Town Square

Post a New Topic

State court rules in favor of Ayala, citizens group in bid to block Oak Grove development

Original post made on Jul 16, 2009

Former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala and the citizens group she organized won their petition in the State Court of Appeal today that n effect gives them the right to seek a reversal of a City Council decision that would allow the controversial Oak Grove 51-home development to be built in Pleasanton's southeast hills.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, July 16, 2009, 6:08 PM

Comments (59)

 +   Like this comment
Posted by common sense
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2009 at 7:24 pm

I guess bribes don't work all the time!!!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by MainStreetDiva
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 16, 2009 at 8:21 pm

MainStreetDiva is a registered user.

WOW. I'm really surprised at this decision.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ?????
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2009 at 8:48 pm

Let the fun begin. . .


 +   Like this comment
Posted by impartialobserver
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 16, 2009 at 9:32 pm

What could happen if the ordinance is not repealed by the Council and instead is submitted to the voters? Quoting from an analysis of the decision:

If it is submitted to and approved by the voters, then "this ordinance will be approved after Measure PP and thus would be illegal based on the provisions of PP -- since PP will have been [indeed has been] approved prior to this ordinance being voted on. PP does not allow for exclusions like this, and in order for Oak Grove to go forward, there would need to be a vote of the people to amend the general plan (that Measure PP enacted). That would require another initiative and is not part of this referendum."

So it seems for Oak Grove to become a reality, the voters would effectively need to approve it *twice* via the referendum process. Of course all this probably won't happen until the Lins appeal to the California Supreme Court.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Justice
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2009 at 4:54 am

The real issue here is that the citizens of Pleasanton have had to resort to the courts to force their city government to do the right thing, first with Oak Grove and just recently with the Staples Ranch EIR. The City Council majority (Hosterman, Cook-Kallio, Thorne) are so firmly in the pockets of developers and the Chamber PAC that they are abdicating their responsibility to their constituents as well as to the rule of law. Citizens shouldn't be forced to spend their own money and go to court to ensure fair representation. Both these court cases are short-term fixes - what is needed is a wholesale change on the Council.

Ayala is a true hero! Thank you, Kay.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 17, 2009 at 6:58 am

Hosterman, Cook-Kallio and Thorne -- hope you enjoyed your all expense paid trip or whatever the Lin's paid you. You won't likely get any more money since they will be paying off the legal expenses. Justice has been done!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 17, 2009 at 8:13 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The decision seems to hinge upon the idea that citizens don't have control over how an ordinance is written, unlike they do in an initiative. The judges are basically saying that the language of an ordinance could be defective in some manner and that this relieves petitioners from their responsibility of substantial compliance with the text requirement. Sounds reasonable. But then one has to step outside of the box and imagine the other side of the equation, the property owner, who also didn't have control over how the ordinance was written.

This court didn't consider the larger issue, which is, can the initiative and referendum process be used here in what amounts to the confiscation of property without just compensation? I don't think this will be the last word on this issue. Normally a property owner would just go back to the drawing board and submit a new proposal, but Measure PP really prevents that (see post by impartialobserver above).


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 17, 2009 at 8:14 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Forgot to provide the link to the opinion issued by the court: Web Link


 +   Like this comment
Posted by sad
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

It's sad that a land owner for over 30 years - with prior General Plans, City Councils, Planning Boards etc, allowing homes on his land – comes to find that he/she may no longer build those homes.

I don't know the family involved but it just seems that regardless of which side of this issue you are on, that it should be a bit disturbing that a citizen can purchase property, and have approvals over many, many years to build on that land, and now be in a position to build............and now be told you cannot build.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by West Side Observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 17, 2009 at 10:15 am

What a travesty. Ayala did not have or display or talk about her supporting documents when she approached me at Lucky. All she did was point to Pleasanton Ridge and ask if I wanted McMansions built there. When I allowed as how that I did if the property owners were going to donate 500 acres to the city, she backed off a bit. When I asked if her petition had a financial element to pay the Lins for the taking of their land if the referendum passed, she couldn't understand the concept of the takings clause of the 5th amendment to The Constitution of the United States of America. Duh. Not many of the eco-extremists know about the constitution or care for that matter.
Sad, sad day.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Longtime Resident
a resident of Verona
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:21 am

OK for McGoverin to live on the ridge, ok for Bozo Brozoski and Mary Roberts to live on a ridge. OK for Ayala to approve homes on a ridge once upon a time. Community of Characters all---not. Kottinger Ranch folks are NIMBYS. Sorry we ever built it. People below them were too kind. They call it a "Destination Neighborhood"--too good for traffic. Hogwash, wantabe Black Hawkers which they can never be--not enough money or class. Ayala For Mayor-just watch the .....


