Last week’s Pleasanton City Council meeting saw councilmembers modify regulations to allow for a drive-thru Taco Bell.

During the April 21 meeting, the council held a public hearing to discuss the possibility of altering the rules to permit a drive-thru Taco Bell in Rose Pavilion, near Santa Rita Road and Rosewood Drive. In addition, per the request of Councilmember Julie Testa, consent items regarding fiber installation in the city and weed abatement during the shelter-in-place order were brought forth for discussion.

Public Hearing: Taco Bell

In a staff report presented to the council, Associate Planner Eric Luchini outlined the situation limiting the current Taco Bell owners’ ability to move their walk-in restaurant, currently located in the Rose Pavilion, to a nearby location where a drive-thru could be constructed. Based on the existing planned unit development (PUD) condition of approval (COA), a drive-thru restaurant is prohibited in the pavilion, and the PUD would need modification based on the approval of the council in order for the drive-thru construction to proceed.

Prior to questions, comments or an official vote, Luchini provided an analysis and noted a drive-thru would potentially increase vehicle trips, vehicle idling and emissions; and reduce a pedestrian and bike-friendly environment compared to a non-drive-thru restaurant.

“In terms of analysis, staff’s presentation will focus on the general plan and climate action plan, or CAP, consistency,” said Luchini. “As stated in the agenda report, staff believe removing the existing condition of approval and allowing a drive-thru restaurant on this site would be inconsistent with these plans.”

Before it went to council, the project was under review by the planning commission. Luchini said despite the issues noted in the agenda report, the planning commission proposed PUD major modifications at its Jan. 22 meeting and disagreed with staff’s position. However, the commission did support staff’s recommendation with respect to the future Taco Bell restaurant in that it will require a conditional use permit and design review, require design revisions to the proposed Taco Bell exterior elevations per staff’s analysis, enhance green building measures and pedestrian connectivity, and require an acoustical analysis.

At the time of the April 21 presentation to the council, Luchini said that staff recommended the city council deny the proposed PUD major modification based on inconsistency with the general plan and CAP.

Councilmembers wondered why this particular section of Pleasanton was under such scrutiny when other restaurants with long drive-thru lines of cars idling were recommended by staff in previous years, such as the Chic-fil-A.

“(The proposed drive-thru site is) not near residential areas, and it’s not a walk-up friendly location,” Councilmember Karla Brown said. “How could this facilitate a walk-up for any restaurant in that area? There aren’t houses in the proximity.”

Luchini and Ellen Clark, community development director, said the recommendations were provided specific to the Rose Pavilion case — not to be taken as a guide for the entire city when considering drive-thru restaurant construction.

The council voted unanimously to support the PUD modification, allowing the owners to construct a drive-thru, with the added amendment that the area be built to make it bike-friendly.

Fiber to Pleasanton

During the meeting, the council also unanimously approved an agreement with Pakpour Consulting Group for engineering services to support the MCINerizon fiber installation. Steve Kirkpatrick, director of engineering, said the project would not exceed $375,000.

“We have been working with MCI since about 2018, and they came forward looking to install approximately 60 miles of fiber optic throughout Pleasanton,” Kirkpatrick said. “We have reduced that number somewhat to about 35 miles of fiber they’re now looking to install.”

The group will service businesses with the fiber. The city’s role is to manage the right of way and make sure the network is installed properly, and sidewalks and paving are restored to minimize impact. Most of the work will be done with a boring technique.

“To date, the carriers have been fairly good with working with us to find the best locations, creating less impact in our city,” said City Attorney Dan Sodergren.

Weed Abatement During COVID-19

The council then discussed the 2020 weed abatement program in the city and set a date for a public hearing. To prepare for the upcoming fire season, certain properties require abatement and have until June 30 to comply.

Under the county health order — given crews abide by proper social-distancing practices while wearing masks — landscaping is considered an essential service, but only to the limited extent necessary to maintain the habitability, sanitation, operation of businesses or residences or the safety of residents, employees or the public. On an economic level, City Manager Nelson Fialho noted both the city and residents are looking at preserving the investment put into their properties with regard to landscaping.

“We don’t have interest in property owners losing their assets,” Fialho said.

The public hearing for those landowners who need to complete abatement was originally set for May 19, which the council felt was an unrealistic timeline, especially given many were complying with a shelter-in-place order that came with uncertainty regarding landscaping services. Brown asked for a modification to the 2020 weed abatement program resolution to change the public hearing date from May 19 to June 2.

“The only reason I’m asking this at all is because of the COVID-19 situation,” said Brown.

Directly following the council meeting, Fialho said mailers would be sent to the landowners, notifying them of work needed to be done by June 30. The motion passed unanimously.

The next regular city council meeting is set for May 5. For full agendas, visit https://bit.ly/2YdzhWz.