Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 28, 2010

Letters: Hikers unite!

Dear Editor,

I sincerely hope that we in Pleasanton do not let this unique opportunity elude us to convert almost 500 acres of what is now private property into Pleasanton's largest and, I'll wager, most beautiful public parkland, replete with hiking trails and beautiful views, accessible to all. I refer, of course, to the Oak Grove property, the subject of Prop D.

I see signs around town, shouting, "Don't mess with our ridges," but these are not our ridges Not yet. The only way they truly become our ridges - open and accessible to all Pleasanton residents and the public - is if Measure D passes. Otherwise, it remains private property.

I cannot see any such ridges from my home in Birdland, nor can I view them as I drive throughout most of the area north of Main street. Rarely, when I can view the ridges, I am struck with the thought that while looking up there is nice, it would be so much nicer to actually access the property, hike the ridges and oak-shaded valleys and hillsides, picnic on and explore the land and enjoy the views. What a splendid opportunity this is!

And besides this beautiful public parkland, we get $2 million to our schools and another $1 million to the city? This is as good as it gets.

I will truly mourn the loss of this beautiful and expansive public parkland, for all of us to enjoy, if this measure fails.

Hikers Unite - Vote Yes on D!

Diane Ravnik


Posted by mary, a resident of Del Prado
on May 31, 2010 at 10:03 am

Hikers Rejoice! I am a hiker and have enjoyed the many and varied trails throughout the greater East Bay.

Town Members Rejoice! I am also a community member and resident of this wonderful town. Given that there are so many thousands of trails and views already available (and money is tight enough to compromise maintaining the 'existing' trails) I find it completely unnecesary to convert more land to hiking in exchange for living in a more natural looking community. THE RIDGES MUST BE SAVED FOR ALL TO VIEW!

Give me a break, Diane. Tell me you have hiked every inch of this beautiful country and are out of options. Or is it that you and your fellow hikers are merely lazy and don't want to scoot out of town for a bit more variety? I have a feeling you haven't even hiked all the mileage that already exists here in our own town.

This town was gorgeous and can remain gorgeous without building on the ridges. Drive up 680 and look at the towns along the way. Some build on ridges and some do not permit it. DO NOT permit it. Hmm, what a concept.

Don't throw the baby out with the bath water. Allow common sense to reign.

Hike trails that didn't exist in a deal with the devil!

Posted by Paulette, a resident of Val Vista
on May 31, 2010 at 11:10 pm

I'm having a great deal of difficulty figuring out which vote is the real "save the ridge" vote. I have trouble believing that Kay Ayala is doing this to save the ridge, given her pro-development leanings in the city council in the past. I think she may be creating a tempest in a teacup. However we vote, there will probably eventually be houses up there. No one has shown me how the ridges will be saved by voting no. All I can see is that the building will be postponed and transformed from the 50 mansions into what? I don't see the guarantee that no building is going to happen. The only person from the Sierra Club who is supporting this is someone who ran for city council and lost. The last time I was involved with the Tri-Valley Sierra Club, they had trouble getting even a handful of people to show up to their meetings or volunteer to have a meeting. Anyone can say they are a Sierra Club member. The East Bay Parks like the compromise. And, there's the problem. It is a compromise. It would be nice if we could make it a part of the parks department like the Pleasanton Ridge. But, why isn't anyone telling me that is going to happen instead? I find the silence about what is to be a little ominous. Steve Brozosky's "Field of Dreams" sometimes seems more like a "Field of Cement;" so, who is doing what and why? Is the parks deal just a feather in Jennifer's hat? Or, is this the best deal for the ridge? I don't know. For me, it's hard to figure out which vote is the real environmentalists vote. I think there are alot of people who are wondering just like me; but, the no people are so boisterous, they are frightening. They remind me alot of the people who stood on the corner with flags screaming at traffic when they thought that Gore would ask for a recount in 2000. This one has me perplexed - which is why you haven't seen a letter to the editor anywhere from me. I have no idea what's going on. No one will tell me anything that is concrete or makes me feel safe about voting either way. Matt Sullivan hopping onboard really threw me for a loop. Maybe no is the best choice. Yet, no one has been able to tell me what we're getting instead of a park? Are we really getting open space. Or, are we just getting a postponement and working out a new deal with the Lins. Is it a crap shoot or not? We know what we get with door number one. But, what do we get with door number two? That's what I want to know.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:18 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Paulette wrote: "Is it a crap shoot or not?"

