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Council OKs high-density housing project for Hacienda Meets court-ordered deadline to boost affordable units here

Submitted by News Desk on Fri, 02/25/2011 - 4:06pm

The Pleasanton City Council Tuesday approved land use changes in Hacienda Business Park that will allow for construction of a high-density, 840-unit housing project with half the units to serve those with low-to moderate incomes.

The complex of two and three story buildings will be constructed on 32 acres of still-vacant land owned by W.P. Carey, Roche and BRE. The three sites are located along Hacienda, Gibraltar and Owens drives close to the Pleasanton BART station with nearby access to I-580.

The council's rezoning of the properties came in response to a ruling by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch last August in favor of suits brought by Urban Habitat and then state Attorney General Jerry Brown. Roesch declared the city's 29,000unit housing cap approved by voters in 1996 in violation of state mandates for affordable and market rate housing requirements imposed by the Bay area Association of Governments. In addition to scuttling the cap, he ordered Pleasanton to come up with a plan to meet its current housing numbers requirements by March 1, and to add another 1,400 units by2014.

Tuesday's action in approving the land use changes in Hacienda came in a 5-0 council vote on the first reading of the rezoning ordinance. A required second reading will go before the council at its next meeting on March 1, the deadline for meeting Roesch's court order.

At Tuesday's meeting, BRE, a national multi-family building organization, agreed with a 25-member task force's recommendations and the council to include ground floor retail space in the residential buildings its will construct on Owens Drive and at the corners of Hacienda and Gibraltar drives. Those units will have higher ceilings and extend deeper into the buildings, and could be used as work-living units for professionals such as accountants and lawyers. Buildings will be set back from the streets to allow for extensive landscaping and BRE will provide space for a public park, to be built and financed by the city.

With some of BRE's planed apartments and town homes offering two- and three-bedroom housing, the council will work with the Pleasanton school district to assess the need for an elementary school in Hacienda. Hart Middle School, now locate in the business park, has ample land available on its site to allow for classroom expansion if needed.

The task force provided development standards and design guidelines for the Hacienda project. In its vision statement, the task force said the livability of the developments would be paramount.

"These future developments address the housing needs for families of all incomes and ages, and also provide a supply of workforce housing in the city of Pleasanton to accommodate mandated Regional Housing Need Allocations by the state of California," the task force vision statement reads. It continues:

"We desire to build a neighborhood with several amenities for future residents and the existing community to enjoy. Simply put, it must be a very nice place to live.

"The developments shall be situated in an attractively designed landscaped environment with ample open space, play areas, trail connections, pedestrian amenities, pool area, fitness facility and community rooms for residents."

City Manager Nelson Fialho said the task force guidelines and council's action Tuesday created a mixed-use housing guideline that will serve as a model for similar developments in Pleasanton in the future and for the cities throughout the state as a whole.

"On our research on what other cities had done along these lines, we couldn't find any examples that were pertinent to what we wanted," Fialho said. "We found several examples of similar transit oriented developments on the East Coast, but not in the West."

"It's clear that this was uncharted territory and we now have established guidelines that developers throughout the state can follow," he added.