City of Pleasanton

PLEASANTON — Steps for an expansion of a Public Storage facility on Stanley Boulevard recently moved ahead.

In a Dec. 15 public hearing, the council approved a reduction to the Affordable Housing Fees from $2.2 million to $137,000, along with the project’s design plans.

With the approval of the design and conditional use permit, the applicant will demolish seven existing storage buildings and an office located at 3716 Stanley Blvd. to construct a 900 square-foot office, a 9,750 square-foot one-story storage building and a 197,410 square-foot three-story storage building. The project will also plant trees to provide a buffer and construct and maintain a nearby trail.

Both decisions were made in 3-1 votes, with Vice Mayor Kathy Narum dissenting each time. Councilmember Jack Balch abstained due to his involvement on the project as a planning commissioner.

The lengthy hearing and subsequent decisions were the culmination of three years' worth of planning and revisions to the design. The planning commission’s 4-1 approval of the applications in October were later appealed by Councilmember Julie Testa, who stated the designs were not in line with the city’s general plan. The applicant provided staff with updated plans on Dec. 8.

“I’m very pleased with the changes that have happened and how rapidly it was done,” Testa said during the Dec. 15 meeting. “I do not believe this project a couple of weeks ago was what our community deserved.”

Narum’s “no” vote to approve the design followed her statement about a lack of opportunity to obtain community input. She further pointed out concerns of public speakers from the nearby Irby Ranch homes, who said three-story buildings would block scenic views. Residents Devang Adraru and Mithria, along with some of their neighbors, cited additional issues to include impact on wildlife, pollution, traffic, flashing lights and invasion of privacy, as the building heights would overlook backyards.

“Based on residents’ concerns of the blocked views, I don’t see a benefit to the pitched roofs,” Narum said, noting she would prefer a flat-top design. “It’s an industrial area, and we’re trying to make something into mixed use when it’s industrial.”

Testa stated that she would have preferred the buildings to be lower in height altogether, but at this point in the process, the gabled rooftops would at least offer an aesthetic appeal in conformance with the neighboring homes.

Elen Clark, director of community development, further stated that a study found the traffic impact on the site would be minimal, given the use of rental facilities. Those who utilize storage facilities are typically not visiting units on a regular basis.

On affordable housing, the project presented a unique circumstance — it would increase commercial development, but only add three to five employees in need of housing in Pleasanton. In addition, one of those workers would reside on-site, further decreasing the demand on affordable housing that Public Storage would place on the city through employment generation. The Affordable Housing Fee required for the project was estimated at $2.2 million. Staff recommended cutting it to $68,973, but provided a range of fee options.

The council agreed to a fee of $137,000, as motioned by Councilmember Valerie Arkin, who noted $68,973 was too low. While Councilmember Julie Testa reiterated her stance on the importance of supporting affordable housing within the city, she voted “yes” after her original motion to accept staff’s option 2 for $516,878 was declined. Mayor Karla Brown indicated half a million was too much to charge a company that would only provide up to five employees to the city. She agreed to the amount proposed by Arkin. Narum voted “no,” preferring staff’s recommendation and expressing concerns about discouraging investment in the community.