New City Report Says Measure MM Could Bring Less Traffic & Pollution, More Jobs

Original post in the Pleasanton Weekly’s Town Square made by Bob A., Another Pleasanton neighborhood, on Aug 18, 2016

At the City Council Meeting on Tuesday night, three consultants, paid for by Nearon Enterprises, the owner and developer of the Costco properties on Johnson Drive, presented a summary of a report comparing two options for the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (JDEDZ): one with a Costco “Big Box” and the other with a mix of retailers in buildings less than 50,000 sq. ft. as required by Measure MM, an initiative that Pleasanton Voters will decide on in November.

In order to prepare the analysis, the consultants, guided by City Staff, had to make a number of assumptions, and therefore the analysis was incomplete. Financial incentives to Costco have not been concluded. This is my recap of what I heard.

Employment: The consultants said the Measure MM Scenario would create over 550 more jobs than the Costco Scenario.

Traffic: The consultants said that development under Measure MM would result in over 2,500 less vehicle trips a day on week days and over 3,600 few vehicle trips on Saturdays. More than a 20% reduction. They added that the mitigations would be much more effective under the Initiative Measure Scenario.

Air Quality: The consultants said that due to the traffic reduction there would be less of an impact on air quality under Measure MM.

Noise: The consultants said that due to the traffic reduction there would be less noise generated by the development under Measure MM.

Economic Impact: The consultants said that the Costco Scenario would have less of an impact on local businesses than Measure MM. During the public comment period, one speaker, took exception with the consultants in this area. He said that local businesses would be hurt the most by the Costco Scenario. This has been shown in numerous independent studies.

Fiscal Impact: The consultants said that the Costco Scenario would result in about $400,000 more per year in net revenue to the city. This is number was pointed out by a speaker to be inaccurate and incomplete. It did not include additional incentives being negotiated, or debt repayment of infrastructure, or the cost of using existing reserve City funds. There is no break even analysis in number of years.

Feasibility: The consultants said that the Costco Scenario was more feasible for the developer because a large anchor tenant was already committed to the project. This assumption, too, is incomplete since no effort has been made to find tenants under Measure MM, even though the Pleasanton Weekly had reported that Trader Joe’s had interest.

Financing: There was a lot of discussion and regarding how the $16 Million in traffic improvements necessary to make the JDEDZ work would be paid for. The discussion did include the necessity to borrow 1/3 (actually $6 million) from Costco or from a general fund that has $270 million. Do we have such a fund?

The presentation left many unanswered questions. What we do know is that Pleasanton taxpayers are being asked to pay over $11 Million to bring Costco to Pleasanton. ($6 million in borrowing plus $5 million of reserve funds).

Other cities routinely make developers foot the bill for infrastructure improvements required to support projects they want to build. Why can’t Pleasanton do this? Are there other alternatives that might cost tax payers less? Why not choose an alternative that produces less traffic, less pollution and more jobs and no borrowing?

What’s the hurry? Aren’t we better to wait, rather than accept a less desirable alternative? I will vote for Measure MM to slow the process and achieve a better long term result.