City Council meets tonight to consider East Side planning process

Only 4 on council can vote to stop or continue development plan

The Pleasanton City Council tonight will vote on whether to continue planning possible development of the city's East Side or scuttle the planning work altogether.

A public hearing scheduled to start at 7 p.m. promises to be one of the most contentious the council has seen in its current term.

It comes just two weeks after nearly 200 crowded into the same council chamber for a neighborhood meeting by the city's Planning Commission to hear about proposed land use plans for 1,100-acre site east of Valley Avenue in an area surrounding the Pleasanton Garbage Company's recycling center on Busch Road.

Most did not like what they heard.

Planning Commissioner Herb Ritter led the two-hour discussion with members of the city's planning, engineering and traffic staff at his side. They answered questions and at times took some verbal abuse from the many of the 24 speakers, most of them denouncing a proposal by the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force to continue the planning effort.

The task force, its members appointed by the City Council, has been meeting for more than two years to determine possible uses the site that extends north of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks to the Livermore city limits. Mostly vacant except for the recycling plant, the site has been called "Pleasanton's last frontier."

Without expanding the city's boundaries, it represents the largest vacant property in the city suitable for development.

The purpose of the Specific Plan was to guide and coordinate the basic land use pattern, development and design, roadways and other public infrastructure, environmental protection, financing, and implementation requirements for development of the area.

Currently, the land is zoned for light industrial development. If the East Side plan is scuttled, companies owning parcels on the site could built it out with light industrial and commercial offices, similar to Valley Corporate Park on the other side of Valley Avenue.

Since the task force was appointed and began its studies, however, conditions have changed. The current severe and possibly long-term drought has soured public attitudes toward more building, especially of housing and parks that would require water as the East Side site would, and also because the state- and court-mandate additional affordable and high density housing requirements imposed on Pleasanton have now been met, at least through 2022.

Tonight, the council will consider one of three options:

Continue the planning process to completion.

Pause the planning process but consider at least certifying the costly Environmental Review Report so that it would be ready if and when the East Side planning process resumes.

Stop the planning process now as well as the EIR preparation.

Only four of the five members of the City council, including Mayor Jerry Thorne, will be able to vote on the East Side issue tonight. Councilman Arne Olson must recuse himself since his home in the Ironwood Estates backs on to the East Side site.

That means it will take three votes to take any action tonight. Two council members -- Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin -- have already publicly stated that they want to stop the East Side planning process.

The council's meeting will take place in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.


30 people like this
Posted by RECALL
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2015 at 8:18 am

Anyone that votes to continue the massive East Pleasanton project in any manner should be removed from office. Yes, I consider myself friends with Mayor Thorne and Kathy Narum, but I will sign the recall and get them out of office for not listening to their voting public.

We don't want the traffic, the schools are over full and we won't have enough water for years and years to come.

Vote them out if they won't listen to the public. Sorry guys, this is important.

13 people like this
Posted by Smart Idea
a resident of Vintage Hills
on May 19, 2015 at 8:42 am

I think threatening elected officials is a smart and mature way to get things done in Pleasanton, don't we all? Maybe we should change our motto to Pleasanton: City of Planned Protest? What do think?

16 people like this
Posted by Pleasanton property owner
a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on May 19, 2015 at 9:03 am

Yes, this is an important issue. It is important that the City complete the process that was started and required by the City's General Plan. Completing the Specific Plan DOES NOT equal shovels in the ground.

It is also important that the City officials be rational unlike many opponents that are throwing out misinformation and falsehoods.

There are issues that need to be heard and evaluated including, water, traffic, and schools. There are benefits to be considered: El Charro, a new school, the completion of the Iron Horse Trail, opening the lakes with miles of trails around them, parks and a nice collection of small shops and restaurants. These uses are certainly better than reactivating heavy industrial uses on that land.

Mayor Thorne and Kathy Narum should lead and not react to a fear campaign.

