Pleasanton Weekly

News - October 21, 2011

High density housing complex won't have 'that Pleasanton look'

City's largest affordable project earns preliminary OK from planners

by Jeb Bing

Agreeing that a new affordable housing project won't have "that Pleasanton look," city planning commissioners nevertheless gave their thumbs up Monday to what is likely to be the city's highest density residential housing complex ever.

BRE properties of San Francisco plan to build a mixed-use, high density residential and commercial development in Hacienda Business Park that will have more than 500 apartments, and approximately 5,700 square feet of retail space on the buildings' ground floors.

The project will include eight apartment houses and two "mixed-use" buildings with 255 residential units on one site bordering on Owens Drive with another 10 buildings housing 247 residential units on a second site extending north from the intersection of Gibraltar and Hacienda drives.

Some of the planned four-story buildings look even taller because of their architecturally stark, multi-colored designs and large, overhanging roof caps. The four-story buildings will include elevator service, although no elevators will be placed in the three-story buildings.

In addition to the apartment and mixed-use buildings, two additional structures are proposed: a 3,380-square-foot club/fitness center and a smaller leasing office.

Brian Dolan, director of Planning and Community Services, told the city Planning Commission that the BRE designs "reflect the residential area already in the (business) park," although some commissioners didn't agree.

"This (project) looks different," said Commissioner Phil Blank. "While I think the 'Pleasanton look' is an important concept, this is something that should be different. It's like when you go to Disney World and see the different places with different themes. This will differentiate what we're trying to create here from the Pleasanton look."

Commissioners Jerry Pentin and Jennifer Pearce agreed, adding that the three- and four-story charcoal, blue and gold-colored buildings should have more of an "industrial look" because they're part of a transit oriented development that is close to the BART East station.

Added Planning Commission chairwoman Kathy Narum: "It sure doesn't look like Pleasanton, but I'm comfortable with the plans."

Monday's workshop meeting was the first time the Planning Commission had a detailed look at the specific site and building designs from BRE, which hopes to start construction in early 2012. BRE will make changes suggested by city staff and the commission and return in mid-November with a final plan for the Planning Commission to consider and vote on.

That action will then be considered by the City Council at a meeting in December.

Monday's presentation ended more than a year of community meetings by the Hacienda task force to consider the types of structures and placement of affordable housing units that the City Council allowed in 2009 when it rezoned vacant land in the Hacienda Business Park to accommodate more housing for mid- to lower-income tenants.

Although separate from the proposed new zoning changes to accommodate even more affordable housing as required by state and court orders, the Hacienda high density complex will add to the city's inventory of this type of housing.

The density of the proposed Hacienda complex is estimated at 30.29 dwelling units per acre, consistent with the standards established for the Hacienda site but significantly more than other apartment complexes in Pleasanton.

At first in its year-long planning process, BRE resisted committing ground floor units with 40-foot depths for retail uses to serve the complex, such as a beauty salon, dry cleaners or coffee shop. BRE said its survey showed an abundance of those kinds of retailers already doing business nearby and that it was unlikely more would want to open at the BRE complex.

Eventually, BRE relented, agreeing to start out with 30-foot-deep residential units in those first floor spaces and eventually converting them into retail space when needed.

A drawback, said BRE's Irwin Yau, is that those units will have 30-foot depths that could be converted into retail space. But planners said most retailers would need at least 40-foot depths and it was also pointed out that these temporary apartments would only have windows at the front, making them less attractive to renters.

Unlike many large high-density apartment complexes, the new Hacienda development will have no internal streets. Driveways off the major bordering streets will offer the only access to parking spaces in the middle of the complexes.

Open space also will be limited. BRE has set aside a .55-acre site in one area, about the same size as Veterans Park on Peters Avenue in downtown Pleasanton. A pool, playground and other recreational areas also will be provided for residents.

Besides the tall concrete and glass structures lining Gibraltar, Owens and other Hacienda streets, a drive-by look at the structures will show mostly garage doors much like the San Francisco Marina district. To meet the city's off-street parking requirements, BRE will build many of the apartments over ground-floor garages.


Posted by Melanie, a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Oct 20, 2011 at 5:14 pm

I think this is great, we do need affordable housing! The article didn't include photo-sims or artist renditions, however I can not imagine that in Pleasanton they will be anything but
"pleasanton beige" and really not that out there in design.