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Mike
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:32 am

Thank goodness the citizens can finally vote down this awful ridgetop subdivision to stop this just like the citizens did in the early 1990s (the "Kottinger Hills" one)!

I agree with what common sense wrote above-the Lins might have bought off the elected officials and the the "Do Not Sign" petition contingent in this city, but at least we see that the judges weren't affected by the Lin $$$$ and did the right thing!

When the Lins sued when Alameda County passed the Measure D initiative (another citizens' initiative), they lost. THen they used the same tactics here in Pleasanton. And lost!! This is a day to celebrate!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by +Barbara
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:57 am

For anyone who doesn't know, the Lins are a very wealthy family who do not live in the U.S. They bought up much of the Pleasanton/Livermore valley years ago and periodically they sell off and develop a portion to finance their lifestyle. No one needs to feel sorry for them. Kay Ayala did a terrific job leading this fight, since Hosterman and Co. clearly received some type of compensation from the Lins for pushing their development plan. You saw the threat from their attorney - "(If this project is denied), the property owner will continue to propose projects for this property until one is finally approved and built, with or without a park." We need to keep fighting the Lins because they don't care if our hills are eventually covered with houses - as long as they get their money.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 17, 2009 at 12:39 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

No one needs to defend the Lins. They're capable of that themselves. Equally, characterizations of the Lins or their motives accomplish nothing. I'm certain that Barbara would sing a different tune if she happened to purchase land somewhere, have the right to develop it in some manner, then have her chain yanked by the local populace.

BTW, Barbara, those hills are not "ours". They're owned by the Lins. If you want them to be "ours", either pay for them or work out some deal with the property owner to gain a 500 acre public park out of a 600 acre property that is mutually beneficial to both "us" and the property owner.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Justice
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Stacey,

Despite your never-ending assertions of Private Property Rights Uber Alles, cities have broad discretion on land use decisions in California. And it's also within the city's discretion to require amenities for a development project, e.g. open space. As you well know, city governments are representatives of the people. Just because the Lin's – or anyone else – own the land it doesn't mean that they can building anything they want – especially when it's in conflict with community values.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by West Side Observer
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 17, 2009 at 2:40 pm

Justice is the problem. Community values my fanny. Want the hills, buy them or trade for them. However, don't take them as if they were yours in the first place. This kind of thinking is pervasive and scary.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jul 17, 2009 at 2:41 pm

Great job Ayala. I really admire your guts to stand up to the bullies in the City Council.I live in Kottinger Ranch so yes it does effect me but I would request the citizens of Pleasanton to take a deep breath and think about this issue. It is not that you support the development or not. It is about the citizens right to petition and go to the voters if they do not agree with the decisions of the high and mighty. This is what democracy is all about. I was born and brought up in a different land where the citizens do not have such rights. Heck most countries in the world do not have this right. We should be proud of our system where powerful and rich families like the Lins cannot buy their way through.(By the way when they purchased this land it was not within the city limits and was not zoned residential.They got it done with influence and spending money.So stop feeling sorry for them.) We the citizens have the right and power to overturn. I would request the majority in the council to listen to the voice of the people. To the resident of Verona neighborhood we are hard working people like everyone else and are not spoilt and rich brats.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 17, 2009 at 2:56 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Justice,

And neither did I say that the Lins can do whatever they want with their land. All I'm saying is that you can't go to the other extreme and use the direct democracy processes to completely strip the property owner's rights without just compensation. Measure PP in combination with this referendum does that essentially. Cities can't treat land use law as a constantly moving target no matter how wide of discretion they're given in California. Half Moon Bay found that out. We can't be jerking the Lins around constantly on the development opportunities for that land and then suddenly change the laws so they can't develop it.

