Pleasanton City Council on Tuesday approved a request from staff to move forward with the framework planning process for the redevelopment of the Stoneridge Shopping Centre.
The framework enables staff to begin preparing mixed-use plans for the mall property, including an outline of the proposed 900 to 1,400 affordable housing units that could be developed as part of the element update. housing 2023-31.
“I say this is the biggest change in retail in the town of Pleasanton,” Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown said at the council meeting. “It’s major.”
Council members also provided input on housing redevelopment plans for part of the Stoneridge Shopping Center site and expressed the need for careful consideration of traffic and safety impacts in surrounding neighbourhoods.
“I’m afraid there’s nothing drilling here to make sure we understand the impacts on the neighborhood south there — traffic, schools, public safety again,” Kathy Narum said. , council member, who lives nearby.
Council members had included the mall in its 2023-31 Housing Element Site List to serve as a location to develop high-density housing units that could be developed if the contemplated rezoning is approved.
The housing element is expected to be adopted by April or May, giving staff approximately six to eight months to gather community input, outline permitted land uses, and provide initial policy guidance and concept planning for the property. from the shopping center.
Staff will initially focus on the “interior” area of the mall, including the mall buildings and surrounding parking lots. Planning efforts will include gathering general information about the site, understanding any existing opportunities and constraints, and seeking inspiration from similar projects that have been developed across the country, according to city officials.
“We are expected to take the information, the guidance from this executive effort, and use it to launch a more detailed and specific plan, because there is much more that will need to be fleshed out and explored in this process. as the second phase,” said Ellen Clark, the city’s director of community development.
One of the main areas of concern the board gave feedback on, aside from wanting to see more traffic impact reports, wanted to see more discussion of school overcrowding.
Council member Julie Testa said she had received feedback from residents who were concerned that the additional housing would add more students to the area’s already overcrowded school like Lydiksen Elementary School.
Clark said staff will continue to work with the Pleasanton Unified School District so they are aware of the situation and the environmental impact report that reviews the list of sites for the housing component will also review those impacts. on schools.
Council member Jack Balch said he primarily wanted staff to consider the traffic impacts of the proposed rezoning scheme by Simon Property Group, which owns most of the nearly 75-acre plot. The project, which was part of the last housing cycle plan, would create around 10 acres for high-density housing and a 360-unit project is currently under consideration.
He said that with the project recently looking for a density bonus, which would bring the number of units to around 480, traffic could get out of control and that’s something staff need to consider.
Clark said the traffic analysis will look at a range of intersections around the mall to understand these impacts and broadly incorporate them into a traffic model that will be presented to council later.
Council members also said they wanted to see assessments of where the city could add open space for children to play in order to design the area as an open, family-friendly space.
“Kids are staying home, especially during COVID,” Brown said. “They’re home with their family more than ever… so let’s make it family friendly.”
One of the other key points raised by the council was to prioritize public feedback and ensure that all those who would be affected in the area are noticed so that they can participate in the community outreach events that the staff will animate.
This point was echoed by Dean Wallace, a resident and candidate for council who lives across the street from the mall, who said he has spoken with various neighbors who all support reimagining what the mall will look like, but only if it is well done.
“They want to make sure everything is done right, and I share that desire,” Wallace said. “I think there’s a lot of anxiety, concern and a bit of confusion about the various plans the city is considering right now.”
He said there should be more community outreach to inform the public about the framework process and what the timeline for redevelopment will look like. Wallace is currently running for the City Council District 1 seat, which represents the Stoneridge area.
Another reason staff wanted to start the framework process and complete it before the adoption of the housing element was that the mall plot owners wanted to move forward with specific development proposals in the near future.
Various mall owners have expressed interest in redevelopment of existing vacant retail space in recent years, particularly since Sears and Nordstrom left and other plots like JCPenney changed hands.
Jerry Hunt, founder and managing partner of 300 Venture Group, which recently purchased JCPenney, spoke at the meeting and said he supported the framework and the emphasis on staff reaching out other plot owners to work together on redevelopment plans.
“The one thing we just wanted to record is that while it’s wonderful that the city has been proactive about this, probably the biggest hurdle to reconcile is that there’s more than one owner at the mall.” , Hunt said. “We would encourage the process and framework to accelerate owner engagement.”
He said that’s why there should be a big focus on mixed use and allow flexibility on residential or commercial use expansions.
“I think for the developers involved, there’s value in…having this as a very pedestrian-friendly mixed-use type of place, it’s really a destination type of place,” said the vice-president. Mayor Valerie Arkin.
Council approved the allocation of $176,400 from its general fund to cover related contract consulting fees for financial analysis, traffic and transportation analysis, and urban design and planning costs.
Clark said staff will work on short notice to develop a final master plan for approval around the same time the housing element is being finalized.
“Planning in Pleasanton tends to stretch,” Clark said. “We’re trying to do that in a relatively shortened period of time so that we can do that and have some, I’ll just call them guardrails, on future development. Particularly when we’re rezoning or considering rezoning for housing, in especially at the mall.”