Posted by Lynn, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 21, 2011 at 8:32 am

I think building a mixed-use, high density residential and commercial development in Hacienda Business Park is great! The fear about the "Pleasanton look" - Pleasanton doesn't have one style (thankfully).
Before complaining, show the designs - just as Melanie said.

Posted by Korey, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2011 at 8:32 am

I don't understand the lack of elevators in a brand new 3 story building. Did I read this wrong? ??? Haven't we come along further than that? Thus is discrimination fir handicap Isn't there mandates for access??

Posted by Ben, a resident of Foothill Place
on Oct 21, 2011 at 9:12 am


Read the blog from yesterday's conversation on this topic. No there are no mandates for an elevator. In fact I know of very few apartments that have elevators. The disabled will have first floor apartments. Can you imagine the cost of maintaining multiple elevators in a low income housing development? Probably would not be a low income anymore defeating the purpose of the project.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 21, 2011 at 9:27 am

Stacey is a registered user.

First floor is retail.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 21, 2011 at 9:34 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Looked at the plans again... There's a variety of stuff on the ground floor and a variety of unit types.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 21, 2011 at 9:39 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Another feature of the design is the vertical lines on the siding. The vertical lines accentuate the height, making it look taller. Tall high density housing that looks taller is probably the last thing Pleasanton residents want to see.

Posted by Don, a resident of Ironwood
on Oct 21, 2011 at 9:49 am

Just to note on the fact that elevators must be in short supply these days in multilevel complexes. I just helped my daughter move into a beautiful complex in the Windemere area of San Ramon. All new area with beautiful apts. She chose the 3 floor and no elevator. Movers moved the heavy furniture but the boxes we did ourselves. Needless to say we were tired after having to carry all that up 4 flights of stairs.
Disabled and seniors can rent the ground level units I am told.

Posted by does anyone know?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2011 at 10:53 am

They have a place like that (but it is designated not low income) in San Jose. It is Santana Row. They have apartments right there with the retail/restaurants, and it is in a neighborhood where there are residential houses right behind it. I think it is nice to have something like that.

Will they have enough retail, shops and restaurants in this new housing development even though it is low income? It would make Pleasanton a bit more interesting.

and btw, not all low income people are bad. My child has a classmate at school whose parents qualified for low income status and bought a low income property by the Jack in the Box on Bernal/Valley. Those houses were going for a lot of money when they bought, yet they were able to purchase the home for 200K. They gave a 100K down payment and the city helped them finance the rest. When the property is sold, they do not get all the profits but a prorated amount based on how much they paid for the house vs. how much the house true market value was at the time vs. the amount the house is worth when it is sold. These low income folks were responsible enough to save 100K and use it to buy their "low income" property. Please do not judge all low income folks the same. Just because someone makes under 100K does not make them bad or irresponsible

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 21, 2011 at 12:55 pm

From around the country evidence is showing that traffic pollution has a huge impact on public health. Living near major roads is hazardous to your health. Period.

University of Southern California scientists, have found connections between people living near freeways and asthma, reduced lung function, cardiovascular disease, autism and other health effects. The carbon and ultra-fine particle levels are extremely high around freeways. Research has shown such particles can lodge in lungs, triggering asthma attacks, heart attacks and other respiratory and cardiovascular problems.

Linda Birnbaum, director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences

Posted by Jason, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Oct 22, 2011 at 8:31 pm

Does anyone know how folks will get approved for housing (beyond meeting the financial requirements). If there are more applicants than units what factors determine who gets the units?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Birdland
on Nov 1, 2011 at 11:59 pm

This is a BIG mistake...I lived in Pleasanton, I want to move back to pleasanton where my family and kids can live in a safe place. Statistically speaking, high density housing complexes attract the, "Low rent" type people. This will ultimately change the look and feel of how Pleasanton used to be. I am a bit outraged and frustrated that the people we trust to make decisions for this great city are lacking judgement and are making poor decisions for another financial reason.

Go ahead, put in this high density housing complex and see what happens...for example, look at the groves in Dublin...who did that attract...what about the complex near the East dub/pleas bart station. Not saying that all are bad people, there a lot of great people in this area, but there has been a significant rise in criminal activity.

I am hoping for the best, but not expecting anything great. It sounds like the decision makers have made their decision.

Please, Please...don't let this go through.

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