News


Pleasanton Council moves forward on new library/civic center complex

Approves draft master plan, considers going to voters in 2018

The City Council has approved a draft master plan for a new Pleasanton Civic Center complex in Bernal Community Park which could go on the ballot in November 2018 for voter approval.

The proposed complex would include a new city hall, library, police headquarters and a community center on a 27-acre site between Bernal and Valley avenues and backing onto the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

The current 10-acre site bordered by Main Street and Old Bernal and Bernal avenues would be redeveloped in accordance with the the recommendations of a Downtown Specific Plan. A task force has been established to consider that plan, with an expected completion date late next year.

Although no cost estimates have been made nor funding sources identified for building the new complex, it's cost is estimated at up to $200 million.

"We don't know what we're going to do yet,"Mayor Jerry Thorne said. "That decision is at least 18 months out with a number of commission and committee meetings needed to review proposals first.

The council's action in a 4-0 vote approved a draft master plan developed by a Civic Center/Library task force. The group was formed in February 2015 to consider municipal office and operational needs.

The Pleasanton City Hall, it noted, is now the oldest of the 13 cities in Alameda County. The public library, built as a county branch library, is overcrowded in a glass and brick structure that won't allow a second floor. Some of the buildings on the current city site are temporary structures that the city likely would have ordered removed if they were privately owned.

The primary issues raised and addressed during the task force deliberations included site selection for upgrading or rebuilding civic center and city hall buildings and parking. During after-school hours, patrons find it difficult to park at the current library and parking is especially tight during City Council and other community meetings at the current Civic Center.

The task force is proposing 250 additional spaces at the Bernal park site along with a two-to-three-story parking garage. The police department would have its own dedicated parking area.

The new complex also would allow city functions to operate more smoothly, proponents said, with all major departments and operations under one roof. Because of multiple buildings in the current city complex, departments and the services they offer are not connected.

A highlight of the proposed new complex is the addition of a 25,000 square foot community center adjacent to the new library. It would have a number of different-size meeting rooms, some small enough to serve two or three people in a study mode and others larger for community meetings. At least one room would be large enough to hold bar bar and bat mitzvahs, wedding receptions and other public events.

The new library would have 70,000 square feet of floor space, up from 30,180 square feet now. Police headquarters wold occupy a 35,000 square foot building, compared to 21,130 square feet not. Only City Hall would be downsized, becoming a 40,000 square foot building compared to 45,550 now.

Brian Dolan, assistant city manager, said that while all of the committees and commissions briefed by the task force agreed with the plan to relocate city operations to Bernal Park, a few individuals favored keeping City Hall closer to downtown, where it is now. The Civic Arts Commission expressed disappointment that a performing arts center once planned for Bernal Community Park was being axed and asked that funds be appropriated to upgrade the Amador Theater on the grounds of Amador Valley High School

Only one speaker criticized the plan. Julie Testa, a candidate for mayor in the Nov. 8 election, said the suggested architecture of the new city and library buildings "is too stark, too modern, almost industrial."

She said the original vision for Bernal Community Park did not include a civic center or police station.

"It was supposed to have only civic-oriented facilities," she added.

Comments

9 people like this
Posted by Huggy Bear
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 23, 2016 at 11:44 am

Absolutely will not happen, period.


22 people like this
Posted by Bill
a resident of Oak Tree Acres
on Nov 23, 2016 at 12:19 pm

Will Black Tie referendum this too?


2 people like this
Posted by kmary1
a resident of Ironwood
on Nov 23, 2016 at 12:44 pm

Love the concept. Our current Civic Area is totally outdated.
[Removed because it was irrelevant to the conversation]


22 people like this
Posted by Also Concerned
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 23, 2016 at 2:00 pm

Also Concerned is a registered user.

I believe that years ago the planners did not take into consideration - growth (i.e. can't have a second floor on library!)
What is wrong with having the oldest City Hall - in some states on the East Coast they are proud of having buildings that are old.

We have to get over always having the newest and the best - live within our means is more important. It doesn't fit in my budget - --


12 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 23, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Jack is a registered user.

