What is a fair exchange for
Pleasanton's "Crown Jewel"?
There are aspects of the Downtown Specific Plan process that I look forward to seeing implemented. Pavers will add charm, proposed changes to Peters and Division Street are intriguing. But the agenda for our Civic Center site and Bernal Property is alarming.
I am not comfortable with an agenda that is dependent on defying a commitment to Pleasanton voters. Development of the Civic Center property is not possible without moving city offices and police station* to the Bernal property. The Bernal property was identified as the “Crown Jewel of Pleasanton.” This land was a hard-won negotiation, land dedicated to community uses in exchange for allowing development of commercial and residential on much of the property. Currently, building city offices on the property is illegal without a vote to allow a change to land use. With an effective campaign to not allow the change to land use on the Bernal property, this Civic Center process is all a waste of resources.
If there is an expectation of moving currently illegal uses, (city offices/police station) at a great cost to taxpayers ($200 MM+) to our "Crown Jewel" site, I believed the plan for the current Civic Center site would become our new “Crown Jewel”. I thought we were being cajoled to accept some mixed-use residential to help pay for an exciting Grand Town-Square filled with resident enticements and amenities.
What is currently being proposed however, is a tremendous disappointment; it is a mixed-use residential/office complex. The pressure to allow housing and increased building height is extreme. The resident response has been a loud and clear "NO", but not as clear as staff agenda to incorporate housing and increased building height anyway.
I don’t see an Arts & Cultural Town Square. Instead of a plan filled with citizen amenities and enticements, I see a lot of office space and residential. The poorly located monolithic parking garage will support the demand of the unappealing office/residential complex. The hotel is NOT for residents, yet it is given the premier location at the entrance to Main Street. The theater is an illusion – a placeholder – it has been determined the demand for another theater is already oversaturated.
A bone is being thrown to residents with the small town-square squeezed in the middle of this residential/office complex. I see a tremendous expense to taxpayers, more impact on traffic and schools, loss of our precious resource Pleasanton’s “Crown Jewel”, and all with little benefit to residents. I support an improved library, but do not let it be held hostage for so many costly negative impacts to Pleasanton. Why should Pleasanton residents get excited about paying for this?*
* I have been told that there is nothing inadequate about the current 30-year-new police station. “Moving it is a purely land use decision” to redevelop the Civic Center site. For years, we were told the police station could not be moved because it would be cost prohibitive. I have not been given an answer to my request of cost to remove and rebuild the police station.
Please visit the project website at: https://ptowndtown.org/
Take the survey (the proposed plan is shown in the survey) at:
What Pleasanton residents want for Main Street:
More housing without additional schools is not Planned Progress
Is Pleasanton leadership leading our community toward catastrophe? Pleasanton is under pressure from the State and developers to approve more housing. A recent city meeting included a presentation on how Pleasanton could maximize housing on our current civic center site, despite a city survey showing 75% of our citizens do not support housing in downtown. There is significantly more housing development in Pleasanton’s future with a lack of infrastructure to support it. We will be burdened with more traffic, demands on our water supply and overcrowding at our schools. Our community should care.
Pleasanton Unified School District has historically been unwilling to use available funding to build schools. In years past, the need for a third high school was identified and approved but never built. The students are here but the land and funding is gone, the high school will never be built. Our school board is now discussing using taxpayer approved money, designated for an elementary school, for alternative uses. A new elementary school was used to get voters to approve the 270 million dollar bond; this is a dishonest bait and switch. The result will be another capital asset lost to our community and additional debt for homeowners. Taxpayers should be angry.
The California Department of Education has a formula for best practices for school size. That best practices formula was used when PUSD asked the City to identify school enrollment guidelines in our General Plan, which is Pleasanton’s planning constitution. Pleasanton schools at all grade levels currently exceed those limits. We like to think Pleasanton exceeds the State minimum standard, we don’t. PUSD has in essence abandoned any enrollment limits. All Pleasanton middle and high schools exceed city and district enrollment limits with no plan to ever build additional 6-12 schools. As PUSD moves to abandon building the one taxpayer approved elementary school, our city will grow with unlimited enrollment at our current schools. District employee costs, not students, families, or community are the factors driving these decisions (think pension liability). Parents should be concerned.
Planning law makes clear, and common sense dictates, comprehensive city planning requires building schools. In the past, there has been better cooperation between the City and School District that has resulted in schools getting built. Pleasanton leadership needs to get back to that level of cooperation again.
Email your elected representatives. Tell our school board to honor their commitments made to the taxpayers, and act in our students and community’s best interests. Remind City Council that housing without the infrastructure to support it is bad for Pleasanton, it is their responsibility.
Taxpayers should be angry, parents should be concerned, our community should care.
As a 30+ year Pleasanton community advocate, Julie has served as a Pleasanton City Commissioner, and participated on numerous budget committees and planning task forces.
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