8 people like this
Posted by Swimmer75
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2015 at 9:17 am

STOP, STOP, STOP the East Side Development Project Entirely! Listen to the people of Pleasanton!! We don't need more houses, traffic, people, noise, pollution, etc. that this project will bring!!! The only people that benefit from this project is the Developers......

5 people like this
Posted by unclear
a resident of Downtown
on May 19, 2015 at 9:53 am

I still don't know the pros and cons because both sides have not shared the spotlight equally. The loudest ones in the room aren't always the most right. I would like to really understand BOTH SIDES of the issue. Maybe it should go before the voters?

Like this comment
Posted by 1300
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2015 at 10:12 am

A few years ago at the original community meetings, a majority of the residents did not envision over one thousand housing units. It was going to be a few hundred with rest open space..a win win for both land owners and residents. Now that the plan is way over a couple hundred units it is no longer a win for the residents bu[t is still a win for the land owners/developers. No one thinks planning is a bad thing but going forward with planning that has a base plan of 1300 units, thanks to the high infrastructure costs, should trigger a stoppage and regroup a few years from now coming up with a feasible plan for all.

You will never be able to eliminate the impacts on water, schools, traffic if move forward with the curent base plan of 1300.

Are there any concrete studies that show building 1300 units (average 235/yr) for ~7 straight years (in same location) was actually good for the residents of that city? Not to mention the rumor is the projected yearly numbers will need to be frontended with more units to help pay for upfront costs.

The General Plan calls for a EPSP but does not say approve the first one derived that has a high number of units to help pay for infrastructure costs. We hear there are other plans 0-1450, but there is a reason 1300 is the base plan, since land owners have already stated that is close to the minimum they can go if El charro is extended and they have to pay for it

I say keep it zoned as is.

12 people like this
Posted by Julie
a resident of Birdland
on May 19, 2015 at 10:15 am

I continue to be confused as to what people in Pleasanton consider the role of their elected officials.

Here is what a representative democracy looks like: you vote for your representatives (in this case, city council) based on what they say are their opinions. Then they make decisions. If you don't like the decisions they made, you vote them out in the next election.

I agree with whoever said we are becoming the "City of Planned Protest".

It's embarrassing that people who think they understand the issues because they listened to a soundbite from people with personal political aspirations are trying to control this process.

Complete the specific plan. Honor the General Plan. Or revise the General Plan. You can't insist that the General Plan be both followed and not followed. It's an inconsistent position.

Or hey. You know. Go get your pitchforks and come on down to Council Chambers. That sounds like a shining example of democracy.

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Posted by AF
a resident of Castlewood
on May 19, 2015 at 11:53 am

How long would the EIR be valid? If it is not a reasonable amount of time, the planning should stop completely. With that being said, I am sure considerable money has been spent on conducting the EIR at this point. In all reality, whether we want it or not, someday, maybe 20 years from now, that area will be developed in some manner. If the EIR is valid for an extended period of time, it should be completed but the project shelved, IMO.

7 people like this
Posted by caution
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 19, 2015 at 12:07 pm

If you complete the EIR now with all those houses, you can be sure that at some time the city will be sued if it does not allow a developer to come in with a proposal for that many homes.

If we need a specific plan, it should be what the general plan envisions; open space, chain of lakes, light industrial.

Do not waste the tax money on an EIR that will not be used.

7 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm

If this area is zoned for light industrial (notice the word "light" @ pleasanton property owner ) why not keep it as such? I could not think of better use for this land if it is to be developed. It is close to the freeway, railroad, and airport. What more could you ask for by a manufacturer or a distribution center? The opposite is true for residential. This is why long time residents are so perplexed. What should be a slam dunk use of this land instead is being seriously considered by our elected officials as a site for residential development, blowing off considerations such as knowing that this area is prone to flooding, noise and safety concerns from the airport, noise and safety concerns from the railroad, and safety concerns from the catch basins. The only reason residential development is even being considered is that residential development brings the city and developers more money... initially. This is nothing more than a sell out by our elected officials and people who want to become elected officials. So yes, when our city council acts in a way that is detrimental and opposite to what the majority of citizens want then they should be threatened with recall.

