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By Roz Rogoff

About this blog: In January 2002 I started writing my own online "newspaper" titled "The San Ramon Observer." I reported on City Council meetings and other happenings in San Ramon. I tried to be objective in my coverage of meetings and events, and...  (More)

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Stopping the Leakage

Uploaded: Mar 2, 2011
In 2003-04 I was a Member at Large on the Community Television Board of Directors. The Directors met once a month at the City Offices in Livermore. I don't like to drive after dark, and I'm not that familiar with Livermore, so I arranged to carpool with Valarie Barnes from Dublin.

As Valarie was driving past the Hacienda Crossing Shopping Center, I remarked what an ugly shopping center it was. Well that was the wrong thing to say to Valarie Barnes. She was on the Dublin City Council when that shopping center was approved and it was her baby.

She told me that East Dublin had to pay for itself and the Hacienda Crossing Shopping Center supported all of the services Dublin provided to the new housing developments in East Dublin. I learned a lesson in city planning and development from Valarie Barnes that night.

Critics of the update to the 2030 General Plan questioned why City planners want to change the zoning of a large section of the northern portion of the city to Mixed Use. Planning Commission Vice Chairperson Donna Kerger explained that Mixed Use is the most versatile zoning, allowing for retail, offices, and residential units. The justification for this zoning change is to provide space for large retail outlets currently missing from San Ramon.

Commission Chairman, Harry Sachs, told the audience at the public hearing on the General Plan update, "You can't even buy a mattress in San Ramon." He's right. I bought my mattress in Dublin. I bought my dining room set, china cabinet, and refrigerator in Dublin too.

Planning Director Phil Wong explained that San Ramon's retail dollars are leaking to Dublin and Walnut Creek. That's where our sales tax revenues go when we shop outside of San Ramon.

A decade ago when Guy Houston was Mayor of Dublin, he wanted to make Dublin into Digital Dublin. Peoplesoft was planning to move there and more high tech would follow them. But then the dot com bubble burst and Peoplesoft was bought by Oracle and bye, bye Digital Dublin.

Ikea was supposed to set up shop near where the new BART Station is, but a group from East Dublin started a petition to keep Ikea out. As one person said, "We want Digital Dublin not Furniture Dublin," but alas even though Ikea changed their mind about building a store in Dublin, Dublin is still Furniture Dublin, Electronics Dublin, Restaurant Dublin, Pet Food (yeah) Dublin, and every-other-kind-of-retail-outlet-you-can-find Dublin.

San Ramon must plan for the future and stop leaking retail to Dublin, Pleasanton, and Walnut Creek. So tell Buck Rogers and Captain Kirk to come to San Ramon in 20 years, because by 2030 if the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan takes off, San Ramon will be Sales Tax San Ramon.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Jason, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 3, 2011 at 10:04 am

As a new resident in San Ramon, I enjoy reading your blogs. I don't agree with the thesis of this particular blog though. A city/town need not be self-sufficient in very respect, especially for a small city. We are fine without a mattress store. We have a big retailer in town already (Target). What other big retailers do the city have in mind for the northern portion of the city? I don't think a Walmart would be accepted by the city. BestBuy? Nowadays people shop for their gadgets online. The cash cow of San Ramon is its business parks. Lets focus on making that cash cow more productive without sacrificing residents' quality of life.

Posted by Isabel Lau, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 4, 2011 at 7:26 am

As an almost 23 year San Ramon resident, it bugs me to no end that I must travel to Dublin, Pleasanton, Danville and Walnut Creek to shop and dine. I am well aware of the "leakage" and I want it to stop. I applaud our leaders for trying to educate our public on the need for retail. If we are to continue to enjoy a high quality/quantity of services we must generate the money necessary to pay for them.

Thank you Roz.

Posted by Jim Gibbon, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 4, 2011 at 9:28 am

'Leakage' is a buzz word for growth. Destroying one business in order to make room for another one is masked by the theory of 'Leakage'and that is a mask for continous growth.

