Open Response to Kelly Cousins’ recent “Eastside Planning” Editorial

When I was a young boy, whenever I borrowed a friend’s bicycle, I was taught to return it in a better, shinier condition. As an East Bay native and resident, I want the same for the Pleasanton community. For the past ten years, I have owned the 320 acres of former quarry and non-hillside industrial land in East Pleasanton.

The City goal of planning East Pleasanton is not new. Since 1998 the City General plan has called out for this area to be planned for mixed use. I proudly served on the East Pleasanton Task Force, directed and appointed by City Council, from 2012 -2015. Our efforts there resulted in a super majority recommendation to approve zoning for 1,300 homes and approximately 1.6 million sf of commercial space. These carefully developed plans were later shelved by City Council, where they remain today.

Over the past year, I have presented to or met with hundreds of individuals and groups – sharing this opportunity and listening to the community’s comments, while providing an informational website for the public to learn more and contribute their thoughts for improvement. I’m not sure why Ms. Cousins would label that as misleading.

Based on our area’s robust employment growth, future State-mandated housing requirements are imminent. Ms. Cousins’ “wait and see” suggestion is a self-defeating prophecy. We know what happened the last time we tried to stop additional housing: $4 million dollars in a losing lawsuit and forced rezoning for over 2,000 housing units.

The next RHNA housing cycle starts in less than 5 years (2022). If City Council approves prioritization of planning, the current plan will take at least three more years of approvals before a shovel hits the ground, subsequent build-out would follow over the next ten or more years.

For Pleasantonians to control the desired results on the property, we need to commence immediately. This will ensure sufficient time to address the community’s prior concerns around water, traffic, schools, density, and amenities. Currently the plan includes over $120 million of owner funded public amenities, a list of which is on our website But if needed, let’s go ahead and solve any remaining issues now—that’s what planning is all about.

Without community action, an alternative plan could include heavy industrial development with its attendant noise and truck traffic, none of the privately funded amenities, and loss of the opportunity to annex and control valuable county land. The City would also lose the opportunity to use the land to accommodate any future state-mandated housing needs.

Managing growth isn’t a tin can you kick down the road – because that growth is happening now. I encourage residents to get involved in shaping how growth will affect our quality of life. Let’s come together and give a better, shinier city to our children and our grandchildren.

—Steve Dunn, Landowner