Council OKs new Safeway superstore despite Sullivan's objections

'Lifestyle' market, outdoor complex to include other retail stores, restaurants, pharmacy

The City Council voted 4-1 Tuesday night to approve plans by Safeway to build one of its new "Lifestyle" supermarkets in Pleasanton with a scheduled opening of November next year.

Councilman Matt Sullivan voted against the project, contending that the new store could "suck the life" out of existing grocery stores in Pleasanton, possibly leaving employees at those stores without jobs.

But Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and others on the council disagreed, calling both the new Safeway superstore and the retail complex to be built with it as a financial and shopping opportunity for Pleasanton.

"This new store, here in Pleasanton where Safeway has its corporate headquarters, will be the company's flagship store that will be continually updated with new ideas and products," Hosterman said.

Emily Wagner, Pleasanton's director of finance, said an economic and planning study by a Berkeley consulting firm showed that 25 percent of the sales to be generated by the new store will come from shoppers using Pleasanton stores for the first time. Because of its larger size and product offerings, including large organic foods and fresh vegetables sections, the Lifestyle store also will bring back Pleasanton shoppers who now go to supermarkets outside of Pleasanton to shop, including Whole Foods in San Ramon, the survey added.

The fiscal impact to Pleasanton will add $123,000 to the city's general fund in the store's first year of operation and $285,000 a year after that.

The 58,000-square-foot store with adjoining retail and commercial stores and restaurants will be built on a 12-1/2-acre site at the at the southwest corner of Valley and Bernal avenues adjacent to the I-680 northbound off-ramp. Construction is expected to start shortly after a second reading of last night's approve ordinance, which is scheduled for the next council meeting on Nov. 16.

The council meeting that was scheduled for Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 2 has been cancelled.

In a detailed presentation during a two-hour public hearing, Brian Dolan, Pleasanton's director of community development, said the new Safeway complex will include a bank with drive-up tellers and ATMs, a pharmacy, also with drive-up services, and restaurants. Walkways throughout the complex will connect the stores with sit-down outdoor plazas.

The project is being built on the edge of a 39-acre site owned by South Bay Construction and currently zoned for up to eight four-story office buildings. Approved in 2000, that development never got under way because of the downturn in demand for office space.

Sullivan, in voting against the Safeway project, said the city needs to "step back" and determine how best to use that site before allowing developments. He suggested that with the city now required to provide more low-to-moderate-priced housing, the South Bay property might best be used for high-density residential development with some retail.

"But not this development," Sullivan said. "I can't support it."

Facing Valley, the store will back onto the northbound I-680 off-ramp. Driveways will be positioned along Valley Avenue and one on Bernal will link with the Koll Center driveway on the other side with a full-phase traffic signal to allow turns into and out of both centers in either direction. Although larger and newer than the Pleasanton Safeway at Valley and Santa Rita Road, that popular store will remain open.

Scott R. Trobbe, a principal partner at South Bay Construction, said he still plans to develop the rest of the 40-acre site it owns into an office building complex. Plans for the four-story campus haven't changed much since 2000, when South Bay joined with Greenbriar Homes and others to acquire the full 510-acre Bernal site from the city of San Francisco, which had owned the land since the 1930s.

Greenbriar and KB Home have since built the homes and apartments the city of Pleasanton approved as part of the purchase agreement, that included 370 acres as a gift to the city for public uses. The city's first development on its property—lighted baseball fields—was completed last year.

Trobbe said Tuesday that while the office building market is still sluggish, the synergism in the new Safeway section of the site could attract more interest.

Sullivan agreed that the office park plans of 2000 are probably no longer relevant and that the sluggish office market is likely to continue for years. Given the city's recent loss of its housing cap and a court-ordered mandate to build more affordable, high density apartments and other housing, the Trobbe property—including the Safeway complex—could be where this housing should go.

"Although it's not near BART, it is transit-oriented in that it's next to a freeway," Sullivan said. "I can see housing there and some retail, maybe even a grocery store, but not this."

