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Council Oks rezoning Centerpointe church site for housing

Original post made on Oct 7, 2015

The Pleasanton City Council last night approved a zoning change for Centerpointe Presbyterian Church's 6-acre site at Valley Avenue and Busch Road to allow construction of 25 new homes in addition to keeping the Montessori private school already on the site.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, October 7, 2015, 7:54 AM

Comments (40)

Posted by Arty
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:15 am

Tom Pico is still alive? And apparently still wrong on simple issues favored by the vast majority. Congrats to the council for not buckling to the negative nellies!

Posted by Mr.Z
a resident of Golden Eagle
on Oct 7, 2015 at 8:52 am

Add Carla Brown to the list of incompetent people that do not belong on City counsel. It is applauding to see few individuals like Brown or Pico push their personal agenda (and those supporting them)so hard against a super majority that wants/need MORE homes (affordable or not) and more city level services, shops, etc. For those complaining about traffic and more people: have them look at the global picture and ask them to move to the closet 'cave' in their area if they don't like it!!!! Just because they were here first does not give them the right to fence off a city like Pleasanton - and oh by the way, lets remind them that our city is NOT an island- whatever Dublin, Livermore, Fremont and others do will and has impacted our traffic and population growth! We need more progressive and people oriented leaders - not Carla Brown type !!

Posted by oldtimer
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:08 am

Mr. Z, you are out of touch with the community. I constantly hear that people feel the city is too crowded now and too many homes for the infrastructure. And just because Dublin is out of control, Pleasanton does not have to be.

The council made a wrong decision here. Ponderosa made a promise to the city and residents on the number of houses, school site, and church site.. The moral of the story, if you are a developer, propose a development that is supported by the community and then after it is approved just have it changed.

I am sure the packed audience were members of the church, and not representative of the community at large.

I would be interested to know where the church plans to move to in Pleasanton. If it is a location zoned for public/institutional then wonder how they would feel if that property is now rezoned to residential and the price now goes up. "Do onto others are you want others to do to you."

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:33 am

The support to rezone this land was pure NIMBY and racism from neighboring residents who do not want the potential for a Mosque in their backyard.
Bad decision from Council.

Posted by Sue
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:38 am

The town is so crowded with new builds...and the infrastructure is heavy with burden. More houses, more resources is too much for this dear town. We're becoming like Dublin. Too bad.

Missing the charm

Posted by Julie
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Oct 7, 2015 at 9:53 am

This is a shortsighted decision by four members of City Council. Land was set aside for institutional /public use in our Pleasanton General Plan, intended to create a balanced community. That land was a community resource that we can never get back. Pleasanton schools are seriously overcrowded. The Council majority is recklessly approving more housing without making any effort to mitigate the impact.

Posted by Patroot
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:10 am

Too bad, but this council (except Brown) never saw a development they didn't like! Looks good for Costco!

Posted by Hotslide
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:48 am

You can see the influence of the socialists like obama, who really do not care what their constituents want. Their bent is "they know better than the rest of us, so we will just do what we want". It is so transparent to see that these people make decisions in their own best interest, even though when running for office they have the ability to lie right to your face. Just like obama, it does not bother them at all. Politicians are the lowest element in our society anymore, how can you trust anything they say? Show them no respect.

Posted by Swimmer75
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 10:55 am

Thank you Karla for standing up for the people of Pleasanton! Everyone I talk to complains about traffic, over-crowded schools, the drought, etc.! You have to plan what time to go to the grocery store now too, because of horrible street traffic?? Just look @ HWY 580 & you can see this!! I am very sad that this community is becoming the new Los Angeles?? Time to leave!! Good luck Pleasanton, as we are moving to beautiful Florida......

Posted by Mr.Z
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:06 am

What does Obama have to do with a local development project? Are you crazy?
Should we blame everything else on Obama now? My republican friends need to start looking themselves in the mirror and also look at the past republican presidents and the messes they have created- let's not forget the mess in middle east was all started with the Republicans/Bush lies about Iraq and look where that has taken the region and the world ! STOP blaming others for wrong decisions by a few incompetent leaders.

Posted by Del
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:26 am

Hotside says "You can see the influence of the socialists like obama, who really do not care what their constituents want."

lol! Nevermind that every member of the Pleasanton city council is a registered republican. Any more brilliant right-wing analysis ?

