Timing matters in our personal lives, business, politics, and even city planning. The City Council recently voted to rescind placing an advisory measure on the ballot regarding East Pleasanton in favor of stopping the entire process.
Now that we have formally adopted this action. I hope everyone agrees that stopping the planning process for now is a good decision.
We are in the midst of a drought, the likes of which our Golden State has not seen in our lifetime. This, coupled with my conviction that planning the East Side deserves to have the entire community weigh in, necessitated stepping back from current deliberations.
When we voted to send the issue to the ballot, we were unaware of the cost implications. When we discovered it could be as much as $600,000, we didn't need much conversation to decide against it. So a decision was made to stop the process.
What does stop mean? It means that all planning with respect to East Pleasanton ends; it means that any work on a draft Environmental Impact Report stops; it means that the East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force gets dissolved. It also means that public hearings and a vote must be taken by this Council, or a future Council, to formally restart a planning conversation.
As you know, Pleasanton's East Side, comprised of roughly 1,100 acres, is our city's last parcel of undeveloped land. Because being a city of planned progress is more than mere words, we believed then, as I do now, that a proper planning process is needed to make sound decisions about the best use of this land for our residents.
The Task Force (landowners, developers and neighborhood representatives) had been working for nearly three years on a plan to make recommendations for future land-use and suggestions for financing infrastructure. After three years and many meetings, we still had no clear directive. What did become clear, however, was we needed more time to explore inherently complex issues, and we needed, among other things, to get through the drought.
Pleasanton is the "City of Planned Progress." We don't make important decisions without careful consideration. We seek broad input. We look at long-term implications and short-term impacts. Planning properly is finding the sweet spot between a community's current wants and needs balanced against future projected ones. Add to this the fact that as one of 482 incorporated cities in California, we are obligated (like it or not) to participate in the state's overall planning process, and you start to understand the challenges we face and the importance of getting it right.
I am proud of Pleasanton's ability to sometimes take a step back when needed and be realistic about what we face. We previously paused planning our new library and civic center when the recession hit a few years back. But now the time is right to restart that conversation, and it's one I look forward to.
Now, due to the drought and other factors, we need to step back from planning for East Pleasanton. Making decisions like this is what you elected us to do. We have to be able to take a step back from an issue when it's needed. We did that last Tuesday for all the right reasons.