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View from the top

Original post made on Jun 7, 2010

The view from the top of Pleasanton's southeast hills is magnificent.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Sunday, June 6, 2010, 8:50 AM

Comments (28)

Posted by Houses, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:31 am

This is a very generous offer from the Lin Family . . . . 496 acres of open space donated to the city plus only 51 homes. If this gets voted down, then I think we'll eventually see far more development on this land in the future. It's zoned for housing! Maybe there would be smaller homes, but certainly more than 51 and perhaps the Lin Family won't feel the need to be so generous after their offer to donate open space has been declined. Vote YES on D tomorrow!

Posted by Houses, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:31 am

This is a very generous offer from the Lin Family . . . . 496 acres of open space donated to the city plus only 51 homes. If this gets voted down, then I think we'll eventually see far more development on this land in the future. It's zoned for housing! Maybe there would be smaller homes, but certainly more than 51 and perhaps the Lin Family won't feel the need to be so generous after their offer to donate open space has been declined. Vote YES on D tomorrow!

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:44 am

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 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

Posted by Christina M, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Jun 7, 2010 at 8:55 am

I grew up in Pleasanton and although I have not done a ton of research on this, I don't see why people are so opposed to it. This is the Lin family's property so even though I don't want a lot of homes on Pleasanton ridges, it seems like they are being more than fair. I'd love to be able to take my 2 kids to the new park on those ridges.

Posted by Voting Yes on D, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:23 am

Another voter that will vote YES on D.

Posted by No on D, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:50 am

The developers are trying to buy this election by spending over $500,000 in the campaign for calls, mailers, and ads. If this project was so good, why are they spending that kind of money to convince the voters. Obviously even the developer is not convinced this is the best project for the city and they have to spend all of this money.

We voted for hillside protections last elections and this is the same.

No on D. No on the Destruction of the ridgeline.

Posted by No on D, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 7, 2010 at 10:51 am

Interesting also that this article was "View from the Top". That is the view that the new homeowners could have in that development. For the rest of us, we will have a view of the mansions instead.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:02 am

The developer has spent money to protect a project that was approved because the developer did everything that was asked of them. Why does it seem hard to believe that someone would go to this much effort to encourage people to get the facts after ten years of trying to come up with something that would work. Four and a half years on this project alone.

Three time the developer brought a plan to the city. This last plan is "the best plan". It is the one vetted in public. It is the one on which various neighborhood and stake holder groups weigh in. It is the one approved by the council after listening to the trail ad hoc committee, the parks and rec commission, and the housing commission.
It was approved by a 4-1 vote with Councilmember Sullivan calling it a collaborative process. See the minutes from the night of the approval and the editorial below.

What you are seeing with the No on D campaign is revisionist history. Go to the top of Hearst. It is NOT a Ridgeline. Try to see it from any vantage. Kottinger Ranch is already in the way.

This will give the city 500 acres of open space in perpetuity that will provide habitat for species. The developer has worked with the stakeholder groups, the city and the neighborhood. This is a good deal. Don't fall for the mantra. They are NOT our ridges. They are private property and will be developed. Make sure we get the open space and the only way to do it is to VOTE YES on Measure D!

From Nov 2007
Save our pristine hills and our park

by Jennifer Hosterman and Matt Sullivan

We had planned to stay out of the debate over the Oak Grove referendum; however misinformation about the project and confusion in the public about our support considering our history of slow growth, environmental advocacy, and support for neighborhoods, compels us to provide this clarification.

Over three years ago, the property owner started work on a 98-unit plan, which was opposed by the adjacent Kottinger Ranch neighborhood. We have both campaigned against development in the hills and in support of affected neighborhoods. But instead of entering into yet another endless land-use battle, we thought there might be a better way: a collaborative process with the neighbors, the developer, and the city to see if agreement could be reached and these outcomes avoided. Our goals were threefold: empower the neighborhood to help shape the project, provide "finality" from future development, and create a model for the acquisition of public open space for the remaining developable properties in the southeast hills.

The result has been a resounding success! A consensus plan was facilitated by the city for a 51-unit project--half the size of the original--with the addition of $1 million in traffic mitigation fees for the neighborhood, and the dedication of a 497-acre public open space park. The plan then went through the normal Planning Commission and City Council public review process, input was sought throughout, additional issues identified, and adjustments were made. Regulatory agencies will evaluate habitat and mandate mitigation measures, or prohibit building on environmentally sensitive areas. No taxpayer monies will go to fund the open space park--the developer will deed the property to the city, will construct the trails and a staging area, pay the endowment to the easement-holder Tri Valley Conservancy, and the future HOA will be responsible for ongoing maintenance costs. For the units potentially most visible from the valley floor, one story limits, reduction in size, strict design guidelines, and plant and earth berm screening have been mandated. Finally, not one single house has been approved for this project--each will submit detailed plans and visual simulations to both the HOA Design Committee and the city for approval. The Planning Commission can choose to bring each to a public hearing, and any house can be appealed to the City Council for final decision. With these requirements and processes in place, the images presented by some project opponents of two- and three-story 12,000-square-foot white glowing "mega-mansions" sitting on barren hilltops are simply false.

