Pleasanton Weekly

News - May 13, 2011

Hundreds object to more housing near Bernal park

Public protests high density units as city faces compliance deadline

by Jeb Bing

More than 200 packed a Civic Center hearing room to tell the Pleasanton City Council about their objections to plans to build high density, low- and medium-income housing on a vacant 10-acre parcel near their homes.

The property, owned by South Bay Construction, is part of a narrow strip of land alongside the eastern edge of I-680 south of Bernal Avenue. The acreage, now designated Site 7, is part of 16 sites being considered for high density housing by the council's Housing Element task force. With 30 units per acre to be allowed in the new zoning formula, Site 7 could accommodate as many as 300 apartment units.

The South Bay property is currently zoned for office buildings with Safeway building a new Lifestyle supermarket and other retail stores at the northern edge next to Bernal.

The 11-member task force is working to find acreage throughout Pleasanton that would be suitable for high density housing. The task force must complete its research and nominate enough sites to accommodate at least 2,000 new housing units that the California state housing department and a Superior Court judge have ordered the city to provide.

The protestors, many carrying signs with the designation" Site 7" crossed out, live in homes built since 2003 adjacent to the Bernal Community Park. Greenbriar Homes and KB Homes were given permits to build more than 500 homes and apartments on the Bernal site in 2001 in an agreement with Pleasanton that also gave 350 acres free of charge to the city for public use.

Now these developments are fully occupied, and the residents of the KB and Greenbriar homes told the council that they moved there to escape the congestion and crime in their former neighborhoods and don't want high density housing across the street from where they live.

"I grew up in San Francisco in a highly congested, poor district and I moved to Pleasanton to a home with a yard and lots of open space," one woman said. "I don't want to go back to those conditions."

Another speaker said homeowners in the area should be consulted before such massive development plans are considered.

"Just because a site may look good on paper, based on criteria that clearly favors the future residents and builders, it is best to consult with the residents and homeowners who actually live near Site 7 and ask them if they feel that high density housing is a good idea," said Wesley Lim, a homeowner there.

Added Sangita Patel: "Site 7 already carries a high concentration of affordable housing within a 1/2 mile, yet we continue to look to add more affordable units in this area. Why are we willing to jeopardize the balance in our town when we clearly do not need to?"

The state housing mandate, part of an earlier court decision that nullified Pleasanton's 1996, voter-approved housing cap of 29,000 housing units, requires that the council submit an approved plan by mid-August. The state will then review the plan, make changes as needed, submit the plan for an environmental impact review, and then officially approve the rezoning plan by year's end in time to comply with the court order.

Besides Site 7, the other sites under consideration are:

Site 2 -- The Sheraton Hotel on Stoneridge Mall Road.

Site 3 –- Stoneridge Shopping Center, with housing units to be built on open space and parking lots.

Site 4 –- Open space in the vicinity of Kaiser Permanente.

Site 5 –- Rosewood Auto Sales, at the northeast edge of Pleasanton.

Site 6 –- 6 acres along First Street east of Vineyard Avenue known as the Irby-Kaplan-Zia site.

Site 8 -- 5.3 acres owned by Auf de Maur/Richenback, located across from McDonald's at Bernal Avenue and First Street.

Site 9 –- The 5.6 acre Nearon property on West Las Positas Boulevard.

Site 10 -- 8.4 acres on the CarrAmerica property on Owens Drive.

Site 11 –- 10 acres on the now vacant Kiewit site on Bernal Avenue near First Street.

Site 12 –- Goodnight Inn's 2.3-acre site on Santa Rita Road.

Site 13 –- A 12.6-acre site owned by CM Capital Properties on West Las Positas Boulevard.

Site 14 –- A 12-acre site owned by Legacy Partners that was part of the gravel pits.

Site 16 –- Vintage Hills Shopping Center. A 5-acre site that is now being redeveloped with retail and service businesses.

Site 17 –- Axis Community Health. Just over half-an-acre that would be available once the public health center relocates into a larger facility.

