As Valarie was driving past the Hacienda Crossing Shopping Center, I remarked what an ugly shopping center it was. Well that was the wrong thing to say to Valarie Barnes. She was on the Dublin City Council when that shopping center was approved and it was her baby.
She told me that East Dublin had to pay for itself and the Hacienda Crossing Shopping Center supported all of the services Dublin provided to the new housing developments in East Dublin. I learned a lesson in city planning and development from Valarie Barnes that night.
Critics of the update to the 2030 General Plan questioned why City planners want to change the zoning of a large section of the northern portion of the city to Mixed Use. Planning Commission Vice Chairperson Donna Kerger explained that Mixed Use is the most versatile zoning, allowing for retail, offices, and residential units. The justification for this zoning change is to provide space for large retail outlets currently missing from San Ramon.
Commission Chairman, Harry Sachs, told the audience at the public hearing on the General Plan update, "You can't even buy a mattress in San Ramon." He's right. I bought my mattress in Dublin. I bought my dining room set, china cabinet, and refrigerator in Dublin too.
Planning Director Phil Wong explained that San Ramon's retail dollars are leaking to Dublin and Walnut Creek. That's where our sales tax revenues go when we shop outside of San Ramon.
A decade ago when Guy Houston was Mayor of Dublin, he wanted to make Dublin into Digital Dublin. Peoplesoft was planning to move there and more high tech would follow them. But then the dot com bubble burst and Peoplesoft was bought by Oracle and bye, bye Digital Dublin.
Ikea was supposed to set up shop near where the new BART Station is, but a group from East Dublin started a petition to keep Ikea out. As one person said, "We want Digital Dublin not Furniture Dublin," but alas even though Ikea changed their mind about building a store in Dublin, Dublin is still Furniture Dublin, Electronics Dublin, Restaurant Dublin, Pet Food (yeah) Dublin, and every-other-kind-of-retail-outlet-you-can-find Dublin.
San Ramon must plan for the future and stop leaking retail to Dublin, Pleasanton, and Walnut Creek. So tell Buck Rogers and Captain Kirk to come to San Ramon in 20 years, because by 2030 if the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan takes off, San Ramon will be Sales Tax San Ramon.