By the time of the next scheduled meeting, Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and Council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan, will all be lame ducks at the end of their terms. Of the remaining members, either Cheryl Cook-Kallio or Jerry Thorne will be mayor-elect and will be joined by two other newcomers from the trio of Erlene DeMarcus, Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin.
One of the key actions the current council took was a unanimous approval of the report of the Kottinger Place Task Force that moves forward a process that started in 2003. That’s right-- 2003. The task force has been going so long that members have cycled onto to the Pleasanton Gardens Board of Directors and then off (term limits are two terms or six years) and then back on.
The group was tasked with figuring out what to do with the aging 50 senior housing units at Kottinger Place as well as consider a joint venture with Pleasanton Gardens, a 40-unit senior housing complex across Kottinger Avenue. Pleasanton Gardens is a non-profit corporation that was started by four churches in the late 1960s to address the need for affordable housing for low-income senior citizens.
The task force initially presented a report to the City Council in December, 2009, that was rejected by the City Council led by Councilwoman McGovern. (I’ve served as president of the Pleasanton Gardens board since 2011 and been a board member since 2008). The council and our board developed a memorandum of understanding that went nowhere until mid-2011 when the task force gained momentum.
Amazingly, a nine-year process was concluded successfully in just about a year once the task force decided to work with Mid Peninsula Housing on another version of the project. The aggressive schedule started in February this year and included outreach to residents, the neighborhood and lots of work with the task force. In late summer, the task force reached out to Pleasanton Gardens with a proposal to include our land and units in an overall plan—we agreed to move forward.
That resulted in the task force deciding to redevelop both parcels with one-bedroom units that include both cottages similar to the existing units, but with one bedrooms instead of studios, as well as some two and three-story buildings that provide additional security from centralized entrances as well as more units.
When the task force met for its final session, neighborhood folks were out in force with a number of concerns. That was in late August. Over the next six weeks, those concerns were addressed so well that the Housing Commission approved the recommendation unanimously as did the City Council Tuesday evening. The only testimony offered favored the approval and no neighborhood resident spoke against moving forward.
This will mean adjustments for residents as the development moves ahead, but will result in a project that will double the number of very affordable units for seniors with very limited resources. It also means units that are accessible to people with mobility issues (something that didn’t exist when both projects were constructed 40-plus years ago) that are energy efficient with both heating and air conditioning (there’s no air conditioning at Pleasanton Gardens. Units have wall heaters).
Imagine living in a studio unit with your spouse, let alone with a fulltime caregiver.
The process took a stunningly long amount of time and there is a cost to interminable process. Write me and I will tell you about people I know whose lives have been changed because of how long the approval process ran on the Stoneridge Creek project on the Staples Ranch property on the Stoneridge Drive extension.
But, I am thankful that the council members grabbed this unique opportunity to care for those most vulnerable of us for the next 50 years in quality, safe housing.