Let process with Costco play out | Tim Talk | Tim Hunt | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Local Blogs

Tim Talk

By Tim Hunt

E-mail Tim Hunt

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)

View all posts from Tim Hunt

Let process with Costco play out

Uploaded: Apr 21, 2016
The majority of the Pleasanton City Council took the right step last week after a long workshop session on the Johnson Drive Economic Development District.
They directed the staff to move ahead with the public hearings necessary to allow the Planning Commission and City Council to consider approval of plans to create the district that likely would include a major Costco store with a 24-pump gas station. Marriott also has expressed interest to build two hotels on the southern portion of the site across from the FedEx facility on Johnson Drive.
The decision to move ahead will keep both the city process moving as well as an initiative gathering process that would forbid any retail store larger than 50,000-square-feet to locate there in the district. Proponents, led by Black Tie Transportation owner Bill Wheeler, hope to qualify it for the November ballot. The workshop drew a full house to the Senior Center and ran for three hours.
Bill said the signature gathering is gaining momentum and he expected to qualify the initiative for the November ballot. He reported that as people learn about his effort, more are volunteering to solicit for signatures.
The process to date has allowed for plenty of put input, but the notion that was floated by council members of a public vote should the City Council eventually approve the district and Costco is just wrong-headed. The public has processes in place to challenge a council’s action—as has been done on the Lund Ranch II approval and as Wheeler and his team are doing now—so voluntarily putting it on the ballot is just silly.
Councilmembers are elected to make decisions on behalf of the public. If enough members of the public believe the council was wrong, there are referendum processes in place to overturn it. Members need to remember we are a representative democracy, not a direct one. Councilmembers should do their jobs and let the chips fall where they may.

Comments

 +   5 people like this
Posted by Rationality Wins!, a resident of Castlewood,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 10:03 am

Thanks, Tim, for the clear thinking (finally) about the process by which Costco is approved. Of course the citizens of Pleasanton should be able to express their opinions on developments that will have impact on their lives! Too often, big corporations and developers collude to subvert the process in order to make it easy for themselves to make the maximum amount of money. As we've seen all over the US in this election year, people are fed up with business as usual, and are making their views known.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 12:03 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

oh goodness here we go with another Costco thread. :( I disagree, I think voters in Pleasanton should get to vote. I think the NIMBY crowd will be shocked with the results. Because, you know, if the city council and planning commission decide and Costco goes in there will be a cry of corruptions, ineptitude and on and on. At least a public vote the NIMBY crowd can only slither back to their yards and nary a word to say if their neighbors all VOTE for a Costco.
A new Costco won't produce the 12k car ave per day thrown about. Valley wise, cars will travel less then they do now and it brings a nice nearly permanent tax base to Pleasanton, less any loans/incentives etc.
certainly be a shorter ride for me.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by JustWantMySay, a resident of Rosewood,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 1:39 pm

Representative democracy works if you can trust that politicians make decisions based on what is good for the community and not just what the developers that fund their campaigns want. Look where we are: Lund Ranch. How much is that going to cost the city, $1/2 million and climbing? So with Costco, we will be starting off with a clear mandate on what people want, rather than second guessing and trying to undo something once it is done.


 +   11 people like this
Posted by Suspicious, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 2:22 pm

The planning staff and council clearly made up their minds a long time ago, and hoped to get Nearon's plan by the public without a lot of discussion. All they can see is a direct, easy path to more sales tax revenue. That's why Jerry Bodin is all around town politicking. And now they are still trying to bend the discussion their way. Anyone notice where TV 30 was on the 4/12 workshop? And now the city council meeting cameras now do not even show the speakers, just the council members? Just more tricks to stifle the public!


 +   13 people like this
Posted by Bob QP, a resident of Rosewood,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 2:29 pm

Bob QP is a registered user.

As I understand it, if the petition gets the required signatures, on Nov. 8 the Initiative will ask for a Yes or No vote on limiting the size of retail stores in the JDEDZ. This should put to rest the most controversial part of the proposal. If the majority says they don't want a big box store there, the planners will have to avoid taking the easy way presented to them by Nearon and Costco and instead come up with a solution that's much more creative and interesting and less of an impact to us all. Who knows, it could be the start of something so much better than a massive, bland warehouse store that makes Pleasanton look like every other city.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Seen It All, a resident of Hacienda Gardens,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 2:49 pm

