Housing dominates 2013 agenda for Pleasanton CouncilThe newly constituted Pleasanton City Council, which returns from winter break next Tuesday, may find a brighter, better year ahead for the city it governs than the council that "retired" after the election last November. Two new members are on board: Councilwoman Karla Brown and Councilman Jerry Pentin, and we have a new mayor, former Councilman Jerry Thorne, who succeeded Jennifer Hosterman. Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio continues on with two years remaining in her current term. With Thorne's move into the mayor's seat, there's an opening which will be filled in a special election May 7, a vote that the council decided to make as a mail-in ballot only election.
This new council will meet next month to set municipal priorities it plans to address in the coming year. Certainly high density housing will head the list along with ongoing pay downs of the city's burgeoning employee pension liabilities. In terms of housing, the previous council rezoned 75 acres of vacant land for the apartments and a few single family homes that must be built to meet requirements imposed by Urban Habitat, an affordable housing coalition, and state housing authorities as part of a settlement agreement in the Alameda County Superior Court. That agreement also ended a 29,000-unit housing cap voters approved in 1996 and provided the results that the state needed to certify the city's housing plan, an essential part of its General Plan, which the state did in November.
One project, approved as part of this settlement, should get under way this summer when BRE breaks ground on an 800-unit high density, multi-story group of apartment buildings in Hacienda Business Park. Four other developments are in various stages of consideration by city planners before going to the Planning Commission and City Council for final approval. They also include high density, three- and four-story apartment buildings on vacant land on West Las Positas Boulevard, property at the southeast corner of Bernal Avenue and Stanley Boulevard, California Center (formerly CarrAmerica) on Owens Drive, and the empty acreage south of Safeway's new Gateway Center along Valley Avenue.
With the controversial rezoning issues and development plans behind them, the new council members can focus on what these new buildings will look like, adjoining open space, playgrounds for the children who will live there and, working with the Pleasanton school district, on just where these kids will go to school. Just so these two agencies don't get too complacent in their considerations, the Association of Bay Area Governments and state housing authorities will be back in 2014 with more affordable and mid-level housing requirements, a number yet to be determined.
Of course, there's more for the City Council to consider in the coming year, much more. We'll be back next week with some more priorities to be addressed.