Becky Dennis, Pleasanton

Having been involved in local politics for many years, I didn’t think the recent virtual Pleasanton City Council candidate debate would hold any surprises for me. I know many of the candidates. I have recently, and they will tell you liberally, shared with them my concerns about the urgent need to focus on correcting Pleasanton’s lack of affordable workforce housing before building in East Pleasanton, and for programs to mitigate the increasing greenhouse gas emissions resulting from current land use policies.

Imagine my surprise and delight to hear a candidate I didn’t know, Zarina Kiziloglu, express a clear understanding of these important issues.

I called her up to find out more about her perspective and motivations for running for city council. She expressed her frustration, as a housing commissioner, over the council’s failure to abolish Pleasanton’s inadequate in-lieu and housing fees that have so effectively blocked the building of affordable workforce housing in Pleasanton. She correctly observed that the affordable housing bottleneck is at the council level. The council has less interest in providing the workforce housing we need for our businesses and essential employees, and more interest in how to stay out of trouble for failing to do so.

Pleasanton needs a dedicated workforce-housing advocate on the city council, the same way Pleasanton needed to elect open-space advocates to save the ridge lands and control growth back in the 1990s. Zarina Kiziloglu is well qualified, with her master’s degree in public administration and policy analysis, and her experience on the Pleasanton Housing Commission.

Pleasanton has built showcase nonprofit housing for our seniors. We can create equally fine nonprofit workforce housing for the employees of our corporate and small businesses, hospitals, schools, and public-service providers. Let’s focus on solving our current need for affordable housing before we create more need with million-dollar homes, retail and industrial uses in East Pleasanton.

If you agree, send Zarina Kiziloglu to the city council.