Pleasanton Weekly

News - February 12, 2010

Council could take final action on Oak Grove plan Tuesday

Must choose between rescinding its OK or asking voters to decide

by Jeb Bing

Remember Oak Grove?

The 51-home development and gift to the city of 496 acres proposed on land owned by developers Jennifer Lin and her brother Frederic in the city's southeast hills is back on the City Council's agenda Tuesday night, more than two years after the council approved the project in a 4-1 vote.

After that approval, a "Save Pleasanton's Hills" citizens' coalition led by former Councilwoman Kay Ayala group circulated petitions to overturn the council's action. Court suits followed and were resolved late last year in the Ayala group's favor.

Tuesday night, the council will decide if it wants to rescind its approval, thereby scuttling the project, or send it to voters n the form of a referendum. If that happens, it's likely the issue will be on the ballot next Nov. 2 as part of the General Election. The cost to taxpayers for the public referendum is estimated at $79,000.

At stake is the plan approved by the council to allow the Lins to develop 51 large-size custom home lots at on 77 acres of property they own atop Kottinger Ranch, a community they also developed. As part of that development agreement, the Lins also agreed to give to the city of Pleasanton 496 wooded hilltop acres that they own adjacent to the housing project, which the city officials said they would use for trails, picnic areas and as open space.

If ever approved, the land grant, the largest Pleasanton has ever been offered. It would also fit into an overall plan to acquire 2,000 acres or more across the southeast hills of the city as open space, similar to the acreage to the west now under the control of the East Bay Regional Park District and Pleasanton.

The Lins have faced public adversity before. In the 1990s, a City Council approved their plan for 98 homes alongside an 18-hole championship public golf course. Some homeowners, including those who had just moved into Kottinger Ranch, moved quickly to overturn that council's decision. They were successful with some thinking that their action locked up the land forever.

However, the Lins who own the property have pointed out that the city's General Plan allows them to build 98 homes on the land.

Since their Oak Grove proposal, voters have approved two measures restricting development on hillside lots. It's unclear if these new regulations, however, would block the Oak Grove development if the council, which approved the project before the hillside restrictions went into effect, sends the issue to voters and it's eventually approved on Nov. 2.

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