http://pleasantonweekly.com/print/story/print/2011/05/27/oak-grove-keeps-coming-back


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - May 27, 2011

Oak Grove keeps coming back

Oak Grove keeps coming back. Jennifer and Frederic Lin, who recently filed for permits to build 10 ranchettes on the 526 acres of wooded land they own in Pleasanton's southeast hills, have now filed a petition with the state Court of Appeal to take another look at their earlier request to build 51 custom homes on the site. That request, once approved by the City Council, was rejected by voters in a referendum last June. A Superior Court judge rejected the Lins' legal argument that the referendum was illegal because they already had signed development agreements approved by the council. It's that action that the Lins are now asking the Court of Appeal to reverse.

The Lins, who have owned the property since 1979, have been rebuffed several times, both in court and in voter referendums. Their first bid to build some 100 homes on their property along with a public golf course won City Council approval, but later was rejected in a voter referendum. Then, they came back with a 98-home proposal without a golf course. Told by city officials that it was unlikely such a large housing project would be allowed, they agreed to downsize the plan to 51 homes and also offered to give the city free of charge some 450 acres for a public park and open space. The council liked the idea but many others did not, fielding petitions calling for the June referendum. The Lins sought court orders to block the county registrar's validation of the petitions and also the referendum, but so far have been unsuccessful.

So now the city government finds itself in the awkward position of defending itself against the Lins in the Court of Appeal while also considering their new petition for a downsized, 10-ranchette development by the same landowners. So far, planners have yet to review the Lins' latest proposal, waiting a full year after last June's referendum before considering a new plan for the same site, as required by law. Even then, because the Planning Department, Planning Commission and City Council are working with the council-appointed Housing Task Force to meet state and court-ordered deadlines to rezone more sites for affordable housing, it's unlikely the Lins' plan will be considered until late this year, if then.

Still, with the Lins and their San Francisco law firm preparing for another court fight while also no doubt watching closely from the sideline as the 10-unit ranchette plan makes its way through municipal channels, Pleasanton will need to make sure all bases are covered. Most think that the Lins, who have lost all of their court battles so far, don't stand a chance this time either before the Court of Appeal. But that's what most thought before, after the city's Housing Cap law was held valid by a lower court and then overturned by the same Court of Appeal.

One way or the other, the Lins seem likely to build homes on their land in the southeast hills.

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