A five-story, mixed-use building on Harrison Street in downtown Pleasanton that could potentially bypass traditional local review has been proposed by a Southern California-based developer.
If built as described in a notice of intent filed with the city in June, a 48,000-square-foot building with 3,000 square feet of retail space and 37 units of almost entirely lower-income housing would be constructed at 4884 Harrison St., near the Pleasanton Library.
The building would include a mix of eight studio units, four one-bedroom units, 13 two-bedroom units and 12 three-bedroom units. Seven units would be reserved for moderate-income households while the remaining 30 units would be restricted to low-income households.
An existing single-family home on the site that's been vacant for 15 years would also be removed for construction of the building, according to documents submitted by AMG & Associates.
Though the city's Downtown Specific Plan caps a project's maximum floor-area ratio (FAR) to 1.25 based on its mixed-use transitional designation, qualified projects are allowed a higher FAR value of 3.1 under the state density bonus law.
Signed into law four years ago, Senate Bill 35 was among a cluster of housing bills intended to address the statewide housing crisis by streamlining the development approval process to how a city is fulfilling its regional housing needs assessment (RHNA) allocation.
Under the law, city and county jurisdictions "shall not impose any maximum controls on density and the applicant shall also receive a height increase of up to three additional stories, or 33 feet" for development projects built within a one-half mile of public transit. The proposed project is within a half mile of the Altamont Corridor Express commuter rail line and multiple bus stops served by the Livermore Amador Valley Transit Authority.
No formal application for the project has been received yet, but community development director Ellen Clark told the Weekly that it "proposes to utilize streamlined, ministerial review as allowed under California Senate Bill 35, and state density bonus law that also allows for concessions for project density, floor-area ratio, height, parking and other development standards based on affordability and transit proximity."
A longtime proponent for local control and public review of proposed development, Vice Mayor Julie Testa said in an interview, "A project like this is exactly what's wrong with the state legislation that's being passed, in that it does not allow us to approve something according to how it fits in our community."
"There are other places where a five-story building would not be offensive," Testa said. "We, as a city, we do want affordable projects. But our historic downtown is something we've worked hard to protect and this project flies in the face (of that)."
Testa said other areas of the city by Hacienda Business Park or Stoneridge Shopping Center would be more appropriate for the project, which she added "is going to tower above downtown" and has "zero parking in our downtown that is already parking burdened."
"If and when this building gets built, our residents are going to be very disappointed," Testa added.
To that end, Testa said she's working on a statewide initiative to "neutralize these pieces of legislation" and would be "very surprised if there's another councilperson who would support this project."
The city would review and confirm the project's eligibility under state law once a formal application is received.