Tim Hunt doesn't seem to understand that once the decision is made, it cannot be changed by a referendum. They decided to use a sneaky rezoning change to get approval that didn't require public input. The initiative is the only process which will allow the people to have a voice. The plan was decided in 2014, when Nearon came to them with the idea and they all jumped on the bandwagon. The Planning Commission, Council and their staffs are not listening to the people. There has been no transparency until they were pushed to do it by a few people who cared what was going on.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 5:21 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

SIA: Oh, I think Mister Hunt made his point. Anything done can be 'undone'. It would just take a very long process and many voters to get it undone. I also think if put to a vote the voters of Pleasanton would allow a Costco.
Because, after all, what else to put at that location that will generate zero NIMBY complaints? Even a park/open space would cost $$ and have recurring costs PLUS traffic. S O M E T H I N G will go there. A Costco is not an evil thing. And really, if all the naysayers don't shop there, do you really think the Costco would be empty? Wanna bet it would be full? Easy peasy money.....


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 21, 2016 at 6:15 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Nimby is intended to describe someone that "does not want it in his back yard". It seems on these threads the some ones that want it and the some ones that do not want it are describing each other.

A recall can happen through a referendum, or wait for the next election and vote for the council member (s) of your choice. If your choice votes against your wants, than recall that member.

Current terms for Pleasanton council members:

Mayor Jerry Thorne current term expires November 2016.
Council member Karla Brown current term expires November 2016.
Council member Jerry Pentin current term expires November 2016.
Council member Kathy Narum current term expires November 2018.
Council member Arne Olson current term expires November 2018.

Vote in the next election.











.


 +   20 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 22, 2016 at 10:05 am

Tim,

The reason that the opponents of Costco are qualifying an initiative for the ballot now is that they know the Council majority has already made up their minds to approve this project. They as much said so during the April 12th workshop. Gerry Beaudin and the city staff gave a great PR presentation during the workshop and dismissed the concerns of the 250 people that attended. This project is a locomotive roaring down the tracks toward approval despite what the public wants. Only Karla Brown seems to have doubt and the independence to ask critical questions, mostly about the financing of the project which will require a $5 million taxpayer subsidy – plus interest! This Council has demonstrated that it could care less about what the public thinks – starting with the East Side where they tried to approve 2500 units in spite of overwhelming public opposition, to Lund Ranch II which has resulted in a referendum, and now the Johnson Drive EDZ with the so-called “streamlined” approval process which is designed to thwart public participation and influence.

Representative democracy only works when our representatives are more interested in democracy than in furthering the goals of developers, corporations, and the growth coalition the runs Pleasanton. You are incorrect that the public has the option of referending a Costco approval. The evil genius of this process is that once the rezoning is complete, which will contain a list of permitted uses, a city staff functionary can approve a big-box store (or two), hotels, and anything else on the list from the seclusion of his or her cubicle without advance public notification or a public hearing. The only way to find out that something has been approved is if you read an obscure report called “Actions of the Zoning Administrator” that is buried in the bowels of the twice-monthly Planning Commission agenda packet, which can run to six inches thick. This report usually contains approvals of such mind-shattering things like over height back yard fences, extended operating hours for restaurants, etc. but not usually Costco’s or hotels. Now I realize that all Pleasantonians routinely monitor the Planning Commission agendas, but this would require quite a bit of discipline and time to check this report every two weeks just in case a Coscto or a Walmart is approved by the Zoning Administrator. And even if someone saw this the only recourse would be to appeal the approval to the Planning Commission. But you only have 14 days to appeal it, and if you missed it, well then you would be SOL. And even if you appealed it, and the Planning Commission overruled your appeal, and then you appealed that to the City Council – well, we already know where they stand. But since the Zoning Administrator’s approval of the Costco was an “administrative act” it is NOT referendable. Only a legislative act, like a PUD, can be referended. So now you see the strategy the city is using to undermine the public and the need for a preemptive citizen initiative.

I tend to see this initiative as the public protecting representative democracy in spite of the efforts of the City Council and city staff to destroying it.


 +   12 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 22, 2016 at 10:06 am

Tim,

The reason that the opponents of Costco are qualifying an initiative for the ballot now is that they know the Council majority has already made up their minds to approve this project. They as much said so during the April 12th workshop. Gerry Beaudin and the city staff gave a great PR presentation during the workshop and dismissed the concerns of the 250 people that attended. This project is a locomotive roaring down the tracks toward approval despite what the public wants. Only Karla Brown seems to have doubt and the independence to ask critical questions, mostly about the financing of the project which will require a $5 million taxpayer subsidy – plus interest! This Council has demonstrated that it could care less about what the public thinks – starting with the East Side where they tried to approve 2500 units in spite of overwhelming public opposition, to Lund Ranch II which has resulted in a referendum, and now the Johnson Drive EDZ with the so-called “streamlined” approval process which is designed to thwart public participation and influence.