Removed by the Housing Element Task force was Site 15, a 3-acre site occupied by Valley Trails Church. After a series of ongoing protests by Valley Trails residents, the task force agreed that the site lacked the transportation, shopping and other amenities it is requiring in considering high density housing sites.

In addition to objections by the Bernal Community Park neighborhoods, Nancy Allen and others in neighborhoods off Valley Avenue near Santa Rita Road also urged the task force and council to reduce the more than 400 high density housing units planned for Sites 8, 11 and 14 near the intersection of Valley Avenue and First Street.

She asked that the proposed housing sites not be so heavily concentrated near her neighborhood or on Site 7, but that they be more equitably placed throughout the city.


Posted by Long time resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2011 at 11:45 am

Same tired arguments "Plesantonian NIMBY's" have been using for years; they got theirs and now they don't want anyone else to. Traffic and congestion would be eased if more people who work in the community (teachers, office workers, etc) were given affordable options for living here.

Posted by Frederick, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on May 18, 2011 at 11:56 am

Reality is, the big box stores need a suitable labor pool of workers to exploit at minimum wage. Minimum wage workers usually can't afford cars of their own, and public transportation sucks (not with MY tax dollars you don't!). Hence the need for apartment dwellers.

Putting up some low-end apartments is all part of the American capitalist dream. It's unfortunate that, as many of Pleasanton's classy populace would prefer, the apartment dwellers can't be fenced off in some manner or another. But such is life. Free enterprise means free movement of labor. Live with it.

Posted by Smug, a resident of Valley Trails
on May 18, 2011 at 1:29 pm

Ha-Ha-Ha. Guess whose coming to dinner? There goes the neighborhood!

Posted by How about buying from the Lins, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2011 at 2:36 pm

How about buying the land from the Lins and building there? They did not want mansions? OK, let them have affordable housing.

If I were the Lins, I would volunteer the property, just to show those folks that the land is not theirs and the Lins should be able to decide what happens with THEIR land

Posted by b, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 18, 2011 at 3:06 pm

Yes, the Lin property. I'm all for giant apartment buildings on top of Mount Kay.

Posted by Marie, a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2011 at 8:33 am

I'm get tired of people saying we need low income housing for teachers, bus boys etc. I drive 30 miles to work each day. I choose to live in Pleasanton. Not everyone can live and work in the same city, you do what you have to do to make ends meet and live in a city you like. I would be considered low to medium income and I have no problem driving to where the jobs are. I am a single income person and have financial struggles of my own but I do not expect to have housing for me so I can work in my backyard either. I am not in favor of more density housing so close to downtown, the traffic is already heavy and I hate for them to build some sort of "by pass" and ruin our downtown.

Posted by Fred, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2011 at 8:50 am

After they are built, think how big the next parcel tax request will be.

Posted by Peeved, a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2011 at 9:08 am

I spent good money moving away from you know what, and now I'm going to have to move again.

Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2011 at 9:23 am

So, "Peeved". I do "know what". You mean you'll have to move away from poorer people, usually with darker skin than yours. Did you move to Pleasanton for a rich white person's paradise?

And Marie, if there were quality affordable housing near where you work, would you live there, and spare us all the 20 pounds of carbon you put into the air every day getting to and from work? And why, if they can't expect to live where they work, is it somehow wrong to make this housing available to the people who want to live near where they work, if they work in Safeway's new "lifestyle" store?

This NIMBY attitude is merely thinly masked class separation, and at its worst, ti is racism.

Posted by Peeved, a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2011 at 9:30 am

John asks me if I mooved to Pleasanton for a rich white person Paradise??? Of course I did? Didn't he? Holy Cow!!!

If I want to pollute the enivrnment with my carbon bigfoot thats my perogative.

