By Tim Hunt
San Ramon approves transformative plan for Bishop RanchUploaded: Sep 15, 2020
Following the lead of the Planning Commission, the San Ramon City Council unanimously upheld the approval of the CityWalk Master Plan that will transform Bishop Ranch Business Park in the heart of the city.
The plan covers 135 acres and covers surface parking lots with neighborhoods of high-density housing with 5, 6, and 7 story buildings. The 4,500 units will be built over a 25-year period. It is designed to be a pedestrian friendly community and will be the first housing constructed in the business park. By contrast, Hacienda Business Park in Pleasanton initially was approved with all business uses in 1982 and then rezoned land for residences in 1997. Currently, more than 5,800 people live in the park.
One remarkable note about CityWalk is the speed with which the city moved the plan through the approval process. The formal application was submitted in July 2019. All the environmental documents and studies were completed so the Planning Commission could consider the amendments to the General Plan in August and then the council could sign off on the project Sept. 9.
The approval will figure in the City Council election Nov. 3. Mayoral candidates Dave Hudson and Sabina Zafar both voted for it as councilmembers, while candidate Aparna Madireddi was one of the people appealing the Planning Commission approval and candidate Susmita Nayak voiced strong opposition. Council candidate Luz Gomez sent a letter supporting the appeal and faces Councilman Scott Perkins who favored it.
Acting in their enlightened self-interest, the Simon Property Group and Brookfield Partners LP have moved to purchase J.C. Penney out of bankruptcy.
The purchasers will own about 490 of the 650 Penney stores outright, according to the Wall Street Journal. They are two of the largest mall operators in the country. Simon, which owns Stoneridge Shopping Center in Pleasanton, would have been down to a single anchor store, the struggling Macy’s. Penney filed Chapter 11 bankruptcy in May and has struggled to find a profitable niche for years.
Like many situations, the COVID-19 shutdown accelerated the downfall. The challenge for the mall operators will be to find the retail mix that will allow the bricks-and-mortar stores to become profitable.
In my role as publisher of ACES Golf, I receive several emails a week offering review copies of books. For the most part, I give it a quick read and then hit the delete. One novel, Hannah’s War, caught my attention and I read it in two sittings while on vacation recently. That’s a tribute to how well screenwriter and director Jan Eliasberg wrote her first novel.
The novel centers on the race for the atomic bomb before World War II and then during it with the Manhattan Project at Los Alamos, NM. It was timely given this is the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II brought about by the dropping of atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
It’s based on the remarkable life and scientific talents of Jewish-Austrian physicist Lise Meitner, who was a key part of team working with Robert Oppenheimer. The novel is set in pre-war Austria and on the mesa in New Mexico. The story involves Hannah being investigated as a spy feeding secrets to the Germans.
It’s a good read with plenty of plot twists to keep you interested.
Before heading out on vacation, I also finished a novel about media, Yellow, TV News Corrupted by Political Muscle, written by Jeanne Charters. Given my professional history in the media, I was interested and found it a readable novel that laid out the conflict between professional ethics, political interests and the profit motive. It also was a good read even if it portrayed a far different media than the one we see on television today.