Posted by Pitchfork Barry
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 11:29 am

Another Developer bought 4-1 decision. Thorne, Pentin, Olson and Narum are all in the payroll of our developer friends! Karla Brown is the only one NOT taking the dirty money!
You can add Hosterman and Cook Kalio to your "Thank You for destroying Pleasanton" list!
Since Stoneridge Drive went through our air smells like car exhaust, road rage is very common and our neighborhood crime has gone WAY up!!! Stolen cars, home burglary, at least one death and even a home invasion since the opening!
I think the Developer bought Council has let the Horse out of the barn on our quality of life here in Pleasanton.
Oh, and I can't wait for our new 7-11 on Santa Rita and Stoneridge OK'd by the same Developer Puppets!
Thanks guys!! Keep voting for these puppets!!

Posted by Avonb
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:12 pm

I told y'all, just follow the money. Bought and paid for developers and the Chamber. Karla is a Ayala protégé.

Posted by No and the YES
a resident of Nolan Farms
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:49 pm

I went to the council meeting as a citizen concerned about water, traffic, over-crowding. I left the meeting agreeing with the decision that the council made.

Karla and the folks against these houses presented the same argument again and again - we must not rezone a public institution land into more housing. The city staff did an excellent job of presenting the data for why this development will not significantly impact water usage and traffic. As a matter of fact, the city staff showed that the development will save water and traffic compared to what the site is currently approved for - a larger place of worship and even a larger school totaling over 80,000 sqft.

Karla's opposition doesn't make sense - she wants to keep this land in its current state but what about the fact that the current use causes additional traffic and water usage? The church is staying in Pleasanton anyway - they will occupy a more affordable place according to the pastor.

I congratulate the 4 members of the council for making fact-based data driven decision.

Karla and her team in the audience referred to a financial document from the church showing that the church is selling this land to Ponderosa to make money. I saw this financial document. It was simply a newsletter from church leadership to the church members about options for dealing with the property and their difficult financial situation. Karla and her folks should be ashamed of using this newsletter to create a conspiracy theory. You must find better things to do with you time. Shame on you!

The room was 80% church members and other supporters of the project. The pastor was very professional and did a great job of explaining their situation. He also did a great job of responding to Karla's conspiracy theory. The church members could have come up and talked at the podium but they didn't out of respect for the council's time. They were just there to show support. I am glad we have citizens like that in our community.

Posted by Gram
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2015 at 3:56 pm

It certainly seems "conflict of interest" that anyone in real estate profession be on city council (Karla Brown) or planning commission (Gina Piper). Think about it: Do they really have your Pleasantonians' interests in mind and heart or their own in making decisions?

Posted by 💓p'town
a resident of another community
on Oct 7, 2015 at 4:51 pm

I agree 100% with "no and the yes". I was at the meeting as well. Carla Brown's rationale for voting no was weak at best. Based on emotion not fact when making decisions is amateurish. Then apologizing for her "no" vote, such an insult!.

Those that posted comments and weren't at the meeting or watched in on TV, how informed are you to pretend to have insight into what went on? Be part of the process and next time, show up and get informed. Then you will learn why council members voted the way they did. Four had solid, well thought out rationale for their vote. One did not!

Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 7, 2015 at 7:54 pm

Centerpointe and Ponderosa hornswaggled everyone! Centerpointe bought the land in a sweetheart, subsidized under-market deal, only to sell the property a few years later as 25 homesites in the hottest housing market, in the hottest town around! Ponderosa, though certainly supplying Centerpointe with a handsome profit, I am sure tied the property up at, what for them also is an under-market deal! If 25 home sites is the right answer, and we all want Centerpointe to make money and remain viable, why doesn't the property go out to the open market as 25 home sites? This deal stinks and sets a bad precedent for the city… How many others might get bailed out if their property was rezoned to medium density housing???

Posted by Shawn
a resident of Foothill High School
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:16 am

Nice comment from No and Yes. It is good to see somebody actually attend a meeting and make their decision based on what takes place rather than sitting at home doing nothing and then basing their decision on an incomplete Jeb Bing story or some "bought and paid for by developers" conspiracy.

@Gram: Maybe you should try attending a meeting before spouting off about conflicts of interest without knowing what you are talking about. Gina actually recommended far fewer homes for this project and voted against the any development in Lund Ranch a few weeks ago. Don't let the facts get in your way though. Just keep sitting around complaining about things you have no knowledge of.