Similar to what the city achieved with the Bernal property, Oak Grove provides nearly 500 acres of public open space in exchange for minimal development within the context of a collaborative neighborhood process and the support of four out of five councilmembers. With this success, the council has taken the first step in achieving a vision for a magnificent 2,000-acre natural park completely accessible to the public stretching from Shadow Cliffs to the Callippe Preserve Golf Course--forever protecting these hills from development. This is an important legacy that this generation can leave to future Pleasantonians.

VOTE YES ON D!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by Bruce, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jun 7, 2010 at 3:25 pm

The Lin's have spent so much because thet had to overcome all the misinformation that is being spread by the no people. I have heard time and time again that this is to protect the Pleasanton Ridge which is already protected. It is all about a very vocal NIMBY group that is distroying Pleasanton's city government by forcing every issue to the referendum route. Why do we bother to have a city council and planning commission that is doing its best to compromise property owners rights with the concerns of the citizens. Everybody that bought a home in Kottinger Ranch was aware of future development and now are fighting dirty to try and stop it. I hope if they are successful, the Lin's build 98 Condos right over the crest of the hill and bury them with traffic.

Posted by been there, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 7, 2010 at 5:06 pm

The only misinformation I have seen has been from the Yes on D campaign.

Interesting that you think the planning commission that is doing its best to compromise property owners rights with the concerns of the citizens. The planning commission rejected the environmental impact report of this project. Then after the council overturned the decision on the EIR, the council refused to let the planning commission do anything with the development plan. Perhaps if the council allowed the planning commission do their job here, we would not have a referendum. The city council, which is highly influenced by campaign contributions, is the entity to blame here, not the citizens who signed a referendum.

Posted by openyoureyes, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 7, 2010 at 6:54 pm

I have already voted NO on Measure D via absentee ballot. I am shocked again at how this blog is so ridiculously biased. There are more citizens working on NO on Measure D from areas all over Pleasanton than any that oppose it from Kottinger Ranch or Grey Eagle! I have driven over by Birdland, and Hansen, and downtown and counted the signs as I pass them to get a real feel for the city's opinion. There are more NO on D signs all over there than in KR or GE. I don't see NIMBY-ism at work here. Sorry.

Posted by westsider, a resident of Foothill High School
on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:06 pm

So 'openyoureyes' I guess what you're saying is "please just count the number of yardsigns, don't pay attention to the facts,' right?

This development at Oak Grove will give Pleasanton 500 acres of open space in perpetuity. It will give Pleasanton an important link in it's long hoped-for trails system. It will give Pleasanton's schools $2-3 million dollars. It will give closure to keeping Pleasanton's southeast border free and green.

And for these gifts we have to approve (OMG) 51 homes? Wow. Are you KIDDING ME? This is a NO-BRAINER!

Yes on D!

YES on D!


Posted by It's Too Late Now!, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:35 pm

To All Those Voting "No on D" to Protect Our Ridgelines: It's too late, folks! I've stood at various locations throughout my neighborhood, and all you see is large homes extending upward from Hearst Drive (Smallwood Ct. probably being the highest point). A half-dozen streets and the homes lining both sides are visible from just about anywhere in our neighborhood.

This project does nothing to protect our ridge lines ... the damage has alrealy been done. Vote YES on Measure D, and at the very least provide the residents of this community with a nearly 500-acre open space park that will be there in perpetuity for generations to come!

Posted by to westsider, a resident of Birdland
on Jun 7, 2010 at 11:42 pm

westsider, you do not mention that the money for the schools is to pay for the added students the development brings. It does nothing to help our current situation. Plus, don't expect we would see any money to the schools for about a decade and even with that it will be trickling in as it is paid as each house is designed by the new homeowner and the permits are pulled. If you are looking for a salvation to the schools, this is not it.

If this was a great thing for the schools, all the school board members would be in their brochures enthusiastically endorsing it. I have not seen one school board member endorsing this plan, and in fact one school board member came out publically against it. I think that says a lot.

No on D!

NO on D!


Posted by Bob, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 8, 2010 at 12:17 am

I'm sure the facts of the matter have been completely obfuscated by the debate from both sides. To me, it seems to come down to a few points.

1. Its THEIR land that they bought fair and square, way before a large majority of us lived here. Its usage has been approved multiple times. To now say they can't do it, seems...well, un-American.

2. It seems to me that a large amount of the "no on D" side has used emotion to try and sway people. Lots of "don't build billion square foot mansions on top of our hills!" which is pretty funny, because technically....the hills belong to the Lins. Also used a lot was "don't let a rich out of town family ruin our ridgeline!", again, technically they own the ridgeline...and whats with all of the "don't let any of those rich people ruin everything for the rest of us" diatribe? The people from our side of town can't see that ridgeline, and when the debate many years ago on where to put the waste treatment plant went on, it was put here in the "low rent" side of town....don't be righteous now!