Neither is Oak Grove in conflict with the community, as "Justice" suggests. The development proposal passed all General Plan requirements, pre-Measure PP. How is a 500 acre public park in complete conflict with the community?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Howard
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 17, 2009 at 3:32 pm

The original approval did not follow the General Plan in place. It instead said there were overriding considerations that said certain stipulations in the General Plan were not applicable and could be overridden. And that 'public park' that is in the Ordinance is not a park at all but a trail that stipulates in the ordinance that is for use by Oak Grove and Kottinger Ranch residents, not the general public. The public can read that when it gets published in the ballot pamphlet or it is available on the city's website. The 6 acre park that had been part of the application was deleted by the Parks and Recreation Commission.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by javadoc
a resident of Dublin
on Jul 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm

Hey, Justice, your moniker is a misnomer. You lost me at your revealing characterization of "Private Property Rights Uber Alles." Just because legal documents give you "broad discretion" one way or another in California, you don't have to agree with what is allowed - and if you don't like things, you change them. Many people are outraged at what the California Supreme Court recently said about what the State Constitution allows with regard to marriage. Maybe they should just suck it up and deal with the fact that "the citizenry has broad discretion on restricting rights of minority groups in California."

And Barbara, it's nice to see that wealth envy is alive and well - in Pleasanton, of all places!

What is happening here is Wrong. Listen to the little voices of petty tyrants waving their righteous local land use ordinances.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 17, 2009 at 4:25 pm

I've been watching this and reading all the comments. I asked myself if I would buy land somewhere (like Africa) for the sole purpose of making money by developing it later. I honestly can't say that this is a wonderful way to make a living...especially if my "right" to develop this land caused a lot of grief with the community members. I don't live is Africa; I don't see these people everyday; they aren't my neighbors; so how can I possibly understand/care/love this part of the world? Isn't it better to make money by combining creative innovation with social justice? i.e. devise new ways to use our natural resources efficiently.

The Lins Capitalistic exploitive way of thinking needs to become prehistoric thinking (for all of us). WAKE UP PEOPLE! Our planet is dying...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff
a resident of West of Foothill
on Jul 17, 2009 at 4:55 pm

For those who are interested, these four paragraphs are what I see as the gist of the court's decision, from pages 10-12 in the opinion:

"The right to referendum is a "precious" one [citation omitted], and citizens wishing to exercise this right should not be required to guess at the documents to be included in a referendum petition. Limiting the "text" requirement of section 9238 to the words of the challenged ordinance and those documents attached to it or incorporated by reference provides citizens circulating a referendum petition with fair notice of its required contents and insures that voters presented with the petition will know the language of the ordinance being challenged. This strikes a reasonable balance between a citizen's right to circulate a referendum petition and the voters' interest in being adequately apprised of the issue presented. If a voter requires additional information about the effects of the ordinance at issue, he or she can seek it out before deciding whether to sign a referendum petition. [citation omitted]

"Our interpretation of the text requirement also ensures that city and county clerks charged with certifying referendum petitions will not be called upon to make quasi-judicial evaluations of a petition's validity. In certifying a referendum petition, a clerk's duty is limited to the ministerial function of determining whether the procedural requirements have been met. [citation omitted] This duty includes a determination of whether the petition includes the "text" of the ordinance challenged. Were we to construe the text requirement to include documents that were neither attached to nor incorporated into the ordinance itself, the ministerial duty of checking the text could too easily be transformed into a discretionary act exceeding the "straightforward comparison of the submitted petition with the statutory requirements for petitions" that is authorized by law. [citation omitted]

"Finally, the Lins suggest a different result is required because under local law, a Development Plan for an approved PUD such as the Oak Grove project constitutes the actual zoning legislation for the project. [citation omitted] That a development plan has much the same effect as a zoning ordinance does not mean that all ordinances referencing a development plan can be deemed, as a matter of law, to have incorporated that plan by reference. The local zoning laws of Pleasanton do not supersede the provisions of section 9238 and the statewide requirements for referendum petitions.

"The referendum petition circulated by Ayala complied with the literal requirements of section 9238 and the trial court erred in granting the writ on that basis. The Lins have not argued that the judgment in their favor may be upheld on alternative grounds rejected by the trial court .... We therefore reverse the judgment (of the trial court)."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jeff
a resident of West of Foothill
on Jul 17, 2009 at 5:01 pm

Shorter version of the above section:

1. The right to referendum is a precious one, and citizens wishing to exercise this right should not be required to guess at the documents to be included.

