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Original post made
on Aug 9, 2007
A group called Friends of Pleasanton started collecting signatures from registered voters this week in an effort to place an initiative on the November 2008 ballot that would block most planned development on Staples Ranch to preserve the 124-acre site for parks, open space and recreational use.
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posted Friday, August 3, 2007, 12:00 AM
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Posted by Matt Morrison
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 10, 2007 at 12:05 pm
Happy Monday everyone!
I will post the pertinent section adopted from Measure D when I get home this evening. It is a bit convoluted to follow because the language describes the inception of the county Urban Growth Boundary at the intersection of I-580 and the northeast Pleasanton Urban Growth Boundary, then the description heads south and west then north around Pleasanton, up around Dublin, across north Livermore, South and west then north around Livermore, then west on I-580 back to the inception point.
The width of the area outside the county Urban Growth Boundary may be narrow, certainly no greater than the width of El Charro Road, but it is legally defined area outside of the county Urban Growth Boundary as stated in the voter adopted Alameda County initiative Measure D.
Alameda County is prohibited from enacting policies for the purposes of development involving areas outside the county Urban Growth Boundary.
What a court may need to decide is whether the action/policy of Alameda County asking Livermore to annex the Staples property for the purposes of development, of which said annexation/development would encroach over this narrow yet clearly defined area outside the county Urban Growth Boundary, is a violation of Measure D.
You see, Stacey, some initiatives are helpful. The Eastern Alameda County Urban Growth Boundary, South and North Livermore Urban Growth Boundaries, Pleasanton Ridgeland Preservation, Pleasanton Bernal Park all are all results of citizen initiatives. All these properties were also not under direct municipal jurisdiction and threatened to varying degrees with the fear, at least, of worse development if they passed.
As to Dublin, I am not sure how they would provide services (sewer/water) or have a claim under state LAFCo law to have the property be in their sphere of influence. Livermore has a better argument than Dublin and any Livermore attempt to annex may not stand up in court un LAFCo law. A property owner cannot simply annex to a city based solely on the prospects for earning the most money.
I'll see if I can condense some of the relevant LAVCo statutes or provide some references to show some of the state requirements for annexation. Again, this threat is not a new one.
Alameda County is not in a position to develop the Staples Property on their own because they are prohibited from spending the proceeds of any sale of East County Surplus Property. Except under certain emergency conditions, the proceeds from the sale of east county surplus property must be deposited in the Surplus Property Development Trust Fund. The county is running a $100s of millions deficit already in their most recent (2006) 10-year capital improvement budget, so the county is not in a position to pay for the infrastructure costs to develop Staples.
John, as to the county's motives, they want money - $85 million to deposit in the Surplus Property Development Trust Fund (nicknamed the "Emerald Fund").
The book value of the fund's portfolio, as of the quarter ending June 2007 Investment Report, stands at $287,100,257.54. The money earned from the trust fund, I think it was about $7.5 million for the year 2006 (I don't have the capital improvement budget in front of me), may only be used in the capital improvement budget. Nearly all of the money currently in this fund has come from the sale of county property in Dublin on the north side of I-580. Much of that land was donated to the county by the Federal government, and the county has reaped $millions.
The motives for myself and my partners in Friends of Pleasanton is to get more amenities for the community in the forms of park land, sports fields, a school site, open space. 40 acres of the site are exempt from the initiative and the county can sell those acres for whatever they intend, 1/3 of the property. We are also not suggesting that the county not be compensated for the rest of the property nor be unable to continue use of the property as is, currently zoned as agriculture.
Certainly the Eastern Gateway Initiative is a beginning, not an end in itself.
The Staples property is not exactly like someone selling a house they have held for many decades. It is more akin to someone selling a house to an entity who wants to turn the house into, say, a bed and breakfast inn.
The neighboring community has a right to decide whether this change in use is appropriate and beneficial to the community.
The community has a right to express their views in many different forums such as through elected officials, initiatives, letters to the editor, this blog, the courts, etc. This is how democracy best works itself out and while I can be frustrated by it, I embrace the process.
Lastly, Frank, you are correct that the statement from my 07/02/07 press release is erroneous, although it is a slightly different argument than the current discussion. At the time we believed that because the county UGB was defined as a city UGB that moving the city UGB was tantamount to moving the county UGB. I sent a communication to Dick Schneider, a Sierra Club representative who worked on Measure D, to enquire whether this was his interpretation, but didn't hear back until a couple weeks after we published the press release. It is Dick's interpretation that the language defines the county UGB at a point in time from which the county UGB must not change without a county-wide vote irrespective of municipal boundary changes.
I, personally, am working very hard to be accurate and hopefully to help bring a better result for the Staples property than what is planned. It's very kind of everyone to share questions and concerns.
