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The Spotornos' Full Page PW Ad

Original post made by Stacey on Nov 1, 2008

I'd like to draw attention to the full page ad the Spotornos took out in yesterday's Pleasanton Weekly. Did anyone not see it? It is an "open letter" to Pleasanton voters regarding PP and QQ urging a no vote on both. This letter is a prime example of the negative effects of direct democracy. Direct democracy allows for the impingement of a majority's desires upon a minority generally in violation of the minority's rights. The gist of the letter is that PP and QQ both violate private property rights and discriminates against long-time landowners (which is correct). No one could ever blame the Spotornos for printing such a thing. The Spotornos conclude that private land should be purchased at its "full-potential" fair market value.

I've tried to point this out here before that PP amounts to land taking without just compensation. It seems hypocritical for anyone who voted yes on the eminent domain proposition in the last election to vote yes on PP. The hard questions arise. Why hasn't Save Pleasanton Hills stepped forward with organizing groups to purchase Oak Grove from the Lins? Why is Mary Roberts, who sits on the board of the Tri-Valley Conservancy, supporting such an unfair and unjust measure as PP when the TVC involves itself in working _with_ landowners and purchasing land? We have only to look at what other communities are doing such as for Banning Ranch down in Orange County (Web Link and Web Link) to see that the Save Pleasanton Hills group's communist-like tactics don't normally fly elsewhere. ""We see the property being purchased from the owners at a price that is not only reasonable to the city but reasonable to the owners, because they have a right to the land," Welsh said."

The Spotornos have also provided the only interesting argument I've seen against QQ based upon QQ itself (and not upon emotional ploys like "developers are now funding QQ"). But it seems like their argument rings a little hollow considering that if PP and QQ both fail, all residents still have the opportunity to participate in the process.

Comments (21)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2008 at 10:11 am

Additional question: If the candidates that keep saying they will listen to "the community" more than the current City Council and Mayor get into office, are they going to listen to the Spotornos? Should the Spotornos get an initiative drive going?


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 1, 2008 at 12:40 pm

Here's a portion of something I wrote in these threads back in February:

>>>>
.....drop down to the Fifth Amendment of our Constitution and take note of "nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation." So, if the public of Pleasanton want "to preserve the beauty of this area...", they need to buy it, not use direct democracy procedures to take it for public use, without just compensation.
>>>>


Posted by Bonnie, a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 1, 2008 at 4:32 pm

Oh the whining of Mr. Soporno is ringing in my ears.....
Who is going to pay me back for the stock I purchased for my retirement, that is now on 60% of the value it was when I purchased it? No one. Who is going to buy his land at his idea of full value? No one!

Too bad Sportorno didn't buy land near the 580/680. No, he bought RANCH land and can continue to RANCH it as long as he wishes.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 1, 2008 at 5:18 pm

I fail to see Bonnie's analogy. Nobody is using direct democracy to legislate a limitation to the value that can possibly be achieved by her retirement portfolio. How would you like to put to popular vote what the value of your house can be, for example?


Posted by Times Change, a resident of Sycamore Place
on Nov 2, 2008 at 7:49 am

Whoa Frank! Where does PP say you can't build anything? It says you can't build on a geater than 25% slope and within 100 feet of the ridgetop. The Sportorno's could also build 10 homes on their property without any intervention at all. I'm not sure what their acerage is but they couldn't they sell bigger parcels (ranchettes perhaps?)if they wanted to develop their property? Steve Brozosky and Mary Roberts have about 25 acres each with less than 3,000 square ft homes and a single lane access road. The rest is left to the local fauna and flora.
And, good grief where does it say that the land will be taken for "public use?" They CAN continue to run their ranch/"investment" as they always have with no hikers or bikers, and they can put up all the "NO TRESSPASSING" they want to. I completely agree with them BTW, we have access to more than enough hiking trails in Pleasanton.

I got a good chuckle on the "No average homeowner would tolerate similar restrictions on their property...." paragraph. Are they kidding? Most "average" homeowners in Pleasanton are subject to the planning commission's or city council's approval on almost any change or improvement to their property. I would imagine that as onerous as those restiction sometimes are, we all appreciate the fact that our neighbors can't park boats and motorhomes in their front yard, can't paint their homes bright pink with purple shutters, or build an addition that would look directly into our bathrooms! I may think that that great addition would increase the value of my home, but do I have the absolute right to devalue my neighbor's home because of it? Where do the Sportorno's get off thinking that they aren't subject any restrictions either? This isn't the homesteadin' wild west anymore-it's the City of Pleasanton.

