http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2013/02/22/thorne-says-pleasanton-in-good-shape-getting-better


Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 22, 2013

Thorne says Pleasanton in good shape, getting better

In first 'State of City' address, mayor cites major gains

by Jeb Bing

Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne, in his first "State of the City" address since his election last November, told a sell-out crowd of city, civic and business leaders Tuesday that 2013 is already turning out to be better in terms of municipal revenue, new businesses, retail expansion and housing gains than last year, and "everything is just getting better."

"I'm confident that 2013 will be just as great as 2012, if not better, and that Pleasanton will continue to master the challenges ahead while being true to the unique spirit of our community," Thorne said at a luncheon presentation hosted by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.

"Chief among them, a commitment to actively engage with our civic partners, while upholding the transparency that strengthens us as community," he added. "This lasting commitment continues to enhance our reputation as a vibrant, forward-thinking community."

Accomplishments last year, as cited by Thorne, included a decision by Workday to stay in Pleasanton and acquire a nearby office center to meet its expansion requirements. The company, which also plans to create 4,000 high-tech jobs in Pleasanton, was being seriously wooed by San Ramon but agreed with Pleasanton leaders that staying here made more sense.

Other gains last year included the decision by the University of San Francisco to relocate its San Ramon branch campus to Pleasanton, a move by Mercedes Benz to add a 72,000-square-foot showroom, and the construction of the Gateway Shopping Center on Bernal Avenue, where Safeway opened its new Lifestyle supermarket. With CVS Pharmacy about to finish construction on its new building, that shopping center is 100% filled, Thorne said.

Plans are under way, too, to add an additional 350,000 square feet of retail space at Stoneridge Shopping Center, he said.

"Let's talk about downtown Pleasanton," Thorne said. "The vacancy rate is only 6%, a real accomplishment in this economy and a testament to the economic value of our historic downtown."

He also announced that a "national retailer" will move into the now-vacant Domus store on Main Street, although the name of the firm remains a secret until the leasing papers are signed.

Pleasanton's economy is also rebounding from the recent recession. The unemployment rate for the city stands at 4.8%, well under the state's 9.8% rate and the current national rate of 7.9%. That, coupled with a 7% increase in home values during 2012 and still climbing, "makes Pleasanton a desirable place to live" and do business, Thorne said.

In fact, the combined assessed value of the city's commercial and residential properties was just over $12 billion in 2012, resulting in property tax revenues coming in at approximately $50 million.

Development activity is improving, with building permit revenues up 24% from last year; revenues from checking plans are up 75%. Most of the activity is from the ongoing construction of the Stoneridge Creek retirement community on Staples Ranch and Pleasanton Gateway Plaza, as well as Clorox's relocation to Pleasanton and the Safeway Corporate expansion at the former Farmers Insurance Building off Dublin Canyon Boulevard.

Pleasanton ended fiscal year 2012 with business licenses up by 6% over fiscal year 2011, he added.

"Pleasanton is in great financial shape, a position envied by communities around the Bay," Thorne said. "Our conservative fiscal policies and comprehensive budgeting approach enable Pleasanton to deliver the high quality of services our residents deserve."

As for 2013 priorities, Thorne said they include more sports fields on Bernal Community Park and careful planning and design reviews of housing projects being planned.

Among these, South Bay Development Corp. is proposing 210 apartment units and 88 single family homes near the new Pleasanton Gateway Shopping Center; E.S. Ring Corp. is planning 345 apartments and approximately 38,000 square feet of neighborhood retail space at the corner of the Valley/Bernal/Stanley; the Nearon Co. is planning an upscale 168-unit transit-oriented project in the Hacienda Business Park; and the California Center is planning a 205-unit transit-oriented development and approximately 7,500 square feet of neighborhood retail.

With regard to city finances, Thorne said the city has a AA rating by Standard and Poor's with assets exceeding liabilities as of last June 30 by $872.4 million.

The city is debt-free except for approximately $25 million in outstanding bonds that were used to finance Callippe Preserve golf course, and Thorne plans to find a way to pay those off while he is mayor.