2. The duty of city clerks in certifying referendum petitions is limited to the ministerial function of determining whether the procedural requirements have been met.

3. That a development plan has much the same effect as a zoning ordinance does not mean that all ordinances referencing a development plan can be deemed, as a matter of law, to have incorporated that plan by reference.

4. The referendum petition circulated by Ayala complied with the literal requirements of section 9238 and the trial court erred.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kurt Kummer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 17, 2009 at 5:09 pm

Howard, you are mistaken. The park you refer to is actually planned to be a 500 acre nature preserve, with a trail system meandering through the hills, and connecting to the north and south towards Shadowcliffs and Callippe. There would be a trail staging area with a small parking lot. The new 500 acre park would be open to all residents, not just members of certain small neighborhoods. Thanks.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 17, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Jeff,

Certainly the question of whether the referendum is in compliance with the "text" requirement has always been the primary basis (first cause of action) of this lawsuit. The Lins contend it wasn't in compliance because there was no Development Plan attached to the petition.

The trial court said the referendum petition was in technical compliance (i.e., the Development Plan was not included by reference). The Development Plan is modified by one of the attachments to the ordinance so the purpose of the "text" requirement (prevent voter confusion) was frustrated without inclusion of those parts being modified. I.e., how is a voter supposed to compare what the ordinance modifies of the Development Plan without seeing the unchanged version?

The appeals court is saying that technical compliance in this case is fine and dandy because Ayala and fellow petitioners didn't write the ordinance. If the ordinance is basically defective because it should have incorporated the Development Plan by reference since it is modifying it, that doesn't matter because the petitioners have no control over that. Additionally, the appeals court feels that this ordinance was not defective enough to induce voter confusion.

"In this case, __for whatever reason__, Ordinance No. 1961 did not include the Development Plan it approved, nor did it incorporate that plan by reference or attach it as an exhibit. Ayala had no direct control over the drafting of the ordinance and __it would place an unreasonable burden__ on her and on other referenda proponents to determine whether additional documents that were neither included nor incorporated by reference ought to be included in the referendum petition."


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Diana
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 17, 2009 at 7:22 pm

I did not have a problem with the Oak Grove development but I supported the communities right to put it to a vote. I was disappointed in our city councils lack of citizen support and and I thought the decision of Judge Roush must have been bought and paid for.
I had given up on any hope of getting a corruption free decision. Kay has done the community and all of California a great service by persevering to protect the citizens right to participate in local decisions.

Thanks Kay!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by CEASAR
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 17, 2009 at 9:40 pm

I came. I saw. I conquered.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jane
a resident of Avila
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:41 pm

I looked on the city's website and on page 47 of the Ordinance 1961 it says in the exact words : "Provide for a system of trails in the Oak Grove open space for use by Oak Grove and Kottinger Ranch owners."

I searched on the words "nature preserve" and the words were not found. There is no so-called "nature preserve" mentioned at all in the approval for the Oak Grove city approval documents.

Looks like Howard is correct.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 17, 2009 at 11:55 pm

Prediction - The Lin's will come back with a plan that doesn't include houses on the peak of the hills(wasn't that the original objection)or something similar. It will be approved, the city will get it's parkland and the Lin's will be relieved of the tax burden on the worthless, non-buildable land(the donated park land). We all have a big group hug, everyone goes home happy(Hosterman can claim the credit for bringing us all together)and the Lin's simply go to the bank with a little less profit to deposit...

I could be wrong - I have been before and probably will be again in the future...

By the way, where's Frank(don't remember his neighborhood)? He lectured us, at length, on the merits of this case and almost assured an Ayala defeat. What say you now, Frank??? Per the Appeals Court - it would seem the "Three Amigos"(your term for Ayala's legal team)weren't so dumb after all...


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Linda
a resident of Birdland
on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:46 am

Jerry, I too remember Frank's 'happy dance' celebration at the last decision and have wondered why he is not graciously congratulating Kay for her victory on Pleasanton's behalf.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Amazing
a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:57 am



It is all about the numbers. Originally, it was proposed that the Lins develop 33 homes. They would not have been on the peaks, would not have been visible from anywhere, and there would have been no organized opposition. THere were just too many side deals done on this and the 51 homes, especially given their size and location, create the hornets nest.

