"This whole design just doesn't make sense," BART commuter and Pleasanton resident An Li told the City Council. "I see a long line of cars just waiting (at a traffic light), while the three lanes on the other side of Owens are wide open."
Julie Testa agreed. She called it an "unfortunate decision" for the city to allocate two lanes of a public road to the building's developer at the expense of BART commuters and others who use the eastbound lanes of Owens Drive.
Mike Tassano, the city's traffic engineer, promised to "fix" the backup problems by cutting back to 10 seconds the time pedestrians have to cross the new single lane and giving motorists 90 seconds on each green light.
But Li and others who protested the Owens Drive change at a recent council meeting want the severed two lanes restored.
"This was a mistake and a lot of people are concerned," she said. "I know it would be costly to make an adjustment, but in the long run that is the right thing to do."
The decision to narrow the one-block stretch of Owens to one lane was approved by the council in 2011 as part of the overall design of high-density apartment buildings with 498 units in three- and four-story buildings at Owens Drive and Willow Road and at the northern corner of Gibraltar and Hacienda drives. By providing on-street parking spaces on Owens, developers said the ground floor with "live/work" apartments and retail spaces would have more appeal.
It was only last month, after construction fences were removed, that commuters realized the new one-lane Owens Drive would be permanent, and objections have been heard ever since.
Sachia Bhayari told the council Owens Drive needs to be widened, not narrowed, adding that traffic will worsen when residents of the new 498 apartments and condos move in.
"This road belongs to the people of Pleasanton and the best solution is to give it back to the drivers," Bhayari said.
Testa said she heard from many citizens about the Owens Drive problem during her campaign for mayor, and saw for herself the traffic backup during peak travel hours.
"It's counter-intuitive that we would reduce Owens down to a single lane in such a significant traffic corridor," she said.
Added Jeff Safire: "It's unacceptable that a public resource was taken away from Pleasanton taxpayers. The bottom line is that what has created a traffic nightmare for the last eight months is becoming permanent."
Council members agreed to put the Owens Drive issue on its agenda for discussion in early 2017.