Comments

Posted by Beth, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 25, 2013 at 8:16 pm

"Our conservative fiscal policies and comprehensive budgeting approach enable Pleasanton to deliver the high quality of services our residents deserve."

Except that our schools now have a 30:1 student-teacher ratio beginning in kindergarten, with no teacher's aides, computer labs that remain shuttered because the school can't pay to staff them, and most non-academic subjects being funded by the PPIE.

I can't imagine how PUSD will retain its reputation as an exceptional school district under these circumstances.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 8:45 pm

DId you notice that during the entire speech, not once did he even mention the schools or school district. PUSD IS the largest employer in Pleasanton. Seems like a whole new attitude has grown in this community.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 8:51 pm

"new attitude"? Seems like an old attitude to me.


Posted by registered user, Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 25, 2013 at 9:47 pm

Thorne has no control over schools or their budgeting.


Posted by huh?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 9:51 pm

People don't seem to understand that the school district and the City are two separate entities. The City doesn't get involved in the District's business and vice versa. However, the City seems to have their fiscal act together much better so maybe its too bad they aren't involved in the District finances.


Posted by Why is this a Chamber event?, a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 25, 2013 at 10:07 pm

Can anyone tell me why this is not a public event, sine the Mayor serves all Pleasanton residents? It is time to pry this out of the Chamber's talons and hold this at an open and public venue.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 10:27 pm

The schools have everything to do with this city. As a realtor, number one reason I sell homes is because of the schools. Largest employer in the entire city and this successful school district isnt even mentioned.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 10:47 pm

The school district has a huge financial burden looming over the district offices. How is this district going to fund another 14% of payroll toward their pension contribution? Why have they been spending 100's of thousands to promote failed parcel taxes while ignoring anything to do with a long term budget? The PUSD plan seems to be...raises...while ignoring everything else. It is time our school districts start acting more responsibly and quit budgeting based on what consultants claim they can extract from taxpayers in the form of parcel taxes, bonds, etc...


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 11:05 pm

In your opinion Arnold and we have had plenty of exposure to your opinions here. Lets do keep this clear though, what you post is your opinion. I dont suppose you have met Luz? The schools have brought thousands of families to this community. All revenue for the city.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 25, 2013 at 11:21 pm

Really, I rarely post here anymore because it seems like a waste of time. If you've seen post posts from Arnold over the past several months they're more than likely from the fool that likes to use others names. I've seen the posts and they aren't from myself.

I'll repeat: "The school district has a huge financial burden looming over the district offices. How is this district going to fund another 14% of payroll toward their pension contribution? Why have they been spending 100's of thousands to promote failed parcel taxes while ignoring anything to do with a long term budget? It is time our school districts start acting more responsibly and quit budgeting based on what consultants claim they can extract from taxpayers in the form of parcel taxes, bonds, etc...

The issue of our schools is very important to me and I hope it's important to you as well. This isn't a joke. The PENSION ISSUE/UNFUNDED PENSION LIABILITY is very real. To ignore the problem is a HUGE mistake for all concerned.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 7:58 am

Arnold,

Why can't bonds and parcel taxes be part of Pleasanton's plan? The issue of our schools is very important to me too. I just don't get what you are saying.


Posted by registered user, Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Feb 26, 2013 at 8:49 am

Really, What would you have the mayor say about the schools? The parents, teachers, and students create their success. And that does bring families to Pleasanton. On the other hand, the city isn't responsible and can't (shouldn't?) rectify PUSD's very real financial issues.

John, we are currently still paying for two bonds for the school district. There's more to that story, but I'll let Arnold reply.


Posted by olfthfl, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:15 am

Gosh! Maybe we shouldn't have created that new $200K/yr "Assistant Superintendent" position in December.


Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 9:34 am

Not to mention that the $200K/year "Assistant Superintendent" is there to help the $200K/year "Superintendent". Not to mention that the host of administrative assistants actually do all the work for both of them. I would support a parcel tax, if there were a remote chance that the PUSD would cut the overhead, fire the tenured and overpaid teachers who don't teach, and send the money to the classrooms and the teachers who do teach. To bad Thorne and the new City Council can't run the PUSD - I'm sure they would do a much better job than what is being done now.


