A majority of Pleasanton City Council members wisely agreed Tuesday to pursue zoning changes that would allow a third Tri-Valley Costco membership store and two Marriott-flagged hotels to be built on a 22-acre site on Johnson Drive.
The site was purchased in 2011 by Nearon Enterprises when the Clorox Corporation placed its glass-walled research center up for sale to consolidate its new Pleasanton operations on a corporate campus nearby.
Although Nearon had several opportunities to redevelop the site, its president Tony Perino agreed to await the outcome of a city-led Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone task force that was seeking, in Perino's words, "to transform the significantly under-utilized site into a thriving, community-serving commercial development."
Tuesday night, city staff publicly reviewed plans to upgrade Nearon's and other properties totaling 40 acres on Johnson Drive as a major commercial and hotel center that will capitalize on the locations at the intersection of the I-580 and I-680 freeways.
In a packed Senior Center meeting room with more than 200 attending, Pleasanton's community development director Gerry Beaudin talked about zoning changes that will create opportunities for new land-uses and services on Johnson Drive that would also broaden the city's economic base and generate new tax revenue projected at $1.4 million to $1.7 million annually to support city services and programs for our community.
Perino said Tuesday that his firm has a signed agreement from Costco to buy a 15.6-acre site, and that he has a signed contract from a developer to build two Marriott-flagged hotels on adjacent sites.
Tax revenues from these three businesses would stay in Pleasanton. The 12,000 Costco members who live here would save an estimated 5 million miles per year by shopping locally instead of driving to Costco stores in Danville and Livermore.
Not everyone wants this kind of development. Bill Wheeler, owner of Black Tie Transportation that is located on Johnson Drive, says Costco would generate too much traffic for Johnson Drive and hurt his business, which relies on fast-response to the livery and shuttle transportation he provides.
He is seeking signatures from registered Pleasanton voters to place an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot to restrict any retail use on the Johnson Drive site to no more than 50,000-square-foot buildings, about a third of what Costco plans to build. Others who spoke at Tuesday night's meeting cited traffic concerns over housing and business growth throughout the city as reasons against development.
City leaders acknowledged Tuesday that the proposed land-use changes for the Johnson Drive area has become a contentious issue. We also recognize that there are pros and cons to any land-use change. But working diligently with the public -- as the stakeholders, property owners, Planning Commissioners and the City Council did this week -- gives everyone a chance to explore options and solutions that respect existing uses and provide opportunities for new land-uses and revenue options.
Tuesday night's meeting was a start.