Planning Commissioner Anne Fox said she is considering challenging Mayor Jennifer Hosterman for the city's top elective post to bring back slow-growth policies that would support more affordable and "reasonably-sized" homes as Pleasanton moves forward towards build-out.
"While acting as mayor, Jennifer Hosterman has morphed from a slow growth City Council member to completely caving in to the wishes of developer groups who by virtue of their money, power and campaign contributions carry far more influence right now in Pleasanton than ordinary citizens," Fox told the Weekly.
"So one of the things that I want to change is the pro-growth composition of the council that right now represents a real imbalance between what the people want us to do and government's direction," she added.
Appointed as an alternate member of the Planning Commission in 2003, Fox was named a full commissioner in December 2004, succeeding Matt Sullivan, who had just been elected to the City Council. An opponent of high-priced large custom home developments, including the 51-home Oak Grove project planned for the hills above Kottinger Ranch, she has consistently supported higher density housing. Most recently, she backed the Kimberly Commons project now being built on Peters Avenue.
"Since I'm viewed as a slow growth planning commissioner, everyone was shocked that I supported Kimberly Commons," she said. "But I love those houses and I was the only one on the commission who liked them. I'm proud of the projects that I've voted for that are those sizes of houses. I really think that we need to build houses in Pleasanton that normal people live in, homes that range from 1,200 to 2,500 square feet."
Fox took out the required mayoral candidacy forms two weeks ago. She is one of five who have taken out the paperwork. The others are former Councilman Steve Brozosky, former Planning Commissioner Mary Roberts, Planning Commissioner Greg O'Connor, and Hosterman. So far, none has actually filed the paperwork, which must be turned into the office of City Clerk Karen Diaz by 5 p.m. Friday.
Fox said she is "shocked that the current mayor, so intent on approving big developer projects, either does not understand planning or just chooses to ignore it."
"I have five years of expertise from the Planning Commission and have a track record to prove that I listen to residents and do not cave into big-money developers," Fox said. "At the City Council level, 'planning' is now done under the table, and decisions are made along partisan lines long before the public hearing."
"There are professional political consultants/lobbyists hired by the developers that are influencing every decision on the City Council that happen to be the same professional political advisors to the mayor," she added. "Residents are being shut out of the process and there is a disproportionate influence of developers on our now pro-growth majority council."
A supporter of the Save Pleasanton's Hills citizens' coalition, Fox also supports the group's initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would ban most development on steep hillsides and ridges. In addition, she supports the coalition's efforts to overturn a decision by the council last year that authorized the Oak Grove housing plan. The coalitions' signature-gathering effort was ruled invalid in a court decision earlier this year. The coalition is appealing that decision.
"I have consistently voted no on projects on top of ridges, on top of hills, and against those 9,000 to 13,000-square-foot monstrosities," Fox said.
As mayor, Fox said she would lead a City Council "that would more truly reflect the slow-growth views of the Pleasanton electorate."
"My top priority will be to slow uncontrolled growth and to stop urban sprawl, while upholding rather than ignoring principles in our General Plan," she added. "Residents deserve a genuine voice---not a politically-rigged rubber stamp--in determining Pleasanton's future. We can do better things with the remaining open space in Pleasanton than building more gated communities, more big box retail outlets and more ridgetop mega-mansions, while safeguarding our most precious asset, our unspoiled ridgelines."
She also said that as mayor she would urge that senior housing be placed in locations "so that seniors can enjoy the same high quality of life we all do."
"That means no senior housing next to firing ranges or under the take-off path of airport runways," she said.