I think that pretty well sums it up. It is a case of the devil you know versus the devil you don't. Most of the property is designated rural residential so we can at least anticipate continued legal battles in some form or another over developing the property as long as it is owned by the Lins.

Here's one consideration. Measure D places 90% of the property, nearly 500 acres, in a conservation easement. That's much stronger protection against development than legislative means such as Measure PP, zoning, and urban growth boundaries. That's because easements "run with the land" while everything else is subject to the political whims of the day.

Posted by Mary, a resident of Del Prado
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:27 am

Paulette, I concede to you that door #2 is not well defined and does not prevent future decisions equal to door #1. And I agree ... that is a problem. The NO vote should be specific enough (and maybe it is) to include wording that we are choosing to deny THIS development plan and ANY FUTURE plan to develop on top of our ridges. But if this is true, then we should all know that.

In fact, I'd be in favor of developing their land and any other appropriate land, IF , it were just below the ridgetops. More development is inevitable (added thanks to Jerry Brown), so it is more about MANAGING the development.

So, we as Pleasantonians, must decide what sort of development we want, how we want it and where we want it, and separate that from the "deals" (with the devils) in order to proceed with development.

Everyone is so caught up with the added hike mileage and the money for schools. What a great tactic to spoil our towns vision.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:47 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Most of the houses will be "just below the ridgetops". None are on a primary ridge. The ridges in Oak Grove are at best secondary ridges and lots are placed at the lower elevations. In locations where lots impact viewshed, the grading and landscaping will be used to mitigate that impact. The homes will be no more visible than the homes on the hilltops along Vineyard Avenue.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 1, 2010 at 8:51 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's my Google Earth screenshot: Web Link

Here's maps with overlays showing lots which have some impact on the viewshed: Web Link

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 1, 2010 at 9:30 am

One more time folks, this has evolved into a simple issue of private property ownership & use rights. The Lin's property was purchased both legally & with the full expressed intent to develop said property. The zoning rights have been discussed, debated & run through the both the local city council & county legal process's. The mere fact that the No on D people have chosen to use the phrase, "Don't mess with OUR ridges" shows their disdain for the rights of private property owners, the legal system & dare I say this, perhaps a racist bent toward the Chinese descent of the owners. As much as it pains me to say this, they are not OUR ridges. While they reside with the confines of our town, they do not belong to us. If you want to protect "THE" ridges, buy them yourself & do with them (or not) as you please.

As far as the hikers standpoint goes, hell, vote Measure D down. I've been hiking/biking the southwest hills & points further south for almost 20 years now. Having USGS credentials definitely helps somewhat but these hills & valleys truly represent some of the more accessible & unique trail networks within the EBPRD, regional trail system & I'd love to continue to keep these as my (& the few other homeowners, ranchers) private little park system. But the altruistic side of me says open it up for everybody else to use & enjoy.

Please folks, next Tuesday vote yes on Measure D.

Posted by fact checker, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 1, 2010 at 10:04 am

I think the five mayors' letter exemplifies how much work has gone into this. Look at the minutes. staff reports and letters to the editors that have been printed and reprinted when the plan was approved by a 4-1 vote. The No on D is a thinly veiled political strategy to paint the current council a particular way. Previous councils have seen much more housing built than this current council, including councils that included Kay Ayala and Steve Brozosky.

Oak Grove is measured planned growth. It protects 90% of that property.

Vote Yes on Measure D on Tuesday

Posted by Ann, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 1, 2010 at 4:00 pm

Hi Paulette, As a Val Vista resident you know that our views are much more of the western ridge. We can see Apperson ridge with twin peaks to the south, but are hard pressed to find a place where we can see the low, rolling hills which contain the Oak Grove and Kottinger Ranch properties. So, this is not really about viewscape for us.

However, it is about everyone in Pleasanton having access to a wonderful walking area. An area which has been private property for years. Before the Lins bought it in 1976, it was owned by the Hansens who acquired it from Kottinger's descendants.

Notice, I don't say hiking area, because the hills are easy to walk even for old gals like me. If you really want to see what this is all about, sign up for one of the property tours. I know that you will come away just as enthusiastic as I am.

Vote Yes on D.

Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Jun 1, 2010 at 5:03 pm

Web Link I rest my case.

