Pleasanton council approves major components of Stoneridge Mall redevelopment framework

Posted on: February 8, 2023

Source: Pleasanton Weekly; Author: Christian Trujano

Up to 1,170 housing units initially allocated as part of converting mall to mixed-use site

Pleasanton city officials have advanced the policy framework for redeveloping Stoneridge Shopping Center property into a mix of uses including significant housing units. (Weekly file photo)

The Pleasanton City Council has adopted key components of the policy framework for redeveloping Stoneridge Shopping Center into a mixed-use property, including an initial allocation of up to 1,170 housing units across the mall site.

The 18-acre site will be rezoned to allow for multi-family residential development at 50-65 dwelling units per acre in order to help the city meet its state-mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of 5,965 new units. New and retained retail and commercial activities, along with entertainment and public gathering spaces, are part of the redevelopment vision statement as well.

“We’ve seen the Stoneridge Mall grow less active, less vital, less interesting and less populated,” Mayor Karla Brown said during the Jan. 26 meeting. “This is a chance to, I think, make one of the most important decisions within 10 years easily … revitalizing this Stoneridge Mall.”

According to the framework’s vision statement, the Stoneridge mall area will continue to be a “community destination and a strong economic contributor; (will continue) evolving to be a vibrant mixed-use community with a variety of land uses that are integrated and well-connected with a multi-modal circulation system, and including public and private gathering spaces and placemaking amenities.”

Councilmember Jeff Nibert was the lone dissenter in the 4-1 vote to adopt the density components because of the fact he lives in — and represents — that area of Pleasanton and was not happy about the traffic impacts from the new development plans.

He said that while he appreciates staff’s work in developing what he said will be a “fantastic product at the mall” and understands that it is a bit too late to request for fewer units to be developed at the site, he could not vote yes.

“I know that we’re so far down the path that my objection, and my frustration, probably will not make a difference in the final outcome. But I wanted to register it to get that on the record, and I believe that the citizens of the northwest part of Pleasanton are being asked to bear a traffic burden that’s out of proportion,” Nibert said.

The Stoneridge Shopping Center in the northwest part of Pleasanton is the largest site in the city’s 2023-31 Housing Element sites list with the location’s proximity to the BART and interstates 580 and 680. But because of the size and owners’ desire to completely redevelop the area, the council approved staff to work on an early-stage development plan, which led to the Stoneridge Mall framework.

The idea behind the framework, which was initiated in August, was to create a policy document that would not only help decide how many residential units should be allocated there, but it would also guide staff in the ongoing allocation of housing among the parcels at the location.

Since last summer, city staff have hosted community meetings, one of which was a joint meeting with the Planning Commission, and coordinated input from the four property owners to develop the framework so that it aligns with the adoption of the city’s Housing Element, which also happened during the same special council meeting.

The original Housing Element draft had contemplated between 900 and 1,440 units at the mall within approximately 18 of the total approximately 75 acres with a density range of between 50 to 80 dwelling units per acre.

But at the Jan. 26 meeting, the council approved staff’s recommendation to allocate between 150 and 195 dwelling units at each of the six parcels at the mall, resulting in an overall range of 900 to 1,170 units.

That number range is exclusive of any 50% density bonus allowed under state law — if all projects in the mall qualify for the state bonus, the total would be between 1,350 and 1,755 units, according to the staff presentation during the meeting. The actual maximum would depend on specific project applications, which may or may not seek density bonuses at the maximum allowed.

Those high numbers were one of the primary reasons why Nibert, along with some of the other council members, shared concerns about the impacts that will come with new residents moving there.

However, as community development director Ellen Clark pointed out during staff’s presentation that a traffic analysis showed no real change in traffic with the upper range of 65 units per acre.

She said that with the recent closure of the Nordstrom store at the mall, “the p.m. peak level of service at the intersection studied remains the same.”

One of the key elements in the framework that would help alleviate the traffic burden is the fact that the BART is right there and the overall design that would create a sense of everything being connected, according to city staff.

Everything will have a flow to it so that the BART connects to the surrounding businesses and the proposed open space recreation areas will help connect the whole mall. That way, it incentivizes people to take public transportation.

Vice Mayor Jack Balch emphasized that goal and pushed staff to also include more bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly pathways so that it helps lower the overall traffic in the area.

Staff also explained how the building designs for the proposed housing will be more open as well in order to have more eyes looking at the streets so that people can call out any safety or crime concerns much easier, which also helps create a sense of community.

While no real design plans are set in stone, Clark touched maintaining a balance in the framework between getting a sense of what things will look like without getting into any design specifics.

She said that the next steps will be drawing out some kind of master plan or design specific plan, but currently staff have no real immediate plans.

Clark added that while they don’t have those specific plans, she hopes staff can carry the momentum from creating the framework and continue the process sometime later in the year.

Especially given that all property owners of the six parcels at the mall have continuously expressed their interest in continuing the process — so long as they maintain some flexibility in deciding how to distribute units and how the development will look like.

“I believe that the developers, the property owners and other interested parties in the mall framework are accepting of this language to create that flexibility, which will then allow us to continue with our public process and continue to discuss this project with the City Council,” City Manager Gerry Beaudin said.

Read the full article, here.

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