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Original post made on Jun 6, 2010

Following are letters on Measure D and June 8 primary candidates that arrived too late for the Pleasanton Weekly print edition on June 4.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, June 6, 2010, 10:11 AM

Comments (26)

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Posted by Sheila
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 6, 2010 at 11:10 am

Sherrill,

Thanks for your service to our community! I am voting Yes on D because I know that there has been years of discussion and planning. I want that open space and I know if we as a community turn this down we will never see 90% of that area protected and accessible to all of Pleasanton.


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Posted by m
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2010 at 11:44 am

This is going to be a cliff hanger. I might also ad that the full spectrum of Measure D would not have gotten the light of day, except for the divergent views expressed on this Forum. I admit, it is a rough and tumble group, and many days I have seethed over my coffee reading the Forum ... but then a D comes along ... words and views are exchanged ... at least when I stare at the ceiling at 3 AM I'm thinking about the right stuff ... woah! I'm biting my nails.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2010 at 11:49 am

It is easy
Yes on D


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Posted by sickofit
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 6, 2010 at 3:12 pm

I love how impartial the 'Weakly' is. The only letter that they have received is a Yes on D letter. Give me a break. They must really think we are dumb...

Sharrell - while I appreciate your service as well, I believe that if you read the supporting documents carefully, you would conclude that this is not in the best interests of Pleasanton.

Preserve our hills and vote No on D.


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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Former President of Kottinger Ranch HOA Speaks Out

Around Town, posted by Bing Hadley, a resident of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood, 4 hours ago

The debate over Measure D has created a rather polarized response in parts of Pleasanton. Since I was part of the group of people that crafted the compromise proposal in its earliest form before it was sent to the Pleasanton City Council for consideration, I will summarize the debate as I see it from my unique vantage point.

My perspective comes both as a resident of Hearst Drive (highly impacted by the proposed Oak Grove project) and later as the President of the Kottinger Ranch Homeowners Association 2002-2008. When I moved to Pleasanton in 1994, I was aware that the Lin Family's proposed "Kottinger Hills" project had been approved in 1992 by the Pleasanton City Council and subsequently recalled via a city vote in 1993. Kottinger Hills was slated to be an 86-home community with an 18-hole golf course. One of the biggest objections people had was that large amounts of earth would be moved to create the golf course, causing serious environment and visual concerns.

Thus, we moved in to our current home with the na´ve thought that nothing would be developed in the hills east of the Kottinger Ranch neighborhood. We were disappointed to discover in 1996 that a new proposal for 98 homes without a golf course for this same 562 acre parcel was included in the Pleasanton General Plan update. This was the beginning of a discovery process that unfolded for me over the next ten years.

The Lin Family bought the property for Kottinger Ranch and the now-proposed Oak Grove development in the late 1970s. At the time of purchase, they had the right and the intention to develop the land. The Kottinger Ranch development started in the 1980s and continued in earnest through the late 1990s; a few homes have been built on available parcels since that time. The Lins planned to continue their development efforts in 1992 with the approval of Kottinger Hills when community activism halted those plans.

The new Lin Family development plan included in the 1996 General Plan update didn't feel like reality until Family representatives approached Kottinger Ranch in 2003 to disclose the specific details. While it was a rather terse meeting, it was the beginning of what became difficult yet constructive dialog between the Lins and KR. The City was aware of the contention between the two groups and wanted to see if we would work together to reach a compromise that both parties could live with.

To officially represent Kottinger Ranch in these discussions, the KRHOA Board of Directors voted to empower the 'Growth Containment' committee made up of volunteer homeowners (including me) who would negotiate the issues with the Lin representatives. While we were officially empowered by the Board, we still felt a responsibility to get guidance from our constituency. Going into this process, there were some major issues to be negotiated. Here is a partial list:

-The final number of homes

-Permanent easements to ensure that Hearst would never be extended beyond Oak Grove with no connectors that would create cut-through traffic

-Significant traffic calming measures on Hearst Drive to slow and reduce traffic while protecting school-aged children who walk to Vintage Hills School on Concord Avenue (which intersects Hearst Drive in KR).

-Oak Grove homes to have acceptable site-lines and displacement back from KR to maintain separation and privacy.

Kottinger Ranch homeowners received updates on a periodic basis regarding the progress of the negotiations. In late 2005, the City sponsored facilitator Arlene Willits to help lead the process between the Lins and KR. The issues were clear, the process was well-defined, and all interested parties had access to the people involved.

Our committee felt an obligation to negotiate in good faith, only following the wishes of our neighbors. Going in, we felt the latitude to compromise to a total home count of 30 without further input from the homeowners. When we realized that the compromise would never settle at 30 homes, we conducted 2 meetings with homeowners to gather inputs and explain our position. One meeting included 45 people in my home and another was over 60 people at the PMS Library. Via a straw vote, we received latitude to negotiate up to 45 homes and ultimately settled with the Lins at 51 plus some other benefits. While both sides fought tenaciously, the process was fair, open, and appropriate to reach a reasonable compromise.