As for the new Safeway store's impact on surrounding businesses, Wagner said the Berkeley consulting firm that analyzed the project found that 20% of the grocery store sales will be new to the city while 45% of other retail sales in the stores next to Safeway also will be new to the city.

However, she said, 80% of grocery store sales and 55% of other retail sales will come from the existing market.

"The analysis found that the estimated demand by Pleasanton residents for food stores and restaurants exceeds the supply, which means that there is a net outflow of consumer dollars from Pleasanton to other locations," Wagner said, calling the outflow "retail leakage."

Councilman Cindy McGovern, noting that Safeway dropped its earlier plans to include a gas station as part of its new store development, questioned that decision.

"I've been asked by many just why there won't be a gas station," she said. "I know many who drive to Dublin to buy gas at that Safeway and then do their shopping there."

City Manager Nelson Fialho said his staff, the Planning Commission and Safeway had agreed that a gas station at the new Bernal site just wouldn't fit.

Those who spoke at the public hearing only praised the project. Some from neighborhoods in that vicinity as well as from developments along Foothill Road said the store is needed to reduce their travel time to more distant stores, including those in nearby Dublin and San Ramon.

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Like this comment
Posted by Another ridiculous councel vote
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 20, 2010 at 8:46 am

We do not need another big box store. I will continue to drive to San Ramon to shop at Whole Foods (when I haven't made it to the Farmers Market) as I refuse to shop in the huge grocery stores we have here in Pleasanton. The current Safeway is big and unpleasant enough. If I need something local, I go to Trader Joe's. Not a big selection, but quality food at a reasonable price. It doesn't take me hours to get the few items I need.
Wake up Pleasanton, a bigger Safeway will put even more smaller businesses under and Safeway will own horrible....Don't forget, Safeway was cited years ago for repackaging old meat as new!

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Posted by just me
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 20, 2010 at 8:59 am

Matt Sullivan is so right. Hey Matt why didn't you run for Mayor?
Oh sure, it will bring the city money, but jobs will be lost as other stores reduce their staff or close. Guess my decision has been made as to whom I will vote for in the mayor race, or maybe I just won't vote.
I will continue to shop at Raleys

Like this comment
Posted by Get the Facts!
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:04 am

What Jeb didn't report and what City Staff only revealed after prodding from Sullivan was that the second Safeway would get 80% of its sales from our existing stores - Lucky's, Raley's and Gene's. The impact in lost sales to these stores ranged from 17-25%. Safeway's market share in Pleasanton will go from 25% to 45%. But with the pontificating of "City Council President" Scott Raty (aka Exec Director of the Chamber of Commerce)about "jobs, jobs, jobs" and election year pandering by the Council what was lost was the impacts to our local businesses, jobs, and city revenues if these stores close. Oh, I forgot - Safeway's HQ is in Pleasanton, they are good "corporate" citizens - and btw, lavishly spend campaign contributions. This is Pleasanton politics, after all.

Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:15 am

South Bay Properties finds their way... could explain the new life style store. Funny how Matt... receives the press as being negative... for pointing out concerns, from his perspective. South Bay finds a partner, an important corporate, Pleasanton mainstay, to assist in their investment future. That's the story for me. Besides Matt's perspective, Mayor Hosterman's main point... is it will look good. Vice-Mayor Cook-Kallio... the fact that Raley's ran out of milk one day, gave her the impression a new store would be necessary. Mr.Thorne was quiet... except for not wanting a tobacco shop located in the complex. Councilmember McGovern still a tad... perplexed about not having a gas station available to hundreds of available residents from the area. For me... the PW had it mostly right. Good journalism is so important. BTW, the illustrations by South Bay/Safeway were poor... and our traffic department direction could of been more clear. Otherwise... it was a slam dunk.

