State guidelines, as recommended by the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) call for a jobs-to-housing ratio in residential development. Pleasanton, with its successful business parks, has been woefully short of the types of housing ABAG and the state deem necessary to accommodate a reasonable number of employees in these jobs. That means too many have been commuting here from cities as far as Modesto, which Brown as Attorney General called environmentally wasteful. The city's 1996 voter-approved 29,000-unit housing cap didn't help, so the court not only ruled that an unlawful restriction but also ordered Pleasanton to add more affordable housing. With its recent rezonings, the city has now made enough land available to accommodate high density developments to provide 3,300 more apartments, which the council and planning staff believe will pass muster.
Pleasanton has been providing "affordable" housing for more than a decade in apartment and housing complexes such as Civic Square apartments across from City Hall to Archstone and the newer Birch Terrace homes on Vineyard Avenue. The city's inclusionary zoning ordinance has been in place since November 2000, stipulating that at least 15% of all housing units in any single development must be affordable, usually in perpetuity. In many developments, some pay market rate rents that range from $3,254 for a three-bedroom unit to $1,356 at a very low income rate for the same apartment next door. Unless tenants share that information, nobody knows who's in the "moderate" or "very low" category.
Even though 73 acres have been rezoned for high density apartments, along with 650 units to be built by BRE in the Hacienda Business Park, these complexes will have roughly the same mix of moderate to very low income tenants. "Very low," by the way, isn't really all that low. A family of four earning $46,750 a year qualifies in 2012. A lot of working families in Pleasanton could make this cut. Many are probably already among our neighbors.