Representative democracy only works when our representatives are more interested in democracy than in furthering the goals of developers, corporations, and the growth coalition the runs Pleasanton. You are incorrect that the public has the option of referending a Costco approval. The evil genius of this process is that once the rezoning is complete, which will contain a list of permitted uses, a city staff functionary can approve a big-box store (or two), hotels, and anything else on the list from the seclusion of his or her cubicle without advance public notification or a public hearing. The only way to find out that something has been approved is if you read an obscure report called “Actions of the Zoning Administrator” that is buried in the bowels of the twice-monthly Planning Commission agenda packet, which can run to six inches thick. This report usually contains approvals of such mind-shattering things like over height back yard fences, extended operating hours for restaurants, etc. but not usually Costco’s or hotels. Now I realize that all Pleasantonians routinely monitor the Planning Commission agendas, but this would require quite a bit of discipline and time to check this report every two weeks just in case a Coscto or a Walmart is approved by the Zoning Administrator. And even if someone saw this the only recourse would be to appeal the approval to the Planning Commission. But you only have 14 days to appeal it, and if you missed it, well then you would be SOL. And even if you appealed it, and the Planning Commission overruled your appeal, and then you appealed that to the City Council – well, we already know where they stand. But since the Zoning Administrator’s approval of the Costco was an “administrative act” it is NOT referendable. Only a legislative act, like a PUD, can be referended. So now you see the strategy the city is using to undermine the public and the need for a preemptive citizen initiative.

I tend to see this initiative as the public protecting representative democracy in spite of the efforts of the City Council and city staff to destroying it.


 +   4 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Apr 22, 2016 at 4:14 pm

Gee Tim,

Lest you be the next person to be accused of being corrupt, as Matt Sullivan has already accused the Mayor and two City Councilmembers of, guess you must have to agree with his assessment on this issue.

I mean, let's face it--there's no hypocrisy or double-standard when it comes to "truth, justice and the American way" when you look at his and Councilmember Karla Brown's actions regarding the Lund Ranch II issue and support of the upcoming referendum on the June ballot.

Yes, thank goodness for Councilmember Karla Brown, described by Mr. Sullivan as a "voice in the wilderness."

That "wilderness" is one of many hillsides (in this case, Benedict Court in Kottinger Ranch) where lots of $2 million+ homes reside--or perhaps he means the open hillsides/ravines accessible only to Kottinger Ranch property owners where there aren't already $2 million+ homes built upon in Kottinger Ranch.

"Truth, justice and the American way." Yep, as represented by Councilmember Brown's and Mr. Sullivan's staunch support of a referendum that made the ballot using a paid signature gathering company, one which neither of them will disclose the name of (nor the others behind it who paid tens of thousands of dollars for it, plus cost City taxpayers nearly $250,000 to put it on the ballot. A paid signature gathering company whose employees, by the way, flat out lied to Pleasanton voters to help get enough signatures on the petition (just barely) so it would make the ballot.

But nothing corrupt or underhanded about that, right Matt, Karla? Nah, everything you two say and do is appropriate and honorable.

Sorry, Matt, but your and Councilmember Karla Brown's actions regarding the Lund Ranch II referendum are just as supposedly tarnished, corrupt, and underhanded as those you would accuse others in Pleasanton City government of pursuing.


 +   30 people like this
Posted by JJ, a resident of Fairlands Elementary School,
on Apr 22, 2016 at 10:50 pm

What's wrong with voting on a Big Box at Johnson Drive? I want to! Are we to really believe that more traffic would be generated by smaller stores as the Council stated? Are we to believe that the infrastructure could not be paid for by the new businesses paying their fair share?

The infrastructure is now $16million. What do you want to bet it's over $20 million $25 million? How will it be paid? We learned $5 million of our existing funds; $5 million from new businesses; and borrow $6 million from Costco for 30 years at 4%. Does that sound like "not a penny will come from taxpayer dollars", as previously stated by the staff?? How much is Costco paying? Is it zero, as is there policy not to pay for infrastructure? Other retail would have to pay its fair share. There would be no borrowing for future generations to repay.

Costco has signed a lease based on City approval; yet the City will not tell us the concessions given to attract Costco. Transparency? I think not.

This isn't about Nimby. This is about the City leaders representing the people.


