Pleasanton rezones 73 acres for high-density housing
Action meets court-ordered deadline for opening more sites for workforce
It took just 45 minutes for the Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday night to rezone 73 acres in various parts of the city to accommodate high-density housing that will be more affordable for those in the city's workforce and others who want to live here.
The action, which moves the city out of its decades-long slow growth era, could have taken even less time except for 15 minutes the council spent listening to a group of speakers opposed to a Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market grocery store that is under consideration. They said Safeway and other supermarket employees could be hurt if Wal-Mart is allowed to move into the now-closed Nob Hill market on Santa Rita Road.
The 4-0 vote to rezone land for affordable housing was expected, following a similar vote last week to make the 73 acres available to builders interested in constructing high density housing. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who joined in a 5-0 vote to approve the rezoning last week, was absent from last night's meeting.
The city, itself, will not build any housing, but by rezoning the selected site, developers will have an easier time in obtaining permits for multi-family, two- and three-story developments on the properties.
Last night's action culminated one-and-a-half years of public discussion on how much land should be rezoned to meet orders by the Alameda County Superior Court and the state's Attorney General's Office to provide more housing.
The rezoned sites will give developers the right to build 1,884 apartment units at a ratio of 30 units per acre and another 400 at a ratio of 40 units per acre. Most apartment structures in Pleasanton are in the range of 20-25 units per acre.
Council members, while approving the rezoning measures for nine specific sites, also voiced concern over the impact the new housing will have on the city's infrastructure, particularly traffic, water resources and schools.
Julie Testa, a frequent speaker at meetings of the Pleasanton school board, also addressed the City Council as it weighed in on a final vote to rezone the properties.
"Our schools are already severely overcrowded," she said. "There's no room for school growth and the school district has no money. The district is $27 million in debt."
The council will hold a joint meeting with the school board in March, when the rezoning impacts will be discussed. In the meantime, council members asked City Manager Nelson Fialho to meet with school administrators to seek solutions to the likely need for at least another elementary school to serve school-age children who are likely to move into the new affordable housing units with their families.
With a population based on the 2010 Census of just under 70,000, adding another 2,200 housing units, which the council approved, and with most of the units likely to have at least two-bedrooms, could bring thousands more to Pleasanton based on an estimated three people for each new rental unit.
"When you approve the rezoning tonight, there's no solution, there's no way this won't have a negative impact on our neighborhoods and schools," Testa said.
Urban Habitat, an Oakland-based affordable housing coalition that successfully pursued a suit again Pleasanton over both its 1996 housing cap and unmet affordable housing needs, and the state's Department of Housing and Community Development (HCD), which has to approve the city's new housing element, have accepted the 73-acre rezoning decision.
More considerations are yet to come as city planners and the council refine the actual site plans. There is also now a 30-day waiting period for legal objections.
The actions by both the City Council on Tuesday and the city's Planning Commission earlier followed the court's ruling that declared the city's 1996 housing cap of allowing no more than 29,000 homes and apartments here to be illegal.
When the additional affordable housing units are built, along with some 650-800 units already approved in the Hacienda Business Park, the total number of homes and apartments in Pleasanton will add up to about the 29,000-unit maximum that voters in 1996 wanted. Another wave of new housing requirements expected to be imposed by the state in 2014, however, will force Pleasanton to allow far more than 29,000 units.
The sites rezoned are BART-owned property at 5835 and 5859 Owens Drive; the Sheraton property at 5990 Stoneridge Mall Road; 10 acres of the Stoneridge Shopping Center property at 1008-2481 Stoneridge Mall Road; Kaiser-owned property at 5620 Stoneridge Mall Road; properties owned by CM Capital Properties at 5758 and 5850 W. Las Positas Blvd.; Pleasanton Gateway property at 1600 Valley Ave.; Auf der Maur/Rickenbach-owned property at 3150 Bernal Ave.; the Nearon property at 5725 W. Las Positas Blvd., and 8.4 acres of the CarrAmerica property at 4452 Rosewood Drive.