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Posted by Nosy Neighbors
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:18 am

After reviewing Safeway's master plan for this new concept store I think everybody will be pleasantly surprised. They are specifically targeting and modeling the store at Whole (paycheck) Foods and will provide true organic meats, produce and he majority of their packaged goods BUT will be able to do so at a much lower overall cost. Whole Foods btw. has one of the highest GP's (gross profit)of the major food chains and have had meager positive earning reports for this year, making it perfect timing for Safeway to pounce on their territory.

For all you P & L, finance junkies...

Web Link

Web Link=

Personally, I've never liked the snarky, "wholly-er" (bad pun, sorry) than thou attitude that seems to seep out of Whole Foods to begin with and would love to see somebody put a further dent in their monopoly of the over-priced grocery store business model. With easy access from Hwy. 680 this store location will more easily afford those traveling north or south the option to stop and shop in Pleasanton plus it's a good time to build now with construction costs low & jobs sorely needed.

Now unless Karla & Cindy decide to mount a "Save our big open field" initiative I say build the sucker!

Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:30 am

SteveP is a registered user.

Why do you think anyone would drive across town just because there's a new store there? Don't most of you shop locally, going to the stores closest to your home? Or do you waste gas driving your Prius for miles to another big store (like overpriced conglomerate Hole Foods)?
I'm sure you'd much rather have high density housing there since it adds so much value to our community.

Like this comment
Posted by Positive News
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:54 am

While other cities are drying up and dying in todays economy, the intelligent people in our community are working hard to bring businesses and jobs to Pleasanton. Congratulations to our mayor and those on the council who voted yes on this project. Has Matt " we need to spend more time and money studying it" Sullivan ever voted yes on anything that's good for Pleasanton?

Like this comment
Posted by GX
a resident of Foothill High School
on Oct 20, 2010 at 10:04 am

I was somewhat surprised by the obvious positive bias most of the council had regardless of the facts. It didn't matter what they heard - their minds were already made up.

I don't have an opinion one way or the other on this project, but I was disappointed with the very skimpy economic analysis. Not once was a definitive ROI model for the city discussed and the underlying assumptions were not scrutinized.

It is incomplete analyses like this that potentially creates long-term issues for the city. Sullivan was spot on for pointing out these and other issues.

It is very clear that our council is being driven by development and business special interests. Last night was a perfect example.

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Posted by John
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 10:07 am

Oh boy, another strip mall...

The Raley's strip mall just half a mile away...

A half empty strip mall just across the street...

Underused strip malls across town at Santa Rita and 580.

We'll look like Dublin.

Like this comment
Posted by zippy
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 10:25 am

Out with the OLD,
In with the NEW,
Great for Developers,
Not so great for YOU!

Like this comment
Posted by Alfonso
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 11:16 am

Matt Sullivan wants to build high density housing on that land??? [removed] That is the absolute last thing we want built on that land. Didn't we already fight a war with San Francisco because that's what they wanted to build on that property? Wasn't Matt a part of that battle? Now, he is switching sides? [removed]

Like this comment
Posted by sknywench
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 20, 2010 at 11:55 am

sknywench is a registered user.

GLAD TO HAVE MORE CHOICES. I look forward to having the opportunity to shop at the new Safeway with organic selections and wider variety, and it is at a location to serve the westside, people coming home along Bernal and Valley. SULLIVAN VOTE NO because it will suck the life out of existing grocery or other stores? WHAT A JOKE. Remember, Sullivan does not support the business community so I guess he's concerned that creating more competition will make the old and tired stores improve their selection and services for residents. And what a surprise since he's NEVER cast a positive vote for anything, except his approval of the Oak Grove project which he quickly caved in on. He wants high-density affordable housing at our gateway.We all know he would never vote yes for that in a million years. He is sooooo confused. Move to Berkeley Matt, plughese.

Like this comment
Posted by Cindy's political vote
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 12:50 pm

I enjoyed watching Cindy squirm trying to fool both sides...all in the name of her election. ..a real catch 22. She knew she has the close the gates and die crowd, so she was stepping out to Safeway corporate, thinking she's UNtouchable and will be safely elected.
We'll see how that works.....put your own political goals and REelection first ??? shucks, why not .