Our current city leadership needs to learn from past city leaders who had the vision and foresight to build the three middle school gymnasiums as City / School District Partnerships. Those gyms are used 14-16 hours everyday! A very good use of public funds. Likewise the parking structure at Amador that is shared by the church next door.
Back in 1991 the Kottinger Hills development was over-turned by referendum and part of what went away was a public 18 hole golf course that would have cost the tax-payers Zero! Instead, we built a Callippe to the tune of $45,000,000! Another several million was spent on the Firehouse Arts Theater.
Hate to sound like Dr. Phil, but "how is that working out for us?"
Now they want to spend $200,000,000 for a new Civic Center?
We have thousands and thousands of square feet of under-utilized buildings that, by definition, go dark at 3pm and are totally unused June, July and August! They are called "schools!" Why tear down and build a new library on or near Bernal Ave., when we could simply expand the library at PMS and/or Hearst? If we did that, it would actually be closer and safer for the vast majority of the people who use it!
We need to be smarter. We need to use what we have. We need leaders to brush-up on their history and do the types of things that attracted us all here in the first place...


9 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 24, 2016 at 7:04 am

Flightops is a registered user.

So the "temporary structures" aren't good enough for our city employees but they are good enough for our kids at their schools?? They sure tell a sad story about how "tough" it is working out of those "old" buildings and how overcrowded the library is and we (they) could have all shiny new buildings for only 200 million!! Where's that money coming from?? In my day I was born without the silver spoon in my mouth and if I wanted some shiny new toy really bad I had to save my money and buy it myself and not go around begging for handouts. Can't wait till they disclose to us what they want to build on Main Street if they get to bulldoze the existing city offices.


31 people like this
Posted by Julie Testa
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Nov 24, 2016 at 8:22 am

Julie Testa is a registered user.

My coment was intended to be, The Bernal property was supposed to have only Citizen-oriented amenities.

I do not support the Civic Center project as it is proposed. While I believe Pleasanton would benefit from an improved library and a community center, I do not support the cost of moving the police station (I am told there is nothing inadequate with our current police station, it is a "land use move"), I do not believe the city offices are a priority for such a significant commitment of financial resources. The current estimate is up to $200 million dollars for the masterplan project.

The agenda for moving our city buildings, at a tremendous cost, is to rezone the land where those buildings currently reside, to mixed-use-residential. Picture downtown packed with three to five story buildings like the building across from BART, which is an example of existing mixed-use-residential in Pleasanton. The logic being that rezoning the land to residential would be sold at an increased profit of an additional $8 million dollars, but the cost of moving the police station will cost tens of millions more. A tremendous cost to Pleasanton citizens with a resulting negative consequence of more high-density housing.

Consider the traffic and parking demand that this will generate for downtown. Our treasured downtown will be dramatically altered and our city will suffer the impacts of additional impacts of hundreds of condos and apartments, while costing us hundreds of millions of dollars.

Do not be mislead when we are told that nothing is decided. At the City Council meeting, Councilman Pentin said, after a year of work on this proposal, "it is too late to consider an amendment to the plan". Now is the time to speak up about this plan that will have tremendous consequences to Pleasanton.
Email our Mayor and City Council at citycouncil@cityofpleasantonca.gov.


11 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 25, 2016 at 8:16 am

Flightops is a registered user.

@ Julie testa- All good points, totally agree with you. Where was THIS person when you were running for mayor?? The city council and planning commission are going to bury this town under a pile of new housing on every piece of available land they can get their hands on no matter what the costs to us citizens!! Wake up people, they are throwing "snowballs" at us, surely the entire town can't be so gullible, so much for "planned progress".


5 people like this
Posted by Bella
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 25, 2016 at 9:48 am

Bella is a registered user.

I think $ 200 million is an astounding expense and would not support it. Im sort of embarrassed that given all the other things that the money could be used for that government should be thinking about like fixing streets, helping Bart To go to Livermore, building housing for our seniors, etc. The Fire House Arts building is a big pork barrel expense that is now used subsidized by the City or rather tax payers. And the Calippee Golf Course also loses money. Bottom line is government should not be developers without alot of citizen oversight. They dont pay for the fancy offices they want to retire in, we the residents do that.


5 people like this
Posted by kmary1
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 29, 2016 at 12:43 pm

kmary1 is a registered user.

Have any of you who are questioning the project taken a tour of the 6 buildings, including 2 modulars, that currently make up City Hall? One has books from the Library stacked on stairs going up to a second floor. Others have materials stored in corridors, making the space unusable for city employees. I've sat in a meeting in a conference room in City Hall and been interrupted by employees passing through the meeting, since that was how you got quickly from one side of the building to the other. Do your own research. Visit the 6 buildings and you will see how outmoded, outdated the facilities are. It has to be hurting efficiency and its a terrible use of space.


3 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 29, 2016 at 12:59 pm

Jack is a registered user.