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:45 am

Many of us were at the meeting. What I saw was a lot of NYMBY sheeple, that were too uninformed to speak. They blindly raised their hands on the question of believing school overcrowding has been mitigated. Even Mayor Thorn has publicly stated, he doesn't believe that is true.

Posted by Pitchfork Barry
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 11:55 am

Dear No and Yes, it seems like you are in with the Developers or are just tone deaf to what the Citizens have been reporting the last few years. Housing is good, but we have done NOTHING to ease the OVER-CROWDED SCHOOLS, THE WORSENING TRAFFIC MISERIES or growing amount of BROWN LAWNS in our once great city!

The 4-1 Developer bought Majority of Thorne, Olson, Narum and Pentin do NOTHING but vote for what the Chamber and the Developers want them to do!

I have been closely involved with our Developer "Friends" and they could care less about our schools, traffic or quality of life we have. I asked them about the over-crowded schools and they just basically said "whatever" you have to deal with it, good luck!


Posted by Montessori Mom
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 12:18 pm

GET THE FACTS. Why would anyone vote no on a daycare/preschool and a dozen of new houses when the land is currently approved for a BIG religious institution. The approval will cause less traffic, less water use and no school impacts. Those are the facts. There will be a private school serving up to 200 kids along with a daycare! The school district says there is space, and parents have the options of either public or private school

The people who oppose this DO NOT LIVE NEARBY and will not be affected at all. The Ironwood residents support it and are not sheepish people as posted here. We have the facts, and do not see the need to harass the City Council. The opponents are CONSPIRACY-POSSESSED, REALLY ANGRY, UNHAPPY INDIVIDUALS IN GENERAL needing some cause or crisis to feel important. Sad when Pleasanton is a wonderful place.

Posted by church goer
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Oct 8, 2015 at 1:16 pm

Montessori mom - I have rarely heard anyone as negative and full of vitriol as you on the PW Town Square. The land should have stayed a church and was zoned for one many years ago. All of this was supported by the citizens at the time.

Perhaps "mom" should stop into a church once in a while and find that people with other opinions, go to church regularly and are not interested in going to a gym or business park for their place of worship. We are clean cut and important involved citizens that have as right to stand up for what we believe in too.

Take a chill pill. Jeeesh.

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 8, 2015 at 3:04 pm

The General Plan zoning was created to benefit the entire Pleasanton community, rezoning this land is a lost resource to all residents. It is a benefit to only a few, it is sad when those few are so uniformed.
I must admit it is another well played bait and switch by Ponderosa.

Posted by Dan
a resident of Danbury Park
on Oct 8, 2015 at 3:40 pm

Might as well stop beating a dead horse folks.
They voted, it's done and there isn't a damn thing any of us
can do about it!
The people loose another one!!

Posted by Matt
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:27 pm

Oh but Dan, you were not listening to the Mayor when he confirmed with staff that this decission is eligible to be referended! It would not be the first Ponderosa project to be referended.

Posted by DJohns
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:46 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

Every K-12 Pleasanton school campus significantly exceeds Pleasanton General Plan recommendations. The General Plan guidelines, as well as Pleasanton quality of life, make school overcrowding the Council's responsibility as they Rezone land. Especially when they do not need to REZONE that land.

Pleasantons General Plan guideline is a maximum 2,000 students per HS campus, Amador is 2,634, Foothill is 2,158. PUSD demographer report says, " If an average enrollment of 2,801 in district high schools is acceptable, no new facilities would be needed." Both high school sites are already dramatically too small for these enrollment numbers. By State of Ca. Dept. of ED standards, Amador currently exceeded 160% enrollment per land capacity.

The City Council should be pursuing a Charter school to come to Pleasanton if they want to keep rezoning and approving more housing. The current plan, to do nothing, is irresponsible.

Posted by Gram
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:02 pm

@Shawn: Many meetings have been attended over many years.

Posted by Montessori Mom
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 5:35 pm

CHURCH GOER - Right back at cha. But it sounds like I hit a real nerve of yours. I do attend church and I happily say the City Council made the correct decision.

Reducing traffic and lessening water use is a benefit to the entire community and does not benefit just a few, particularly when talking about Valley Avenue near Santa Rita. And I see a lot of churches and other religious buildings all over town. The Ponderosa representative said at the meeting that the City can approve churches and other tenants in office and industrial buildings. I know that it is true because they are along Quarry Lane nearby to Ironwood. The Korean Christians are along Santa Rita in an office park.

