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Pleasanton council endorses Downtown Specific Plan updates

Original post made on Aug 21, 2019

The City Council has signed off on updates to the Downtown Specific Plan and associated policy documents with city regulations and objectives for the business district and surrounding neighborhoods for now and into the future.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 21, 2019, 8:31 AM

Comments (12)

Posted by Hijacking public land
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 21, 2019 at 7:36 pm

The city manager's and mayor and city council's plan to use public land that was supposed to be a public park (the Bernal Central Park), violate the voter approved Bernal Specific Plan voters voted on with Measure V that guaranteed 318 acres would have parks and public facilities such as open space, parks, schools, daycare centers, and art facilities, and instead build a gigantic commercial office complex for city office bureaucrats will result in the mayor and city council being removed by a recall effort.

The city's plan to turn public land zoned Public and Institutional in downtown into residential stack and pack housing is exactly similar to what the school district has done with the school district's properties for the last 45 years. They land-banked properties with a promise of new schools that turned into the biggest con job in Tri-Valley history as they converted Public and Institutional land that was supposed to be schools into residential subdivisions one property at a time.

How did a similar move by the school board to use public land around the Mission Park to build the school district's commercial office complex for central office administrators turn out? After a public outcry, the plans were shelved and there is no commercial office complex there.

After years of negotiation with the San Francisco Public Utilities District over the Bernal Property to ensure that it would have open space and parkland, it is with absolute certainty that Pleasanton residents will not allow open space in Bernal Park to be hijacked and turned into a commercial office complex for city workers.

Posted by Fifty Years Here
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 21, 2019 at 9:29 pm

Fifty Years Here is a registered user.

Jan Batcheller, a task force member, (and Downtown Property Owner) said to open public comment. "City staff and their consultants controlled the agenda and the entire process."

Jan's exactly right!

Posted by Thirty years here
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Aug 22, 2019 at 9:49 am

Jan is correct that staff and the Council controlled the process. I, for one, am 100% glad they did. It is the Council's job to make the final decisions for the public good. Regrettably, Jan and some others on the task force lost sight that their job was to represent the interests of the majority of the residents of Pleasanton and not just land owner and developer interests. Why else would the Task Force change direction after nearly 2 years and recommend that 3 story residential ground floor buildings be allowed to displace commercial buildings on Main Street and beyond? The Council's job was to right the ship, representing the majority of the city.

Posted by Flawed processes
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 22, 2019 at 12:03 pm

The problem is that these specific plans and task force plans are all Nelson Fialho's personal plans from his pre-determined agenda and there is no actual citizen participation occurring. Thus, city staff/consultants have pre-determined outcomes in the last few so-called "task forces" and have a pre-determined agenda that they push through without even allowing task force participants to have any meaningful input.

During the downtown specific plan, members were not allowed to lead the meetings or engage in discussions, just passively participate. They definitely did not come up with the crazy idea to bulldoze the entire Civic Center/City Hall and put housing there. But you can absolutely bet that behind the scenes, a deal has already been struck by a developer waiting in the wings.

This is common in every recent task force.In the first meeting concerning the
Hacienda BART Apartments, within 15 minutes, city staff informed the task force members that Owens Drive would be narrowed down to one lane. They already made up their minds. In the Blue Ribbon committee concerning the alignment of the Happy Valley bypass road, the committee members were not allowed to come up with alternatives. Instead they were handed an option that city staff came up with that they were told to "sign off" on. The members of the task forces do not create the plans, they just provide a convenient sign off of the very limited items that the city staff allows them to have input on. In addition, the city staff only makes changes to the "control document" that they want to make. They ignore any comments that do not fit in with their agenda.

Posted by Walkin around
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 22, 2019 at 2:26 pm

Glad to hear of the decision to keep a cap on the height of the buildings downtown to 40’ high. Even though Mayor Thorne specified that there wasn’t any plans for 4-story buildings in the DSP, the 40 foot cap will keep the buildings at a minimal height, anything over that would be at the height, or taller, of a 4-story building.

Many thanks to all the residents that took the time to voice their concerns to the Committee.

Our concerns will continue to be voiced, as HPL stated above, including voting down any proposal to use our public land on Bernal for a new $200M++ Civic Center or any other type of use other than what we voted for in Measure V. We will also continue to advocate against any high-density housing project in the Downtown area, including on the current Civic Center property and School District property (First & Bernal).