Regardless, however, the right of the people to vote on this has been preserved and shame on the City Council for not honoring that.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by Kurt Kummer
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Jul 18, 2009 at 11:36 am

Jane, where are you finding your information about Ordinance No. 1961? The city's website has it in full, and it's 41 pages long, so I'm not sure where you see page 47. However, on page 31 of 41 in Ordinance No. 1961, dated Oct.2, 2007, it reads "Open Space Area. The property owner shall dedicate...to the City of Pleasanton... the open space area...The open space area shall be subject to an open space/conservation easement granted to the Tri Valley Conservancy or other organization authorized to hold open space/conservation easements..." On the same page it goes on to state "Before the sale of the fifth lot, the project developer shall install local and regional public trails in the open space area..." And then on the Development Agrement (Ord. No. 1962) it states "D. Developer intends to develop the Project Site as a residential community of 51 dwelling units, together with other uses and including 497 acres of permanent open space and a regional trail..."

Sorry this stuff is so dry to read, but it's pretty clear that a trail system and staging area are planned. A PUBLIC trail system, and PERMANENT open space/conservation area of 497 acres.

So I don't understand how Howard can say the trails wouldn't be open to the public -- they would! And I called this area a nature preserve, which is how I think of it. The legal document says "permanent open space/conservation area." That's the same thing, in my view, and Howard is mistaken. Please let me know where you see something different, as I sure can't find it.

Thanks for reading.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Sue
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jul 18, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Thank you Kay Ayala and the citizens group for preserving citizens' rights to referend! You are my heroine!

I looked at the city's ordinance and exhibits on the website (122 pages long) at www.pleasanton.ca.us and I will be definitely voting NO on this horrible development.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 18, 2009 at 12:56 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Howard, Jane, and Sue all provide very good examples of why both ordinance 1961 and 1962 should be read in full (more than 122 pages) by all conscientious voters even though only ordinance 1961 is being referended. The appeals court says that what the petitioners circulated with the petition was good enough to prevent voter confusion even though there's other documents that the ordinance was deficient in _explicitly_ incorporating by reference. It seems like that isn't the case as we have confusion right here, right now.

Ordinance 1961: Web Link
Ordinance 1962: Web Link

On page 47 of Ord. 1961 at the link I provided, number 10 says: "Provide for a system of trails in the Oak Grove open space for use by Oak Grove and Kottinger Ranch owners"

What Jane didn't provide was the context of this line. If you scroll up, you'll see that this line comes from a list prefixed by a line: "The City finds that the Environmentally Superior Project as approved would have the following benefits". The entire section is entitled "VII Findings and Statement of Overriding Consideration" and the document this is found in is Exhibit A Environmental Findings and Statement of Overriding Consideration.

I do not see where this makes the park only accessible to certain owners a requirement. It is only a statement describing the benefits of the "Environmentally Superior Project" (recall that there were three different alternatives presented in the proposal) and is not a requirement of the development. Some of the development requirements related to the park have been outlined by Kurt Kummer above.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 18, 2009 at 1:04 pm

There is justice! Mark a win for the "little" guy! But the real questions is, with PP & QQ clear winners in last November's, will the 3 council members drag our pocket book through a costly election when they already know the outcome? People don't want the 51 houses on the ridges (even with the gift of a steep hiking trail) and we also don't want to pay for an election to re-state that fact. Will Jen, Cheryl and Jerry force us to pay for election when the money could be used better in another place? Will the council reverse their approval of OG and "just say no" to the Lin's?

BTW, I see cows on that land all of the time. It is a current working cattle ranch making $$ for the Lin's as it is now. They can continue to rent out the ranch or plant wine grapes in the flater areas! The grapes behind Costco are on hillsides!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Is there a pro/con summary for this issue somewhere on the Internet? I don't get what the fuss is about. Why not build the homes?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by jack
a resident of West of Foothill
on Jul 18, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Geez 'question,' that's an easy one! Why not build the 51 homes and get a 497 acre open space/trails system in return? The answer is the "I've got mine" NIMBY neighbors!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get it in Writing
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 18, 2009 at 3:18 pm

What irks me in this conversation is the reference to a "trail system."
Much like the phantom promises of Measure G this whole "system" reference is not worth the paper it's been written on. The ONLY thing "guaranteed" here would be the 1.5 mile dirt (steep, probably yes) path Stacy and Kurt refer to. As for connecting Callippe Golf Course to Shadow Cliffs, this is wishful thinking at best.

