Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 11, 2010

Finance reports show new high in Pleasanton campaign spending

Would-be Oak Grove developer spends more than a half million

by Glenn Wohltmann

Campaign finances in the battle over the Oak Grove development show two totally different types of approaches to the issue.

The would-be developer of the property, operating under the name "Frederic Lin Family For Oak Grove," pumped in more than $514,000 in six months, according to campaign finance documents filed with the city of Pleasanton. That money went for everything from high stakes political consulting firm Davies Public Affairs, which received more than $308,000, to nearly $10,000 for a mass mailing campaign.

By contrast, the group opposed to the Oak Grove development, which went by the name "Save Pleasanton's Hills," raised $6,915.28, with the money going largely for signs.

"We ran the drive on a shoestring," said Kay Ayala, chairwoman for the group. "We put out 500 yard signs and that was the most I've seen in any election."

The group worked hard to be visible. Anyone driving the streets of Pleasanton in the afternoon recently would likely have seen volunteers waving signs reading "Vote No on D."

"I had parents that were dropping their kids off, I was calling them, saying, 'Can you go on the street corner?'" Ayala said.

The group also did a one-time door-to-door drop off, covering every home in the city, she said.

Matt Sullivan, a City Council member and one-time supporter of the development and of Measure D, which was defeated last night, said the amount of money spent by the Lin family is unheard of in Pleasanton's history.

"They spent almost 100 times what we spent," Sullivan said. "We have a voluntary expenditures limit in Pleasanton that we put in place a couple years ago."

That cap is $35,000, and the Lin family spent more than 14 times that amount in their effort to win. Sullivan estimated it cost the Lins about $100 a vote.

The list of contributors also reveals two different stories. Campaign documents show all the money spent in support of Measure D came from Frederic Lin, while donations for "Save Pleasanton's Hills" came in small amounts, usually $200 or less, and largely through PayPal. As of its May 22 filing, the group owed more than $400 but has since made that money up, ending with a negative balance of $28.12.

"Ours was truly a grassroots effort," Ayala said. "When you don't have any money, you have to have your feet on the ground."

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