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A draft preliminary report on the city’s sixth cycle Housing Element, as well as results from an annual community survey and a proposed resolution with the city workers’ union, will be heard by the Pleasanton City Council at their regular meeting on Tuesday, starting at 7 p.m.

Part of fulfilling the city’s mandated regional housing needs allocation, the sixth cycle Housing Element covers an eight-year period from 2023 to 2031, and requires local municipalities to identify sites within their boundaries that are suitable for housing development. Building on those sites in that same timeframe is not required, however.

Before providing further direction, the council will review the draft report during their Oct. 19 meeting including a summary for each of its sections, which staff said “are intended to help analyze Pleasanton’s housing trends, identify zoning and market constraints, and provide key background information that will help the city consider approaches to meeting housing needs across all income levels.”

High housing costs are mentioned several times in the report, which states that Pleasanton’s population has a median income of $156,400 — about 57% higher than the $99,406 median income throughout Alameda County — but almost one in five local households are low-income and earn less than 80% of the area median income (AMI), while about 7.6% of Pleasanton households are extremely low-income.

According to staff, “Pleasanton has a lower proportion of cost-burdened households compared to the county.” But despite reporting higher incomes, almost 24% of local homeowners are “cost-burdened” and spend 30% or more of their gross income on housing costs, while nearly 44% of renters reported the same.

More cost-burdened households in Pleasanton are renters, which must earn about $226,080 — at least 180% of AMI — to afford market rent. Another 21% of renters also spend half or more of their income on housing, compared to 10% of homeowners.

Renters are also “more likely to be living in overcrowded conditions than owner-occupied households,” with about 7% of renter households living in overcrowded conditions, though still Pleasanton has less overcrowded households compared to the rest of the region.

The report also found that Black people, who make up about 1.8% of Pleasanton’s population, experience the city’s highest poverty rates and that one third of seniors 65 and older — about 15% of the total population — are also cost-burdened. Staff said that “seniors are a special needs group because they are more likely to be on a fixed income while requiring higher levels of care.”

Most of Pleasanton’s workforce also lives outside its borders, with only 8% of jobs in the city also taken by workers living there. The city “is a net importer of workers for jobs at all wage levels,” though staff said “this data point is slightly different than the percentage of employed residents who also hold jobs in Pleasanton, which has ranged from 22.9% in 2002 to 15.2% in 2018.”

Staff added, “Although the 2018 data point reflects a substantial decline since 2002, the 2018 number is an improvement from the lowest percentage seen (in 2010), when the proportion of Pleasanton’s workforce employed locally was 13.7%.”

Pleasanton also saw most of its housing built between 30 to 40 years ago, with over 70% of the current local housing stock consisting of single-family housing, both attached and detached. Though newer than the rest of the county, staff said ” aging housing units can reflect poorer living standards and higher repair costs.”

Multi-family housing of five or more units has increased the most in Pleasanton over the last decade, with staff adding that “a variety of housing types is important to meet the needs of all members of the community.”

Once data from the 2020 census is finalized and available, staff will review and incorporate key points as needed into the final preliminary report.

In addition to giving feedback on new or amended policies and programs for potential inclusion in the Housing Element, the council is expected to add input on further “refinements or clarification” to each section, with additional sections to be brought forward at future meetings and include a draft Housing Sites Inventory and an Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing (AFFH) assessment.

A “more detailed review and discussion” are also anticipated to take place during one or more meetings in early 2022. Several Housing and Planning Commission meetings during October and November will also be held to review and solicit feedback on the site inventory list.

In other business

* Results from the city’s recent 2021 community survey of Pleasanton residents’ satisfaction with city services and quality of life will be presented to the council on Tuesday night.

Now in its 25th year, the survey was conducted by an Oakland-based consulting firm both online and by phone, from Sept. 20 to Oct. 5, and “provides baseline data for the performance of city staff both in terms of the ratings of departments and in the evaluation of the overall professionalism, courtesy and competence of city employees,” according to a staff report. A total of 996 residents completed the survey, which produced results with +/- 4.0% accuracy.

In addition to assessing the community’s satisfaction with city services and facilities, staff also uses the survey results “to determine what facilities and services were lacking in the community and what facilities and services were of a high priority to the community in the future.”

The information is also helpful to the council and staff when setting the city’s annual operating budget, capital improvement program, and other long-term planning.

This year, staff said “the results demonstrated that city residents remain very satisfied with the quality of life in Pleasanton, again producing some of the highest ratings in the surrounding area,” with participants responding to an array of questions about their perceptions of the city’s overall quality of life, top concerns facing Pleasanton, attitudes toward city government, and contact with city departments and facilities.

The 21-page report lists housing costs and lack of affordable housing as the top “most serious issue facing the residents of Pleasanton” (16%) that respondents said they “would like to see the city government do something about, while crime and traffic both matched at 12%, as well as education/public schools and too much growth and development (10%).

Respondents also listed the economy and jobs (7%), not enough growth and development (6%), water quality and drinking water (6%), and homelessness (5%) as pressing issues for the city, while another 5% said they either don’t think Pleasanton has any problems or listed none.

When asked, “what is the most important thing the city of Pleasanton can do to improve city services for the people who live and/or work in Pleasanton,” 17% of respondents chose “accessibility/responsiveness/communication,” followed by traffic and traffic safety (9%), more police patrol (8%), affordable housing costs (8%), and jobs/economy (7%). Rounding out the top 10 responses was controlling growth and limiting building (6%), access to services online and technology upgrades (5%), better planning and development (5%), road maintenance and infrastructure (4%), and water quality (4%).

* On Tuesday, staff will introduce a proposed memorandum of understanding between the city and the Pleasanton City Employees’ Association/AFSCME Local 955 (PCEA), which represents 206 classified workers in various divisions including police dispatchers, planners, engineers and maintenance staff.

The current agreement between the city and union is set to expire at the end of March 2022, and staff said representatives from both sides recently “met and conferred in good faith and have agreed to a successor agreement.”

An Oct. 19 public hearing will give members of the public an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed contract, which includes three separate general wage increases of 4.25% in April 2022, 3% in April 2023 and 3% in April 2024.

If approved, the city’s budget will experience an approximately $5.5 million impact through fiscal year 2024-25. A total of about $266,000 will impact this year’s budget and be funded by the general fund contingency.

The council will discuss the contract on Tuesday, before a final version is brought to the Nov. 2 meeting for approval.

This article was originally published by Pleasanton Weekly.

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