http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2008/11/21/city-council-considering-appeal-of-oak-grove-court-order


Pleasanton Weekly

News - November 21, 2008

City Council considering appeal of Oak Grove court order

City wants to await ruling on home site development before signing land gift contract

by Jeb Bing

The Pleasanton City Council will consider what action to take at its Dec. 2 meeting in response to an order by Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch that directs City Manager Nelson Fialho to sign and formalize an agreement the council earlier approved with developers of a 600-acre project in the southeast hills.

Roesch ruled in favor of a lawsuit by landowners Jennifer Lin and her brother Frederic that the agreement approved by the council in a 4-1 vote last fall should be put into place. The agreement calls for the Lins to give 496 acres of the land they own atop Kottinger Ranch to the city free of charge for public and recreational use as part of a Planned Unit Development (PUD) that was also approved for 51-custom home sites to be developed on the rest of the acreage.

The PUD approval was the target of a petition by Save Pleasanton's Hills, a citizens' coalition founded by former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala, for a referendum to overturn the council's decision. Earlier, Roesch ruled in favor of the Lins who had asked the court to nullify the petition, and Ayala and the citizens organization is appealing that decision in a case now before the state Court of Appeal.

With regard to the development agreement, the Lins, through their attorney, Andrew Sabey of the San Francisco law firm of Cox, Castle & Nicholson, successfully argued that the development agreement between the Lins and the city was separate from the PUD and should be signed as a contract.

City Manager Nelson Fialho, who was specifically ordered to sign the agreement, was advised by City Attorney Michael Roush not to sign the document. He told Roesch that the city preferred to await the outcome of the citizens' group's appeal since both the PUD and the land use agreement are related. Judge Roesch disagreed and said the council voted on each document separately.

Besides turning over the 496 acres to the city, the development agreement also agrees to pay the city $1 million in mitigation fees for traffic and other public impacts related to the Lins' housing project.

As a practical matter, both sides agree that without the PUD, the houses won't be built and the Lins won't turn any of their property over to the city. However, legal advisors said the sign development agreement gives the Lins another bargaining chip in persuading the appellate court to reject the Ayala appeal. If that happens, the public feud between the City Council and the Save Pleasanton's Hills citizens' organization would be over and the Lins can proceed with the provisions in the development agreement and start planning their development.

It's now been a year since the citizens' group was organized and took to the streets to gather enough signatures to force a referendum. By collecting more than 3,700 signatures from registered Pleasanton voters, their petition should have qualified to force a referendum.

However, Judge Roesch, responding to a suit by the Lins, said the citizens' group had not carried all of the documents they needed to thoroughly brief those signing the petition just what their argument was about. Because of that, he ruled the petitions invalid and said the Lins could proceed under terms of the council's approval of their project.

At the Dec. 2 meeting, the council will meet in closed session to consider an analysis of the development agreement order by City Attorney Roush and his recommendations. The council could appeal Judge Roesch's decision ordering Fialho to sign the development agreement on behalf of the city, or it could accept the ruling, sign the document and await a decision by the Court of Appeal on the main argument, the PUD that would actually allow the Lins to develop the home sites.

Comments

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 21, 2008 at 8:43 am

"However, legal advisors said the sign development agreement gives the Lins another bargaining chip in persuading the appellate court to reject the Ayala appeal."

It is a two way street. If the document is signed, it can help the Lins as suggested above. If the document is not signed, it could hurt the Lins by being argued that they don't have vested rights in the development agreement.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 21, 2008 at 1:48 pm

"However, legal advisors said to not sign the development agreement gives Ayala another bargaining chip in persuading the appellate court to accept the Ayala appeal."

How's that for spinning the same set of facts to suit your prejudices?


Posted by Lorianne, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Nov 21, 2008 at 3:46 pm

When is the Weekly going to glom onto the fact that a majority of Pleasanton residents could care less about the 496 acres of "free" land from the Lins? This piece of random information precedes EVERY single Weekly discussion regarding the Oak Grove property development or referendum. Hey, Jeb you can stop sugar coating this project. We get it, your newspaper wants to see those homes built. Try a little honesty for a change and stop pushing this we're so lucky to be getting this "gift" routine to make it all seem palatable.

