Pleasanton Weekly

News - June 11, 2010

Voters reject southeast hills development plan

Despite low turnout, Measure D fails by wide margin in blow to landowners

by Jeb Bing

A plan by landowners Frederic and Jennifer Lin to build 51 custom homes in Pleasanton's southeast hills was scuttled Tuesday when voters strongly rejected a development plan for their project called Oak Grove.

Only 45.7 percent of voters supported Measure D, which would have allowed the project, and 54.3 percent opposed it.

With all 44 of the city's precincts now counted, votes against the measure totaled 6,065, well above the 5,104 votes in favor of the project with only a simple majority needed to settle the issue. Pleasanton has 40,452 registered voters.

It was the second time the Lins have failed to win a majority vote in referendums aimed at blocking their proposed development. In 1993, voters rejected a plan that had been approved by the City Council for an 86-home development with an 18-hole golf course and approximately 237 acres of dedicated open space.

Then, four years ago, the Lins submitted a new development plan calling for 98 custom homes but no golf course. That, too, was more than adjoining neighborhoods were willing to accept. So the Lins, through their representatives, worked a compromise that seemed satisfactory to all: 51 homes plus the gift of 496 acres to the city of Pleasanton free of charge.

The City Council, which had encouraged the public meetings to reach the compromise, voted 4-1 to approve the plan in 2007, accepting a development agreement that include the land grant and giving the Lins developmental rights.

But opponents still objected with former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala forming a citizens' coalition to seek a referendum to overturn the council's decision. She said the development would violate the spirit of Measure PP that was passed in November 2008 that imposed new ridgeline protections.

They said Tuesday's rejection of the Lins' project was the final step to protecting the natural beauty of the city's hills.

"I think it's time to celebrate that the will of the people has been duplicated in Oak Grove," Ayala said. "This ends the development of housing on ridges forever. It's done."

But Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who supported the Oak Grove development, said she was disappointed by the results.

"I'm disappointed that you can go into a corroborative process as we did and approach it in an honest manner and have people not see the big picture," Cook-Kallio said. "But the vote's a vote and the Lins now will have to go back to the drawing board."

Going forward, she said the City Council will have to wait for the Lins to bring something different in for consideration, which could be another 10 years or so.

"We have the housing cap issue before us and there are all sorts of other issues out there that need to be considered," she added.

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