There are so many variables that would need to literally fall into place, that to suggest it is even "likely" to happen is to tell a rather large fib.

There is absolutely NO agreement for this "plan" by ANY other landowner whose property would need to be traversed. Some of the property is held by folks who would probably NEVER give it over, and some of it would be subject to a vote of Alameda County residents (Measure D) before it could be developed. Like I said, wishful thinking at best.
This is 1.5 mile dirt path from nowhere to nowhere-going nowhere. NOT a trail "system."

Stacy, you were one to point out that more time should have been taken to ferret out a proper Measure G wish list, couldn't the same be hoped for for the Oak Grove development as well as others? Shouldn't ALL the ducks be in a row in order to proceed if a true "trail system" is what Parks and Rec wants? With PP and QQ now in place shouldn't the city start a conversation among the landowners about what would be the best way to proceed? Allowing one or two to proceed with land gifts for development rights without the buy-in from the others (landowners, city of Pleasanton residents, Alameda County residents and conservancy administrators included) is the "big fib" I'm talking about.

And Kurt, pssst... if there are no houses on any of it-it's all STILL open space or a "nature preserve." Or at least that's how I see it.

Thanks Kay and Karla for putting the much needed brakes on this development.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by ????
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2009 at 3:31 pm

GiiW, you forget one thing. . .its private land and if there aren't any houses on it, the land may still be open space or a "nature preserve but there's nothing to give you or me any right to take advantage/use it unless the City (taxpayers) were to buy it. (And no, the EBRPD isn't interested in acquiring it in at least the next 20 years.)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2009 at 4:42 pm

Stacey...you are what provides a better future for Pleasanton even when being wrong promotes others to do their homework to understand the depth of issue. Thank you for your own interpretation,opinion as you see it.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Question
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2009 at 4:47 pm

51 houses sounds like tax revenue to me. Are people worried it will spoil the view? Lower their home values?

To "Get it in writing", what is the problem with a dirt trail? Do you want a paved trail?


 +   Like this comment
Posted by education supporter
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 18, 2009 at 6:37 pm

. . .and don't forget the revenue the school district will collect from the new homes--but oops Kay doesn't support the school district.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get it in Writing
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 18, 2009 at 6:43 pm

????, who wants to take "advantage" of the property?
My point was that the 1.5 trail in the Oak Grove development plan is not a SYSTEM it's a trail from nowhere to nowhere. If the city purports to want a "system" from somewhere to somewhere they should get the parties together to plan a REAL one. Development will happen in what's left of the hills a some point so shouldn't we make the best of it for all parties involved?
I'm just so sick of hearing about all these great advantages attached to this system (that we are missing out on!) that just don't exist.
????, you seem to forget that landowners are not able to build whatever they want in any town without the approval of the neighbors. Would you want the Lins to open a toxic waste dump on the property if they thought they could make a few more bucks doing it-and the city couldn't stop it? Even you would have to admit that would be taking property rights a bit too far.
Like it or not that is the system we have-city governments, neighbors and city residents have rights to speak out or vote on what people choose to do with their property if the effects of doing so harm them-or the environment-in some perceived way. If we have to live with the fallout from a project, water use, traffic, environmental destruction etc. we SHOULD have a say in what gets approved. While the city council majority doesn't get that concept at least Kay and Karla do.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 18, 2009 at 8:59 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Get it in Writing wrote: "Stacy, you were one to point out that more time should have been taken to ferret out a proper Measure G wish list, couldn't the same be hoped for for the Oak Grove development as well as others?"

Actually, I think it was Kathleen Ruegsegger who first suggested a community-wide survey on something like SurveyMonkey to form a wish list. I remember Kay Ayala speaking back in a January or early February forum PUSD held at Amador that it feels like PUSD was rushing to a parcel tax. I agreed with them. As for Oak Grove, I understand that this has been 15 years in the making. Is that not enough time?