 +   25 people like this
Posted by Curious Too, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 22, 2016 at 11:10 pm

Yes, I, too want to know what has been promised to Costco. I heard in the meeting that it could take us 30 years of the reduced sales tax benefit to break-even. Hardly the "cash cow" it's made out to be.

Was anyone listening? Ask questions about sales tax concessions, property tax concessions, impact fee concessions, infrastructure concessions.

Let's learn the facts and vote. How can I sign the initiative?


 +   21 people like this
Posted by Val Vista Gal, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 11:23 am

Tim,
If you lived in Val Vista would you want a 24 gasoline station pumps near your home? Cars idling 6 deep for 30-45 minute waiting to gas up? Let's see: 24 pumps times 6 cars each pump. Would you want your young kids to attend Donlon Elemmentary school with that type of pollution? All, so Costco would be 8 miles closer to you- or some sales tax dollars would come to our City which has a $4 million surplus?

If you had been at the town hall meeting at Hart Middle School in November, you would have heard Jerry Beaudin admit that the the jDEDZ was structured so that if passed ithere could be no referendum. Ask him. Ask the Planning Commission. Ask the Council. Sneaky? Sleazy?

Do you really care about the quality of life in Pleasanton? At Val Vista? The kids at Donlon Middle School? That we don't need Costco's tax dollars. That we have a $4 million surplus? Seems to me that you are just aligning yourself withe the politicians instead of doing true reporting.

Our City is unique; OUR LEADERS AND REPORTERS LIKE YOU WANT IT TO BE MORE LIKE DUBLIN.


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 11:34 am

Aren't there gas stations already there and in fact the authors of the initiative or least sponsors?
One would think you would worry more about the car pollution from 580?


 +   19 people like this
Posted by Val Vista Gal, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 12:30 pm

To answer San Ramon - no gas stations are not already there near Val Vista. No there are none in our City with 24 pumps! No there are none with cars idling for 30-45 minutes to fuel - which, by the way, creates more pollution than moving cars on freeways.

And, I thank Bill Wheeler and whoever sponsors, collects signatures, and works to allow us the right to vote. If you want to move to Val Vista in Pleasanton and want to vote for pollution- you would get to vote for it!


 +   2 people like this
Posted by Scott Hale, a resident of San Ramon,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 1:36 pm

Hey, I'm all for Pleasanton voting. I think once those who actually do vote vs just those making noise will be surprised with the outcome.
why would I move there from Dougherty Valley? While I can't 'vote' there, I would use a Costco, but not for gas. Shorter drive, most likely better than parking than the Danville Costco.
I'm afraid the pollution argument just doesn't fly very far. Something would go there and anything would create pollution and traffic.
Move to Gale Ranch, so such issues here. Away from 580/680 and commercial district. Kerplop.


 +   19 people like this
Posted by Val, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 2:08 pm

Yea, San Ramon, we should all pick up and move. That's the answer. Move our kids too from Donlon Elemnentary.
120 + cars in line idling, waiting for gas doesn't create pollution? 15 hours per day? No pollution? Doesn't fly?
What if we can't afford Gale Ranch like you. Very easy people like you with money to be judgemetal of others, rather than compassionate. You assume that you know what's best for us.
On second thought- don't move to Val Vista. It wouldn't be good enough for you! And, I doubt we would like your sooty, "know it all" attitude.

I am glad that you are for us voting! I would wish that for you too, if the case were reversed- but please don't tell us to move. That's not the answer.





 +   2 people like this
Posted by SHale99, a resident of another community,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 4:18 pm

SHale99 is a registered user.

Oh Val: Haven't done much research outside of your comfort area? many house price levels here; for any budget (own or rent). Of course, I did research enough so I'd know what could be/was w/in 5 miles of where I decided to live. Pretty dang sure the area for the 'maybe' Costco has been commercial/office.
Let the good folks of Pleasanton (those who bother) vote on the matter. I think you will be surprised at the results.
Methinks you should worry more about the sewer plant in same area, no?
kersplat


 +   16 people like this
Posted by Facts Straight, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 4:26 pm

Unsuspecting Tim
,
. "Let the Process Play Out"
"if enough members of the public think the council is wrong, there is a referendum process"

Suggest you call Jerry Beaudin and ask if there can be a referendum once passed. I have. The answer is NO! The City found a loophole in structuring this deal - do you still trust them as looking out for the public's best interests!

I know your intentions are good- but beware! Unless you ask, don't assume that you will be told the straight facts.