They are correct in pointing out that we all live on property that once belonged to someone else. So what? Some smart or lucky party sold their "investment" before restrictions were placed on it. Unfortunately, as we all know right now-times change-it's as simple as that. I couldn't sell my home right now for what I'd like to get for it either.
If the Sportornos want to whine Stacey you're right, they can stand out at Raley's and get their own inititive signed. But, better be quick about it Sportornos, if the Oak Grove referendum loses in court (thanks Lin family and Jennifer Hosterman!)the initiative process may be right behind, leaving regular folks (even self righteous ranchers) without any rights to avert unpopular actions by a developer friendly city council-anywhere in the state unfortunately!
To finish i'd like to throw one out there to Kevin Close for writing a letter to diss the Kottinger and Sycamore Creek folks for not wanting traffic on their streets. Sorry, but isn't that what you've been doing for YEARS now? Those people have as much right as you do to protest changes they don't like.
Vote YES on PP and No on QQ!


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 2, 2008 at 8:41 am

The issue isn't whether you can put forth an initiative or referendum, it is that is has to have facts that are accessible to people and it must be legal.

The referendum was found to be lacking by a judge. What is his agenda? To uphold the law. Historically judges have upheld referendums if they were even close. They have to be profoundly lacking. A similar referendum to the Oak Grove was thrown out by a judge and appealed. The appeal upheld the judges ruling saying that the information necessary to make a decision must be attached to the referendum. Signature gatherers must present the entire story. (The case was in San Francisco and the appeal was heard last week.)

The Spotorno's NEVER asserted they weren't subject to any restrictions, only that they be INCLUDED in the discussion of the restrictions. They are subject to the general plan, the planning commission and the city council, unless PP passes, then they are subject to the tyranny of the majority. They have negotiated in good faith with the city and now a group of people want to change the rules of the game. Who are these people??? We don't know who wrote the initiative, we do know know who the public face of the initiative happens to be. . .Brozosky and Ayala. . .both of whom lost their last election. Do those people who voted count? I am sure there were more that voted for their opponent than signed the initiative. Didn't the people speak then?

What is Brozosky's and Ayala's motivation? I think it is Purely Political.

There are NO developments before planning right now. (call them and ask!) PP is illegal. The language can't be changed except by another initiative. Get the facts. Don't be fooled by misrepresentations and lies. PP is risky and will COST THE TAXPAYERS MONEY!

QQ does NOT remove the housing cap. It is the law! It honors the '96 general plan and it provides a public forum to solidify restrictions with a November 2009 deadline.


Yes on QQ!!!!
A better way!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 2, 2008 at 8:45 am

What was the case for the similar referendum to Oak Grove that was heard in SF last week?


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 2, 2008 at 1:45 pm

Bayview Hunters Point Committee v. City and County of San Francisco

"Under the relevant
case law, according to the court, the key factor in construing the "text" requirement of
section 9238 is "ensur[ing] that voters receive essential information necessary to make an
informed decision." In that regard, whether a document was physically attached to an
ordinance at the time of its passage or incorporated into it by reference was immaterial in
the court's view."


Posted by anonymous voter, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2008 at 9:01 am

What I don't get is Republicans supporting Brozosky and PP. If property rights are such a big issue for those of a more conservative leaning, why on earth would they support PP or Brozosky? Aside from being hypocritical, Brozosky and his support of PP are a slap in the face to property owners and their rights.


Posted by Joe for PP, a resident of Downtown
on Nov 3, 2008 at 9:50 am

Documents found lacking by a judge??????????????
Those documents were "certified" by the city attorney Michael Rousch and signed by the city council. This is what is required by law. Kay Ayala asked for clarification not once but twice. People were NOT out on the streets with rouge documentation, they were told by the city that they were carrying everything they needed to keep the process "legal."
When the Lin's brought suit, they brought suit against the CITY as well as Kay Ayala for this "mistake." The city council majority voted to NOT join in the appeal despite city staff recommending that they do. They had gotten an early Christmas present which was just what they wanted-no interference from the public on the Oak Grove development. Save the Hills sponsors (and 5,000 signatories to the referendum) were left to fight on alone, despite the fact they had gotten, according to judge, bad advice from those that were supposed to know better.
BTW do you really want our city attorney with such an atrocious record of giving advice, dealing with the mess of information that will come out of a QQ process (if there really is one-since nothing is guaranteed)?
A Better Way, you need to go back to civics class!!!!
Are you that seriously confused about how we vote in this country?
Do you really think that because 188 more people voted for Hosterman in the last election she gets to dictate how everything gets decided in this town, on any issue?
Wow, it's bad enough that developers have attacked the referendum process, now you want to give elected officials the right to eat the whole enchilada?????? Mayor Hosterman and her developer/paid consultant friends could really use you in her campaign-just don't help her study for the bar for the 6th time though as she appears a little unclear about the law also.
Lasty, sweetie you need to do a little more homework about how the housing cap can be changed with QQ. There is a difference between a vote of the people vs a vote of a seated council majority.