Posted by Pazo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:17 am

I've heard this goes on, but now I have experienced in myself. I made post here a few days ago, with some remarks about the union firemen bosses and the unionized city staff being there to hear anything the Mayor said about reducing expenses. My post just disappeared. So either some union-supporting hackers or the PW removed the post. PW - do you have a comment as to whether you removed the post or you were hacked?


Posted by Chemist, a resident of Downtown
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:27 am

To Pazo,
I think I read your post on another very similar article. I don't think union hackers are deleting your posts. I do think the unions have long since outlived their usefulness to our society, and today they are not helping our schools, our city, our country, or their members.
Chemist


Posted by Jill, a resident of Birdland
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:28 am

The mayor could have said he would not allow outside interests forcing us to build high-density housing which will impact our schools even more. The City Council just rolls over. Now we will have all this high-density housing coming in and they will not be paying the necessary impact fees. Who is going to build the necessary facilities for the new students? The City Council wants the current taxpayers to pay for that.

By approving the high-density housing without them paying the necessary impact fees, the Mayor is not supporting the school district.


Posted by Beth, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Feb 26, 2013 at 10:33 am

Mayor Thorne ran on a platform that included, as a major item, improving the public education system in Pleasanton. See Web Link. If the City has nothing to do with the school district, then he ran on a lie.


Posted by Scott Walsh, a resident of Amador Estates
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:11 am

You give the Unions too much credit. They would not spend time hacking your comments. My innocent comments also disappeared when I mention an increase in crime and drug issues and the fact more "investment" was needed in those areas. You all worry too much about Union employees. They are TOO ENEMIC TO BE OF REAL CONCERN these days.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 8:49 pm

It seems to me the anti-growth contingent in Pleasanton is PUSD's financial problems. I wonder how can Dublin maintain such small K-3 class sizes and Pleasanton can't?


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 26, 2013 at 11:10 pm

Meant to say anti-growth contingent in Pleasanton is part of PUSD's financial problems.


Posted by local, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2013 at 8:12 am

Actually without the slow-growth contingent, our schools would be even more of a mess. The district has been receiving a very large impact fee from the existing development. Only problem is the district has been squandering the money. The money that was meant to mitigate the extra students has 'disappeared'. After many meetings with the district, the district cannot account for all the money and just says 'trust use, it was spent on good things.' The district has also refinanced facility loans with risky interest-only plans and is now paying all the money meant for facilities on paying off that loan. Before people say that was a problem of a previous administration, it is not. The current administration did that. The reward for that was promoting the finance person to be a deputy superintendent.


Posted by john, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2013 at 9:33 am

local,

"The money that was meant to mitigate the extra students has 'disappeared'."

As far as I can tell there hasn't been very much growth to be "mitigated". There was what looked to me to be a good plan to build expensive houses and a new public park in the Vintage Hills area that got killed by the anti-growth crowd. That would have brought in more money for the schools.

Furthermore, I'm having trouble seeing how having less money would lead to some kind of improvement, or how it would keep the schools from being "even more of a mess". PUSD used to have small K-3 class sizes (like Dublin has now). Is Dublin's school district really that much better at managing its money, or is it because Dublin doesn't oppose every new building project that they were able to maintain small class sizes and continue to add services that directly impact students?


Posted by 2 cents, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:01 am

Nice to see the new Mayor taking credit for what the entire last council accomplished. Another, I, I, I. Promises promises promise, when it takes is hard work and leadership. Just a little concerned.


Posted by Pazo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 27, 2013 at 10:36 am

Let's not forget that while we no longer have The Three Stooges on the City Council, we still have The Two Stooges. We only got rid of the Hippy Mayor. We still have the other two Stooges, Mayor Thorne and Crook-Callio. Remember that when you vote for the replacement council member. We need someone that will be a strong voice against the Two Stooges.


Posted by fact checker, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 6, 2013 at 11:29 pm

Beth, great point.

As to class size, Dublin has a parcel tax...