In an editorial, the Pleasanton Weekly has recommended that voters cast a No vote on Measure MM on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The newspaper pointed out in its Oct. 7 print edition that Measure MM, if approved, would change the city's General Plan to permanently require that zoning of a 40-acre-plus site on Johnson Drive restrict retail development with buildings no larger than 50,000 square feet.
"This would allow only businesses commonly found in strip malls such as restaurants, small groceries, specialty shops and service-oriented businesses like tutoring centers and dentists," the editorial stated.
"These are not big producers of sales tax revenue and would likely compete with similar businesses in downtown Pleasanton and neighborhood retail centers.
(The measure) "would also stop the City Council-appointed Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (EDZ) task force from continuing its work on determining the best uses of vacant land on Johnson Drive, where Clorox relocated its large research center that has since been torn down.
"A 50,000-square-foot zoning restriction is not warranted on Johnson Drive, an industrial-zoned street highly visible and commercially appealing as an Interstate 680 frontage road, with a FedEx regional center at one end and Home Depot on the other. Larger buildings and businesses belong there to add to Pleasanton's sales tax base and employment opportunities, including Costco, which would like to build there.
"We only need to look at local history to see the effects of blocking businesses that are determined to locate in an area. Home Depot wanted to put a store on Bernal and Stanley. After much debate and public outcry, the plans were scuttled. High-density apartments are currently being built on that land.
"A number of years ago Costco proposed a store in San Ramon. San Ramon residents' public outcry against a Costco in their city deterred approval by the City Council, so Costco went to San Ramon's neighbor to the north, Danville. Costco is now the top employer in Danville and the town receives hundreds of thousands of dollars in sales tax revenue annually. San Ramon receives most of the traffic.
"We recommend a No vote on MM. However, we would like to see Pleasanton negotiate a better agreement with Costco/Nearon than what we believe is currently on the table, with the city subsidizing less of the necessary traffic mitigation and other infrastructure changes. The other key to that statement is that we would like to see the level of transparency on this project increase tremendously."
In its editorial, the Weekly also recommended:
Yes on Measure I1, the $270 million Pleasanton school bond
"It has been 20 years since Pleasanton voters have passed a bond measure, possibly the reason the board worked hard to reduce the amount on the ballot from the original $450 million to $270 million.
"While the board might have found that a more palatable dollar amount for voters, thus giving it a better chance of being approved, we feel they should have stayed with the $450 million planning and financial experts recommended.
"The list of projects for existing facilities is long, the costs are significant and the work necessary. Unfortunately, while we are fixing what has been needed for years, this bond doesn't have sufficient earmarked funds for a 10th elementary school that is needed now, nor any money for another elementary or middle school that will likely be needed over the 30-year life of the measure.
"Pleasanton's population is 72,000 and could reach close to 80,000 by the time all of the high-density apartment buildings now under construction are filled. Within the next 30 years, still more will come with many more school-age children.
"There will be local control and local oversight of the $270 million, with none of the funds being used for salaries. There are no alternative funding sources identified aside from Proposition 51, the $9 billion public school facilities bond also on the Nov. 8 ballot. If Prop 51 passes, PUSD would have to provide matching funds to qualify for any of that state assistance.
"Without question, the school district needs the $270 million. We just wish the school board had taken a longer-range look and asked for more. With only a 55% favorable vote by those voting on this measure needed for approval, it's likely a larger bond request would have passed."
Yes on Measure A1, the Alameda County affordable housing bond
"We have a housing crisis in Alameda County. The lack of affordable housing affects everyone, but particularly the low-income families and other "vulnerable populations" such as veterans, seniors and people with disabilities.
"Some of these people are being forced to commute long distances because they can't afford to live here, and others end up homeless. The Alameda County Board of Supervisors placed a $580 million general obligation bond measure on the Nov. 8 ballot to fund affordable housing options through rental and home ownership programs.
"The funds will stay in the county, and independent annual audits will ensure the money is spent according to the measure's direction. The cost to property owners is projected to be $12 to $14 per $100,000 of assessed value. This seems like a small price to pay to ensure people who work in Alameda County can live here, and to help get the homeless off the streets and back on their feet.
"We recommend a Yes on Measure A1."
No on Measure RR, the $3.5 billion BART bond measure
"The BART Board of Directors is seeking a $3.5 billion "loan" from voters to pay for capital investments, but the money will likely go to cover outrageous labor costs. Instead of planning for the future by putting money in reserves for capital improvements that will inevitably be necessary with such a system, BART officials have made poor decisions and expect taxpayers to bail them out.
"Shortly after a labor deal was made earlier this year, BART announced that the system expected a $477 million deficit over the next decade, including $77 million from the labor agreement they had just made. This was right around the time employees were given $3.3 million in bonuses.
"But, according to BART General Manager Grace Crunican, all that's needed to make up this shortfall is to pass a $3.5 billion bond measure. And she promises the money will go toward capital improvements. This is technically true of this money. However, money previously set aside for capital improvements can go back into the operating budget.
"We recommend a No on Measure RR. Send a message to BART that there is not an unlimited supply of cash to cover their poor planning."