Like this comment
Posted by Bob
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

"Get the Facts!" - Have you read the Economic Analysis of the project? It most certainly did not show an 80% loss to current stores.

Like this comment
Posted by Ms. Shoppa
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 20, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Good honest American COMPETITION never hurts those that can compete!Either Gene's get's better or Gene's goes bye-bye. Raley's has done a great job with their store refurb - I love shopping there. Look for the Safeway on Santa Rita @ Valley to close, once this new Safeway is established, say, 2012-13. Lucky's is tired and Trader Joe's should move into the old Nob Hill location on Santa Rita @ West Las Po.

Like this comment
Posted by sparkybob
a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 20, 2010 at 4:26 pm

Competition is always best for the community. A new store may nudge the existing stores to clean themselves up, remodel and offer competitive prices. The stores that went out of business in the past were, for the most part, over priced and did not meet the needs of the customers. Sure, we would all like to have a great selection at the lowest prices just close enough to our homes -but not in our backyards. I am willing to drive a little farther for selection, service, a clean well lit store, low prices and quality. Unfortunately, that currently means going to several stores. Let's see if Safeway can get it right this time or not.

Like this comment
Posted by JR
a resident of Danbury Park
on Oct 20, 2010 at 5:45 pm

Then what was it that "sucked the life" out of Nob Hill. Loved being able to get in and out of their parking lot, not to mention their friendly service. Seems like there is always a line at all the grocery stores whether in the lot or the store itself.

Like this comment
Posted by Twin Oaks
a resident of Mission Park
on Oct 20, 2010 at 6:48 pm

Jennifer, you're fired.
I even campaigned for you last run.
Not voting for you in a few weeks.
You've sold out.

Like this comment
Posted by Sad
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 20, 2010 at 6:52 pm

[Post removed due to same poster using multiple names]

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 20, 2010 at 9:54 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


The Pleasanton Gateway was always dedicated for commercial development given its prime location next to the freeway off ramp. The San Francisco Water Dept. wanted to build all housing there and Pleasanton successfully worked on an alternate plan that included housing, commercial, and the Bernal park. BTW, the Bernal park is a voter-approved plan that can only be changed by voters or a court order if ruled illegal (after a lawsuit, like the housing cap). We'll get it built someday!

Like this comment
Posted by A for convenience
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Oct 20, 2010 at 10:47 pm

This is definitely good news for those of us who commute to San Jose and other south peninsula locations. It will save me from driving across town to the other Safeway (Raley's is too expensive and does not offer the savings on items like Safeway does). Now, I can take Bernal exit and do my shopping on the way home. Great move, P-Town City Council (Matt, you need to do more homework on the issues).

Like this comment
Posted by Arroyo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2010 at 7:01 am

The gas station currently located in the area is expensive, and it would be nice to have had Safeway include one in their plans.

It would also be convenient for the union picketers at Castlewood to save them a few bucks -- I suspect they'll probably still be there when the station has its grand opening in about a year.

Matt, would you please use your influence to get a Safeway gas station included in the plans. If you won't do it for the citizens of Pleasanton, please do it for the Union Activists you supported at Castlewood.

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Posted by sickofit
a resident of Amador Estates
on Oct 21, 2010 at 8:43 am


There was a gas station in the Safeway plans. The first versions of these plans included it. The majority of the Planning Commission supported it. Under political pressure, Safeway withdrew the gas station. Now the Shell station can continue to charge the high prices. What was funny was that the Shell Station objected to the Gas Station being in the Safeway development because it would compete with them. Of course, building junk food restaurants there is OK. I guess we know where the real money is coming from.

Pleasanton politics continues - the incumbents must go!

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 21, 2010 at 8:49 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The incumbents must go... and be replaced with?

Karla Brown spoke positively for the development. The omitted gas station was not mentioned. Did anyone speak up about the omitted gas station?

