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By Tim Hunt

Costco opponents trying to get ahead of the City Council

Uploaded: Mar 24, 2016

Bill Wheeler of Black Tie Transportation and his business neighbors along Commerce and Johnson drives have their work cut out with their anti-Costco initiative drive.
Pleasanton residents, like many Californians, routinely sign way too many petitions—often seemingly without any thought. Nonetheless, I would not put money on their chances of convincing 10 percent of the registered voters to sign the petitions banning retailers larger than 50,000-square feet from locating on the Johnson Drive spot that once held the Clorox Co. research center. Citizens for Planned Growth needs to collect 4,017 signatures by May 17.
Neither the City Council nor the Planning Commission has formally considered the Costco, although earlier zoning changes paved the way for a potential approval.
As I wrote Tuesday, a Pleasanton Costco store will be seen as a convenience by many members —not a detriment. The traffic impacts are limited to two neighborhoods and businesses such as Black Tie.
This is not a particularly easy issue for signature-gatherers—paid or volunteer to spin. Opponents of the Lund Ranch II project could easily point at hills and say something about ridges, oak trees and open space and get residents to sign. Even with paid gatherers, they barely hit the 10 percent mark. Voters will consider the council’s approval of the project on the November ballot.
Time will tell whether this measure and a potential school bond also show up on the general election ballot.
School trustees this week received very good news from a polling firm that assessed the public’s view of a school bond of $312 million for renovation and updating of facilities. Given the gently declining enrollment predicted over the next 10 years, there’s no need for a new school.
School trustees have to be delighted with how positively the community views the schools (about 62 percent of those surveyed were not parents with kids in school) and their willingness to pay more in property taxes to maintain the quality of the facilities. It was basically a green light to put the bond on the November ballot.
The November election is considered advantageous because the polling firm believes the presidential election will drive a larger turnout and support for the bond consistently ran above the 55 percent required for passage. School bonds can pass with 55 percent approval, while parcel taxes take a two-thirds majority.
Voters have rejected parcel taxes three times since 1996, although the last two tries in 2009 and 2011, both received over 60 percent affirmative votes. By contrast, citizens have not considered a school bond since 1997 when it passed with more than three-quarters positive votes.