 +   14 people like this
Posted by Val, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 4:52 pm

I shall not bother answering another blog. Seems like a waste of time. You people from outside the area, who demean our Val Vista neighborhood, and say that we should have done more research before buying, or live somewhere else, better - show no compassion. If the shoe were reversed, you might be more compassionate. Anyway, I wish you all the best, and no I will not be surprised of the result, if there is a vote. I don't know how the people will vote- but, I would like to vote.

I wish my friend in San Ramon the best and the same to the most recent blog - from "out of the area" - signing off!


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 5:45 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

March 1959, Texas Instrument's introduced the solid state integrated circuit. A new device that would change the world, became known as the microchip. Ever since, change has met resistance every step of the way.


 +   13 people like this
Posted by JT, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Not much said about pollution for Donlon Elementary School. Seems it's all about who is trying to prove their point. Too much arguing; too much politics.

The kids have no voice. My son has asthma. I don't care to argue. Some will say there will be no extra pollution. Please don't bother.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by BlogThis, a resident of another community,
on Apr 23, 2016 at 6:16 pm

BlogThis is a registered user.

Needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one. Let the voters have their say. And those who do vote YES may never, ever shop at the new Costco (if ever finalized). and if they do vote YES and do end up shopping there or getting gas please assist them in looking up: Hypocrite


 +   10 people like this
Posted by terri, a resident of Danville,
on Apr 24, 2016 at 11:35 am

Hi Val,
I commute every day from Danville to Pleasanton. Seems to me the people from out of your area, like San Ramon, who have been criticizing your choice of where you live (the Val Vista neighborhood) are very judgmental and mean spirited. I have never blogged before, but I want you to know that not all people who may live in another area are like these people.
I happen to love Pleasanton and wish your neighborhood the best. Traffic at Stoneridge is terrible. I do hope you get to vote.


 +   6 people like this
Posted by BlogThis, a resident of another community,
on Apr 24, 2016 at 12:32 pm

Yes, let the folks vote. Hopefully a majority will come out TO vote (or by mail). Let a majority of voters decide the issue. A Presidential election, so hopefully more than minority will actually vote.
Let the most informed V O T E


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by megabox, a resident of Apperson Ridge,
on Apr 26, 2016 at 11:35 am

megabox is a registered user.

nice article


 +   1 person likes this
Posted by Hoops, a resident of Mohr Park,
on Apr 27, 2016 at 10:11 am

What I hate is the complete, total 100 pct hypocrisy of Wheeler.Just be honest and say the only reason you are pushing against this is because you think it an inconvenience to your business.Again,how many people need a limo service?
For all the people who think this Costco makes Pleasanton like every other city,do a little more analysis please.The Costco is going in a commercial area next to the freeway.It does not in any way harm the uniqueness of Pleasanton.Does it change the quaint downtown?Does it change all the parks and tree lined streets?Your arguments are just false.
Will there be more traffic?Yes there will be more traffic.Is it going to overwhelm the area?Of course not.Another false argument.


 +   15 people like this
Posted by Pleasant, a resident of Stoneridge,
on Apr 27, 2016 at 1:57 pm

I see no reason to be negative regarding the right to vote - or criticizing Bill Wheeler. - for allowing us the opportunity. Even the Mayor and City Council on April 12 said the people should vote.

Why is the right to vote so divisive? Why is their animosity? I have the right to my opinion, and you to yours. Isn't it the will of the majority that should decide? Big Box with retail, or no Big Box with retail. Seems rather simple and straightforward.

Let's be Pleasant in Pleasanton.


 +  Like this comment
Posted by Remark, a resident of Valley Trails,
on Apr 29, 2016 at 9:05 pm

Re the multitude cars waiting for gas causing pollution argument...do not the hundreds, if not thousands, of personal vehicles idling while waiting to drop off/ pickup kids at all Pleasanton schools every morning and afternoon far exceed any Costco generated pollution? Where is the outcry addressing this much larger pollution source located AT the school boundary?


 +   5 people like this
Posted by JT, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

Creating more pollution isn't the answer for our children at Donlon Elementary.


 +   5 people like this
Posted by JT, a resident of Val Vista,
on Apr 30, 2016 at 9:21 am

Creating more pollution isn't the answer for our children at Donlon Elementary.



Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:

Follow this blogger (Receive an email when blogger makes a new post)

SUBMIT

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Buyer Beware! The Ethics of College Essay Workshops
By Elizabeth LaScala | 0 comments | 862 views

Johnny Be Gone – Long Live Rock-n-Roll
By Tom Cushing | 1 comment | 526 views

 

2017 guide to summer camps

Looking for something for the kids to do this summer, learn something new and have fun? The 2017 Summer Camp Guide features local camps for all ages and interests.

Find Camps Here