Concerns over hillside development have been around for decades. As recently as early last year, after a lengthy public hearing, the council decided to leave in place a 1996 General Plan article that allows steep hillside development if, on a case-by-case basis, engineers, planners and lawmakers agreed to the plans. If, in fact, the proposed ban on any development citywide on slopes greater than 25 percent had been in place in the earlier years of Pleasanton's development, all of Kottinger Ranch and much of Vintage Hills, Vintage Heights, Foxborough, Grey Eagle and Golden Eagle Farms would still be open space. That might be what anti-growth advocates would have liked, but fortunately wiser leadership prevailed and we have a city that accommodates premier housing, a top-rated school district and prosperous business parks.
We have to look no farther than Callippe Preserve to see how a 25 percent slope ban would affect our community. Lots there along Clubhouse Drive are selling for $1 million and more. The homes being built or already occupied look out onto an award-winning golf course with architectural designs that have already been featured in leading design and home publications. The scene is far different from what it might have been had Pleasanton not seized the opportunity to acquire Callippe from Alameda County which, at one time, had proposed high density housing there.
As for the housing cap initiative which the Ayala camp proposes, we'll have to await Tuesday's public hearing to learn just what this is all about. Voters mandated a housing cap of 29,000 units in 1996. The city is now within 1,500 units of reaching that cap. If there's a concern over what constitutes a "housing unit," the time to ask might have been years ago, say when Ayala was on the City Council. As it is, affordable housing units are not counted toward the cap nor are so-called granny units. These are second units that the state has ruled must be allowed to help reduce the housing shortage for older Californians. With a rapidly maturing population, more of us in Pleasanton might welcome a chance to move next to the kids on the same lot. We'd just like to see more of them and a citizens' coalition that supports the concept.