http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/01/18/pleasantons-east-side-vision-plan-has-merit


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - January 18, 2013

Pleasanton's East Side 'Vision' plan has merit

Among the priorities the newly constituted Pleasanton City Council will consider this year is the planning now under way for 1,000 acres of lakes and largely undeveloped land east of Valley Avenue and along Stanley Boulevard. Considered by some as Pleasanton's "last frontier," this acreage is under study by the council-appointed East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force, an 18-member group under the guidance of Brian Dolan, director of community development, and Janice Stern, the city's planning manager. The task force, which has been meeting since last fall, is off to a rocky start with Mayor Jerry Thorne on Tuesday criticizing its "Draft Vision Statement" as reading more like an instruction manual than a broader, less specific look at what this frontier might look like in future years. Thorne and the council also agreed that elected members of the City Council should not sit on task forces or other committees and commissions whose recommendations ultimately will be decided by the council.

Still, the detailed Vision Statement for this East Side "frontier" has relevance in that it may offer housing sites far removed from built-up neighborhoods to provide the hundreds more affordable, high density housing units expected to be required by state authorities and low income housing advocates. The council recently rezoned 75 acres of land to meet its current obligations for more affordable housing. A new order by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) and state housing administrators is due next year, and even more affordable housing requirements are likely to be made later in the decade and well into the 2020s. This East Side tract, which has less than 500 acres of buildable acreage, should be among the council's priorities as this new specific plan is developed.

The task force's Vision Statement, notwithstanding Thorne's abrupt critique, offers good suggestions for pondering. It recommends continuing with the long-planned extension of El Charro Road from I-580 to Stanley Boulevard, with at least one connecting artery, Busch Road, to move traffic from Valley Avenue to this new eastern border. That would invite more development, including retail centers and light industrial uses as well as apartments. There's even the thought of adding another ACE train station at El Charro and Busch, plus plans for more sports fields and parks, some along the banks of several large lakes that Zone 7 plans to use for water retention. Development should orient toward and take advantage of the lake environment.

The task force seems determined to plan this new frontier to benefit the entire community, integrating the Ironwood residential community at Busch and Valley, and possibly moving the city's Operations Center and the Pleasanton Garbage Service's recycling center to more remote locations. So far, the work of the task force is on target with the focus in its Vision Statement on providing the right balance of housing, recreation and commercial uses to allow for the continued population growth of Pleasanton and our changing community needs.

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