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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Prosperity problems in the Bay Area

Uploaded: Oct 8, 2015
To be clear (and transparent, although that's word that the current White House Administration has destroyed), I have been a member at Centerpointe Church since my mid-20s. My dear wife has been a member since her teen-age years. We both are ordained elders.
So, as I watched and lent non-verbal support to the City Council hearing on the amendment to the city's General Plan, I was struck by a few points.
� Some of the people who testified in opposition wanted no more houses in Pleasanton. Period.
� The drought, which has effected all of us, provided a convenient shield to those who simply wanted no more residents.
� Schools are over-crowded.
� The concerns over traffic, water use and impacts on the neighborhood were dramatically reduced with the 25 homes versus a church campus that would serve a 3,500-member congregation. Centerpointe currently is at about 250 members, although non-members routinely attend.
Thinking about it, most of the "problems" are directly tied to prosperity. The economy in the Bay Area, particularly in the technology sector, has been booming.
When Centerpointe faced its financial situation about 15 months ago, we were advised by commercial real estate brokers that we would have no issues finding a new home in a business park. After plenty of work, we have been advised there is just one property that potentially will work for our fellowship—the market has been that hot with firms expanding and creating jobs.
Housing is a true supply and demand market. There was a lot of whining about the 1,700 apartments that the city was forced by court order to permit after a prolonged and very expensive law suit that the city lost. The city had not approved an apartment complex since the big Archstone project in Hacienda Business Park in the early 2000s, if memory serves.
While job growth has continued, housing supply was greatly constrained and the newcomers led the charge against no changes.
What many people fail to understand is that the framework for Pleasanton today was set in the 1970s when the first General Plan was developed that included the Hacienda Business Park and other business centers. They also do not know that in the 1980s when Hacienda and three other major business centers (Bernal, Signature and the Home Depot retail complex) were approved and under construction, that the city approved 1,000 units of housing per year.
From a business standpoint, Pleasanton (and Dublin) are blessed with the best locations in the Bay Area—BART stations, freeways, what once were easy commutes.
The mis-guided notion that Pleasanton is perfect—do not allow any more—fails to recognize economic reality. If some additional housing does not accompany job growth, then the city creates more commuters. In Pleasanton's case, it is ideally located for families with one or more workers heading south to the core Silicon Valley. Those folks can pay more for a home than most local workers and that results in commutes coming from the west (minor) and the San Joaquin Valley (major).
School crowding is an issue that comes along with new families with young children (neighborhoods turning over). It is not the City Council's responsibility to plan—that is up to the school district.
It is notable that the district had sold off a third high school site and not exercised an option for a middle school site in the Ironwood neighborhood.
The great challenge for school trustees and leadership is coping with population bubbles. My daughter (now 27) was in one of those bulges moving through the system. Today, the high schools are right on capacity while the lower grade schools are over-capacity.
The cycles in student population is the rationale for the state school funding board to require that half of any new school be portable classrooms. The board members recognized that the population of school children run in a cycle and building permanent facilities was a waste of money. In Livermore, for instance, one elementary school site as sold off for housing, while two other elementary schools are closed and leased for other uses.
The Pleasanton school system generally does a good job with any student who is reasonably motivated—regardless of the number of students in the class room.
Is it perfect—no? That's what charter schools and other options are for and it is notable that there are private school options in Pleasanton and the valley, but, except for Livermore, no charter schools.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by DJohns, a resident of Downtown,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 3:51 pm

DJohns is a registered user.

As you know PUSD has sold two high school sites, Sycamore and the Ponderosa site. Every K-12 Pleasanton school campus significantly exceeds Pleasanton General Plan recommendations. The General Plan guidelines, as well as Pleasanton quality of life, make it the Council's responsibility as they Rezone land. Especially when they do not need to REZONE that land.
Pleasantons General Plan Guideline is maximum 2,000 students per HS campus, Amador is 2,634, Foothill is 2,158. PUSD demographer report says, " If an average enrollment of 2,801 in district high schools is acceptable, no new facilities would be needed." Both high school sites are already dramatically too small for these enrollment numbers, by State of Ca. Dept. of ED standards. Amador currently exceeded 160% enrollment per land capacity.
You opposed building a third HS when we had the money to do so, saying it would never be needed. Do you stand by that position today?
The City Council should be pursuing a Charter school to come to Pleasanton if they want to keep rezoning and approving more housing. The current plan, to do nothing, is irresponsible.

Posted by beach bum, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 4:26 pm

I find this article very confusing

The people buying the new housing will be working here in the area and not jostling with me for position on 680? Really? Or are you saying the people buying are likely SV workers who can afford it (and indeed adding to the 680 MISERY).

However I may be misunderstanding the point of that one paragraph.

I don't think it's misguided for people to try and protect something they value. It actually seems fairly rational. At the same time, I do think they're wasting their time as the bulldozer of progress is never slowed down for very long..

Posted by Shouldawouldacoulda, a resident of Ruby Hill,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 7:16 pm

As DJohns points out you were part of the problem way back when a group of parents and community activists tried to get a third high school built. The district's own demographer showed those high school full to the brim years ago when your daughter and my son graduated. The brim was even fuller when my last child graduated last year. He did not enjoy his time at Amador and overcrowding was definitely part of the problem. There were TOO many kids on that campus.
Advocating for more homes-bringing more kids-to this situation is insane and inhumane. This community was let down by a chorus of school board members, community members and journalists who insisted they knew best. Juanita can't come back and apologize to the kids of this community but you can.

Posted by SharksFan15, a resident of Foothill High School,
on Oct 8, 2015 at 10:09 pm

You lost me when you said 'To be clear (and transparent, although that's word that the current White House Administration has destroyed)'. Why take a jab at the President for a totally un-related local issue. The rest of the article made no sense either.

Posted by Bill, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Seems to me Tim you were just complaining about all the "chicken little, sky is falling" people who were against allowing Hacienda Business Park to be rezoned for residential use. Now the shoe is on the other foot and your congregation is out of luck because....there is no property left in Hacienda.
Good planning all around...NOT!

Posted by Auntie Griselda, a resident of Mariposa Ranch,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 4:19 pm

Why oh why is this clown still writing for the Weekly? Jeb, PLEASE, do we deserve no better?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Oct 9, 2015 at 5:17 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

@Auntie Griselda:

The right and the freedom to express, is the greatest American tradition and the greatest American liberty.

Posted by Jasper, a resident of Canyon Creek,
on Oct 10, 2015 at 4:58 am

Michael, your talent for oversimplification is matched only by your oddly frantic nationalism. I bet you're the guy no one really wants to sit next to at Thanksgiving.

Posted by Ed, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Oct 13, 2015 at 7:27 am

Regarding school overcrowding at Amador and Foothill, let's not forget that significant numbers of Pleasantonians put their kids into private high schools, not all go to Amador or Foothill, so as the general population increases that doesn't mean that only those two schools will have to bear the entire weight of all the additional kids.
I've lived here for 20 years and it would be interesting to see the percentage increase of Pleasantons' general population vs the increase at Amador/Foothill.
Let's also remind ourselves that the quality of education at Amador and Foothill is still top-notch with near 100% graduation rates every year.

Posted by KristinaBrown, a resident of Beratlis Place,
on Jun 25, 2016 at 3:05 am

KristinaBrown is a registered user.

Such a very useful information .Thanks for the posting. Great share.
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