We got an email from Councilwoman Brown indicating she thinks the land zoning should not change because maybe it should be used for governmental buildings or a library. Again, a lot more traffic and water use since I think politicians always want a bigger City Hall and a bigger library. If the taxpayers want those buildings, they should be built in the downtown, near BART or ACE, or in new planning area but not next to our neighborhood.

MATT - Saying a referenda should happen over 25 homes next to an existing neighborhood is an adult temper tantrum. Why don't we build a mega-church in Birdland where you live?

Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 8, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Sneaky, back stabbing ponderosa homes ----1. Overcrowded, easily bought Pleasanton ------0

Posted by Ji-Min
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 8, 2015 at 7:02 pm

I go to a Korean church in Pleasanton and I am sad this sister church did not offer a part of this site to us. We would have been so pleased to have a church site like this. We meet at the Hearst Elem. School for now.

If I understand the article, the honorable Mayor Thorne, Narum, Pentin and Olsen never gave our church a chance to offer to buy this land like the did the other church years ago. Is it because our ancestors are from another country? People say there is a prejudice in Pleasanton, I hope they are not correct.

Posted by Matt
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 8, 2015 at 7:03 pm

Montessri Mom,
Yea, we just have the sports park. I love all of that joyful noise, it's part of the energy that makes Pleasanton wonderful.

The Mayor suggested the Referendum.

"Why do you see the splinter in your brothers eye but not the log in your own eye?" (7:3,5)

Posted by Montessori Mom
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 8, 2015 at 8:35 pm

Ji Min, The City does not own this property so the Mayor or council can not offer any part of this property to your congregation for purchase. The Presbyterian Church needs to sell the entire property that they own which is already partially built in order to help offset most but not all of their financial debts. It has nothing, absolutely nothing to do with nationality. I think the Presbyterian pastor said that they could probably find a religious group having a 2,000 - 3,000 person membership that could afford the purchase and use a big campus, but that would not be a good fit for the surrounding neighborhoods.

MATT - Sure I like joyful noise too like a sports park, but I chose not to live next door to a three story gymnasium and a second three story fellowship hall. If you actually reviewed the plans, you know one building is about 15 feet from homes in our Ironwood neighborhood. And the 400 stall parking lot is set back 10 feet from another home. Again, a sport park, hugh church campus, government buildings, etc. allowed under the original zoning are more appropriate elsewhere given the traffic we all know is bad on Valley Avenue, and that any use that is less water is better. BTW, I forgive you.

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 9, 2015 at 9:16 am

Montessori NIMBY,
The zoning of public use is a valuable resource that belongs to the community. That zoning existed before Ironwood was built.
Ji-Min is right her church deserved the opportunity to make a proposal for this land at the same bargain price that Centerpoint got.
This is an ugly misuse of a public resource.

Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 10:20 am

Some historical perspective is needed here. In the late 90’s Ponderosa received approval from the then-Developer Friendly City Council majority for roughly 350 houses on what was then known as the Pumpkin Patch site. The community was outraged by the pace of rampant growth in those days, rose up, and overturned the project by citizen referendum. During the signature gathering process, Ponderosa brought in goons from Chicago and tried to disrupt the process and keep the residents from gathering enough signatures to qualify the referendum for the ballot (no conspiracy theory – I was there and experienced it).

As most real estate speculators with deep pockets do, Ponderosa played the long game. A couple of years later they came back and negotiated a compromise agreement with then-Mayor Tom Pico, the leaders of the referendum, and nearby neighbors for a plan that included fewer houses, a buffer zone near the existing adjacent houses, a school site, senior apartments, and what became the Centerpointe church site. Not coincidently, Ponderosa lobbyist Mark Sweeney, who negotiated the deal, was and still is a member of Centerpointe church (this church is notorious as a stronghold of Pleasanton’s good-old boy insider network who calls the shots in town). Did someone on this blog mentioned sweetheart deal?

