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Our Community Focus

The Role our City Plays in Economic Development

May 01, 2016 12:44PM ● By Sue Noack

Sue Noack, Pleasant Hill Mayor

The role our city plays in economic development

One of the most frequent questions I get asked as mayor of Pleasant Hill relates to the various retail operations in the city: “Why can’t we have a (fill in the blank with your favorite establishment)?” or “How can you let that (fill in the blank) exist in our city?” I thought it might be worth explaining the city’s role in determining which businesses operate in Pleasant Hill, as well as its limitations. 

First, all retail and commercial operations and locations in town are privately owned. Final decisions as to whom to lease, for how much, and under what terms rests with the owner(s) of the properties.

The city, through our economic development efforts, may assist in identifying potential businesses that have expressed an interest in Pleasant Hill or may be a good fit for a particular location. Historically, the city played an even greater role in attracting specific businesses when there was access to financing through the Redevelopment Agency. However, that powerful economic development tool was eliminated in 2011, when the state abolished Redevelopment Agencies. 

The city continues to assist businesses through the Façade Improvement Program and Retail Marketing Incentive Program. Both programs provide assistance to eligible businesses that operate in the commercial areas of the city. Additionally, our Chamber of Commerce may also play a role in economic development efforts by identifying interested parties and bringing the two together.  Ultimately, however, the decision to locate or open a specific business rests with the owner(s) of the building and their ability to reach an agreement with a prospective tenant.

City ordinances can also impact this process.  For example, an ordinance passed last year requires massage establishments to obtain a license through the police department.  It also sets out the terms under which such licenses can be denied or later revoked.  Most of these ordinances can be found in the Municipal Code under Chapter 18.25 – Commercial, Retail Business, Neighborhood Business, Office and Light Industrial Districts.  The code lays out which types of establishments are permitted or require a use permit.  It also outlines land use regulations, hours of operations, parking and other requirements for operation of a business.  The purpose of this section of the municipal code is to:

·       Provide appropriately located areas consistent with the general plan for a full range of office, retail, commercial, industrial and service commercial uses needed by Pleasant Hill’s residents, businesses and workers.

·       Strengthen the city’s economic base, and provide employment opportunities close to home for residents of the city and surrounding communities.

·       Create suitable environments for various types of commercial, office and industrial uses, and to protect them from the adverse effects of inharmonious uses.

·       Minimize the impact of commercial, office and industrial development on adjacent residential districts.

·       Ensure that the appearance and effects of commercial, office and industrial business and uses are consistent with city-wide design guidelines and are harmonious with the character of the area in which they are located.

·       Ensure the provision of adequate off-street parking and loading facilities.

There are additional goals with respect to the various business type districts, which can be found in the code under Chapter 18.25 (

The city is always open to suggestions for new businesses or to help answer questions about economic development activities. If you hear of businesses that are interested in locating in our great community, or if you are an existing business and are interested in the city’s economic development programs or efforts, please contact Kelly Calhoun at [email protected] or call (925) 671-5213. 

Finally, I’d like to give a shout out to “National Small Business Week,” which is May 2-7 this year. Small business continues to be the backbone of America’s economy, employing half of our country’s private sector workforce and creating many jobs. During this week, and whenever you can, help small businesses thrive in Pleasant Hill by shopping local and supporting your neighborhood business.