3 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on May 19, 2015 at 1:53 pm

What's the benefit to completing el charro road??? Completing that road will lead to hundreds if not thousands of homes, in no way will we benefit from that road being extended, all those commuters will still shortcut through town. All us old timers all remember the promise of a chain of lakes, nothing was ever mentioned about "DUBLINIZING" east Pleasanton ??? Feels like we've been sucker punched again(remember Bart's promises). Finish that EIR report and life as we know it here will cease to exist--- wake up newbies and under 30 something's to our town, we've seen and heard all this before and big money always wins.

1 person likes this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on May 19, 2015 at 6:46 pm

Check your facts Bill. Much of the land in the East Side is currently zoned general industrial not light industrial. This can include the following:

Aircraft and aircraft accessories and parts manufacture.

Automobile, truck and trailer accessories and parts manufacture.

Automobile, truck and trailer assembly.

Cement products manufacture, including concrete mixing and batching.

Chemical products manufacture, provided no hazard of fire or explosion is created, including adhesives, bleaching products, bluing, calcimine, dyestuffs (except aniline dyes), essential oils, soda and soda compounds, and vegetable gelatin, glue and size.

Firearms manufacture.

Freight forwarding terminals.

Gravel, rock and cement yards.

Insecticides, fungicides, disinfectants and similar industrial and household chemical compounds manufacture.

Laundry and cleaning plants.

Machine tools manufacture, including metal lathes, metal presses, metal stamping machines and woodworking machines.

Machinery manufacture, including heavy electrical, agricultural, construction and mining machinery and light machinery and equipment such as air conditioning, commercial motion picture equipment, dishwashers, dryers, furnaces, heaters, refrigerators, ranges, stoves, ovens, and washing machines.

Metal casting and foundries, not including magnesium foundries.

Motor testing of internal combustion motors.

Public utility and public service pumping stations, equipment buildings and installations, service yards, power stations, drainageways and structures, reservoirs, percolation basins, well fields, storage tanks, and transmission lines.

Railroad equipment manufacture, including railroad car and locomotive manufacture.

Railroad stations, repair shops and yards; bus depots.

1 person likes this
Posted by Frustrated with extremists
a resident of Livermore
on May 20, 2015 at 10:27 am

Why do some think that if El Charro is completed as originally planned that will automatically lead to thousands of homes being built? How come some people watch and read about a task force working on a project for years and as soon as some type of decision has been made... NOW is the time to speak up and disagree? I urge people to become involved. Offer solutions. Don't complain when things effect your back yard. Meet in the middle and solve the issue. Make the time to help and contribute, don't just knock those that do what you should be.

2 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 20, 2015 at 11:40 am

I thought the middle ground was to leave it as is, zoned for general industry per @ concerned. The chances of this happening are remote. Collier has had a "for sale" sign posted on this property for a number of years. The land is not even listed on their web page as being available. It is amazing that the operations department heads did not even know this "for sale" sign existed and they work right next to it. Who was on this task force? Obviously people who don't commute or people who have kids in school. Because anybody that does knows the streets are already gridlocked and the schools are over crowded. These are problems that exist NOW. I don't see this task force or the planning commission coming up with any solutions. I only see that their plans will make these problems worst.

2 people like this
Posted by mooseturd
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 20, 2015 at 11:41 am

mooseturd is a registered user.

@Frustrated; Watch who you call bad names. I served on the original housing study group back in the 1960s. This latest farce is about the 15th time our work has been thrown to the developers. This latest group was not appointed to serve the people of Ptown. It was selected to support the foregone conclusion.

Like this comment
Posted by units
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2015 at 12:21 pm

El charro = more units. Yes.

City would require land owners to pay for El charro. Land owners have indicated plenty of times that ~1300 units is getting close to the minimum that would be feasible for them.
Without the large expense of El charro, the number of required units to make a profit would be lower.

Like this comment
Posted by marsha
a resident of Birdland
on May 20, 2015 at 2:07 pm

so isnt there going to be an election how come there is no statement about last nights council decision????? am I dreaming?

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

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