Based on this negotiation all community opposition dissolved and the Council approved the new plan. Then, not surprisingly, a few years later the school district decided they didn’t want to build a school on the property after all (old-timers will recall that PUSD has a habit of selling school sites to developers, for example Del Prado and Sycamore Heights. They even tried to build houses themselves a few years ago on the Neal school site – still vacant by the way). Lo and behold, Ponderosa included fine print in the agreement that if PUSD decided not to build the school, Ponderosa could build houses on the site. And they did. Now, Centerpointe church – who was not required to build an actual church but was allowed by the city to place a plastic green bubble on the site that was used for 10 years – turns out to be a real estate speculator as well and sells the site at a huge profit to Ponderosa. Who thanks to the current Developer Friendly Council majority gets to yet again build more houses. So much for Ponderosa’s commitment to the agreement they made with the community. We lose valuable Public and Institutional zoning and Ponderosa ends up with roughly 450 houses on the Pumpkin Patch site, 100 more than the project that was referended by the people. Long game indeed!

The problem we have in Pleasanton politics is the same problem we have in state and national politics. Government has been bought by corporate and other special interests and that’s whose interests our politicians serve. We vote them into office, but they have no intention of representing us. Developers like Ponderosa, the hacks with the Chamber of Commerce, and the aforementioned good old boys insider network make the real decisions in Pleasanton. Again, no conspiracy theory, I witnessed it every day of the eight years I was on the City Council. But don’t believe me, go to the city website and see who overwhelming contributes to the four members of the Council who approved this rezoning. For those of you on this blog who are bashing Karla Brown, you should thank your lucky starts that we have ONE Councilmember who is fighting for us. Unless, of course, you are one of the folks I mentioned above who are actually calling the shots.

Posted by Kevin
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm

I was there also, every word Matt says is true. The goons intimidated citizens in the Safeway parking lot and sat parked in front of our homes. Ponderosa confirmed they hired them. This is well played bait and switch indeed.
Has our Mayor and three council members been chumped or did they knowingly participate?

Posted by June
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

I lived in Danbury Park at the time and participated in the community meetings regarding the Pumpkin Patch. The residents designed the plan and I like how it turned out. There is housing for seniors and apartments for low income seniors. . Circumstances change and we must be flexible. I don't feel like the residents got duped nor do I think my time was wasted having participated in the meetings. I don't have any issue with a daycare staying along with new houses since so much traffic now uses Valley Avenue.

Posted by Sandra
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 9, 2015 at 2:14 pm

The City staff's data is slanted - the current water use by the Church as well as the traffic is lower than the proposed 25 home development and Montessori at build out. Comparing the water use to other churches in Pleasanton over a period when water was plentiful, muddies the water and assumes that a new church would be as big and vast at Centerpointe's dreams were. They had a poor business plan, lost and continue to lose members, had a school scandal, and just bad luck. Who knows how they spent their congregation's money - couldn't they have done a better job of it? At any rate, they are selling the land for a whole lot more than they paid for it and what happened in between is their fault not the Citizens of Pleasanton. They didn't even try to find another church to take their place because they say NOW houses are better for the neighborhood, better than a place of worship? That's not what they felt when they bought the land cheap - By the way, the Council was flooded with emails opposing this development and just a few from the Chamber and their friends. And, why does the City waste our money on Surveys just to ignore the results or rationalize them away. Except for Karla Brown, they are deaf.

Posted by Harold
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 13, 2015 at 10:26 am

Perhaps a large church could use the land for a community center and as a satellite location but no way could 2,000 or 3,000 people fit in there - absolutely no parking. Does anyone really believe that the reason Centerpointe is selling for housing is because it is good the neighborhood? When Centerpointe bought the land they thought they were good for the neighborhood. Does Pastor B think the only good place to worship is at his church? The public wonders if there was some deal struck when they bought the property cheap from Ponderosa and now are selling it to Ponderosa at below market price? If they had put the property on the open market, they could have done a whole lot better. Doesn't the congregation know that? Isn't the church member who is brokering the deal a church member? The one buying the school a church member? No wonder they have financial and other problems.

Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 14, 2015 at 8:19 am

Because the rezoning to residential is effectively a government subsidy of Centerpointe, a bit of transparency would have been appropriate. What did the church originally pay for the land, and why didn't they provide an answer during the public hearing? What is Ponderosa paying? Why didn't it go out to the open market? What is the big rush?

Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 14, 2015 at 12:16 pm

All good questions "jack", don't count on any answers real soon ponderosa and their buddies downtown are pretty good about keeping us citizens out of the loop!! Any bets on those houses getting built all at once for max profit, and not parceled out over 2 or 3 years as stated.

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