Roz is buying into this bogus argument that 'growth for our share of sales taxes' that the city is pushing. We should be satisfied with regional balance and recognize that not every business needs to be in every community.

'Leakage' is like lust; it can be destructive when salt after for its own sake. It disregards the destruction and damage that it causes in the name of more and more taxes.

Roz should put as much effort into creating more affordable housing in our community. To get our 'share' of housing. We are not out of balance on businesses and jobs, we are on housing.

The theory of ?Leakage? is just another example of how this city council is out of touch and off track with its policies. We are a developed and stable community. That idea drives our city council crazy. What use are they if they can?t manage our growth. They have a vested interest in saving us from ourselves.

We, the people who opposed Measure W in the last election, have a vested interest in saving us from the theory of ?Leakage? given as the reason for continued growth.


Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 4, 2011 at 3:09 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


You want to add more low income housing, but somebody has to pay for it. If the people who need housing can't afford the high prices of typical homes in San Ramon, their housing must be subsidized by the City.

The B2B income from Bishop Ranch cannot be entirely relied upon to support all of the services residents have come to expect. That's what Harry Sachs was trying to explain about retail leakage and why we need more retail in San Ramon.

Everyone loves living in San Ramon, but too many current residents want to shut the door on future residents. That's what these developments are for, the future. Jim, you know that.


Posted by kevin, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 4, 2011 at 7:34 pm

I don't understand the economics of this 295 acre rezoning as an impetus for increased sales tax. San Ramon will loose all of it's East side automotive repair, which "leaks in" 40% of it's sales tax revenue from surrounding communities. San Ramon will loose it's 24 hour fitness, UPS building, Toyota, Lucky shopping center, car wash, Starbucks, Uncle Yu's, post office, San Ramon Presbyterian church. Maybe the Starbucks or Uncle Yu's will relocate into all the new building if they can afford it & can get appropriate parking.

We will get from this 2030 plan is a 50% increase in population(20,000 more cars) 18,000 more people working in San Ramon(12,000 more cars)additional service vehicles to meet the demands of more residents & businesses and all the additional traffic of new "Big Box" shoppers, etc.

Do we really want this revenue "Leakage"? How will our lives be better? We might be able to buy a mattress or sofa, if the stores happen to have one that you like but most people shop for big purchases and do not predicate their buying decisions on how close the sofa is to their house i.e. "Yes, it's a little homely but I got it just down the street at IKEA. Gotta go, I have to drive to Dublin to have my car repaired, drive to Blackhawk to have my car washed and go to the post office."

Even Dublin does not want to be "Furniture Dublin", What makes the City Council think that we want to be "Furniture, sofa, refrigerator San Ramon?"

Posted by .H. Sachs, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 5, 2011 at 12:50 pm

San Ramon will not be losing 24 hour fitness, UPS or any other business as described by Kevin. Those are totally unsubstantiated claims that are not based on any scintilla of fact.

It really rankles me when folks blatently misrepresent and distort things. Every business that Kevin mentioned will be staying in San Ramon. PERIOD. Including his- ask Kevin if he is being asked to close his shop because of this. If this was not the case they would have been out in force voicing their objection to all of this.

When Kevin tells readers of this blog that the US Post Office will have to shut its doors because San Ramon is considering infill development and mixed use zoning for its Camino Ramon Plan area; well it is at that point that everyone with two brain cells that can be rubbed together should realize that Kevin is full of applebutter.

Why would a landowner kick out all of its tenants for no reason as Kevin suggests will be happening? Look at Alcosta Plaza in Dublin; the place was redeveloped, senior housing was put in AND not one business was displaced, their store fronts are nicer- they are now ALL thriving becasue there is more foot traffic due to housing right next door. Look at Shamrock Plaza also, remodeled, updated, not one business closed thru the remodel AND new stores and more efficient parking put in.

