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By Tim Hunt

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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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What about the annual housing cap?

Uploaded: Jul 24, 2014
Conveniently timed for an election year, a new group has sprung up in Pleasanton determined to reverse the city's rezoning of some parcels last year.
The city changed the zoning after losing a law suit that cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. That loss eliminated the housing cap—a good change because it was an artificial number that essentially could have been grabbed from the sky.
To comply, the City Council rezoned 70 acres to allow as many as 3,277 units for higher density apartments and condominiums (densities average between 30 and 40 units per acre, a bit higher than the 30 units to the acre that is common in apartment complexes around Hacienda Business Park and Stoneridge Mall).
George Bowen, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood next to the Ken Mercer Sports Park, is particularly concerned about an office property on West Las Positas Boulevard that backs to the drainage canal across from the Parkside neighborhood. What's curious is that any change there—across from Hart Middle School—will have no impact on the immediate neighborhood other than visually. It is isolated and any traffic does not come into play until Hopyard Road.
Former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala, an agitator against most development in the city regardless of how a potential development went through the formal process, is advising Bowen and his group, Pleasanton Voters for Smart Growth.
What's being missed is that the City Council moved the annual cap to just 230 units while it was formalizing the rezoning. That becomes a truly artificial limit, but one that will take council approval to change.
If the only housing approved is the higher-density projects, we are talking about almost 15 years of building permits.
The rhetoric about the sky is falling is nothing more than that—rhetoric to spark panic.
I disagree with George on one other point—Pleasanton long ago quit being a "city of planned progress."
Now it is all about process—without any regard to time table, capital or being reasonable. That's why it takes more than 10 years for an affordable senior housing project that redevelops the city's Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens.
Some proudly call it the "Pleasanton way." It's gone beyond the absurdity that characterized Livermore in the 1980s-90s—something that former Mayor Marshall Kamena was instrumental in changing to a much more business-like approach.
The outcome in the Kottinger Gardens new project was OK—way below excellent when it comes to maximizing the opportunity to provide affordable housing to low-income seniors. If that is typical of "the Pleasanton way," a change to a more rational, time-sensitive approach is way, way overdue.

Comments

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 6:10 pm

Tim - this has got to be the lamest column you have ever written. Has living up in Castlewood given you hypoxia? To make a statement that the only thing that the Summerhill apartments would change is the view is the stupidest thing that you have ever said. What if someone put up a 60 ft 200 yard building between a Castlewood home and a view of the golf course. There would be hell to pay. If it takes an agitator to tell James Paxson to take his Hacienda Multi-Use plan and stick it, then so be it. If you had read the planning commission report, you would have known that this complex will generate critical levels of traffic congestion that will need to be addressed. Unfortunately the planning commission also said that the traffic problem will be b dealt with at a later date. What? You need to come off your mountain and hike down the Parkside side of Arroyo Mocho Creek and see for yourself what this building will do the viewscape.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 7:48 pm

Sorry to incroach on this thread but I've left some comments on one of your previous posts/blogs. I'm hoping you will respond to my comments regarding "A necessary, but large budget hit for schools."

While I agree the PUSD BUDGET will take a LARGE HIT, I do not agree that it is/was necessary. IMO, the budget hit you speak of is a direct result of the CTA & CalSTRS (the teachers union retirement fund) robbing their own pension plan to the benefit of their members, and to the detriment of both school age children, their taxpayer parents, and everyone else paying school bonds, parcel taxes, or receiving reduced services which includes increased class sizes.

California taxpayers are being asked to double their contribution toward the Teachers Retirement system (CalSTRS) from five billion to 10 billion dollars per year. Most of that cost is a direct result of the teachers union/CalSTRS gaming their own pension plan - at everyone elses expense.

What has occured should be considered criminal. Hopefully Tom Cushing can respond as well.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jul 24, 2014 at 7:54 pm

The link to your comments regarding: A necessary, but large budget hit for schools

Web Link

Again, I apologize for diverting attention from your current topic.


Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jul 28, 2014 at 2:01 am

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

Arnold,

There's an easy way to navigate the blogs so you can find the one you want to reply to.

1. Go up to the top menu, just under the Express' Name, and hover on "Blogs."
2. Click on "Meet our Bloggers."
3. Locate the Blogger you want to search and click on the Name of the Blog. In Tim's case it is "Tim Talk."
4. That will list Tim's last five or six blog titles. You can click on the one you want to reply to or reread.
5. You can also click on the Year below the list to find all of Tim's past blogs back to 2012.

I hope this helps.

Roz


Posted by Tom Cushing, a resident of another community,
on Jul 28, 2014 at 8:40 am

Hi Arnold: okay, I'll bite, per your invitation.

Your write on this topic a lot, and have placed blame, on several occasions, in language like this:

"Most of that cost is a direct result of the teachers union/CalSTRS gaming their own pension plan - at everyone elses expense."

Would you explain what you mean by the 'gaming' terminology? Is it a result of the give-and-take of collective bargaining, or are you making a serious charge of illegal conduct? If it's the former, then are not the management-side negotiators responsible for kicking this compensation can down the road, or the taxpayers to blame for being asleep at the switch? And what did the teachers Not get instead -- like current salary increases?


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