It is still a disappointment to me that Hearst Drive became the only access point to the Oak Grove property as a result of other City planning decisions made regarding adjacent properties that limited the access points the Lin's 562 acre parcel. However, that is how compromise happens: you win some points and you lose others.

What does Pleasanton get?

-Fifty-one homes instead of 98

-Almost 500 acres of open space made available to the citizens as a park with trails

-Money towards schools and road improvements that include traffic mitigation measures on Hearst Drive

-Closure!

Closure is a major point. With the change in the housing cap law, a more ambitious plan could be submitted for this same property. The current proposal does a reasonable job limiting the home count with no further development when the remaining land becomes a park.

More importantly, the Lin Family has property rights. Through proper legal means, those development rights have been delayed; however, these rights won't be delayed forever. They proposed 86 homes with a golf course and were denied. They improved the plan by removing the golf course and pursuing a more environmentally acceptable plan with 98 homes. In good faith, they negotiated with an adjacent group of homeowners to whom they had no legal obligation and settled at a far smaller number of homes. If they are denied again, they will have a reasonable case in court to claim that their property rights were taken. If they were to win a judgment against the City of Pleasanton for taking their rights, a wide-range estimate of Pleasanton's financial exposure is $20M to $60M. I arrived at these numbers in the following fashion: the 51 lots will be sold in the range of $2M on average; thus, the Lins' gross revenue on the project is over $100M. They have improvements to add to the land (roads, water, power, sewage, etc) that may cost $30M-$50M. Their profit on the project could be in the range of $50M. From there, a settlement becomes another compromise. Still, even a $20M judgment against the City of Pleasanton is unbearable during these times but it represents a possible reality.

To be frank, I am not thrilled with this project or the way it landed on the General Plan. However, it is a safe & reasonable compromise for the City of Pleasanton that provides access to the hills for all via the park & trail system, some funding for traffic issues and schools, and closure on a contentious issue that has long divided this community.

I am voting YES on Measure D.

Bing Hadley



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Posted by Jennifer Hosterman
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 6, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Thank you, Bing, for your note. I'm not totally happy with it, either, but I do recognize the give and take that must occur in every development proposal and eventual agreement, if there is to be one, between the property owner and the community.

In this case, as you have so well illucidated, with a great deal of public input, we have an agreement which places the fewest homes, in the most environmentally considered places, in trade for a new, almost 500 acre park for the people of Pleasanton, which park will forever protect that gorgeous, pristine oak woodland! I can't wait to give the people of Pleasanton the opportunity to hike this land.

And in addition, as you stated, we put this matter to bed. Conclusion will be reached as to the fate of our southeast hills. And just to be clear, if Measure D passes, I will have the opportunity to showcase this development proposal with other property owners in the southeast hills - I hope to amass, under my watch and with Council support, up to 2,000 acres of open space stretching from Calippe Preserve to the lake, for us, and for the health of our oak woodland wildlife and habitat, forever. That's my goal.

Jennifer
...............................................
Jennifer Hosterman
Mayor
City of Pleasanton, CA


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Posted by Callippe
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Jun 6, 2010 at 7:24 pm

It's too bad that the dirt being dumped on the property from grading the ridgetops down 43 feet to support the 51 Hosterman Hotels will be dumped all over the host plant areas that now support the Callippe Silverspot Butterfly.

"Site preparation and construction activities could result in the loss of upland habitat or direct mortality of this species." (page 105).

Maybe the new mayor that replaces Hosterman will have to rename the nearby golf course if Measure D passes.


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Posted by fact checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

90% of the property will be protected in perpetuity. The Butterfly can live there.


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Posted by Anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm

Yeah right, only one letter submitted that was not printed and that happened to be by a Yes on D supporter. Does not look real objective here.

Vote No on D so that we can have a new plan that protects the ridges that we voted on last election. At least the mayor is consistent. She campaigned against real ridgeline protection in the last election and she is campaigning for a development that develops on the ridgeline. I am sure this has nothing to do with the money she has received from the developer of this project..


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Posted by sickofit
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 6, 2010 at 9:57 pm

Fact Checker - are you aware that over 90% of the Gulf is still oil free?


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Posted by fact checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:14 pm

You have got to be kidding! Comparing the oil spill to Oak Grove??? Really?

This plan does protect the highest ridgeline and it gives the city the largest gift of land ever bestowed.

Why would this developer come back and work with the city and the community? They have tried that. There is no credibility left for the next round. They can just subdivide into ten parcels and build right up on the highest peaks. That would be consistent with PP.

