Town Square

Housing, growth, taxes, water dominate candidates' concerns in Pleasanton election

Original post made on Oct 6, 2014

Candidates for election to the Pleasanton City Council voiced their views on a wide-ranging number of issues from housing to a proposed transportation tax at a Candidates Forum hosted by the Pleasanton Weekly and Tri-Valley Community Television (TV30).

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, October 6, 2014, 7:58 AM


Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 6, 2014 at 10:41 am

Article: Housing, growth, taxes, water dominate candidates' concerns in Pleasanton election 4 candidates vie for votes at Weekly, TV30 forum

Asked about special interests contributing to their campaign funds, Sanwong said she doesn't have any and favors public funding of local political campaigns.

"That would take out the special interest concerns in our elections," she said.

If you access the Public Access Portal on the City of Pleasanton's website, you will note the following:

As reported under Form 460 she received a donation on 6/24/14 in the amount of $1,000 from the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 595 PAC, Dublin, CA. Also, as reported under Form 497 she received an additional donation from them in the amount of $1,500 on 9/29/14.

Finally, as reported under Form 497 Olivia received a $1,000 donation on 10/1/14 from the the Unity PAC A Sponsored Committee of the Alameda Labor Council AFL-CIO, Oakland, CA.

We expect to have honesty from our elected officials if they are to represent the interests of the local community and not that of the special interest groups that fund and influence their campaign. Olivia appears to be trying to hide the fact of where she is getting her contributions. That should tell the voters her loyalties lay outside of the local community.

Posted by Will Vote For Bowen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2014 at 10:45 am

As I watched the entire program, I can come to one conclusion...

George Bowen is the candidate to get my vote. After George, it is sad...but I can't support any of the other 3 for my second vote.

Good Luck Mr. Bowen

Posted by red
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 6, 2014 at 10:58 am

Where anyone heard Olivia say anything about where her campaign funds were coming from is beyond me...she totally skirted the question thus never answering it. The previously mentioned public account records are probably the reason she never answered the question.

Posted by Jacob
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 6, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Two candidates stood out for me, and they were the ONLY two that gave this message. Slow down the growth!!! I am going to vote for Matt Morrisson for Mayor and George Bowen for Council.

Traffic on Sunol and Stanley is way too crowded, my lawn is almost dead and I have to drive my child across town because our local school is full for her grade.

More houses means more people. My wife and I say NO.

What was up with that Arne Olson dude? He looked like he was going to fall asleep during the questions. When he said he is retired from his job, I was thinking, now it is time to retire from the City.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 6, 2014 at 2:54 pm

When the question of campaign contributions and special interest money came up at last week’s forum, George Bowen mentioned a donation from a gravel company. It turns out that Bowen received a staggeringly large amount of $5,000 from the Jamieson Co., LLC, operators of a Pleasanton gravel company They don’t want any development on the east side, according to Mr. Bowen, because tragically two children drowned in their quarry pits several years ago.
I’m not opposed to campaign contributions, but I am completely opposed to being misled. Mr. Bowen says “I am not accepting ‘special interest’ campaign support, and if elected, you will be my special interest.” Either Mr. Bowen doesn’t know a “special interest” when he sees one, or he is misleading us. Neither quality strikes me as good enough for our City Council.

Posted by George Bowen
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 6, 2014 at 3:30 pm

Hi Neighbor, thanks for your interest in the campaign. I am genuinely glad you took the trouble to check my campaign filings. I encouraged everyone to do the same of all candidates in my remarks at the forum. As I mentioned at the forum, I am proud of the Jamieson company's support. I will repeat for the readers that I defined city government special interest as an individual or organization that seeks to influence votes for monetary gain. The Jamieson company has no financial interest in the decisions to be made about East Pleasanton, they only want to save children's lives since two young lives were tragically lost in one of their lakes in the past. Saving lives and profiting are two very different motives and I disagree with you about the generous donation from the Jamieson company. Since I defined the term and then applied that definition to my campaign financing by truthfully answering the the question I am hard pressed to accept your conclusion about trying to mislead folks. I hope your example of researching the facts encourages others to do the same. As to your final point about being good enough for our City Council I am happy to let the people of Pleasanton decide that.

Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 6, 2014 at 3:41 pm

George, do you have any details regarding the tragic drownings? I've lived here over 20 years and I can't recall any drownings in the quarry lakes--just in Shadow Cliffs. Thanks

Posted by Pleasanton Voter
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 6, 2014 at 3:47 pm

This is addressed to Mr Bowen. Around 1976 there was a tragic situation that occurred at the "Pleasanton Gravel Pits". A school bus full of children was hijacked from Chowchilla in the Central Valley brought to the Pleasanton Gravel Pits and buried beneath the gravel for ransom. One of the accomplices was the son of the then owner of the Gravel Pits. Fortunately the children and driver were rescued and the perpetrators were brought to justice.

Please cite your sources and dates of when the drownings occurred since those instances have slipped many of our minds and are not as memorable as the Chowchilla bus kidnapping.

Posted by PTpwn Dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 6, 2014 at 9:36 pm

The term "special interests" gets thrown around a lot in political conversations today - advertising, speeches, debates forums etc. I've come to learn that most campaigns refer to special interests as any group that doesn't agree with their own campaign. Ha! That's a laugh. It's a nice soundbite or buzzword that's overused.

Posted by Interested Voter
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 6, 2014 at 10:15 pm

George Bowen takes $5,000 and “is proud of it” since the Jamieson Company only wants to “save children’s lives” after two children tragically drowned several years ago. Why wouldn’t a business spend this much money (another $5,000 on Matt Morrison’s campaign) to build a better fence, instead of donating it to a political campaign? A little research may have provided the answer.

I found a map in the Draft East Pleasanton Specific Plan (Figure 2.3) that shows the $10,000 donor owns about 125 acres in the area covered by the Plan. I also found on the Pleasanton City Website that in the adopted Stoneridge Drive Specific Plan (1989), an entire separate road was planned for gravel trucks needing to use El Charro Rd. Isn’t this the same section of El Charro Rd. that’s part of the East Pleasanton debate? Might it be that George’s donor is, in fact, worried about who will pay for the extra street improvements for gravel trucks should East Pleasanton be developed? Or that they will have to share the public road?

Does Mr. Bowen have it right that the Jamieson Company is only concerned with saving children’s lives?

I could be wrong, but it strikes me that the Jamieson Company has a very strong financial interest in stopping the development of East Pleasanton, as they would lose their unimpeded access on parts of El Charro Rd. According to the Stoneridge Specific Plan, should East Pleasanton be developed, very expensive improvements to El Charro Rd. would need to be made.

George wants us to believe that he accepted what appears to be the largest single candidate political donation ever ONLY BECAUSE the donor does not have an economic interest? Who’s kidding whom? For George’s sake, I hope he doesn’t know the facts so he can believe he’s telling the truth.

Posted by Interested Voter
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 6, 2014 at 11:03 pm

Interesting -- Thank you for the link. Completely tragic. Not that it really matters given what's involved but does this appear to be the same incident George Bowen cites? In any event, I still think there are important details involving a very history between the gravel company and East Pleasanton development issues that explain the two $5,000 campaign contributions beyond this terrible occurrence. Thanks again.

Posted by What?
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 7, 2014 at 8:58 am

How come we are only talking about the new candidates? The incumbent candidates took tens of thousands total from real estate and downtown businesses. Sounds like special interesxt to me. I think Narum, the Mayor, and the other City Council supporters wrote many of these comments. Have some integrity please.

Posted by Claire
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:08 am

Sanwang not only received thousands from labor unions earlier in the year, her last 2 months of filings show that 100% of her contributions are from large unions. Not one dollar came from any Pleasanton resident. AFL-CIO just contributed $1,000 to her in October. Below is the link:

Web Link

Why did Olivia tell us at the public forum that she is not receiving special interest monies and not disclose this? I cannot turst someone who is not truthful.

