By Tim Hunt
Dublin mayor suggests asking voters on IkeaUploaded: May 8, 2018
With citizens gathering recall signatures and an election looming in November, Dublin Mayor David Haubert had an interesting suggestion for his colleagues when they consider the Ikea application this spring.
The international retailer owns land at the corner of Hacienda Drive and Interstate 580 and has released revised plans for the shopping center anchored by its 300,000-square-foot store. Ikea is a regional draw even stronger than the San Francisco Bay Premium Outlets nearby in Livermore. It’s difficult to imagine how Dublin can require Ikea to mitigate the traffic impacts—the city already has received a letter expressing Pleasanton’s formal concerns.
Haubert’s suggestion is simple: put it on the ballot for Dublin residents to decide the question. He believes that if it is approved, citizens will referend that decision. If it is denied, Ikea may take the same route.
So, skip the signature fight and put the proposal on the ballot. He readily admits that he’s not a fan of ballot-box planning. I agree. Diligent council members who do their homework are far better equipped to make a good decision.
That said, the chances of Ikea landing on the ballot are good—of course, landing in courts also is likely. So, give the citizens a choice—that won’t stop potential legal action, but it will give the council an understanding of where the residents stand.
When opponents to Costco in Pleasanton paid signature gatherers to put a measure on the ballot, both they and council members learned that well over 60 percent of residents want the Costco on Johnson Drive. That made future decisions easy.
In Dublin, four council members recently took a bold step toward continuing to revitalize the 50-plus-year-old core of the city.
The council approved the application for 499 apartments to replace an old Prologis warehouse along I-580 behind the Dublin Boulevard shopping center with Marshall’s and Michael’s. The warehouse is 70 percent vacant. The apartments will be one bedroom, two bedrooms and studios.
Based upon a similar apartment project nearby, it is expected to generate only about 50 students, but will contribute $5 million in impact fees to the school district. That’s a bargain for the district and the funds can be used to build or renovate schools elsewhere in the district.
The developers also will contribute a minimum of $10 million on a community benefit fund that the council can allocate. Mayor Haubert said it could be used to accelerate further changes in the area such as a downtown pocket park or alleviating the high fees for sewer connections for restaurants that are an obstacle for many restauranteurs looking at the city.
The council’s decision reversed a 4-1 denial of the project by the Planning Commission. According to Haubert, it opens the door for a four-star hotel development on the adjacent vacant parcel. The mayor said that the hotel would include convention and meeting space and would be an easy stroll from the west Dublin BART station.
There’s no four-star hotel in Dublin and very few in the Tri-Valley. The Rose Hotel in downtown Pleasanton is the one non-chain boutique hotel that comes to mind.
A full-service, four-star hotel will add a major business amenity to Dublin and likely would be the catalyst to further revitalize the core area (Despite the city’s signage, I cannot call it downtown because there’s still no there there.).
In a related development, the developers of the proposed 92-unit per acre plan at the East Dublin BART station have filed suit challenging the City Council’s 4-0 rejection of their plan. As I previously reported, the parcel was covered by a development agreement that the landowners had paid the city $1 million to extend for 10 years.
The matter now will be in the hands of a judge who presumably will encourage the parties to find a middle ground and settle. That Haubert’s view of what should happen, but it remains to be seen what alternatives will be acceptable to both parties. From the developers’ viewpoint, they already have invested millions in what they anticipated would be a sure approval.
The project density likely was based on trying to build enough units to spread 15 years of carrying costs over them plus the cost of building so the project cash flows based on the anticipated rents.