Oh wait, you don't think this whole no on D thing might be politically motivated do you?? That can't be it!

Oak Grove is good for all of Pleasanton. Don't listen to me or anyone else. Do your own homework and read the ballot guide. Call the city and the school district and ask questions. You will find that this is a VERY good deal.

Vote YES on Measure D!


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Posted by sickofit
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:29 pm

More developer scare tactics. They could only subdivide if approved by the Planning Commission and our City Council. Probably not likely even with our current wonderful elected representatives.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 6, 2010 at 10:48 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Pleasanton: "If you want more than 10 homes you can't build within 100 vertical feet of a ridge."
Developer: "I'd like to subdivide the property into 10 lots so I can build 10 homes within 100 vertical feet of a ridge."
Pleasanton: "You want to subdivide into 10 lots so you can build on the ridges? Well, that's consistent with our laws, but we won't let you. Sorry."
Developer: "I'm very sorry too. I'll see you in court."


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Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Jun 7, 2010 at 12:23 am

Dear sickofit -

I think Stacey is correct. That's one of the scariest things about hillside development permitted under Measure PP. Although PP was sold to the voters as a hillside protection ordinance, it provides new view house possibilities for subdivisions of 10 units or less.

Back in 2007, I asked the City Attorney if Measure PP would reduce Pleasanton's ability to prevent ridgetop and highly visible hillside development. Here is his response:

"As I read the proposed initiative, it establishes a policy that prohibits (a) placing housing units or structures on slopes of 25% or greater or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline and (b) grading to construct residential or commercial structures on hillside slopes 25% or greater or within vertical feet of a ridgeline. Exempt from that policy are housing developments of 10 or fewer units on property that as of January 1, 2007 was a legal parcel.


As a general plan policy (and exemption thereto), it would apply city wide. General plan policies, of course, are broad statements of policy with goals for implementation, setting forth objectives, principles, standards and proposals. Such policies, by definition, are somewhat subjective, discretionary and non-mandatory. Land use decisions, however, need to be consistent with the City's adopted general plan.


If the initiative became part of the general plan, a property owner could propose a development of 10 or fewer lots on a parcel with slopes greater than 25% or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline. The City would, however, still employ its other development standards, such as visual impacts, in deciding whether to approve the project or where home sites could be located on the site. To that extent, I don't disagree with Brian's (Arkin)contention that the City would use its discretionary land use authority in considering such a project.


On the other hand, because the Housing Element law has, to some extent, locked in the holding capacity of certain parcels, in order for that capacity to be reduced (to 10 units for example) more or less voluntarily by the property owner, the City may be in a more tenuous position to bargain with the property owner over discretionary aspects concerning the 10 units, which could lead to a project less desirable than if the 10 unit ceiling were not a ceiling.

If you have any other questions on this, let me know.

Michael (Roush)"

Clearly Oak Grove opponents don't place much stock in "the City's discretionary land use authority" to control hillside development, or they wouldn't have pushed for Measure PP. Ironically, Measure PP eliminated the City's previous ability to use its discretion to control grading and the location of structures close to ridgelines or on slopes of 25% or greater by explicitly exempting all subdivisions of 10 units or less from these particular restrictions.




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Posted by sickofit
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 7, 2010 at 3:33 am

When questioned by the City Council, our new city attorney stated that the Lins land was far from being denied 'fair use'. He said that the fair use doctrine doesn't mean that they get to develop homes. They can use the land for many other things and get fair use.

They can develop homes...just in compliance with PP. Fair use doesn't mean that they get to develop homes any way that they want.

It is on the video from a recent City Council meeting.

The quote from Michael Rousch is a not applicable to the 10 unit argument.

This is all scare tactics by a desparate developer who has spent over $500,000 to try and market a pig in a polk. This is bad for Pleasanton.

Vote No on D.


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Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Jun 7, 2010 at 6:03 am

Dear sickofit,

I attribute the fact that you totally missed the point and substance of my post to the fact that you wrote it at 4 AM.

Who's talking about fair use?

Of course the Lins can develop a residential project complying with Measure PP (in addition to the many agricultural activities they could pursue without subdividing such as viticulture etc.). Measure PP specifically allows any hillside property in Pleasanton, not just the Lin's, to build without regard to Measure PP's grading and building site restrictions provided they subdivide for 10 units or less. Michael Roush's e-mail only applies to the 10 unit argument. I think our current City Attorney would agree with his analysis.


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Posted by P-town Dad
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:45 am

Vote YES on D.

- This development doesn't have anything to do with Pleasanton Ridge, the park. It's the southeast hills which we can barely see from Pleasanton.

- In the United States we have property rights, so long as they adhere to local guidelines. This project has been approved by the city so the Lin's have the right to develop as approved.

- A new park would be another feather in the cap for Pleasanton compared other cities, increasing property values.

- We need the revenue for our schools.