Posted by Claire
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Oct 7, 2014 at 10:23 am

The web link i used previously not working and here is the correct one. You just ened to put in candidate name to see disclosures. This is where i saw Sanwang's thousands she received last 2 months from labor union.

You can put incumbent names here and see their contributions too. You will see no one is receiving anywhere close to the kind of special interest monies Olivia Sanwang is.

Web Link

Posted by Hazel
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:07 am

I just checked the campaign contributions Web site and noticed everyone posted updated information except for Olivia Sanwong. Isn't there a deadline for reporting this stuff in a timely way so voters can know whether their candidates' money comes from--special interest, labor, inside Pleasanton or outside influences? Thanks.

Posted by Sharon
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:18 am

Yes there is. The deadline was yesterday, and if they filed on time, they would be up there already.

Posted by Brad
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 7, 2014 at 11:58 am

Let' s accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. I have lived in Pleasanton 47 years and witnessed many, many changes. The vast majority are very good for the entire community. 99% of us think it has been and is a great place to live! raise a family! and work. All this did not happen by accident. It occurred and continuos by hard work by many people.
Change has always and will happen. The challenge is to make it work for our benefit. We live in a dynamic region at the junction of two interstate freeways. In 1967 our population was 12,000 today it is over 70,000. We still have a small town feel, traditional downtown, a very good schools.
Rather than complain let's do our best to make Pleasanton even better.
Please allow me thank a really, really good Council Member for her 8 years of outstanding public service. CHeRYL COOK KALLIO.mher job was well done. ,

Posted by Earl
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 12:30 pm

George Bowen continues to state that the East Pleasanton Task Force has planned over 2000 homes in the area. He knows that with the pressure off to reach new RHNA numbers, that the Task Force took the 2000 number off the table and asked Staff to prepare EIRs for plans ranging from zero homes (all ball fields and open space) to a high of 1700, with a feasible base number of 1300.

He believes Staff should not spend time and money on planning East Pleasanton now, since we do't need the homes to satisfy RHNA. Given that Pleasanton was just named 4th Best Place to live in the Country by USA Today, much of the credit given to its history of Planned Progress, one could make a strong argument that Planning for East Pleasanton's future now is historically and fundamentally what has made Pleasanton the city that it is today.

I beleive that Mr. Bowen knows that the only way to win the election is to shout FIRE, in this case, TWO THOUSAND HOMES.

Posted by What is that sound?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 2:58 pm

Do you hear it? It is the sound of Pleasanton falling off the charts of the Best Places to live once the 1800 apartments come to town.

And the second loud shoe to drop, that is the 2200 MORE housing units that the incumbents want to plan. And we all know the mantra, Plan and they will Come and then they will BUILD. Only an idiot would want the east side planned in this culture, and run on that as a campaign.

Vote for intelligence, enough said.

Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 3:15 pm

@"What is that sound",

Shortly after I moved here some people were saying the same things about the apartments over at Valley and Bernal near the new Safeway. Those apartments were built, they look good, and they have improved Pleasanton, not caused some kind of loss of quality of living. I'm glad more new housing is being planned. I'm for it.

Posted by Allison
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:19 pm

@what is that sound? I guess the land will be developed--isn't that what landowners generally all want to do with property? I think the question is whether we want to have any kind of say what kind of development happens there or leave it entirely up to the landowner. It seems that a two-years long planning process would be something we would look at and think was a good thing; at least this way, we get to be involved in actually planning something, not just having something foisted on us--Yes? No?

Posted by Interested Voter
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:26 pm

What? -- Interesting that you raise the issue of integrity, suggesting I lack it for my comments about Mr. Bowen accepting a $5,000 contribution from a single source and that automatically makes me a shill for incumbents. I am going to vote for the Mayor and Council Member Narum. They work hard, are not ideologues, and make pragmatic choices which is what Pleasanton needs. I wouldn't be voting for either if they supported building 2,000 homes in East Pleasanton, or if they didn't support maintaining Pleasanton's look and feel. But there is a second council seat open, and I will also be a supporter of a non-incumbent. I thought it would be George Bowen because he brought a different perspective. Maybe I wrote my earlier comments because I am just really disappointed in the person I wanted to support. He thinks whatever he says will be believed just because he says it. No incumbent supports building 2,000 homes in East Pleasanton. No other candidate is criticizing others for taking special interest money and then turning around and doing it themselves. Just because Mr. Bowen says it ain't so doesn't make it not so.

