The quarry lands under consideration contain the largest single concentration of sand and gravel deposits in the Bay Area. They've long been of special importance because of the value of those mineral deposits to the region's economy, although more recently the environmental impacts of the extraction process and plans for reclaiming the land for future use have been given a top priority.
Today, with the mining and extraction operations drawing to a close, at least on the Pleasanton side of the quarry lands, it's up to the task force to decide how to identify the best uses of the site. The plan area includes three lakes (sand and gravel pits) and surrounding lands totaling approximately 604 acres. Two of the lakes, including Cope Lake, are owned by the Zone 7 water agency and the third lake is owned by the Pleasanton Gravel Co. but is scheduled to be dedicated to Zone 7 in 2014.
Since nearly the entire site has been mined, the original topography and habitat characteristics have been completely altered. The three lakes have steep banks and much of the area surrounding them consists of wetlands. Pleasanton Garbage Service operates a transfer station on the south side of Busch Road, which is visible from Valley Avenue. For the most part, public access is not allowed and only a small portion of the site is visible beyond the Pleasanton Garbage recycling center.
The Pleasanton General Plan specifies that in order to accommodate planned development for this transitional area, the preparation of a specific plan should first be initiated. That's the mission of the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force, to identify and locate a series of appropriate land uses, integrate a traffic circulation system to serve these uses, include the extension of El Charro Road from I-580 to Stanley Boulevard and Busch Road from Valley Avenue to El Charro, provide for the extension of utilities throughout the plan area, and create a funding mechanism for the infrastructure required to support development.
It's a tall order for the 18-member task force, which is meeting with the guidance of Janice Stern, the city's assistant planning manager who is skilled at shepherding task forces. The quarry land site is often called Pleasanton's "last frontier." With new requirements for more high density, affordable housing set to be issued by the Association of Bay Area Governments and state housing authorities in 2014, this site may be the best hope for Pleasanton to meet its housing growth requirements without any disruption to already populated sections of the city.