Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Pleasanton Changes High-Density Housing Plans After Residents Protest

It is possible for citizens to fight high density housing proposals for more appropriate development.

 Ideas for what to build on vacant piece of land, dubbed "Area 15," now range from houses to a school or a park
Ideas of what to do with a vacant plot of land are swirling after residents rallied to defeat a plan to build high-density housing on the site.

The piece of land, known as Area 15 by Pleasanton’s Housing Element Update Task Force, is in the Valley Trails development, between Hopyard Road and Interstate 680 and along Valley Trails Drive.
Residents packed City Hall during a recent meeting to protest plans for high-density housing, prompting the city to change course. Now ideas include everything from single-family houses to schools to parks.

The site is one of several empty pieces of property the city is looking at for future housing after it lost a lawsuit last year to Urban Habitat, an Oakland-based social justice advocacy organization, which challenged the city’s growth cap. The final plan must be approved by the state.

“There will always be speculation (about what is built) as long as that area isn’t developed,” said Pleasanton Planning Manager Janice Stern.

Residents submitted their ideas and thoughts on the property to the task force and city by mail, comment cards at meetings, by addressing the city council and by e-mail.  The land is owned by the Evangelical Free Church on Valley Trails.

The ideas have run the gamut — from adding housing that fits in with the one-story residences, or again, adding parks or a school. Concerns about adding housing or a school ranged from the impacts on housing values, traffic, noise, pollution and other negative effects.

“I don’t think it is a good place for high density,” said Vice Mayor Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who is one of two council members on the task force.

“I think lower-density senior housing could go there. I think you could put single-family homes, but it should match the neighborhood.”

Valley Trails resident Carl Pretzel favors the idea of putting a school, church or other public or institution on the site. The city’s general plan calls for such a use, but it is currently zoned for single-family residential housing.

“A small school would probably be acceptable. The hope is they will rezone the land public-institutional,” Pretzel said.

But a church or other religious institution would be an ideal use, Pretzel said.
Single-family homes would number 20 to 30 homes and wouldn’t impact traffic horribly, long-time Valley Trails resident Bob Gallagher said.

“If anything, they will be nice new homes," he said. "It blends in with the neighborhood.
“Schools and daycare people are picking up and dropping off kids at the same time the commuters are trying leave,” Gallagher added.

Valley Trails resident David Pastor said the uncertainty about the site, along with failed past attempts to develop, is cause for concern.

“This is the fourth time the hornets (nest) has been disturbed,” Pastor said. “We would love to see it made a park, but we know that isn’t going to happen.

“What would probably fit in there would be maybe senior housing, but we are not talking multiple-story senior housing and 30 units per acre," he said.

"Maybe duplexes, smaller buildings with open spaces and parking instead of senior housing that would require an elevator."

The City Council will ultimately decide how to rezone the site after hearing the task force and planning commission’s recommendations this summer, but after months of examination, Cook-Kallio said the choice is pretty clear.

“From my perspective, it will not be on the list for high-density," she said. "If there were to be any building there, it would have to be consistent with the single-family homes."

No comments:

Post a Comment