Posted by Interested Voter
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:39 pm

BobB and Allison -- Good points. We are a community of intelligent people who can be trusted to do a little deliberating and planning, and friendly disagreeing. What gave "planning" a bad name??

Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 7, 2014 at 5:47 pm

1300 homes on the east side is still way too many. Keep it as it is with open space, parks and water storage as envisioned by the general plan. Besides putting all this development out there would be a crime as it is reclaimed areas of the gravel pits and will be sinking and compacting over the next many decades. Even if the target ends up being 1300, which is too high, the developers will claim they have to build more in order to pay for the infrastructure, including doing the correct compacting to lessen the sinking. Infrastructure will be expensive out there because it is a reclaimed mine.

Posted by Earl
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 7, 2014 at 9:52 pm

What some of the anti-growth folks on this thread might not know about the process is that Sacramento will determine the RHNA housing requirements for the time period 2022-2030. No one wants to build homes during that time period in East Pleasanton nor anywhere else in Pleasanton(except maybe the builders and land owners), not the current Council members nor those running against them. It will just add traffic and congestion.

But, if we are forced to add homes to meet the RHNA requirements for the 2022-2030 time period, the issue will be where to build them. During the last RHNA cycle, the Council asked for a survey of all vacant lots in Pleasanton to build the required homes. The same should be done again for the 2022-2030 time period.

The issue with East Pleasanton is that there are 440 vacant acres, which makes it a prime area for at least some of the possible required housing.

Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 7:08 am

Its now more than 24 hours since campaign finance disclosures were to be filed and I still can't find anything for Sanwong. Am I overlooking something? Otherwise, it begs the question if she can't follow the rules with filing appropriate paperwork, how is this "leadership we can trust"? What does she have to hide?

Posted by Diana
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 8, 2014 at 8:29 am

It is about a pro-growth staff agenda and weak elected officials.

I believe our elected officials are good well-intended people. I believe Thorn and Narum are nice and well intentioned, but they are unable to stand up to staff, and developer, agenda. We have seen no backbone from either until they feel threatened by elections. It is unreasonable to believe they will follow through on recent suggestions of growth concerns after they are safely reelected.

Jerry Thorn is a nice man but a weak leader, and Narum will follow Thorn over a cliff.

Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 8:56 am


Why is pro-growth bad when many residents favor it?

Posted by Slow it down
a resident of Canyon Creek
on Oct 8, 2014 at 9:10 am

Our city is too crowded, schools are full, kids from one family are in two different elementary schools, water is an issue.

We need to slow things down, and Bowen seems to be on the right track there.

Posted by George Bowen
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 8, 2014 at 9:31 am

Regarding the prior posts that question the accuracy of my statements or question my motives, I stand by ALL my facts. For those who are genuinely interested in the facts, please visit my website at If you don't find the answer there, please contact me at [email protected] I will personally answer your questions and provide my sources.

Many things are said on anonymous forums that raise valid questions. But answering those questions for the benefit of the community is best done in open discussions where participants identify themselves and present the evidence that supports their position.

I am George Bowen and stand behind my statements and positions. I welcome you to contact me at [email protected]

Posted by Diana
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 8, 2014 at 9:51 am

If growth issues went to a vote they would overwhelmingly result in slow or no growth outcomes. We overwhelmingly voted for a housing cap, which we have been robbed of by outside special interests who do not care about our community. Those with pro-growth agendas would never support putting these issues to a vote of the citizens. With our current water, school, and traffic concerns, a housing moratorium would pass with a landslide!

I will vote NO incumbents this time: Write and Miller for school board, Morrison and Bowen City Council.