GiiW also wrote: "If the city purports to want a "system" from somewhere to somewhere they should get the parties together to plan a REAL one. Development will happen in what's left of the hills a some point so shouldn't we make the best of it for all parties involved?"

Well, there is the Pleasanton Trails Master Plan from 1993 (Web Link). It is some form of overall plan. Future goals have to be formed and published in some manner before we can even hope to build a system, no? What I mean is, how can we proceed with building the whole system if we don't start identifying and collecting it on a piece by piece basis? It doesn't seem to me that EBRPD goes around getting "buy in" from neighboring property owners. They get what they can when candidate properties become available, especially the ones that fill in holes, so to speak. Feel free to correct me.

Pete,
Thanks. I like to think that those of us who write here in a serious or semi-serious manner do so because we care enough about local issues in some way, even if we don't always agree.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get it in writing-first
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 19, 2009 at 1:22 am


Stacy, while you make a few good points there are a few holes here and there. The Oak Grove plan 15 years in the making? Not even close. The last go round-the one approved by our city council majority was about 2 years on the drawing board. Before that time it had many incarnations. The whole "park and trail" idea was added (and the "park" deleted) at the last minute to make the project seem palatable to the public, CoP Parks and Rec included.
Again, trying to call the Oak Grove trail a "system" is what really bothers me. It isn't, and pretending that it will happen at some point WITHOUT a proper agreement in place amongst the property owners and other interested parties is a big fat fib.

Your paragraph:
"Well, there is the Pleasanton Trails Master Plan from 1993 (Web Link). It is some form of overall plan. Future goals have to be formed and published in some manner before we can even hope to build a system, no? What I mean is, how can we proceed with building the whole system if we don't start identifying and collecting it on a piece by piece basis? It doesn't seem to me that EBRPD goes around getting "buy in" from neighboring property owners. They get what they can when candidate properties become available, especially the ones that fill in holes, so to speak. Feel free to correct me."

seems out of place here. I am not talking about acquiring (buying?) property for the EBRPD. What I am referring to are gift parcels of "free land" from parties interested in acquiring development rights to their land. This is the most likely scenario for trail acquisition in the southeast hills. (EBRPD has already passed on being a part of this much flouted Oak Grove trail plan, in part because of the identified destruction of endangered species habitat).
Acquiring bits and pieces of property without a plan would be silly to Nth degree. Great, 1.5 miles here, 1 mile there, and two miles around the corner, if they are not connected, who cares? What would be accomplished in the long run if the "holes" could NEVER be filled?
The very Master Plan you have given a link for cites a plan first idea perfectly, it says to:
"Provide a document for the City to assist in coordinating the development of a trail and route system with the County, neighboring municipalities, regional agencies, the community, land owners and developers."
Add discussions around the new restrictions of Measure D, and Measures PP and QQ and there could possibly be a workable plan to get the trail "system" we seem to have been promised.



 +   Like this comment
Posted by annonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2009 at 7:38 am

The innuendo and misinformation, not to mention the character assassination is embarrassing in a community as well educated as this one.

Oak Grove was approved by a 4-1 vote after 9 (nine) public meetings and years of negotiations.

The issue will now be before the voters but as you can see from these posts it won't be a straight up and down vote. It will be based on accusations and emotion.

The council NEVER approved one house, not one. Those proposed would have to go through the council and they were nestled between hills NOT on top.

The development came with 500 acres of publicly accessible open space with a trail system open to all of Pleasanton. The people opposed to this access this land as their private open space. They want to keep others from it and continue to use it as their private backyard park. It belongs to someone else. It is unbelievable that someone would diminish someone's property rights because they are rich or don't live here now. One of the Lin's is and American CITIZEN. Both of them own the land legally. It is flat racism.

Finally, to accuse council members, any council members of being bought off because you disagree with the outcome is inflamatory and slanderous. It shows little class and absolutely NO character.

However, the question wasn't whether Oak Grove should be built but whether the development should go to the voters. It will not be up to all of us, not just the ten percent who may or may not have understood what they were signing or whether the info presented was accurate. Accurate information about the council approved development (4-1) is available, will be available. Voters PLEASE educate yourself.




