In a nearly-empty chamber and with only one objector, the City Council Tuesday agreed to spend $4.2-million to acquire a 3-acre vacant property that has been owned by the City of San Francisco Public Utilities Commission since 1930.
The purchase will be made early next year, but representatives of Pleasanton and the SFPUC have agreed to the price of the so-called Old Bernal Parcel after a land assessment set the current market price of the property.
In addition, Pleasanton will have to pay closing costs related to title insurance, environmental assessment, property transfer taxes, escrow fees and recording charges due once the sale is completed in March or April.
City Manager Nelson Fialho said Pleasanton will use either reserves available in its Capitial Improvement Program or an inter-fund city loan to pay the costs of the lane.
Council members said the acquisition comes at an opportune time. City leaders are considering relocating all city-owned buildings on the other side of Old Bernal to the Bernal Community Park.
At the same time, a task force has just been appointed to consider a long-range strategic plan for downtown Pleasanton, which includes this last 3.18-acre parcel. Uses could include an ACE train/downtown parking lot, housing, a church or retail stores.
The sale also comes as the SFPUC was putting the site on the market in an effort to divest its portfolio of excess property it owns. By buying the parcel, Pleasanton will be able to better control its future use.
The sale will also complete years of negotiation for 510 acres of property San Francisco and the SFPUC owned here goings back to 1930 when it acquired Spring Valley Water Works. At the time, the properties were used for ground water extraction and water was pumped for sale outside the Pleasanton area.
When the SFPUC stopped pumping from the wells there in 1949, the land was declared surplus.
The only objection to purchasing the site came from former mayoral candidate Julie Testa.
"I don't see the need for purchasing the land at this price when we don't have a purpose for it," she told the council. "We don't have to own it to control it."
She also referred to the failure of city leaders to acquire the land for $500,000 in 2000 as part of its agreement for developing the Bernal property when Greenbriar Homes and its associates bought the 510-acre Bernal site from San Francisco for $126 million. Greenbriar have 318 acres of its purchase free of charge to the city of Pleasanton in return for development agreements for homes, apartments and what is now a Safeway story-anchored retail center.
The 3.18-acre parcel across from the library was inadvertently left out of the final Greenbriar purchase agreement, although Pleasanton and then San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown "shook hands" on completing the $500,000 deal later. Brown left office soon after and that deal was never consummated.