless they were going to make profit off it, such as a builder, carpenter, plumber, etc).

The current land is not zoned for housing, is there a specific requirement/rule that indicates it has to be rezoned? I'd prefer they keep their land zoned as is. Nothing they build under the current zoning could have a more negative impact than a huge increase in housing.

Karla is the only Council Member who has the current voters concerns as her "one" of her priorities. I'm sure if the plan was for a couple hundred housing units, she may be 'for' it. But she understands the true impact such a massive amount of housing will have on our city. And it's amazing she is fighting such an uphill battle.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2014 at 9:22 am

Karla is a NIMBY. She got hers and she doesn't want anyone else to get theirs. It is as simple as that. She appeals to the worst instincts in people.

Now, on a related subject, why anyone would oppose AT&T building a cell tower near the corner of Stanley and Valley, I can't fathom the reason.

Posted by lll, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 30, 2014 at 10:21 am

Aghast, a politician actually representing the people.

Actually Karla represents the average person in Pleasanton, not the developers. The developers will finance political campaigns of those who will support "their pocketbook". It is much harder to finance a campaign like Karla did by getting small contributions from the average person and nothing from the development interests. All of those who voted to continue the process of rezoning the east side have received donations from the developer community.

Follow the money...

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2014 at 12:09 pm

"Actually Karla represents the average person in Pleasanton"

You mean she appeals to the basest fears of the average person in Pleasanton.

"Follow the money"

Yes, follow the money that isn't going to our schools, but Dublin's schools instead -- Where they have smaller class sizes and higher test scores.

Posted by lll, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 30, 2014 at 3:36 pm

Yup, Dublin receives more per student from the State than California.

Additional housing will not fix class sizes or test scores. The amount of money the schools receive for operations is set by the state. Dublin receives more money per student than Pleasanton. Dublin receives $232 more per student than Pleasanton does from the state. Multiply that by the number of students and you come up with a $3.4M difference, enough to do classroom size reduction.

Since we receive less per student than Dublin from the state, the more students we add, the further behind Dublin we will be.

Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 30, 2014 at 4:11 pm

"Additional housing will not fix ..."

It is not that simple. The formula is fixed, the ratio is not. Additional housing will also bring in more tax dollars. It will also bring in more highly motivated students from young professional families, also like Dublin. You also left out that Dublin has a parcel tax, and Pleasanton does not. New families with children could help with that too.

We need the housing.

Posted by A fan of Karla Brown's, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 5, 2015 at 2:25 pm

Here is an example of true Pleasanton Leadership--If you have been tracking the East Pleasanton project you would know Karla Brown was the ONLY Council member opposed to this mega sized residential and commercial project for over a year. As she states above, it encourages cut through traffic, the is no requirements by the state for this huge housing project, no recreation in the lakes is possible, and more.

Thank you Karla for standing up for your citizens, in-spite of the East Pleasanton task force pushing more and more homes to line their pocketbooks. Hopefully others will join you and say no, this is not the time for mega growth, especially in the middle of an historic drought, dying trees, unflushed toilets and dead lawns.

And finally, regarding the jabs above from almost a year ago, I guess you can go eat your words without a glass of fresh water to wash it down with.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 6, 2015 at 1:12 pm

One thing that no one has commented on is the One Bay Area initiative and how Pleasanton aligns with the Bay Area wide planning process and supporting SB 375, the Greenhouse initiative. One Bay Area has the Chain of Lakes area and the southern ridgelines marked as primary conservation areas. For planning purposes, on a regional level, these areas are to be set aside for open space and recreation uses. The only area marked for development in Pleasanton is Hacienda Business Park. And that is listed as a "potential development" site, i.e. future development. Maybe the residents of Pleasanton have it all wrong. What if we turned control of future development over to regional planners? If they stick to the regional plan then the Chain of Lakes and southern ridgeline will be protected from development. Isn't this what everyone wants (developers excluded)? Our local leaders so far have gotten it all wrong. The regional planners seem to have it right. Maybe it is time to threaten the local council with turning planning control over to the regional planners and put the scare on them and their developer friends. "Slow Growth" Pleasanton is now the third fastest growing city in the Bay Area, behind Dublin and Milpitas. Dublin is starting to look like Daly City with rack and stack houses on the hillsides, and Milpitas now has to contend with the traffic nightmare created by building a thousand residences at the intersection of Montague Expressway, Trade Zone, and McCandless.

Posted by Julie , a resident of Birdland
on May 6, 2015 at 2:48 pm

Karla abuses her role as a councilmember. Her behavior regarding the East Side is not befitting a councilmember and violates state law. Appalling.

Posted by CaseyUseni, a resident of Ridgeview Commons
on Apr 25, 2017 at 11:34 am

wh0cd649091 [url=Web Link cost[/url]

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields


Readers' Choice Ballot is here

It's time to decide what local business is worthy of the title "Pleasanton Readers' Choice" — and you get to decide! Cast your ballot online. Voting ends May 21st. Stay tuned for the results in the June 23rd issue of the Pleasanton Weekly.