Like this comment
Posted by Oil Company Money
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2010 at 9:18 am

The reason the gas station was vetoed is because Shell Station operator Danville Petroleum has contribuited thousands of dollars to Hosterman and her friends for many years. Check the 460's. They didn't want the competition. This is how government works in Pleasanton.

Unless you're will to get off your duff (and keyboards) and change the Council majority.

Like this comment
Posted by Oil Company Money
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2010 at 9:34 am


Remember 2004 when the mantra was "Anybody But Bush"? Well, now it's anybody but the Gang of Three. That is if you're actually interested in representative democracy rather than Pleasanton's version of Corprotocracy.

Like this comment
Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2010 at 10:16 am

I find it very curious that not a single person spoke against this project at the City Council meeting yet all the negative postings by anonoymous people. Even Karla publicly supported the project at the Council meeting and McGovern voted for the project. So I don't understand how you can say vote the incumbents out of office when the others running publicly supported the project.

I can conclude that folks posting here either don't have the facts or Matt Sullivan is posting here trying to gain support for his NO vote.

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 21, 2010 at 10:54 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I think Oil Money misses my point about nobody speaking up. I don't recall Sullivan even saying anything about the gas station. Maybe I missed that part of the meeting? It doesn't really matter what the topic is, if nobody speaks up about an issue, then everyone loses.

Now I don't disagree that campaign donations buys some sort of influences, not necessarily votes, but influence. Here's what doesn't make sense to me about the reasoning. Safeway has its corporate headquarters here. Don't they give campaign donations to local politicians too? What is Safeway's interest in having no gas station? If they're a competitor of the Shell station, why would they cave in to having the gas station omitted from the plans? Did they strike some deal with Danville Petroleum to get a cut of the profits in exchange for not creating competition? Or maybe Safeway just didn't give enough in campaign donations compared with Danville Petroleum? Really, what is the _real_ reason the gas station was omitted? Certainly it cannot be because of Danville Petroleum's campaign donations alone!

Like this comment
Posted by sknywench
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Oct 21, 2010 at 1:01 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

Safeway vs Shell Oil Saga. This is what I chalk it up to. Plain and simple. Shell Oil threatened to tie up the Gateway project with endless litigation. Rather than jeopardize or rather delay Safeway, retail and office opportunities, Safeway withdrew its gasoline station. Perhaps they return in several years with a separate gasoline station proposal if the numbers make sense. How can people blame the Mayor and Councilmembers for caving to development interests? It's just a good move now for Safeway, Shell and the City to be able to break ground, employ people and get retail sales revenue. DUH

Like this comment
Posted by Neighborhood Stores on their way out
a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Oct 21, 2010 at 1:58 pm

With all these mega mega-stores being approved for groceries right next to the freeway, it is only a matter of time before all the smaller stores inside of Pleasanton, like Nob Hill just did, close their doors.

Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 21, 2010 at 1:59 pm

Because of the clause within the original agreement in the Southbay development plan? Maybe a 24/7 access problem? Sounds like Stacey is fishing for answers...but using the wrong bait. Doesn't the sharing of information create community? Your always good for questions.

Like this comment
Posted by GAS MAN
a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 25, 2010 at 6:01 am


Like this comment
Posted by MP
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 25, 2010 at 1:52 pm

I believe it will be just more of the same inflated prices. Safeway's prices are way too high. I don't buy anything there except what is on sale.

I suspect their organic, specialty prices will be as high as Whole Foods.

Pleasanton needs more variety and competition. The opening of 99 Ranch was a refreshing change. It would be great if Mi Pueblo opened a store in the Nob Hill old location. These stores have many items at competitive prices, including produce and meats.

I personally do a monthly trip to Costco, weekly trip to Trader Joe's and Smart and Final, get most produce at the Farmer's Mkt (if you know where to buy, it is cheaper than what is sold in the grocery stores, and way fresher and I buy some sale items from Safeway or Lucky.

But then again, I don't eat from cans, jars and frozen foods. Safeway and Lucky seem to cater a lot to that style of eating. Hence their success.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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