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Pleasanton Weekly News

Submitted by News Desk on Thu, 12/03/2009 - 12:11pm
By Jeb Bing

The Pleasanton City Council has finalized its decision two weeks ago to rezone 32 acres of commercial properties in the Hacienda Business Park for high-density residential use and at the same time established a task force to help shape the needs of any residential expansion before actual development plans are proposed.

The long-planned task force would have 14 to 19 members, including two from the council and two from the Planning Commission, with other members coming from the business park, home owners and rental group associations and property owners. Others, such as BART and school district representatives, will be invited to participate as "stakeholders" but would not have voting privileges in preparing recommendations for the business park's residential expansion.

The council astion last Tuesday allows mixed-use development on three sites located within half a mile of the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station. They include 11 acres at the southeast corner of Owens Drive and Willow Road, owned by W. P. Carey; 8.2 acres at the north corner of Hacienda and Gibraltar drives, owned by BRE, and 12.4 acres south of Gibraltar Drive and between Hacienda Driver and Willow Road, owned by Roche Molecular Systems.

The land use change allows residential development on the sites with a density of at least 30 units per acre with buildings up to six stories tall. The city's inclusionary zoning ordinance would require that at least 15 percent of the 950 housing units that could be built on the three sites be affordable to low and very-low households

Many of those already living in Hacienda have complained that their community lacks basic amenities, such as a grocery store or other retail businesses, and that there's no elementary school in the business park. Children are assigned to nearby schools, such as Alisal Elementary on Santa Rita Road.

The advisory committee will meet with homeowners associations and rental groups in Hacienda to hear their complaints and suggestions as part of the study to determine what's needed there and how best to provide it.

Although the task force proposal generated unanimous support on the council, Council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan questioned the 12-month timeframe given the group to complete its work. After a near-hour-long debate over the time needed for such a study, the council agreed to keep the 12-month schedule but with the understanding that more time would be granted if needed.

The rezoning of the three parcels was aimed at fending off a possible court decision later this fall that could find Pleasanton in violation of state requirements to provide more affordable and workforce housing in the community. The rezoning would more than meet the city's share of regional housing needs to provide for at least 521 more housing units, according to City Atty. Michael Roush.

Litigation by the Urban Habitat organization and State Attorney General Jerry Brown is scheduled to be heard in Alameda County Superior Court on Dec. 18. With the rezoning, Roush can show that Pleasanton has sufficient land now zoned for accommodating workforce housing if developers approach the city to build it.

Brown and Urban Habitat are asking the court to nullify the city's 29,000-unit housing cap, which they argue limits future housing growth as required and dissuades developers from seeking workforce housing developments in Pleasanton.

But with 2,500 to 3,000 units left to build before Pleasanton reaches the cap, and with Tuesday's rezoning for affordable and workforce housing, City Attorney Michael Roush expects to show the court that Pleasanton is now in compliance with its housing numbers.