Pleasanton’s housing cap

Host: Michael Krasny

A recent ruling has struck down a 1996 initiative, approved by Pleasanton voters, which capped residential units in the town. The decision is also the first of its kind to bar a city from issuing building permits until more land is set aside for high density housing. We discuss the ruling and possible implications for other California towns.

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Comment from Greenbelt Alliance Policy Director Stephanie Reyes:

What’s really interesting about Pleasanton’s housing cap is that it not only broke the law, it was also a bad deal for city residents.

New development is an important tool to make our cities and towns better places to live. We can all point to vacant lots and run-down, abandoned strip malls in our communities that are both eyesores and missed economic opportunities; in my town of San Mateo, there’s an aging K-Mart store surrounded by a huge, empty parking lot right next to a Caltrain station.

Those are exactly the right types of places to encourage new growth to revitalize the neighborhood and provide new services for residents.Greenbelt Alliance‘s Grow Smart Bay Area research found that Pleasanton has plenty of under-used land within city limits to accommodate the new homes it needs.

Homes bring customers to keep local businesses bustling, and attract additional shopping options to serve current residents. Similarly, as more people live near the train station or bus stop, demand for service rises, leading to more frequent and convenient transit for current and new residents alike.

By putting a cap on housing, the city of Pleasanton ended up capping its own opportunities.


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