The two Pleasanton candidates for mayor are the same as in the 2006 election: incumbent Jennifer Hosterman and challenger Steve Brozosky. The two answered questions from the audience at a recent League of Women Voters candidates’ forum. Issues included traffic, housing, and ridgeline protection.
Brozosky served on the council for four years prior to running for mayor. He is currently serving on the school board. Brozosky said challenges are facing the city such as traffic congestion, revitalization of the downtown, and balancing the budget. He said he would set a tone for council meetings based on community of character traits, particularly respect.
Hosterman is seeking her third term as mayor. She listed projects completed over the past year, including restoring Kottinger Creek, refurbishing the Veterans’ Building, opening the Alviso Adobe Park, and breaking ground
on the new Firehouse Arts Center. The city needed to acquire the old train right-of-way in downtown in order to move forward with the arts center. “I am proud to have been a part of that acquisition.”
Candidates were asked how they would provide workforce housing given the fact that the city has made little progress in zoning for it. Also, how would they make infill development acceptable to the public?
Hosterman stated, “We have arguable the most expensive dirt in the entire region. It is difficult to pull together projects of affordable housing. In addition, we are working with a voter approved housing cap. We will have to see what the courts decide.” She pointed out that the city had approved a 350 unit apartment building with many affordable units and that the city is working on three other projects that could provide affordable housing.
Brozosky said, “No one has defined what workforce housing is. We need to talk to the community in order to determine what types of housing are needed.” He pointed out that no zoning changes had been made, because the general plan update had not been completed. It has been a six year process, one that he would have sped up if he had been on the council. Brozosky also likes the idea of working with Habitat for Humanity to build housing.
Do the candidates agree with the housing numbers assigned by ABAG? “No” declared Brozosky. The methodology looks at one city at a time, not at the region. There is no way to meet the numbers. The city can’t provide 5,000 low
income units. The city is not in the business of building housing. It is an unfunded mandate. “The state needs to come back with an idea of how to finance the housing.”
Hosterman agreed that the numbers represent an unfunded mandate. She argued that housing should be regional rather than city specific. Housing
should be built where land is more affordable, such as Brentwood. Hosterman said the city is working hard to rezone land and come back into compliance
with the state. “The reality is that 5,000 were assigned. Now 3,500 more units have been added. Those numbers are simply not attainable.”
What about a jobs housing balance? Hosterman said one way to keep people off of freeways is to have them live where they work. That could happen on a regional basis. At one time, Pleasanton was a bedroom community; now it is a jobs center. Brozosky said that a jobs-housing balance is an old idea that made sense when there was one job holder in a household who stayed in a job for a long time. Now people change jobs all the time, and most households have dual incomes. In Pleasanton, 70 percent of the people commute out to jobs. The way to keep people here is to bring in better jobs that match the skills of the people living here.
The candidates were asked where they stood on the ridgeline protection measures. Brozosky said he is one of the authors of Measure PP. Measure QQ was placed on the ballot at the request of developers and others who want a delay in putting protection procedures in place. All QQ does is plan for a plan with a poison pill. With PP, the city can obtain open space. Development could be clustered and not spread out such as Oak Grove. The developer could have
had the same number of houses and not destroy the environment and views.
Hosterman was one of the councilmembers who voted to place QQ on the ballot. She said PP was created by a small group of people. It wasn’t done correctly in a collaborative open process. QQ fixes that and at the same time
prevents massive lawsuits that would be generated if PP were approved. Hosterman noted that QQ has been endorsed by the Greenbelt Alliance.
Another question related to extending Stoneridge Drive. Brozosky said that studies show if it were extended, cut-through traffic would increase by 50 percent unless other improvements were in place. Extending Stoneridge has to be coordinated with regional projects, such as extension of El Charro to Stanley
Blvd. The most important way to prevent cut-through traffic would be to widen Highway 84.
Hosterman agreed Highway 84 is important to reduce cut-through traffic. However, if the city builds Staples Ranch projects, it will need to provide access to residents. It’s not “if” we extend the road. We know we need to built it. In needs to be constructed in conjunction with other arterial punch throughs.
The candidates were to name the most serious financial situation is faced by the city.
Brozosky said it is the retirement costs, which will go up at the same time that sales tax and property tax income are not going up. “We have a huge mess ahead of us.”
Hosterman said the city has been proactive in addressing retirement benefits. The national economy is one of the biggest issues. The city had to make a $4
million adjustment in spending. However, there are reserves. “Pleasanton is in a better position than other cities. We will be able to weather this.”
The issue of why Pleasanton does not have a seat on LAFCO was raised. LAFCO is the agency that determines sphere of influence and annexations in the
county. Hosterman said only two cities in Alameda County have representation.
They are highly coveted spots. “I believe that when Mayor Lockhart retires, I may well be taking her seat,” said Hosterman.
Brozosky said that the city did have an alternate seat on LAFCO 2006-2007, held by the mayor. He didn’t know why it was taken it away. “I read that it was because of a lack of attendance.”
Hosterman replied that as an alternate she had attended every meeting that she was asked to attend. How would the candidates preserve the city’s agricultural heritage?
Brozosky said he has been involved with 4-H. Land on the Bernal property has been reserved for a demonstration farm. That will provide an opportunity to educate people about sustainable agriculture.
Hosterman said that the Alviso Adobe Park provides an insight into the dairy heritage. In addition, she envisions a swath of open space in the southeast
hills. Grazing will be required to maintain healthy forest and hillsides. The city would use cattle for that purpose.
What are their top three issues? Hosterman said that traffic is the main thing. Planning, timing and funding of transportation improvements are at a critical
point. “We can’t pave our way out of the mess. We need to look at transit opportunities.” Job creation is another issue. Her other two were affordable housing and a sustainable future.
Brozosky also listed traffic. He would work with the region to improvement congestion. “We will never have enough revenue to do everything that is needed. Each city wants projects that impact the others. I would work as a region to agree on projects and to get the money to build them.”
Another issue is retaining jobs. To do so, there is a need to provide a job force. The third issue is education. “The whole state has to figure out how to continue to fund education,” he declared. The mayoral candidates were asked how they would shorten council meetings and allow for public participation.
Brozosky agreed that meetings do go too long. He would move awards, proclamations and meetings open to the public to an earlier time. He would not reduce the length of speaking time. “Reducing the speaking time has not shortened meetings. I think it has cut off public participation,” declared Brozosky.
Hosterman said that meetings are an opportunity for members of the public to voice opinions on issues important to them. “We do provide an open process. I do ask people to keep their remarks to three minutes. I also tell them to take more time if they need to.”
Would they support building a new city hall to replace the 4 to 5 buildings now housing city staff. Hosterman stated that she thinks people are more excited about spending dollars on a new library rather than a new city hall. Perhaps the library could be built on Main Street. Brozosky said spending money on a library and Bernal property projects makes more sense.
What would they like to achieve as mayor? Hosterman said, “I am very excited that we are to a point where we can implement policies in the new general plan. There are new water and energy elements with great programs.” Brozosky went back to traffic. He would work to synchronize lights in the city. He said it is not just a congestion issue, but raises concerns about the environment and safety.
Other issues were also raised. Hosterman said she is proud of the city’s green building ordinances, and the solar energy efficiencies implemented by the city. In conjunction with water conservation and renewable energy, increased water storage, the city is working towards a sustainable future. Brozosky was proud of the campaign reform he helped to bring about. Voters can now see where the money is coming from as reports are posted on line. They can also see where it is being spent.
This article was originally published in The Independent.