Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 5, 2010

Ballot materials being readied for Oak Grove referendum

Four on City Council writing arguments "for" and "against" measure

by Jeb Bing

City Council members have been chosen to write arguments in favor and against a ballot referendum to be voted on June 8 that will decide if the proposed Oak Grove development project on Pleasanton's southeast side can move forward as planned.

The question on the June 8 ballot will be: "Shall the Development Plan for the Oak Grove property be approved?"

The multi-million-dollar project, proposed by developers Jennifer and Frederic Lin, would create 51 lots for custom homes on a 562 acre site at the end of Hearst Drive. As part of the proposal, the Lins would give 496 acres of their land to the city of Pleasanton free of charge along with $1 million in traffic mitigation fees and a hillside firefighting vehicle, and they would build a staging area in the city's new parkland and trails before selling the sixth home lot.

The City Council approved the proposal in late 2007. After that, a citizens' group petitioned that a public referendum be called in an effort to block the council's action. After more than two years of litigation, it is that referendum that will now go to voters June 8.

Council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne will write a direct argument in favor of the measure with council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan writing the argument against the measure. The same two will also write rebuttal arguments to the other two council members' arguments.

The direct arguments cannot exceed 300 words in length and must be written and submitted to City Clerk Karen Diaz by 5 p.m. Monday, March 15, with the rebuttals not to exceed 250 words and to be written and filed with Diaz by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 25. Diaz will then certify the submissions and forward them to the Alameda County Registrar's office, where they will become part of the sample ballot for the June 8 election.

Diaz has already accepted the impartial analysis of the ballot measure by City Attorney Jonathan Lowell as required by the Registrar's office. In his analysis, Lowell said the environmental impacts that would result from the development were analyzed in an Environmental Impact Report that was certified by the City Council

He also noted that Ordinance 1961 which was adopted by the council established Planned Unit Development zoning that governs the Lins' site and subjects the development proposed there to specific conditions of approval. These conditions, Lowell said, specify grading requirements, air quality restrictions, protection of special status species, hazard abatement, disclosure requirements, construction limits, design guidelines, development standards, engineering requirements, tree preservation and mitigation, fire safety, geotechnical requirements, water quality protection, open space dedication, payment of school impact fees, traffic mitigation (including the payment of traffic related fees), as well as other building permit requirements.

The conditions require the property owners to dedicate 496 acres of the site as permanent open space and to construct a regional trail and related improvements within the open space area.

Lowell said that while the Oak Grove development plan addresses the creation of lots and regulates house size and height; it does not approve the design of any particular home.

"Issues relating to design, siting and construction of each home would be addressed in the future through the project's design review process," Lowell states in his analysis.

"This process consists of city planning staff review, subject to appeal by any interested party, Planning Commissioner or City Council member to be considered at a public hearing before the Planning Commission or City Council," he explained.

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