Mary, you are correct, our City Hall is an embarrassment.
The article states that the new City Hall will be 40,000 square feet. City already owns the land, and they can probably get e good deal on the permits... Let's throw a huge number on the cost of construction, say $400 per square foot. That comes to 16 million dollars. I would be fine with that... Now how do you come up with a $200,000,000 budget?


5 people like this
Posted by Nosy Neighbors
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 29, 2016 at 1:44 pm

Nosy Neighbors is a registered user.

Jack you are on the right course with suggesting using school property as municipal buildings but their infrastructure for everything from data/network, phone, IT, conferencing, parking and security are horribly lacking for what the needs of a civic center and county offices would require. There are however hundreds of thousands of square feet of commercial/A1 & other mixed use capable office space throughout town that could be easily converted to suit the needs of the council and administration.

There simply needs to be a voice of reason that stands up to the drunken sailor spending of these elected civil servants.


3 people like this
Posted by Also Concerned
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 29, 2016 at 2:19 pm

Also Concerned is a registered user.

I completely agree with Nosy Neighbors and Jack. I wish we had them on the City Council.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Nov 29, 2016 at 2:26 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

How does using schools make sense? Libraries open only after school? Access to campuses during the day . . . with, essentially, strangers roaming the buildings? Summer months--there is summer school and campus maintenance to be completed.

What does make sense is tearing down the district office and selling the land. Then use that money to combine a district office and city offices for one stop shopping and a better use of taxpayer dollars. The same room for council and board meetings; the community TV set up at the new facility to record the meetings. Expand and modernize the current library where it is. Heck, move the police department to the old district site. There are probably a lot of ways to cut this pie that make more sense than what is currently proposed.

My fear, the majority of those voting just told the mayor and city council they've got great ideas, especially if it's at our expense.


3 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 29, 2016 at 2:58 pm

Jack is a registered user.

Kathleen, play nice... I voted for you!
My point in using school buildings, is best illustrated with the Middle School Gyms. Schools by day, community centers at night. Firehouse Arts money and energy could've been folded into a school campus... We pick our kids up from one parking lot at 3pm and then drop them off in another at 4pm... It seems like a wast of resources... Go to the Library at 3:30 and see who is there. It's 80% school age kids. And their school libraries at 4pm? They are empty! There has to be a way to figure that one out...
I disagree with selling the District Office property. What, so some home builder can come in, slap up 95 townhouses, and skip town with the profits and then we lose the land forever?
And while we're here... We just passed a $250M bond? We are going to build a bunch of new stuff! But go visit our schools... We don't take very good care of the stuff we do have...


Like this comment
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Nov 29, 2016 at 3:34 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Jack, first--thank you! Your vote was much appreciated, as are those of all the others.

We totally agree on the gymnasiums and the Amador Theater. Maybe the city could let students do productions at the Firehouse? And I'll apologize for being strident in my response. But I can't see having libraries on campus only open at 4 (and they would have to have shelving space and age appropriate materials, which would be limiting) as helpful to patrons. And I can't see adults wandering campuses during the day, and again their is a question of space and appropriate materials. I don't know if students are using the libraries much after school, but mingled access might be an issue.

If I'm not mistaken, many of those students at 3:30 are the overflow from PMS waiting for their pick ups. I know that's where I was often for my grandchild. I'm not doubting the library is used, just pointing to what I was witness to most days.

The Bernal spot might be a perfect location for the police. It could even be a spot for a small high school or 6-12 to relieve crowding at the five schools we have. Again, many ways to slice the pie if we slow the city down on their project and give this a more collaborative think.

For the bond, there is exactly one new school, $35M, at the elementary level (or there are rumors of a different combination) planned-no others. The rest of the bond is for paying old debt, modernization, technology, and fixing all the stuff we didn't take care of in the last 13ish years.


19 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Nov 29, 2016 at 3:54 pm

Matt Sullivan is a registered user.

Let’s look at the bigger picture here. The City Manager sold the Costco deal to Councilmembers asking, ”How else are you going to get money to build your pet projects – like an expanded library?” Not sure how this will work since the city won’t break even on the subsidies to Costco and Nearon for 20 years. But never mind the details. I’ve spent many hours inside city hall and its true the buildings need upgrading, but it’s not necessary to move them. The library serves as a free day care center for PMS kids after school – beyond that, is there really a need for expansion? As Julie states above, the existing police facilities are adequate and are the costliest to relocate.