- We need the revenue for our city.


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Posted by Paulette
a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:43 am

It's taken me a long time to get here; but, I think that Measure D is a political football. There are folks I admire and people I don't like on both sides of this issue. So, it's hard for me to decide based on who I like. If I look at the issue, it's still hard to decide. But, of all the people on both sides, I trust Matt Sullivan the most. He's the most independent of the players on this political stage. Apparently, the Lin family is a huge political campaign contributor to some folks on the yes side. So, they may be selling us this bill of goods simply because they are in the lin's pocket. I hope not; but, it's starting to appear this way, based on what I've learned recently. Matt has made the local officials in the Democratic party mad at him because he's so independent - he won't accept these kinds of contributions from extremely wealthy, powerful people, like the Lins - even though he's a Democrat. If he can hold hands with a few Republicans (who have voted pro-development in the past) and hold his nose over this issue, he must have a damn good reason for it. I'd love to have a 500 acre park in Pleasanton; but, I'd rather see nothing built up there. And, I do believe with Matt on board, we will probably end up with either nothing up there or next to nothing. At least a better deal than they have struck with the Lins at the moment. This is a vote on "the commons," I believe. In Marin County, people have voted time and time again to protect "the commons." That's why movie stars live there. It's beautiful. And, it's beautiful because people said no to development over and over and over again. Maybe we can do that. This is a leap of faith. This is a vote based on who I trust the most. And, it's been a real dilly for me. After all the information I've received, I'm leaning towards the no vote now. Good luck to the rest of you who are on this last minute see saw!


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Posted by robert
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 9:54 am

Will history repeat itself? Let's hope not. The community of Pleasanton has confiscated property from private citizens in the past...The Merritt Property on Foothill is an example of this...And we are terribly close to doing it again...If the community of Pleasanton does not want to allow building near a ridge that is privately owned and city approved, the owners should be offered money for their potential losses. This is very much like property being taken by eminent domain for government public use. In those cases, the property owner is offered a Fair Market Value for their property. And with the current state of the economy, would it be prudent for the city to pay fair market value for residentially zoned property to prevent building? Vote Yes on Measure D.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:26 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Paulette wrote: "And, I do believe with Matt on board, we will probably end up with either nothing up there or next to nothing."

Mr. Sullivan, along with Hosterman, were the driving force from the City side that lead to this 51 home/500 acre park proposal. Mr. Sullivan was part of the 4-1 vote to approve the project. So what we have here in Measure D represents what "next to nothing" Matt Sullivan has already accomplished by being "on board".

Mr. Sullivan has no issues with the terms of the project itself. I bet if you ask him still to this day, he'll agree that the plan makes sense for Pleasanton. What he won't agree with is the actions taken by the developer to protect that initial approval. That's the basis of his current opposition.


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Posted by Stacey wrong as usual
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:38 am

Stacey,

As usual, you got the facts all wrong. Measure PP prohibits subdividing properties to get around the 10 unit exemption. Of course the Lin's could sue anyway as they have clearly demonstrated.

And Jennifer – funny you should be touting "amassing 2000 acres under your watch with Council support". This was Sullivan's vision and idea, not yours. You've made a pretty good political career out of glomming onto others ideas and making them your own.
And this vision is not dependent on Measure D passing. On the contrary, it has a real chance of success if D fails. Tell the truth – for once in your life!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:49 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Stop side-stepping by saying I'm wrong and then pointing out bad terminology. You know that I'm not wrong that the owner could build 10 units within 100 vertical feet of a ridge on the entire Oak Grove property. On that I'm very right.


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Posted by get over it
a resident of Birdland
on Jun 7, 2010 at 12:07 pm

The point of the matter is that the Lin's own the property, not Stacey, Callippee, Becky, Matt or anyone else. It is not fair to stop someone from building on land that they own (while I do agree that there needs to be some 'within reason' restriction). How would you feel if someone tried to stop you from doing something on your own property? Get over yourselves.


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 2:33 pm

I finally made up my mind and will vote YES on measure D. By having this project go through and 51 homes built, we get to keep a lot of land as open space. This is a good thing for Pleasanton. If measure D were to fail, the Lins could still build something there: it is their land. I think the current proposal is fair.

Thank you to the mayor and to everyone who has posted very good and objective explanations.

I will vote YES on measure D tomorrow.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by I'm Yes on D
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 2:48 pm

There is no question in my mind.....Yes on D.


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Posted by Meadows neighbor
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:56 pm

Whether you are for or against D, Please don't do your campaigning in front of our schools. It's a cheap way of using the school to make your point. Our schools don't endorse your political ploys and it's wrong to stand out front. Stand on any street corner in Pleasanton, that's fine. But the same folks that are saying NO to everything the schools are trying to do to raise money are the same folks using us for political gain. Get a conscience!


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