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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Dublin votes for privately owned open space

Uploaded: Nov 10, 2014

Last week's anti-climactic election on Measure T in Dublin should, for the next number of years, solidify any question about what happens in Doolan Canyon north of Interstate 580 between Dublin and Livermore.
Both cities have eyed the canyon—Livermore with its mind on open space, while Dublin council members originally were willing to consider an active adult community similar to a Del Webb property or Rossmoor on 1,200 privately owned acres there.
Those potential plans were thwarted earlier this year when Dublin citizens gathered signatures to make Doolan Canyon open space and brought an initiative to the City Council. Another group, led by former Dublin Mayor Janet Lockhart, gathered signatures for a competing measure.
The city council, however, adopted the citizens' measure and both put Measure T on the ballot and wrote an argument against it.
That left the potential developer, Danville-based Pacific Union Land Co., alone as a supporter and without the very important citizens ready to do the ground work in favor of moving the urban limit boundary to include Doolan Canyon.
The measure was whooped by a 4-1 margin last week, helped along by cash and people investments from the Greenbelt Alliance and Save Mt. Diablo.
A group of investors, led by John Ferreri of Pleasanton, bought in the land back in the 1980s. This was the second time the active adult community idea has been proposed for that land.
The irony is there is no community like that in the Tri-Valley area—the closest options are Rossmoor in Walnut Creek and communities in Brentwood or out in the Sacramento area. Notably, a small active adult community, the Villages at Ironwood developed by Ponderosa Homes, has been a great success for both the residents there and the builder. It is a small scale version and lacks the amenities of many of the larger communities.
The demand, given the huge number of baby boomers heading for retirement or empty-nest lifestyles, is there.
Reflecting on the election, I thought about a panel that the Pleasanton chamber pulled together for its leadership class that included Hacienda developer Joe Callahan, long-time commercial real estate broker and community volunteer Brad Hirst and myself last Wednesday.
Joe and his partner, the Prudential Insurance Co., assembled the land that became Hacienda Business Park, because its location at the intersection of I-580/I-680 was within a 30-minute commute of 40 percent of the workers in the Bay Area. It remains a unique location to for firms looking for ideal areas to locate.
The immense challenge, as Joe pointed out, is that jobs still follow housing. The housing was built and in place before the employment came. There's been almost no workforce housing built in Pleasanton for years. The constricted new housing supply is negatively effecting owners of buildings in both Hacienda and Bishop Ranch in San Ramon from attracting tenants. East Dublin and the Dougherty Valley in San Ramon have been the only major new housing in the Tri-Valley and Pleasanton has approved the fewest units by far.
Brad pointed out that the late Mayor Ken Mercer was a member of the City Council that, in the wake of Proposition 13 that slashed property taxes, had to lay off city employees and turn off street lights because the city could not afford to pay for the power. Brad said Pleasanton had the lowest sales tax revenue per capita in the county—now it has the highest.
Thanks to the leadership of Mercer and others, the foundation was laid for the economic prosperity that Pleasanton enjoys. However, it can be lost.
There was a time that Hayward had everything going for it. Decisions to fight against CalTrans plans for new freeway routings the stage for the city to struggle economically for the last few decades. By contrast, Scott Raty pointed out that Walnut Creek decided to loop I-680 around the city and to preserve the downtown. Today, Brad said that a Walnut Creek location is a must for an upscale retailer looking at the Bay Area.
My takeaway, for Pleasanton, what happens with redevelopment within the business parks and the east side plan could have a profound effect on the community 20 and 30 years in the future.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by San Ramon Observer, a resident of San Ramon,
on Nov 10, 2014 at 4:23 pm

San Ramon Observer is a registered user.

There is a small scale senior community in San Ramon on the Dublin boarder. Sunny Glen was one of the first housing developments in the region, started around 1962. Web Link

I moved to San Ramon in 1997, when I was just under the 55 year age necessary to qualify for Sunny Glen. It's too bad because there were several nice homes between 940 and 1100 sq. ft. selling for under $150K that would have been just right for me.

Prices went up the next year but I came close to buying an 1100 sq. ft. model on Tangerine Street for just under $200K. For an additional $30K I bought my 1100 sq. ft. house on Mangos instead.

Now houses in Sunny Glen are almost as expensive as similar homes without age restrictions. I missed a good opportunity back then.


Posted by Bill, a resident of Pleasanton Heights,
on Nov 11, 2014 at 9:12 pm

C'mon Jeb. Time to take the keys away from Tim. I read this whole thing twice, and I still can't figure out what point he was trying to make. I am willing to bet Tim has no idea either.

Posted by Bill2, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Nov 12, 2014 at 10:54 am

Agree, either Tim is looking through rose colored glasses from Castlewood or else he is making an attempt to conjure up support for the local developers. Either way he is full of BS. ?Hacienda Business Park is 30 minute commute for 40% of the Bay Area workforce?. I don?t think so. Some days you cannot even get out of Pleasanton in thirty minutes during the morning commute. ?Jobs follow housing?. Afraid not Tim. As long as I have lived in California, jobs have always spawned housing. Look at Lockheed, FMC, IBM, Ford, GM. Silicon Valley would still be orchards if it hadn?t been for these companies building their manufacturing plants first. Hacienda?s problem is not housing, it is jobs that either pay too little or jobs that pay a decent wage but the job requirements are so selective that few people can qualify. As long as a major tenant like Lucent was anchoring the park there will be plenty of jobs for most categories of workers. But without a major manufacturing giant to anchor the park you are going to have to lower your standards as to the type of tenants and jobs that occupy the park. Mercer may have laid the foundation but this foundation was based on attracting major tenants. It was not based on retail, churches, day care centers, schools, low income medical clinics, high density housing and other entities that either do not belong in a business park or are non-revenue generating. It is interesting to read the planning commission report for Summerhill Apartments to be built in Hacienda Business Park. The commissioners hinged on every word that developer, Joe Callahan, had to say but completely blew off any concerns that the Parkside residents raised during the meeting. Our local politicians obviously know which side of the bread is buttered and it is not on the side of the citizens.

Posted by Longtimer, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Nov 14, 2014 at 10:19 am

Thanks for pointing out all the possibilities. The one thing we do not need is a continuation of tacky, 3 story, multi-family condos and apartments. 'Open' space is a very unrealistic fantasy. A nice middle-income senior, market-rate, pay-your-own way area is needed. Not the transfer your money and pretend you're poor, subsidized places, or the need to sell a million dollar home to get in places. It could also connect to quality, single, worker places, very like senior, just differed by activity centers. Not bedrooms for all the relatives to move into!! Today, there are more 'singles' than ever in both age groups, so large is not a requirement, but quality and location do matter. Being along the freeway really should attract workers. Keep cars off our already full streets like Stanley and Valley.

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