Look around you!!! We are'nt Detroit and should'nt have to be one!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Recall the Bums, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2011 at 9:37 am

How about all the bleeding hearts, that want to turn Pleasanton into Hayward, move to Hayward? I moved to Pleasanton, and suffered years of a horrendous commute, so that my kids wouldn't have to go to school with a bunch of dead-beats and gangsters. I don't want my investment of money and time to be for naught because of socialist idiots like Jerry Brown. If it even remotely looks like the City Council might approve low-cost housing on Bernal, then we should recall the bums.

Posted by Marie, a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2011 at 9:59 am

To John, Yes there is quality affordable housing near where I work and I chose when I was able to finally buy a house to live in Plesanton. What is wrong with wanting to live in a better community. Actually I don't want to say better, we have riff raff just like any other place. I moved here because it reminded me of a "neghborhood, community" feeling like where I grew up. Now where I grew up is 75% non americans and it does not have a small town feeling anymore. They have no roots here they do not care about small town america, sorry but I do.

Posted by VERNON, a resident of Deer Oaks/Twelve Oaks
on May 19, 2011 at 10:38 am

I just read recently that Oakland is experiencing a flight of some of it's citizens to other communities, I wonder why, if they were happy with Oakland wouldn't they just stay there and make it even better. Why would we want to make Pleasanton like Oakland ?

Posted by Concerned Californian, a resident of Valley Trails
on May 19, 2011 at 10:39 am

Low-income housing is a scam for rich developers and building unions. It's always touted for teachers and police officers and low-income workers; but the reality is all housing developments in Hayward, Oakland and San Leandro are no-income Section 8 housing projects for gang members and criminals. Anyone advocating for it in Pleasanton should have to live for a week in Ashland in San Leandro.

Pleasantonians aren't racist for wanting a crime-free town with good schools. I bet it's mostly white-guilt liberals making this argument - I bet if you ask hard-working, pro-education Hispanic and African Americans in town if they are in favor of the low-income housing, you'll find that they're not.

Posted by Jetson, a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2011 at 12:04 pm

Jetson is a registered user.

Exactly Concerned Californian. Its not a race thing. Its wanting a better quality of life. I would probably be considered low to medium income if I am lucky and I bought a home in Pleasanton. I grew up in Milpitas but knew I did not want to buy there not now it does not feel like home anymore. I have an ugly commute too like Marie. By law what I hear is that new apartment complexes that are built part of them have to be section 8. Now I have lived in one of those before, not as section 8 but yes we had some sorted people there and some good people. But I didn't appreciated finding rolling papers and empty booze bottles on my stairs all the time. Any good upstanding person regardless of race would love to live in a nice community. If that makes us NIMBY's so be it!!!

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on May 19, 2011 at 12:36 pm

Nosy Neighbors is a registered user.

John, we'll all help YOU move.

Why do we have a flood of people immigrating from Mexico, South & Central America, Eastern Europe, Asia and even Canada to the United States? Because it affords them a better place to live, raise their families and improve their way of life. Are all these people "racist" because they choose not to live within the confines of their present locations? Certainly not Johnny Boy.

It is inherent in every persons drive and psyche to strive to better themselves, whether it be through attaining higher education, a better job, moving to an area that is safe, has good schools [portion removed due to excessive Measure E commentary on this page] and represents the values of those wishing to live within said community. It has been proven that high-density urban housing rarely produces or fosters civic pride in their tenants and that the blight, lack of care & upkeep soon replace all of the good intentions that the designers of these "utopian gardens" sought to create.

So yes folks, I & apparently a few others will be back again at the next City Council meeting to voice our objections and will be here to counter the "John's" of the world who are simply self-hating/loathing bitter individuals that are living in this town for the wrong reasons.

Peace out P-Town!

Posted by Pepper, a resident of Old Towne
on May 24, 2011 at 8:29 am

Pepper is a registered user.

How about we don't build low cost housing and the big boxes can't find enough people to hire at the low wages they offer. They will either shut down there by eliminating the need for more housing or they will decide to pay higher wages and hire people already living here. For those of you that don't recognize this type of thinking, it's called "conservative thinking".

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