Posted by whoa now, a resident of Foothill High School
on Nov 3, 2008 at 10:20 am

Whoa now, Joe. A little too much coffee this morning?


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2008 at 10:42 am

Rude, rude,rude Certainly the post must have hit a chord.

The law is clear. It is the responsibility of the signature gatherers to have what they need. They are a citizen's group and was told not to depend on the City attorney for what they needed. That was part of the council meeting. You can review the tape. Bayview Hunters Point Committee v. City and County of San Francisco has made that abundantly clear.

I had people present me with documents that were not part of the ordinance. They had been "altered" to show what the signature gatherers wanted to show. That is one of the reasons that the law is very specific about carrying what a person needs to make an informed decision. At another location I was lied to about what was really included in the referendum. I concede they were individuals and might not represent the other signature gatherers.

I think I am very clear about how we vote and the role of the courts in this country. The courts are there to look at the law and make sure it is upheld. They call it blind justice because they rule without the bias of the emotion that might be present by those involved. The court has no vested interest in which side is right but that the law is upheld.

5000 people does not a majority make. They signed to have something on the ballot. It is the sitting council's job to offer an alternative if they believe, as the majority did, that an initiative was bad law and would hold the city, therefore the people of Pleasanton culpable for that law. We will all pay for PP if it passes and as flawed as you might think QQ is, at least it will go through some type of review. We still don't know who wrote PP and we certainly know they have no standing in representing the people of Pleasanton. When in doubt vote no on both.

QQ does not change the Housing CAP. That is an outright lie being propagated the last few days of the election. The Housing Cap is the law and the council is on record as supporting the housing cap. QQ reinforces the way housing units have been counted. This is true now and it was true when Ayala and Brozosky were on the council. This is simple enough to check. Call the city. It is PP that proposes to change the housing cap and that is the problem with it, at least one of the problems.

As many people have pointed out, the developers don't vote in Pleasanton. It must be the majority of us "little people" that cast those ballots. I understand the power of 188 votes. To me that meant Pleasanton is not for sale despite the $80,000 Brozosky spent on his loss.

I also understand the voting process in this country. We are a representative democracy not a direct democracy. If we were a direct democracy then Gore would have been president and the last 8 years would have certainly been different.

You probably don't need to be told that the council is a representative body that requires a majority vote to have something pass. In my opinion, sugar pie, the council needs to listen to all of Pleasanton, not the hand full of people who have been campaigning for PP and elected office the last year. Most people don't know is that the council can't respond to lies and accusations. They have to follow rules. The public, however, can get up and say whatever they want. There is no fact check. And the proponents of PP and certain candidates have certainly used that to their advantage.

I trust that the people of Pleasanton will do the right thing and not succumb to this emotional personal vendetta that seems to have reared its ugly head again.

At any rate, you must be voting No on 8, Joe. Your assumption that I am female is flawed.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 3, 2008 at 11:20 am

"Those documents were "certified" by the city attorney Michael Rousch and signed by the city council."

Again with the "Blame Roush" game? When is anyone going to start holding the party responsible for the referendum responsible for their actions? I wonder if Roush reads these comments at all.

From Bayview Hunters Point Committee v. City and County of San Francisco

"Here, the critical text enacted into law by the Ordinance was the text of the Plan, not the printed words of the Ordinance. The Plan supplied vital information about the effect of the Ordinance, including the boundaries of the redevelopment project area, the allowed use of and limitations on eminent domain, the development of affordable housing, the promotion of jobs and business opportunities for local residents, and the community's role in the planning process.

According to DBHPC, it presents a "moving target" that will leave citizens wishing to circulate referendum petitions having to guess at which documents incorporated by reference in or attached to an ordinance must be included in the petition.

