By Tim Hunt
What about the annual housing cap?Uploaded: Jul 24, 2014
Conveniently timed for an election year, a new group has sprung up in Pleasanton determined to reverse the city's rezoning of some parcels last year.
The city changed the zoning after losing a law suit that cost the city hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend. That loss eliminated the housing cap—a good change because it was an artificial number that essentially could have been grabbed from the sky.
To comply, the City Council rezoned 70 acres to allow as many as 3,277 units for higher density apartments and condominiums (densities average between 30 and 40 units per acre, a bit higher than the 30 units to the acre that is common in apartment complexes around Hacienda Business Park and Stoneridge Mall).
George Bowen, a resident of the Parkside neighborhood next to the Ken Mercer Sports Park, is particularly concerned about an office property on West Las Positas Boulevard that backs to the drainage canal across from the Parkside neighborhood. What's curious is that any change there—across from Hart Middle School—will have no impact on the immediate neighborhood other than visually. It is isolated and any traffic does not come into play until Hopyard Road.
Former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala, an agitator against most development in the city regardless of how a potential development went through the formal process, is advising Bowen and his group, Pleasanton Voters for Smart Growth.
What's being missed is that the City Council moved the annual cap to just 230 units while it was formalizing the rezoning. That becomes a truly artificial limit, but one that will take council approval to change.
If the only housing approved is the higher-density projects, we are talking about almost 15 years of building permits.
The rhetoric about the sky is falling is nothing more than that—rhetoric to spark panic.
I disagree with George on one other point—Pleasanton long ago quit being a "city of planned progress."
Now it is all about process—without any regard to time table, capital or being reasonable. That's why it takes more than 10 years for an affordable senior housing project that redevelops the city's Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens.
Some proudly call it the "Pleasanton way." It's gone beyond the absurdity that characterized Livermore in the 1980s-90s—something that former Mayor Marshall Kamena was instrumental in changing to a much more business-like approach.
The outcome in the Kottinger Gardens new project was OK—way below excellent when it comes to maximizing the opportunity to provide affordable housing to low-income seniors. If that is typical of "the Pleasanton way," a change to a more rational, time-sensitive approach is way, way overdue.