The voter-approved Bernal Property Specific Plan calls for an arts facility and community center at the proposed location, not a City Hall, police department, or even a library. For those of you new to Pleasanton, the City of San Francisco, who used to own the property, wanted to build 2500 houses out there. Many years of fighting and hard work led by former Mayor’s Tarver and Pico, and countless other citizens and commission members, led to the agreement with Greenbrier Homes for 318 acres of public open space on the property in exchange for limited development. This was followed by a multi-year planning process and design competition to create the Specific Plan approved by the voters. Now, in one meeting, the City Council upends all that progress and approves a Master Plan for a new civic center?

The question is: Who really gains from this plan? Just like in the Costco situation, it will be the developers, businesses, and property owners who will receive a gift of highly desirable commercial and residential space on Main Street. The purchase price for the land won’t cover the $200 million price tag to relocate the buildings and neither will Costco. From the earlier public records act request submitted by Pleasanton Citizens for Responsible Growth email discussions between city staff were uncovered documenting the need for a public bond to cover the costs. Again, just like with Costco, the public will be subsidizing private development.

The Mayor says that we are at least 18 months from a final decision based on the work of the Downtown Plan Task Force. At the same time, Councilmember Pentin says it’s “too late” to make changes. Look at the make-up of the Task Force – with the exception of one person, they are all Chamber of Commerce and business supporters or pro-development Councilmembers and Commissioners. This is an extremely one-sided committee, the process is a forgone conclusion, and will be a rubber-stamp of what the city wants.


12 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Nov 29, 2016 at 4:32 pm

res1 is a registered user.

The city management is holding the taxpayers hostage here by saying that if you don't approve this, the library gets axed!

I would be in favor of a library on the Bernal property but keep all the rest of city hall at its current location. The current library is beautiful albeit small for our library needs today. That would make a great building in the city campus.

The city approved uses has an arts center and outdoor amphitheater. While we might not need those items today, I think leaving that open for the future would be the best thing.

I do not see any ROI on moving the city center (sans library). How many citizens would a new city center benefit? To be honest, most services are going online at some point in the future. Less and less people will actually need to go to a physical city hall in the future. We are almost a build out so will not nee all the space for development services and planning. Heck, lets move those services to the chamber of commerce building since the chamber seems to own the planning decision now by controlling the council/mayor.

I would want to see what the cost would be to just move the library to the Bernal property. Then lets compare the two proposals.

As an FYI, I have been involved with a library task force many years ago. At that time they were saying that the library expansion/movement has to be tied in with a new city hall and would not entertain just looking at the library. The city employees wanted a new city hall and were using the library as their means to get a new city hall. Looks like nothing has changed. Nobody on the council seems to have the strength to tell staff to look at a library enhancement only.


9 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 29, 2016 at 8:01 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

18 months before a final decision is made- Baloney!! I'm willing to bet there's a full set of blueprints rolled up in one of those back offices at city planning that goes along with that shiny site plan drawing that they are so proud of. When did the arts facility and community center get the axe?? Did I miss the vote on that one??? Here we go again, another unwanted, not needed, can't afford pet project of the cities royalty who can't seem to hear or care what the citizens want!


2 people like this
Posted by Elizabeth M
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 2, 2016 at 8:55 pm

Elizabeth M is a registered user.

Gosh, I have always heard it said that the city had outgrown the police department by the day they moved in so many years ago. And having the city offices spread into a collection of six makeshift buildings and trailers which were supposed to be temporary on a small plot of land seems somewhat tacky in a city like Pleasanton. Not to mention one of those building has an upstairs that has been condemned for structural reasons. I remember registering my son for a pre-school class in one of the temporary trailers and he’s a college graduate now! I often visit other cities for training and every single one has a civic center that the citizens can take true pride in. If one visited Livermore, Fremont or Mountain View it would be easily apparent. Someday hopefully Pleasanton can be in their league as well. Just my humble opinion as a citizen of 40 years....


6 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 3, 2016 at 8:06 am

Flightops is a registered user.

So if we spend 200# million on some shiny new buildings for our poor suffering city employees we could be in the same league as Livermore, Fremont, and Mountain View- NO THANKS!! Been here for almost 50 years and I see a lot more things that need fixing before we upgrade some city offices, quit being in such a hurry to clear that property on Main Street, we know what they want to put there and it's not going to happen.


13 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 3, 2016 at 5:50 pm

res1 is a registered user.

I have yet to see how moving and rebuilding a new city hall will improve our lives in Pleasanton. A new library, yes. The rest is a boondoggle.


2 people like this
Posted by woggut
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Dec 5, 2016 at 5:05 pm

woggut is a registered user.