The problem with DBHPC's proposed definition is that it is underinclusive in relation both to the purpose of Elections Code section 9238, and to the breadth of the statutory phrase "the text of the ordinance" (id., subd. (b)). Ordinances can be drafted in multiple ways. When, as in this case, the purpose of the ordinance is to adopt and enact into law a detailed plan that is many pages in length, incorporation of the plan into the ordinance by reference is a perfectly legal and appropriate way of accomplishing the objective. There is no legal requirement that the plan be physically attached to the ordinance when it passes in order for it to have legal force and effect.

We do not hold here that all documents a local legislative body chooses to incorporate by reference in or attach to an ordinance must be included in a referendum petition. We hold only that when a central purpose of the ordinance is to adopt and enact into law the contents of an incorporated or attached document, a referendum petition on the ordinance does not satisfy Elections Code section 9238 unless it includes a copy of that document.

Technical deficiencies in referendum petitions are excused if the form of the petition is in " 'substantial compliance' with statutory and constitutional requirements." (Hebard v. Bybee (1998) 65 Cal.App.4th 1331, 1339.) Thus, if a petition omits required
material that is not essential to understanding the substance of the challenged ordinance, the petition is still valid under the substantial compliance doctrine."

Note: There is no legal requirement that the plan be physically attached to the ordinance when it passes in order for it to have legal force and effect.

Perhaps Kay Ayala et al. can get 5,000 people to send a letter to their State Assembly person to get the law fixed in legislature, like it should be instead of hoping that somehow the judicial system is going to fix a perceived flaw in the Election Code.


Posted by Timing is everything, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2008 at 1:10 pm

So is the Sportorno property zoned for ranching/agriculture or residential? Is it in the urban growth boundary? I thought a lot of the area in Happy Valley was county not Pleasanton.
What comes to my mind is the old adage, "Timing in life is everything." I know plenty of people who wish they had sold their home a year or two ago and now circumstances are such that they find themselves trying to sell in this market. They can only wish that their timing was better.
Maybe if Spotornos had sold 10,20, or 30 years ago their timing would have been better and they would have gotten 'top dollar' for the day.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I think maybe there is something missing here. The Spotornos and others have allotments of units as defined by Pleasanton's 1996 General Plan. This means that there has already been discussion concerning what will happen to their property included in the 1996 General Plan. This plan was adopted by the people of Pleasanton. How and when something is developed is negotiated with the city. The fact that they can negotiate these terms is already set forth in the General Plan. These units are set aside as part of the Housing Cap. They are already included. This isn't MORE housing than what we have already planned for. For Ayala and Brozosky to suggest otherwise is wrong and dishonest. They were on the council and they know better.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2008 at 1:55 pm

I think maybe there is something missing here. The Spotornos and others have allotments of units as defined by Pleasanton's 1996 General Plan. This means that there has already been discussion concerning what will happen to their property included in the 1996 General Plan. This plan was adopted by the people of Pleasanton. How and when something is developed is negotiated with the city. The fact that they can negotiate these terms is already set forth in the General Plan. These units are set aside as part of the Housing Cap. They are already included. This isn't MORE housing than what we have already planned for. For Ayala and Brozosky to suggest otherwise is wrong and dishonest. They were on the council and they know better.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 3, 2008 at 2:52 pm

By the way, it is the same three judges who will hear the Oak Grove appeal that ruled against the Bayview Hunters Point Committee just a few weeks ago because they did not carry the Plan during the signature gathering, but indeed carried the "text" of the ordinance. Very similar to Oak Grove. A key phrase in their ruling that gives insight into their interpretation of Election Code section 9238 is "Here, the critical text enacted into law by the Ordinance was the text of the Plan, not the printed words of the Ordinance. "


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 3, 2008 at 3:04 pm

The Vineyard Specific Plan adopted in 1999 entitles the Brozosky property to contain 3 additional homes, if an owner (not necessarily Brozosky) decided to subdivide those 20 acres. The area is zoned Hillside Residential. See page 20.

Luckily, no one is using direct democracy to legislate away the property owner's right to those 3 additional homes and devaluing that property.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 3, 2008 at 3:23 pm

"BTW do you really want our city attorney with such an atrocious record of giving advice, dealing with the mess of information that will come out of a QQ process (if there really is one-since nothing is guaranteed)?"

This question, incidentally, generates the reverse, "do you really want to rely upon whoever wrote PP with such a record of irresponsibility to not vet the legality of the referendum petition against a second and third lawyer and instead relied upon a single source (City Attorney)?"


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