The Camino Ramon Plan area is 295 acres but NOT every land owner will feel the need to redo or remodel their buildings. The school bus depot site can be better utilized, the cement site certainly needs to be redone, unless Kevin and those who believe in his musings think an abandoned cement factory is the best use of land. The UPS , 24 hour fitness and other shops BENEFIT from this; they stay, they get new residents downtown, the streets get widened , new streets added and property improvements can be made WITHOUT DISPLACEMENT.

Kevin is right about one thing. He does NOT understand economics or municipal planning and what zoning entails.

Kevin-you have an integrity problem. Please take a page from Jim Gibbon's book- Jim will give you his thoughts honestly; even Jim G. knows these businesses you state are leaving are not going anywhere. If you can't state your opposition to something without blatent misrepresentations than stay away from the discussions.

Posted by kevin, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 5, 2011 at 6:08 pm

Soooo, Where did I get these "blatantly misrepresent and distort things"? I just started reading when measure W came on the ballot. There is a publication called "City of San Ramon notice of preparation, "North Camino Ramon Specific Plan".from Lauren Barr, Senior Planner, City of San Ramon. The Chairperson of the Planning Commission is Harry Sachs.

Page 3:

Table 1: Specific Plan Development Summary
Square Feet Category
Commercial Residential Total To Be
Retained 745,000
Displaced 2,650,000
Existing Total 3,395,000
Proposed 5,070,000 + 1,650,000 (1,500 dwelling units) Total 6,720,000
Net New Commercial 4,325,000 Residential 1,650,000 Total 5,975,000

Notes:Existing square footage rounded.
Source: Cannon Design Group, 2010.

Soooo, Where did I get I get the Idea that Toyota, 24 Hour Fitness, etc. would be "Displaced". Just look at the final page, exhibit 3. There's a map!!!!! Toyota is going to be "Destination Retail & Residential", 24 Hour Fitness = "Mid & Large floor plate retail (IKEA?), Post Office = "Office Campus", ETC. just read the map!

Why am I so concerned? I don't want to move my business ("Infill Development") out of the City I live in and have had a business here for 20 years. I also do not want to see planning for a 50% population increase as it states in the 2030 Plan.

I not only encourage everyone to become aware of what the City is planning. Don't be afraid to "Rankle" a City Planning Chairperson from participating in this open public forum. Everyone's opinion is important.

PS. I sit with Jim Gibbons at each City Council meeting since I became aware of Measure W.

The link to see the North Camino Ramon Specific Plan is :
Web Link

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 5, 2011 at 7:04 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


We keep telling you "It's a plan." The city isn't forcing anyone to do anything. It's up to the property owners to make the changes that they choose to make. The City is enabling these changes because City planners would like to have them happen, but if the property owners don't want them to happen they won't.

Toyota doesn't want to do what the City wants with its property. Toyota wants to do something different. Toyota will submit a plan for what it wants to do with its property and the Planning Commission will decide if what Toyota wants fits into the overall vision for that area. If it doesn't, the Planning Commission will tell Toyota what they could change to make it fit.

Toyota would either make changes to their plan or move. That's what would happen if a property owner doesn't want to adapt their plans to the City's plans. I hope the City would be flexible enough to work with Toyota and other owners to keep them here.

But nobody is MAKING Toyota move or making them follow the City's plan. If Toyota wants to stay where they are and not make any changes, they can. It's only at the point where a property owner WANTS to make changes, that he or she comes under the land use plan set by the City. If they NEVER want to make any changes, they don't have to.


Posted by jrm, a resident of Danville,
on Mar 5, 2011 at 8:43 pm

Please keep building everywhere the developers tell you to San Ramon...honestly....we in Danville and Alamo love it! Oh, and BTW, when is the "City Center going to start up? Wasn't that the retiring Herb Moniz's crowning achievement? And what is his retirement package?