Posted by Paulette, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 1, 2010 at 9:01 pm

Thank you all for your thoughtful replies. Once again, I am again confused; but, I will continue to consider all of this with your comments in mind. My other email friends have told me why I should vote no after I sent out an email similar to what I wrote here. Ack! I would love to have an open space up there. All of you make really good points. A friend of mine who lives in Dublin told me that they have Measure MM, I think she called it, where no one can develop on their ridges anymore. She says the Lins own all kinds of land over there as well. It's clear the Lins aren't poverty striken. They don't need the dough. What it has to be about is what is the right thing to do for us - for Pleasanton and for our wildlife and open spaces. We need to start protecting more of the wildlife corridors. I want to see as much open space up there as possible. That would be my wish. However we get there, I don't care.

Posted by Charlene, a resident of Valley Trails
on Jun 1, 2010 at 10:57 pm

33% of the ridgelines on the entire property are being covered with houses on Oak Grove. Go to city hall and see the Final Draft of the Oak Grove Open Space Design Guidelines. Look at page 3 and 5.

95% of the portion within the urban growth boundary of the highest and main ridgeline in the Oak Grove property that runs through the entire property is being covered with houses.

And the Lins didn't buy it in 1976. They bought it in 1983. Their first proposal for the property, Kottinger Hills, was rejected by the voters in 1993.

And the silly guest opinion of the so-called mayors- 4 out of the 5 of them wanted 2,600 houses built on the Sinbad portion of the ridgelands until the voters rejected that, too.

Vote no on D.

Posted by Charlene, a resident of Valley Trails
on Jun 1, 2010 at 11:23 pm

The developer's own materials and those of the environmental consultants talk about building on ridgelines and ridgetops. You can search the city's website at for PUD-33 to get all of the minutes. But to get their maps and documents, you'll need to visit city hall.

The Lins developed Amberwood/Woodmeadows in Pleasanton, hence one of the names of the streets is Lin Gate, as well as some of the housing developments around Muirwood and West Las Positas, but they announced that they no longer want to construct what they call low end houses and they now wish to do build ultra-luxury estate mansions.

Yes, the Lins developed East Dublin, including those hills where you see houses on hilltops between Santa Rita Road/Tassajara and Fallon Road.

And the Lins with Weyerhauser own most of North Livermore north of I-580.

Posted by I Want More Hiking Trails, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jun 2, 2010 at 12:20 am

This entire argument is based more on what the residents of Pleasanton want vs. what the NIMBY's of Pleasanton don't want. The silent majority or Pleasanton residents (including myself) would like more hiking and biking trails. A mere 51 houses below ridge lines is tantamout to what already exists in Kottinger Ranch, including the houses along Hearst Drive. NIMBY's be damded!!

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 2, 2010 at 8:03 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Responsible voters don't place much weight on when a property was purchased, nor does it matter much to such a voter what other property in other towns is owned. Responsible voters will evaluate a proposition based upon the pros and cons of the project itself.

Charlene did forget to mention that my neighborhood, as well as the others built by the Lins, all have public parks. Ever wonder where all the parks came from?

Posted by sknywench, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Jun 2, 2010 at 4:53 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

Responsible voters also dont place much weight on the nationality of the Lin Family. Several No on D supporters have repeatedly made inappropriate reference to the Lins as "foreigners" and "Taiwanese land owners".

Posted by Paulette, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:55 am

That's part of what has turned me off to the No on D side - this use of racism as a boogie man. The Teabaggers are doing the same thing with Obama. I think it's disgraceful to use race as a fearmongering device. Yet, this is happening all over America right now. It's happening in Arizona, it's happening in emails we get from our families, it's all over Fox News and these talk shows that purport to be populist, when all they really intend to do is get people all riled up and mad at the wrong people. They are actually corporate armies; not populism for the people. it's Populism invented by corporate mouthpieces. I don't like large landowners having so much power over what should be "the commons;" yet, this is the way our government is set up. It was designed to protect property owners. Through legislation, we can often change the imbalance and save some of the land for perpetuity. Whether D helps or hampers this is still a mystery to me. It's a day before the election and I'm still confused. Still reading everyone's input. I do like the parks that have popped up around Pleasanton. Can we stop development on land owned by the Lins? No one really has answered that question, as far as I can see. The question I keep asking. Will voting no on D result in no building on the land? NO one has told me Yes and why it is yes. I just get talk about PP and enforcing PP. Then, some folks say it will be turned over to the County to decide. Is that good or bad? No one will tell me. Ack! Good luck everyone! May we all vote the best way we know how.

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