Posted by Slow and steady growth is the way to go
a resident of Hart Middle School
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:26 pm

You will get more colorful mailers, huge signs and see more money spent by the pro-growth candidates because of the businesses that that will benefit if they are elected. Don't let them fool you.

There are only 2 slow growth candidates on the ballot and neither one of them are supported by the developers, the Chamber of Commerce or political action committees.

November 4th please vote George Bowen and Matt Morrison into office and watch Pleasanton continue to stay one of the top cities in the Nation to live and raise a family.

Posted by Hazel
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:40 pm

All the alleged slow-growthers--I too am slow growth. But I don't understand what part of we got sued and lost and cost US over $4 million in a lawsuit that you don't get? Why would I want to spend more of my tax dollars on fighting a lawsuit that most likely cannot be won. We simply can't ignore state statute; it IS NOT POSSIBLE. Are you advocating spending millions more in our tax dollars on frivolous lawsuits? I think a balance can be found, with proper planning.

Posted by Susan
a resident of Valley Trails
on Oct 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm

The lawsuit is over, and we have several years for our next steps. Now is the time to slow it down, fix our traffic, water, and school issues.

Seems like the current ones in office do not have that plan.

Posted by lll
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 8, 2014 at 1:10 pm

Hazel, the court forced us to allow us to meet our "regional need" numbers. However, the current mayor/council has approved housing numbers way over what is needed to meet our "regional need numbers".

I think we need a new initiative. A Housing cap that has exceptions to meet our RHNA (regional) numbers. The council would only be allowed to approve up to our allocated housing needs; no more. The council has abused their power. The will of the people was a housing cap (voted on and only changeable by a vote of the people). The court said we need to remove the housing cap to meet our regional needs. But the council has gone further and approved way over our regional needs. I think it is criminal what the city and council is doing.

Every time the council approves a new development they blame it on the court case but that is hogwash. They are just using that as an excuse as we are over the housing needs.

Posted by Earl
a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 1:57 pm

One other point that may help III, Susan, Diana etc, and other slow-growthers concerned with the City Council's agenda.

The way the process works is that the city re-zones parcels for new housing. If there is no builder, nothing gets built. Even though re-zoning was done to meet the RHNA numbers through the year 2022, it still does not mean that they will all get built.

After the parcels are re-zoned, the State then reviews and approves or disapproves of the parcels, how big they are, were they are located, etc. If any or some are disallowed, then the City has to find new parcels to re-zone. While this is going on, the State has the right to disallow any new permits for housing or for any other type of housing improvements (such as water heater replacements, electric wiring)anywhere in the City.

The prudent thing to do is to re-zone for more than enough parcels so that if some are rejected, the City maintains its own control over the permit process. The Council did the right thing for the City in approving a few more parcels than was absolutely necessary. They planned ahead for any contingency. Again, this does not mean that all the homes will be built.

It's a very tricky, complicated process, especially after you've lost a law suit and have to abide by the rules as dictated by the Courts.

Posted by factchecker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 8, 2014 at 2:00 pm

I'm confused. Haven't all the new housing that's been approved in the last two years been on 5-0 votes? That would mean that councilwoman karla brown voted yes. She is clearly for slow growth so there must be good reasons as to why she is voting yes. I suspect this is a far more complicated issue than most people posting here understand. She wouldn't be voting yes unless it was either part of the state mandate or the lawsuit settlement. It sounds to me that Bowen/Morrison supporters are trying to paint the council as pro growth but overlooking the fact that all the approved housing was voted yes by Councilwoman Brown--as they say, don't let the facts get in the way.

Posted by just heard
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 8, 2014 at 5:30 pm

Just learned that Sanwong filed her 460 financial disclosure papers with city at 2:30 today (2 days late, they were due on Monday). She has been fined each day due to late papers. This is not the first time she was late; she was 3 days late during the last election.
This is state law and part of fair disclosure laws. If Sanwang can't get her financial papers in on time, twice in a row, how can we trust her managing finances and issues in our city? This is not very complicated stuff so wonder what is going on?

You can confirm the above with the city clerk and also on the public portal of the city web site when her information gets posted.