Dublin Mayor David Haubert, in an email and phone conversation, explained why he opposed the AT Dublin project and continues to call for a pause to all residential development that the City Council has discretion to decide. He noted that the AT Dublin project is 2 ½ times bigger (in both aces and value) than the controversial 27-acre IKEA store and retail complex at Interstate 580 and Hacienda Boulevard that the council approved Nov. 8 on a 4-1 vote with Councilman Arun Goel voting No.
IKEA officials made it clear to the city that it would proceed with the project approved in 2008 that included a larger store, more surface parking and lacked the walkable lifestyle retail in the current plan. The city’s legal team also indicated that it was not in a strong position should it deny that project. The approved plan calls for improved traffic signals but cannot avoid traffic on Interstate 580 getting even worse, particularly on big shopping weekends. Imagine the IKEA two interchanges west of the Livermore factory outlets on a December weekend.
The AT Dublin proponents also have underlying zoning for 900,000 square feet of commercial and 261 residential units. The project denied by the Planning Commission and pulled from the council agenda called for a 150-unit hotel, 685 residential units and retail and commercial space that required an amendment to the city’s East Dublin Specific Plan.
Unlike IKEA, the council has discretion and Haubert wants to use it. He pointed out that on June 19 he called for a review of the 25-year-old plan for East Dublin that voters approved in 1993. He called for a halt any discretionary residential approvals until the review is completed. The council agreed in June and directed the city staff to put together a report that was tentatively scheduled for September—it has yet to be submitted to the council.
With Jean Josey and Shawn Kumagai set to join the council Dec. 18 (assuming results do not change when the county registrar certifies the election on Friday) and the AT Dublin plan on the shelf, a review would be quite timely. The city originally had planned to swear in new members tonight.
Specifics of the AT Dublin plan, including adding more 400 additional units, troubled Haubert as did the lack of public input. Although the council approved a study on changing the project more than two years ago, there has not been much public engagement around the plan.
The mayor believes there’s an opportunity because of the size of the AT Dublin parcels to configure the project so a Main Street could be added to the city. Because Dublin developed under Alameda County until it incorporated in 1981, the city, like San Ramon, never had a downtown with a “Main Street” as Danville, Livermore and Pleasanton have had since the communities were founded (the railroad helped in Livermore and Pleasanton).
With the big box retail dominating the core of Dublin, as well as the freeway shopping centers on the east side, Haubert believes this is the one opportunity to create that shopping/dining experience in the city.
He noted that the developer’s voluntary contribution to double school impact fees was a welcome step in a good direction. He again railed at the state for its failure to pay its share of the three-legged stool of new school funding (developer mitigation fees, local bond measures and state funding).