When the people voted YES on PP they voted not only to save the hills they also said NO to the dangled carrot of the greenway trail fantasy. They didn't care for it, or didn't care enough to sacrifice something precious. If they'd have been allowed to vote on the referendum I'm sure it would have passed with an alarming majority (alarming to the Lins and the minority development-focused folks in this town!) hence, the Lin lawsuit to block it.
The Lins will obviously do (or sue!) whatever it takes to develop this property no matter how Pleasanton feels about it, the Weekly, sadly and for whatever reason, appears driven down the same path.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 21, 2008 at 4:07 pm

When the Pleasanton Urban Growth Boundary was voted upon, a majority of Pleasanton residents agreed that the Oak Grove property could be built up with homes.

P.S. A yes vote on the referendum would have only required a new development plan to be submitted. It doesn't change the vested rights the Lins have in the Oak Grove property.


Posted by Winsum Losum, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 21, 2008 at 6:39 pm

"Vested rights"......maybe. Don't forget where the Lins ended up when they tried to defy Measure D with their aquired property in North Livermore. In that business you've got to expect that you'll win some and lose some.
Should the Save the Hills referendum appeal prevail and the people have an opportunity to vote, a new Oak Grove plan may not pass muster with a more "objective" council or the new PP restrictions.

Of course they do have their lawyers on retainer....


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 21, 2008 at 6:58 pm

Lorianne, your comment

"When the people voted YES on PP they voted not only to save the hills they also said NO to the dangled carrot of the greenway trail fantasy. "

is faulty. PP said nothing about Oak Grove, the 496 acres, or anything of the like. Did you read the PP initiative? Tell me where it described to the voter what you purport? Or are you just making a W.A. extrapolation? Yes, of course you are.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 21, 2008 at 8:31 pm

Winsum Losum,

Are you referring to Livermore Trails? That would be owned by Weyerhaueser/Pardee Homes.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Nov 21, 2008 at 11:22 pm

Frank, You forgot to add "Ayala faction" in your post...:):)

My money is on the council majority faction agreeing to have the document signed... This is right down their alley to get the Lin faction a possible step closer to getting on with this project...

If I'm wrong I pledge to give up golf for 2 days during the rainy season. Wait, I'll even make it 3 days...:)


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 22, 2008 at 2:22 pm

The question at hand is whether the council will choose to appeal the judges order to the city manager to sign the document. The council has already indicated to the city manager to sign the document when they approved the project on a 4-1 vote.


Posted by Jerry, a resident of Oak Hill
on Nov 22, 2008 at 11:48 pm

"The council will meet in closed session to consider an analysis of the development agreement order by City Attorney Roush and his recommendations".

Roush is analyzing a legal document pertaining to Oak Grove, then making recommendations?? Well, there goes the ball game... Run up the white flag...

Let's hope he can find all the documents this time...


Posted by Karen, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 24, 2008 at 7:27 pm

The chance of the majority of the council voting against the signing of the development agreement for the OG project is about zero. This council has run scared every time the Lin's attorney threatens a lawsuit and they will certainly appease him again this time. It is frightening when an attorney threatens to sue and could potentially take the City's precious funds in the process. The Lin family so wealthy, they could drain our city coffers in no time.

The majority wants the development and the majority will vote time and time again to move the development forward.

Regarding Lorianne's comments - I agree. The reduction in ridgetop building lots due to measure PP will reduce the gift of land to the City for trails and "open" space. At least that is what I heard Dolores B. say over and over and over. Fewer houses on the ridges will net fewer trails. And that is a trade I will make every day - and so will most of the folks I talk to.

Wait the council and the Lin Family know that! -- that's why they don't want OG to go to a vote of the PEOPLE rather than a Judge or a council!


Posted by MainStreetDiva, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Nov 24, 2008 at 9:04 pm

Somewhat related sidebar / tangent:

This is the same Lin family that had proposed several 16- to 21-story buildings in East Dublin, as part of the Grafton Towers project.

While the Lins have slightly reduced the height of some of the buildings, it is still a controversial project to many Dublin residents.

See Web Link if you are interested in more information on that project.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 24, 2008 at 10:24 pm

The Lin family is also the same who developed Kottinger Park. . . your point?


Posted by Howard, a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Nov 25, 2008 at 4:54 pm

anonymous, you seem to not have your facts straight. The Lin family did not develop Kottinger Park. I've lived in this city for over forty years. It was built by park bonds and its contruction was financed by the city in 1968. Sounds like 'anonymous' is some sort of publicist person for the Lins. Before claiming they did something, why not check your facts first?