Posted by kevin, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 6, 2011 at 2:26 pm

Thank you, Roz, for affirming there is a "Plan". Being able to talk honestly about what the plans are is a revolutionary concept in politics but one I believe our kids and the internet will make progress in achieving.

Inhibiting a business to make changes to adapt as time passes is simply pushing them out of town. Toyota has been attempting cooperation from the planning commission for 3 years to make changes that allow 15-20 more employees on property the City originally zoned to entice them to establish their business on. You're right, if we never ask for approval to make any changes, do not allow their building to go any longer than 6 months with out a tenant or want to make even a minor changes, it can just leave.

We have both expressed our concern with the size of the NCRSP. You stated less than a month ago at the council meeting that you did not understand why the Toyota land and the automotive shops near Costco could not be left out of the plan.

The proper method for redevelopment is to gather community/business input, devise a plan, do an environmental impact report, get community/business input, get committee input, get community/business input, rezone the necessary areas, get community/business input. Our City is seeking to implement their plan, rezone 295 aches, put up what they want, not worry because it will take a long time to come.

Why is the City continually coming up with specific plans that can't or won't be built? If it's not something that currently seems feasible why are we planning it? If this rezoning goes through the City will have achieved rezoning the entire San Ramon as "Mixed-USE, Residential".

Zoning protects the community from development they don't want AND protects business that invest to be able to serve the community where they have been told it is OK to be.

Otherwise we have to rely on decisions made by the fore-written contributor to this blog, Harry Sachs, Planning Chairperson

Posted by Roz Rogoff, the San Ramon Observer,
on Mar 6, 2011 at 3:20 pm

Roz Rogoff is a registered user.


I don't disagree with anything you said in your last message. Although when I mentioned taking your business' rental property out of the NCRSP, Harry Sachs said it would be less protected because it has already be zoned Mixed Use for the last ten years. I'm not sure what he meant by that, but maybe he'll answer it here.

I was disappointed that the Planning Commission didn't add some language to the General Plan, or at least in the Resolution approving it, giving Toyota some leeway for their future plans. Maybe the City Council will when they hold their Public Hearing on finalizing the General Plan. There is still one more hearing on this before it is cast in stone for the next ten years.

Even if nothing is changed in the wording of the General Plan, all this does is establish a starting point for the Specific Plan. Despite the maps and presentations showing this block is for this and that block is for that, that's just Staff's pie-in-the-sky. The NCRSP hasn't even started the Public Hearing process yet. So those maps are still conceptual and subject to all kinds of revisions.

There will be an EIR first, and that might result in some changes to the original plans. The EIR process takes from three to six months, and the rest of the process, which requires three public hearings by the Planning Commission and another three by the City Council could take one to two years. Even after the Specific Plan is voted on and approved, it's up to the property owners to make the next move.

So to make the assumption that businesses in that part of town will all be driven away is vastly premature and highly unlikely. Things will change. That's the purpose of the plan. But not everything will change, and most things will not change for many years to come.

Posted by mloliver, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 7, 2011 at 10:39 am

Everything changes, everything stays the same. Land uses change, attitudes and arguments stay the same. After living here for 40 years I have seen dramatic changes in San Ramon, and most of the amenities that keep bringing new families to San Ramon are the product of past planners and public officials with vision. Looking ahead to the future is a must or stagnation and decay occurs. I've been reading this blog with interest, and think Will Rogers summed it up well.

"Even if you are on the right track, you will get run over if you just sit there."

Posted by Denise, a resident of San Ramon,
on Mar 7, 2011 at 5:00 pm

Lets not forget...we have only a hand full of decent restaurants in San Ramon...but I think we have about 7 subway sandwich shops. When Maria Maria opened where did they go Danville when Cafe Esin moved..again Danville, Forbes Mill...Danville, Johnny Garlic's opens in March where did they go Dublin...the list goes on and on. Can San Ramon really wait for 2030 for the new City Center. San Ramon needs to start thinking outside the box to attract new businesses.

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