3. We get money for the schools...which means maybe we can keep the school board from wasting more money on consultants for another failed parcel tax. There isn't any more money, deal with it like any family would, stop buying just can't afford it.

Our 2 votes will be yes on D.

Posted by sickofit, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jun 8, 2010 at 7:36 am

It is amazing how spending over $500,000.00 in marketing, polling, mailings etc. can shape and change people's opinion. . .that is what the developer spent.

I am still voting no on D. It is a bad deal for Pleasanton.

Posted by resident, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 8, 2010 at 7:57 am

Observing the passion, time and money spent on this issue has been interesting. Personally, I wouldn't build my multi-million dollar dream home on the Calaveras fault line, but if someone wants to do that and follows the city's approved guidelines, go for it. Mother nature will eventually have her way and the ridgeline will be hers again.

Posted by Hey Bob, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2010 at 11:09 am

Bob, if the schools really got more money, don't you think the school board would be in every advertisement from the developer, endorsing it? Since they are not, that has to tell you that the schools are not really going to benefit from this development.

Posted by Bob, a resident of Val Vista
on Jun 8, 2010 at 12:03 pm

The money the teachers would get is a secondary issue for us. Its the Lin's land, they bought it fair and square well before most of us moved here. They want to do something with it that has been approved multiple times. Its unfair for us to now tell them "The ridges are ours", because they're really not. I'm off to vote (ironically) at Donlon now, yes.

Posted by Salsa, a resident of Downtown
on Jun 8, 2010 at 2:49 pm

The developement at Oak Grove has gone thru the process and approved by our elected city leaders. It is a win, win for all concerned. How many of you have seen where the development is going, and how many of you can see Oak Grove from where you are now or at any point in the city?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 8, 2010 at 3:51 pm

It went through private, closed door meetings, had an environmental impact report that was denied by our pro-development majority planning commission, and a development plan that never went through the planning commission and the public hearings that go along with that.

If you mean by "going through the process", that the developer made campaign contributions to elected officials and those officials voted for the project, I guess it did go through that process.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 8, 2010 at 4:08 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


Please do tell. Were the closed door meetings conducted before or after the PUD application was submitted? Were there any closed door meetings related with PUD-33 after it was submitted? Was Measure PP written from behind closed doors?

Posted by Stacey wrong as usual, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jun 8, 2010 at 4:31 pm


You clearly don't understand the public process. The Council has the responsibility for the public's business and it should be conducted in public for everyone to see. Ever hear of the Brown Act?

Citizen's initiatives and referenda are CREATED by the public. Usually in response to City Council's acting in the best interests of someone OTHER than the public.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 8, 2010 at 4:41 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

You clearly mean to deceive readers who don't understand the public process. Instead of answering my question about meetings held, you reference the Brown Act, as if it would apply. So educate all readers, would the Brown Act apply to meetings between the Lins and KRHOA? Were there any meetings subject to the Brown Act which were not conducted in public?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 8, 2010 at 4:44 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

One more question... Has anyone been sued for Brown Act violations over Oak Grove?

Posted by Anonymous, a resident of Country Fair
on Jun 8, 2010 at 5:42 pm

Stacey, trying to change the subject again. Where did anybody say there were brown act violations? There is no denying that the public was not allowed at the "negotiation meetings" with the developer. Even the council has said that, as well as Jon Harvey. Their excuse was that you cannot easily negotiate with many people there. Are you calling Jon Harvey a liar now?

There would be a brown act violation if three members of the council were at the meetings. To the best of my knowledge that did not occur. The "negotiation meetings" did take place without the public there which makes it behind closed doors. You can compare this with the Busch property when Ponderosa tried for their second time to present a development. They had many meetings, all open to the public. Completely transparent. They listened to the public, went away to make changes, came back, and presented to the public again. They did this many times. In the end, nobody protested their development. Oh, and after Ponderosa submitted their plans, there were several planning commission meetings. The public, open meetings, and the planning commission meetings on the development plan did not occur for Oak Grove.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jun 8, 2010 at 7:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

And yet the point remains. The PUD-33 development plan and agreement that became Ordinances 1961 and 1962 was subject to the public planning process.

The analogy here is when you want to draw up plans for an addition to your house. You would normally meet behind closed doors to create the plan prior to submitting those plans. There is really no obligation by the party submitting plans for the public to be involved in the creation of plans at all. The fact that Jon Harvey and others from KR were involved was entirely a courtesy.

Posted by MainStreetDiva, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jun 8, 2010 at 9:42 pm

MainStreetDiva is a registered user.

To resident "been there" -

Thank you for reminding us that the Planning Commission REJECTED the environmental impact report of this project! Notice that the council ignored and overruled this decision. How good can this deal be if our own Planning Commission rejected it?

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