Hundreds object to more housing near Bernal park | May 20, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 20, 2011

Hundreds object to more housing near Bernal park

Public protests high density units as city faces compliance deadline

by Jeb Bing

More than 200 packed a Civic Center hearing room to tell the Pleasanton City Council about their objections to plans to build high density, low- and medium-income housing on a vacant 10-acre parcel near their homes.

The property, owned by South Bay Construction, is part of a narrow strip of land alongside the eastern edge of I-680 south of Bernal Avenue. The acreage, now designated Site 7, is part of 16 sites being considered for high density housing by the council's Housing Element task force. With 30 units per acre to be allowed in the new zoning formula, Site 7 could accommodate as many as 300 apartment units.

The South Bay property is currently zoned for office buildings with Safeway building a new Lifestyle supermarket and other retail stores at the northern edge next to Bernal.

The 11-member task force is working to find acreage throughout Pleasanton that would be suitable for high density housing. The task force must complete its research and nominate enough sites to accommodate at least 2,000 new housing units that the California state housing department and a Superior Court judge have ordered the city to provide.

The protestors, many carrying signs with the designation" Site 7" crossed out, live in homes built since 2003 adjacent to the Bernal Community Park. Greenbriar Homes and KB Homes were given permits to build more than 500 homes and apartments on the Bernal site in 2001 in an agreement with Pleasanton that also gave 350 acres free of charge to the city for public use.

Now these developments are fully occupied, and the residents of the KB and Greenbriar homes told the council that they moved there to escape the congestion and crime in their former neighborhoods and don't want high density housing across the street from where they live.

"I grew up in San Francisco in a highly congested, poor district and I moved to Pleasanton to a home with a yard and lots of open space," one woman said. "I don't want to go back to those conditions."

Another speaker said homeowners in the area should be consulted before such massive development plans are considered.

"Just because a site may look good on paper, based on criteria that clearly favors the future residents and builders, it is best to consult with the residents and homeowners who actually live near Site 7 and ask them if they feel that high density housing is a good idea," said Wesley Lim, a homeowner there.

Added Sangita Patel: "Site 7 already carries a high concentration of affordable housing within a 1/2 mile, yet we continue to look to add more affordable units in this area. Why are we willing to jeopardize the balance in our town when we clearly do not need to?"

The state housing mandate, part of an earlier court decision that nullified Pleasanton's 1996, voter-approved housing cap of 29,000 housing units, requires that the council submit an approved plan by mid-August. The state will then review the plan, make changes as needed, submit the plan for an environmental impact review, and then officially approve the rezoning plan by year's end in time to comply with the court order.

Besides Site 7, the other sites under consideration are:

Site 2 -- The Sheraton Hotel on Stoneridge Mall Road.

Site 3 –- Stoneridge Shopping Center, with housing units to be built on open space and parking lots.

Site 4 –- Open space in the vicinity of Kaiser Permanente.

Site 5 –- Rosewood Auto Sales, at the northeast edge of Pleasanton.

Site 6 –- 6 acres along First Street east of Vineyard Avenue known as the Irby-Kaplan-Zia site.

Site 8 -- 5.3 acres owned by Auf de Maur/Richenback, located across from McDonald's at Bernal Avenue and First Street.

Site 9 –- The 5.6 acre Nearon property on West Las Positas Boulevard.

Site 10 -- 8.4 acres on the CarrAmerica property on Owens Drive.

Site 11 –- 10 acres on the now vacant Kiewit site on Bernal Avenue near First Street.

Site 12 –- Goodnight Inn's 2.3-acre site on Santa Rita Road.

Site 13 –- A 12.6-acre site owned by CM Capital Properties on West Las Positas Boulevard.

Site 14 –- A 12-acre site owned by Legacy Partners that was part of the gravel pits.

Site 16 –- Vintage Hills Shopping Center. A 5-acre site that is now being redeveloped with retail and service businesses.

Site 17 –- Axis Community Health. Just over half-an-acre that would be available once the public health center relocates into a larger facility.

Removed by the Housing Element Task force was Site 15, a 3-acre site occupied by Valley Trails Church. After a series of ongoing protests by Valley Trails residents, the task force agreed that the site lacked the transportation, shopping and other amenities it is requiring in considering high density housing sites.

In addition to objections by the Bernal Community Park neighborhoods, Nancy Allen and others in neighborhoods off Valley Avenue near Santa Rita Road also urged the task force and council to reduce the more than 400 high density housing units planned for Sites 8, 11 and 14 near the intersection of Valley Avenue and First Street.

She asked that the proposed housing sites not be so heavily concentrated near her neighborhood or on Site 7, but that they be more equitably placed throughout the city.