Ballot Fight Brewing Over Costco

Dennis Cuff of the Contra Costa Times/Bay Area Newspapers outlined the latest developments in the Citizens for Planned Growth’s efforts to place an initiative restricting big box retailers from being included in the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone.CCT Cuff 3.28.16

Planned Growth Initiative on Johnson Drive Introduced

An initiative to let the people of Pleasanton vote on whether a big box store should be included in the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone has been submitted to the city of Pleasanton. Sponsoring group Citizens for Planned Growth (CFPG) will be gathering signatures to place it on the ballot for the General Election to be held November 8.

If approved, the initiative would dictate the following changes to the Pleasanton General Plan:

 A new Program 15.6 shall be added to Policy 15 of Section 2.0 (Land Use Element) of the Pleasanton General Plan 2005-2025 to read as follows:

Program 15.6:

(a) Encourage small scale retail, highway and service commercial, business and professional offices in the Johnson Drive EDZ; and

(b) Limit retail uses including club retail to less than 50,000 square feet in the Johnson Drive EDZ.

In citing the need for this new proposal, the initiative outlines these arguments:

“The area identified for the Johnson Drive EDZ is currently designated as ‘Business Park’ and ‘General and Limited Industrial’ in the City of Pleasanton’s 2005 General Plan which allows for high-quality, campus-like development, including administrative, professional office, research and limited industrial uses.

“The City’s Johnson Drive EDZ, however, will amend the City’s General Plan to allow several new uses, including a large ‘club retail’ store within the Johnson Drive EDZ.

“In comparison with the current Business Park and General and Limited Industrial uses, some of the new uses allowed by the Johnson Drive EDZ will generate significantly greater traffic and air quality impacts.

“The significant and unavoidable traffic impacts and related air quality impacts associated with some land uses proposed for the Johnson Drive EDZ will significantly reduce the suitability of the area for uses such as administrative, professional office, research, and general and limited industry.”

Once submitted, the initiative goes to the Pleasanton City Attorney, who will prepare an Official Ballot Title and Summary no later than March 24. Following that, the Notice of Intention and Official Ballot Title and Summary will be posted or published, and the organizers can begin circulating the document for signature collection.

4,017 signatures are required to place it on the ballot. Collectors will have the signature sheets available at public places where Pleasanton citizens gather throughout the city from now until the deadline.

“We are concerned that the Commission and council have not listened to the people, and we want everyone to have a say in what happens in their community,” said Bill Wheeler, a member of CFPG. “This initiative will simply give Pleasanton citizens the right to vote on a zoning decision that affects a large percentage of the population.”

See the official Ballot Title and Description of the initiative here.

Impacts on traffic on Johnson Drive will be “significant and unavoidable”

The City of Pleasanton Planning Commission staff has created a draft Environmental Impact Report regarding the proposed rezoning and development of the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (JDEDZ) project. If you like reading huge, technical reports, you can see the entire document here.

Basically in the report summary, the staff says:

“The analysis in this SEIR indicates that development facilitated by the EDZ would generate air emissions that would result in a net increase of criteria pollutants which would conflict with implementation of the applicable air quality plan, and increased traffic which would affect levels of service for freeway ramps at merge/diverge areas within I-680. These impacts would be significant and unavoidable, even after incorporation of mitigation measures. As a result, issues related to air quality and transportation and traffic impacts are potential areas of controversy.”

In assessing the daily impacts to traffic on Johnson Drive, the staff reports:

“Excluding vehicle trip generation from existing uses within the EDZ area, full buildout would generate an estimated 12,160 weekday daily trips (without including pass-by and diverted trips), including 293 morning peak hour, and 743 evening peak hour trips. Saturday trip generation for full buildout is estimated to be 15,630 daily trips (without including pass-by and diverted trips), including 1,310 peak hour trips.”

Their mitigation plan is shown in the graphic above.

However, as astronomical as these increases seem, they may be much less than what actually will happen. In a study conducted in Oklahoma and Texas about traffic generation estimates of traffic around superstore developments, the researchers found that:

“Supercenters of 200,000 square feet or more generate an average of 42 percent more traffic than the rate listed in the Institute of Transportation Engineers Trip Generation manual. Traffic engineers, developers, and city officials use the figures in this manual to estimate the traffic impact of development projects. This study, which relies on traffic counts conducted at five supercenters in Oklahoma and Texas, indicates that the manual significantly underestimates the traffic generated by large supercenters…and that traffic analyses based on it are unreliable indicators of the actual traffic impact of a supercenter development.”

You can read the entire article here.

Another major area of concern is the intersection of Johnson Drive and Owens Drive, which would be a major egress to the proposed development area for those wishing to avoid the traffic on Stoneridge Drive. With the recent addition of a Chick-fil-a at that intersection, where In and Out Burger is already a major draw, driving in that area already is a major headache. The increased trips generated by those wanting to reach Costco could cause backups reaching all the way out to Hopyard Drive and I580.

The mitigation proposed by the Pleasanton Planning team?

Mitigation Measure 4.D-1b: Johnson Drive at Owens Drive (North) Intersection: Install a traffic signal at the Johnson Drive at Owens Drive (North) intersection.