When the state agricultural restriction ended a few years later, the Lins decided to complete their development plans with a proposal for 98 homes and an 18-hole championship golf course. They would be built on the 562 acre parcel they still owned above the newly developed Kottinger Ranch. The City Council approved the plan but a citizens' group successfully challenged the action and, in a referendum, reversed the council's approval in an election that turned on several hundred votes. While the new residents of Kottinger Ranch opposed the expected heavy golf course traffic on Hearst Drive; many others in the city objected to the development plan that called for removing 3,000 of the Lins' site's 18,000 trees to clear land for the golf course.
Now the Lins are back with a revised plan called Oak Grove that calls for the development of 51 lots for new custom homes at the top of Hearst Drive and a gift to the city of 497 adjoining acres free of charge to the city of Pleasanton. The city has plans to use the land for trails, equestrian paths, a park and accessible public open space. The council again approved the Lins plan, with a development agreement attached that also has the city receiving $1 million in traffic-related funds, a new hillside firefighting vehicle and a requirement that the Lins must pay for building all the trails and other amenities in the parkland before the sixth home lot can be sold. Again, some residents of Kottinger Ranch object to the development as well as others such as former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala who objects to new homes in the southeast hills. After the council vote in late 2007, Ayala organized a citizens' coalition called "Save Pleasanton's Hills" and successfully collected enough signatures to force another referendum on the Lins' project. After two years of litigation by both parties, the referendum will now be on the June 8 state primary ballot, asking voters to decide if they want to allow or reject the Oak Grove plan.
Although the council approved Oak Grove in 2007, the issue goes back to 2004 when the Lins asked again to build 98 homes on their property, but without a golf course. They assumed that because their acreage is still shown in the new General Plan as accommodating up to 98 homes, their plan would win Pleasanton's approval. They even cut the number to 51 in a compromise with critics and threw in the 497 acres of adjoining land to sweeten the deal.
Now it's up to the voters to make the final call. Between now and then voters should read city Ordinance 1961 and the Oak Grove development agreement that's attached, available as one document on the city's Web site. The coming campaign over the Oak Grove measure will be heated; voters owe it to themselves to learn what the Oak Grove plan is all about.