Last Tuesday night, 12 speakers spent another hour talking about Measure D, the June 8 referendum that asks voters to allow the development (Vote Yes) or to deny it (Vote No). Several had signs, some photographs, at least one showed Google maps of the hills between Pleasanton and Mt. Hamilton to prove his point that part of the 476 acres being given to the city as part of the Oak Grove package are beyond the city's Urban Growth Boundaries and therefore protected open space already. But the maps were fuzzy and television viewers couldn't see them on Channel 29. TV30, the community television system, broadcasts City Council meetings on Channel 29. This is really the reason Oak Grove opponents keep going to council meetings, to gain viewers' support and financial contributions. It's not clear how many voters watch TV29. I suspect those that do long ago decided how they will vote on Measure D. When the Oak Grove folks start rehashing their arguments as they did Tuesday night, it's likely many viewers surfed for other channels. If they did, they missed the more critical arguments that followed on how the council should respond to a Superior Court ruling that declared the city's 29,000-unit housing cap illegal.
Promoted in advance in this newspaper and on the city's website, the discussion centered on presentations by Attorney Tom Brown, an outside legal counsel to Pleasanton who has represented the city in its defense of the housing cap, and Brian Dolan, the city's director of Community Development. Both spoke - Tom Brown for well over 30 minutes - followed by a host of others who patiently waited through the near-90-minutes of Oak Grove banter. By the time the housing issue came up, it was already too late in the evening for such critical issues to be aired.
This isn't the first time that important issues facing the city have had to wait until late in the evening to get the council's attention. Usually, though, long discussions are part of "agendized" items, meaning that notice has been given of the scheduled discussion and all members of the council can chime in. By speaking at the start of the meeting, the Oak Grove crowd can say its piece, blaming the council's approval of the project on developer funds given to Mayor Jennifer Hosterman or council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio or Jerry Thorne. They don't mention council members Cindy McGovern or Matt Sullivan, who may also have some developer "blood money" in their campaign war chests but are also the two votes on the council that oppose Oak Grove. Comments against Hosterman and Cook-Kallio often get nasty, causing the two to grimace and stir in their seats, but whose tongues are silenced by City Attorney Jonathan Lowell.
I recall former Mayor Tom Pico gently admonishing a fellow council member who got openly angry when a Happy Valley property owner called Pico a Nazi. That speaker had the right to say what he wants or thinks, Pico said, as long as he keeps his remarks to three minutes. Tuesday night, many speakers went on for five minutes or longer. Since Hosterman can't respond to nasty comments directed at her or others, at least she could pound the gavel with more force when those three minutes are up.