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Posted by Matt Morrison
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 11, 2007 at 1:02 am
The signature gathering is going super, Frank! Thanks for asking!
Thank you, Outsider, Policy 1 was indeed the language I intended to post.
With all the maps and language, etc. (Livermore's Measure K establishing the south Livermore UGB actually follows some text that was adopted by Livermore's city council back in '98) I'm with Frank on changing the topic for now. Measure D is only one consideration in the annexation (or "control of the property") issue. I believe the real barriers to another city annexing the land will come from the state LAFCo laws, but again I'd be moving into a legal realm where we're not going to reach a definitive answer (I do have state LAFCo background material if anyone really wants to go though that stuff at a later date).
I truly respect and appreciate this debate. My feeling is that when people end up in isolated "camps" one ends up evaluating ideas in an echo chamber. The dialectic suffers when people hear only what they want to hear.
This is why I really love Frank's list of motives for those who oppose the Eastern Gateway Initiative. Frank, we'll have to trust your bona fides as to the list's comprehensivity and unbiasedness, but it is a beginning. I, for one, have mostly given up trying to read people's minds, so please indulge me to retort based on Frank's list…
1 & 2. Money doesn't appear to be common factor of the "Pleasanton First" anti-initiative supporters. Becky Dennis served many years on our city council after working very hard on Pleasanton's Ridgeland initiative. Along with Ben Tarver and Tom Pico, Becky was a member of the mid-90's "Dream Team" slate of candidates that signified a changing of the guard in Pleasanton politics. Over the years I've disagreed with Becky, but I don't question that her efforts are anything but doing what she believes is best for Pleasanton. If anyone, pro or con, is making personal money off this exercise, pooh-pooh on them.
3. The Staple's Ranch property has been undeveloped since the DAWN OF TIME. When the Ikea didn't go through on the property a couple years ago I don't remember Pleasanton going bust and people fretting about the greater Pleasanton community, whoever they are. Certainly revenue, annexation, land use, etc. are all important to discuss. This is a middling-sized project on the periphery of town, obviously very, very important to the nearby neighbors and the businesses who intend to locate there, but I think the greater Pleasanton community will continue to thrive if the initiative passes or not. I encourage everyone, including initiative supporters, to avoid becoming a bunch of drama kings and queens (and as the 1982 Northern California SSTA Best Supporting Actor while a Senior at Foothill High, I know 'em when I see 'em!).
4. Frank, please get it straight. I am not a NIMBY, I am a NIAMBY (Not In Anyone's Backyard). Over the past decade Pleasanton residents have a history of successfully fighting bad development all over town. When I worked with Carol Varela her team of "Neighbors Helping Neighbors" was undefeated on project referendums. At this moment what IS harming the greater Pleasanton is overtaxing our city staff, commissions, and council by rushing through developments (Staples, Oak Grove, Home Depot, and now Merritt again, I've heard) without allowing these same government entities to finish Pleasanton's overdue General Plan update. How can anyone decide whether a project is good for the long-term health of Pleasanton without a comprehensive review of what Pleasanton ought to look like at buildout?
5. The Eastern Gateway Initiative is a road map for the property when Stoneridge Drive IS extended. That is why Anne Fox personally promoted our mandating the Community of Character standards from the 1996 General Plan to ensure El Charro Road follows the City Entry aesthetic guidelines as defined by the plan. By the way, I hope everyone is aware that the 01/23/07 City of Pleasanton "Travel Demand Forecasting and Micro-Simulation Models" report that show a small-moderate level of traffic relief with a Stoneridge extension for other parts of Pleasanton, including Valley Avenue, is for an assumed future at buildout when all the Triangle Project improvements have been completed (the 580-W to 680-S flyover, 580 HOV lane, Highway 84 widening to 4 lanes). A Stoneridge Drive extension prior these improvements would be a DISASTER for Pleasanton. Just imagine the increase in cut through traffic all over town during Highway 84 widening or I-580 lane construction or 580/680 interchange demolition! A show of hands, are ANY of the initiative opponents supporting Stoneridge extension prior to the Triangle improvements?
6. Well if someone likes the plan, sure. You pays yer money and you takes yer choice.
7. I like hockey too. I occasionally watch the Sharks and have friends that do too. From what I understand there are 700+ organized amateur hockey players. Why not try ONE ice rink. Why must we pave over nearly half of the planned community park for a FOUR rink ice facility when, beside the Shark's practice facility in San Jose, EVERY OTHER ICE FACITITY in the ENTIRE REGION has ONLY ONE RINK. What do we need to prove here, that we love hockey as much as San Jose? Have kids been playing soccer all these years just pining to pay more money for more equipment to get out of the sun and exercise inside? News flash… this is CALIFORNIA. It rained all of about a week last year. With sports fields you get football, soccer, baseball, softball, la crosse, or just go PLAY IN THE PARK FOR FREE. Why do we need to charge kids admission to use a community facility? This huge monstrosity is a boondoggle if I ever saw one!