Posted by Ann
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Aug 22, 2019 at 4:07 pm

Appreciate the comments that highlight there are more people interested in the downtown changes than just the DSP Task Force, Downtown Association and Chamber of Commerce. Residents who have lived in Pleasanton for a long or short time take pride in the historic and small scale downtown. The community members have completed surveys, spent time studying the issues and have written or communicated their concerns at Task Force meetings, to the Planning Commission and to City Council Members. Some people on the Task Force expressed their hostility for community input. Too many times those who like to "call the shots" in Pleasanton say the general public/residents are "misinformed" and their opinions are not valid. You are wrong to think this as "Joe Q Public" watches the City Council meetings on TV, reads the newspapers, talks to our elected officials and vote for those who represent the residents not the special interest groups who think they "pull the strings".

Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Aug 22, 2019 at 4:26 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Flawed, this has been my concern for a long time—staff steers what they want elected officials to do at the district and the city. Our electeds often are not asking tougher questions or asking for deeper reporting. Two paragraphs and a PowerPoint should not be enough on which to base a decision.

Walk-in, I for one think it is shortsighted to not consider the district and city sites for some other kind of development. They are not attractive, not historical, and lend nothing to the gateway entrances to our downtown (I exclude the current library). I don’t think stack and pack housing is an answer either. We can do better. And wherever/whenever/if a new city complex is built, it absolutely should include the district.

Posted by Walk-in around
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 22, 2019 at 4:58 pm

Not short-sighted at all, KR. Just looking ahead about the future of our Downtown and the negative impact of any type
development that would contribute to the dangerous increase of traffic in our already overloaded streets in the downtown area and surrounding neighborhood streets, impacting our already extremely overcrowded schools, adding to the stress of our already overworked police & fire officers. I also question the need for any high-density stack & pack housing directly in the downtown area. Shouldn’t this type of housing be closer to Bart where people can actually walk to the stations (Stoneridge & Hacienda area)? Also, there is absolutely no need for a $200M++ Civic Center that we can’t afford, or the School District selling yet another property to a Developer for more high-density housing (or whatever type of development) without building another school that is desperately needed in our City.

Posted by Follow the money
a resident of Danbury Park
on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:02 pm

Kathleen - it is all about money. Mixed-use multi-level residential housing will net more money for the city in a land deal than a movie theater or park. The City must fund the $200M McMansion/Civic Center to show up Dublin's nice facility. But Dublin paid for theirs on the backs of huge development projects. If that is the price, let's keep our quaint facility and remodel it.

Posted by Hijacking public land
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:22 pm

Also remember the failed lawsuit where the city insisted they had a verbal agreement with the City of San Francisco to purchase the 3 acre parcel for $500,000, even though it was not written anywhere in a written agreement, right next to the current civic center? The judge threw it out.

Now in order to compete with Dublin and Livermore, even though the city has scores of vacant and half vacant commercial office buildings in Hacienda Business Park, the city of Pleasanton wants to steal public land from the public and waste taxpayer money on brand new buildings for bureaucrats.

And anyone who asks questions is considered an "outlier" and subjected to harassment as promoted by the League of California Cities where they discuss ways to deal with "problematic" (also known as people who ask questions) elected officials and members of the public. For a dose of this, take a look at the types of city manager education/training that goes on at these League of California Cities, in particular this one dealing with how to neutralize public officials they don't like ---- Web Link

Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 22, 2019 at 5:54 pm

Keep a good eye on that measure V and let’s see how the city planners and the developers that run this town make it disappear! Good luck getting 200+ plus million out of us taxpayers to build the new city palace. As mentioned above check out those empty buildings in the business park, lots of possibilities available, probably not as fancy as Dublin’s city offices but at least we have a downtown!!

Posted by Sell public land = Fired city manager
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 22, 2019 at 6:47 pm

I clicked on the powerpoint a couple of posts ago about city managers who use tricks to squash debate and asking questions.

One of the authors of this despicable powerpoint on how to squash public officials and prevent them from doing their jobs is, believe it or not, Kurt Wilson, president of the League of California Cities City Manager's section. No kidding. Web Link

And he was just fired from the city of Stockton for, guess what? Making a deal to sell public land to developers. He tried to close Swenson Park and turn it over to real estate developers to build housing.

And in the inevitable outcome, he was fired unanimously three weeks ago by the mayor and city council. Web Link

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