Opponents of making land available for a 148,000-square-foot Costco membership store on Johnson Drive in Pleasanton have received certification from the Alameda County Registrar of their petition to place an initiative on the Nov. 8 General Election ballot to block the store from being built.
The petition contained 6,396 signatures, but the registrar found that only 4,015 were verified signatures based on the city's voter rolls. That was still just enough to equal 10% of the 40,154 total registered voters in Pleasanton.
Promoted by the Citizens for Planned Growth coalition, the petition seeks to allow voters to consider a ban on retail stores over 50,000 square feet in the 40-acre area under consideration for land use changes on the Johnson Drive site.
With relatively little change or investment in that area of the community, a plan was launched by the city to create a Johnson
Drive Economic Development Zone to rezone the mostly industrially-zoned property for commercial purposes. That would allow for a wider, more modern range of uses.
Led by Bill Wheeler, owner of Black Tie Transportation which is
located within the proposed Economic Development Zone, petitioners oppose the rezoning. They specifically cited their concerns with a Costco in the area, and have regularly attended community meetings in recent months.
Costco and two hotels that plan to build on Johnson Drive could generate $2.7 million per year in additional revenue for the city, according to Gerry Beaudin, the city's community development director.
The new Costco store would be similar to the 160,000-square- foot store in Livermore, which is larger than the 140,000-square- foot store in Danville. The Pleasanton parking lot would be larger and a gas
station could be included in a Costco project if the rezoning were
to move forward.
Black Tie Transportation and Valley Bible Church, which are located in the 40-acre area under consideration to be rezoned, would be "grandfathered" into the new zoning plan and could "modestly" expand their facilities if interested.
Johnson Drive would be widened to four lanes with no on-street parking spaces allowed between ClubSport and Stoneridge Drive. Employees, including Black Tie workers, who currently park their cars on Johnson Drive, would have to find other spots.
Afraid that such a Costco and hotel development plan would seriously disrupt his business or force him to move elsewhere, Wheeler has made repetitive pleas at City Council, commission meetings, and before business and civic groups to halt the rezoning.
"We have been asking the City Council since August of last year to allow Pleasanton citizens to vote on whether they want a big box store included in the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone plans, and this is the council's chance to do just that," Wheeler said.
"We have determined that adding this initiative to the ballot for the Nov. 8 regular election, when we will be voting for national and local officeholders, will incur minimum costs, allow the citizens to decide this very important issue and eliminate the potential of a very costly election next spring," Wheeler explained.
"We are very grateful to all of the citizens and people who have helped us," he added. "We hope for a campaign run with dignity and
integrity from both sides of the issue, which will represent the true
character of our great city."
Now that county registrar has certified the citizens coalition, it is in the hands of Karen Diaz, City Clerk, who will ask the City Council to consider it at its meeting Tuesday night.
The council few options. It can accept the direction of Wheeler and those who signed the petition and stop the rezoning effort. Or, more likely, it can call for a vote.
Up to now, only one council member, Karla Brown, has opposed the rezoning plan.
"We don't need a club retailer (Costco) here," she said at a recent public meeting. "Something up to 50,000 square feet will pay (the taxes), and we won't have 12,000 cars using Johnson Drive."
In a notice to its supporters Tuesday, the citizens coalition
leaders urged everyone to attend the July 19 council meeting.
"The city may try to stall and prevent this from happening so please attend, as a strong presence is sadly needed to keep these development-friendly representatives honest," the message stated.
The council meeting will begin at 7 p.m. in the Pleasanton Civic Center, 200 Old Bernal Ave.