We need to address our unfunded pension liabilities before we go on a spending spree. We have a $160 million liability at the insanely unrealistic CalPers assumed earnings rate of 7.5% (actual was 0.6% last year), more like $250 million at the 6.2% that the Brown administration CalPers actuaries recommend but board refuses to endorse. The earnings rate if an agency tries to withdraw from Calpers is 3.7%, because once an agency withdraws they can no longer hit the taxpayers for more funds to make up any funding gap. Then there's Alameda County, School District, Park District, Water District, .....


3 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 6, 2016 at 3:42 pm

res1 is a registered user.

woggot, good point. We should not be increasing the cost of government in Pleasanton (which will be needed to build a new city hall) until we first get our long term liabilities totally funded (pensions plus retiree medical).

Besides the lower assumed rate which will increase our city costs, we will have large increases soon to just pay for "kicking the can" down the road which was done to "smooth" the hits to the agencies when the last recession hit.

If the public employees want a higher assumed rate of return, like they have now, then they should take 100% of the risk when the funds do not make it. Otherwise, the employers and employees should be paying the real rate right now. The taxpayers are being ripped off royally right now!


8 people like this
Posted by LauraD
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Dec 6, 2016 at 10:43 pm

LauraD is a registered user.

Wow! What a change of opinion from the city regarding the civic center project! 10 years ago when I sat on the Libray Commission we were told by city employee Steve Bocian that the city center would need to stay in its same location due to the enormous cost of moving the police station. Several folks on our commission then asked about just the library moving to the Bernal property specifically and were told that it was felt that the Bernal site was too far from downtown business and restaurant access. Many hours and probably thousands of dollars were spent coming up with those plans at the time and now everything has changed?
What I'm guessing has changed is that the housing cap is now gone and that some in the city are chomping at the bit to turn that lovely current property over to developers. They will get a new facility for city staff using the library as bait and stick the taxpayers and residents with the bills, traffic and overcrowded schools. As our new president tweets-very SAD.


6 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 7, 2016 at 9:11 am

res1 is a registered user.

LauraD, I think hundreds of thousands of dollars were spent on the city center plan upgrade at the current site. The city has, and is, holding the library hostage so they can get a new city hall. I hope the city council stands up to the city staff and tells them to do a plan that has the library moving to the Bernal property and the city hall staying where it is at, re-purposing the current library as part of the city center. This will not happen, however, since the city council majority is controlled by the chamber of commerce which will do anything to get more housing in Pleasanton. Sad but it looks like the only way we can control this process is though another initiative from the people.


5 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 7, 2016 at 2:37 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

Glad to see a few other people that are wise to the sneaky shenanigans going on down at city hall, maybe the citizens aren't as gullible as I thought! No housing downtown, you are ruining every other parcel of land leave our downtown alone. Still haven't seen the library in need of being enlarged, it only gets busy during free daycare after school lets out. Who are they trying to impress with those new buildings, who benefits and who is going to pay that 200 million + whatever bling gets added after it would be built??


3 people like this
Posted by res1
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Dec 10, 2016 at 7:36 pm

res1 is a registered user.

Why is the city going with this new plan to move the civic center to Bernal AND also purchasing the land between the library and the train track? The Planning Commission has an agenda item to confirm zoning of this property before the City's accepted bid on that property goes through. I can see no reason for the city owning that piece of land and can think of better things to do with the $4.2M price tag on the land.


4 people like this
Posted by Flightops
a resident of Downtown
on Dec 10, 2016 at 7:53 pm

Flightops is a registered user.

@res1---- Think housing and more housing. With this city council and planning department everything comes around to housing!! No matter how rosy a picture they paint, no matter how fancy of a library they want to "give" us it will all boil down to us citizens paying for some brand new fancy offices that we can live without and can't afford and if they get their way a big piece of vacant property downtown that they can build more housing on that we really don't need!!


1 person likes this
Posted by Karen
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 12, 2016 at 8:14 am

Karen is a registered user.

Think seriously about this. $ 200 MILLION DOLLARS. That is an incredible amount of money for a community close to build out. Sure, perhaps a new combination of a library and community building, and use the existing building to expand city offices. On the police station, why not use the old superior court building on Stoneridge which has a jail and structure to retrofit. Did the city staff pursue that building?
For a history note, I remember the original plans for the Bernal property. The number of units was reduced to 1,500 as one choice. We could have still gotten a big park wih it completely built without taxpayer money, solved all of our fair share housing regulations without throwing money away on a lawsuit, and had all the infrastructure paid for the developers.


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