8. Initiative supporters would like to see more sports fields and parks.
9. News Flash #2, the senior housing is a gated, up-scale community. There are no reasonable units if you mean affordable or even subsidized. Alameda County couldn't allow this senior project to be developed by the county because it would violate standards mandating 20% affordable units. The numbers I've heard are $1 million down to move in and $8000 per month rent. And there is no investment for the resident. Once a resident dies, the property reverts back to the corporation. Maybe if you're an ice skating senior this project looks reasonable?
10. We re-tooled our initiative to exempt 40 acres after speaking with the Auto Mall folks. Learning the school district (in closed session) sold their option for a school on the Busch property we included schools as a permitted use on the new initiative. We have met to varying degrees with many of the stakeholders including city council members, Chamber of Commerce representatives, executives with the auto mall, city staff, and briefly with a representative from the County Surplus Property Authority. I, personally, would prefer to see a compromise and avoid having to spend my free time walking and writing and meeting, but we're committed to putting this initiative on the ballot if necessary. We, and I hope you all too, are hoping to bring about the best outcome for Pleasanton.
12. This is a complicated matter with many jurisdictions, laws, unknowns, and peripheral issues. We are striving to be accurate and expect our opponents to do the same. I really do appreciate everyone's comments.
Whew! That's all for a while.
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Posted by Linda
a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Sep 18, 2007 at 9:54 am
Sorry, I've been working a lot lately and haven't had the time to respond back. I appreciate everyone's comments, whether I agree or not. I detect a bit of animosity amongst some of the writers here (especially against Matt Morrison), so I would like to ask that everyone be respectful. I really do realize that we all have a common goal - of keeping Pleasanton a beautiful city. I hope everyone remembers that!
Regarding Livermore taking over this land, from what I understand, it would have to be in their General Plan, voted on, etc. I also think that there has to be common boundaries with the land in order to annex, that would then exclude Dublin. I'm sure this would end up in the courts and decided there, not just one person saying "okay, they can have it!". Some writers here make it sound simple, but I think it's anything but.
Becky, I most definitely respect your viewpoint, however, I can't agree with your opinion that we already have enough parks. True, we have a lot (and that is great!), but have you seen the sports park, amador park, muirwood park, alisal school, on weekends? We have more and more kids in this community than in years past and we still don't have enough places for them to practice and play games. I just read in the paper that our school enrollment is (again) up. With our good schools, more and more people with kids will be moving here (as the older generation with grown kids may move out). Therefore, we need more parks, for now and in the future. And, we don't have any on the east side. Since this is the last large piece of land on this side, why not devote a lot of this to park land and open space? Why does this side have to have all the development dumped on it when the southeast hills and the west hills have some protection? I'm only asking that this side get the same treatment that the west side (Pleasanton Ridge) got.
Frank and Stacey, you both mentioned the "affordable" issue. Well, if homes are going to be developed (and we aren't at the cap yet), I would rather see affordable, or at least moderate priced homes. Frank misunderstood me in his response regarding affordable priced homes in Oak Grove. I'm not talking specifically about affordable in Oak Grove. I just don't think 12,000 square foot homes are the answer. I mean really, are they serious????!!!? I don't believe in slicing up hillsides for any homes, but especially not that size. In Pleasanton, in general, we should be building either affordable or moderate-priced housing, not mega-mansions. It would be nice if our children could afford to move back here. Becky, you are an affordable housing advocate, I think you would agree.
Frank, one other point. You mention we are close to build out. However, there are some groups in this community (including some council members) who would like to see that cap raised. We now have a pro-growth majority, at least what I can see, on the council. I'm not as confident as you regarding that cap.
Becky mentions losing $5 million in revenue if we lose the Staples Ranch project. Where does that number come from? The proposed auto mall will be bigger than what it is now, but it will be on county land which means part of that tax revenue will go to the county. Has anyone realized that? I don't know the exact percentage, but maybe I'll try and find out. Right now, the auto dealership tax revenue is all in Pleasanton. So again, where does the $5 million come from? I keep hearing that, but I don't hear any facts to back it up. Plus, some of you are mentioning the tax dollar figure, but what about the cost of developing this land, i.e. the infrastructure? Police and fire services, water, sewer, etc. All of that has to be in place. I think that's misleading by implying that this would be a pure profit center with no cost to our city.
I have to go, so those are my thoughts for now! Thanks everyone for sharing and have a great day!