 +   Like this comment
Posted by annonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2009 at 7:41 am

Whoops spelling correction on the last paragraph!


However, the question wasn't whether Oak Grove should be built but whether the development should go to the voters. It will NOW be up to all of us, not just the ten percent who may or may not have understood what they were signing or whether the info presented was accurate.

Accurate information about the council approved development (4-1) is available, will be available. Voters PLEASE educate yourself.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 19, 2009 at 9:21 am

Stacey is a registered user.

GiiW,

The 1996 General Plan directs the City to acquire land in such a way. You said yourself this is the most likely scenario for trail acquisition in the southeast hills. The Trails Master Plan seems to satisfy the planning of the system (the line you cite says development of a trail system, not development of a plan for a trail system). So I'm still not seeing that there's a solid ground for your argument that the trails in Oak Grove are part of a larger system is some fib.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get it in writing-first
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 19, 2009 at 3:30 pm

Stacy,
It's difficult for me to understand what you are saying. The Master Plan says again:
"Provide a document for the City to assist in coordinating the development of a trail and route system with the County, neighboring municipalities, regional agencies, the community, land owners and developers."
It does not say to independently approve bits and pieces of trail here and there and hope they come together at some point. That just does not make sense at all.

Approving one 1.5 mile stretch of trail is not a "system" by the city's own definition. So WHY do people keep saying it is??????????

There is no plan for a route for this trail system stated as going from Callippe to Shadow Cliffs outside of someone's imagination. No "coordination" whatsoever. There is no outside agency to monitor or assume financial responsibilty for it. Just a short piece of trail from nowhere to nowhere within a housing development with the city I guess emptying the garbage cans in the parking lot. Not a "system!"

So, as the Master Plan advises, first come up with a document that provides direction to the city to pull together interested parties to then come up with a "coordinated" plan that maps out a real trail system. As I also said this will definitely involve some development in the southeast hills (I've never advocated taking away a landowners development rights) but at least the city residents would be left with something positive and productive to show for it.
South Livermore managed it-why can't we?

Annonymous, get a grip! Just because people had legimate concerns about the Oak Grove project does not make them "racists." Goodness knows that line of thought got trotted out often enough during the Measure G campaign when people opposed to the parcel tax were labled child haters because they didn't like the ballot language-and asked a few pertinent questions. People asking questions over the years has kept Pleasanton the lovely town it is. Without those questions we could easily look like Dublin or the Penninsula.

And yes, building sites were to be established on top of the hills. Often there was to be 10 to 20 feet of hilltop lopped off with a bulldozer (and the dirt and trees pushed into the ravines) to create proper buidling pads for the coming homes. To suggest otherwise is pure fantasy. Read the paperwork (I carried it and I can tell you it explains the process very well).
Also, go to Stacey's post and the to the link for the Trails Master Plan. LOOK AT THE DEFINITION OF A TRAIL SYSTEM!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by annonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 19, 2009 at 5:21 pm

I read it! I get it and I think you are wrong since NO HOMES WERE EVER APPROVED. (for emphasis, not meant to be yelling!)

The racist comment was directed at those people who somehow seek to diminish the rights of a property owner because of where they reside.

We can disagree, respectfully but this thread for the most part is emotional banter.

I do find it disingenuous and somewhat hypocritical for those people who live in or on the hills, or on land originally owned by the Lin's to talk about preserving those hills when one can't see them because there are already houses in the way. That private land is just that, private. I they are already hiking on it, they are trespassing.

And if you were one of the petitioners who actually read what you were carrying, thank you. Many I encountered did not have the facts and clearly had not read it. Even if we disagree at least it is based on our understanding of the facts. You do need to reread the section on those homes because the only thing that was approved was the FAR, No homes, no models. . .they would have to go before the council.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get it in Writing
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 19, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Annonymous,
While the development plan did not list individual homes specifically(duh!), there were explicit plans as to where each home would be situated on the property. They were not nestled in between the hills by any stretch of the imagination.

I do not live in Kottinger Ranch, would not see those homes from my home, and frankly had no problem with the project until Kay showed me the paperwork. I was horrified by a clause stating that even if a water shortage developed and the rest of Pleasanton had to conserve water (a likely scenario I'd say given the last few years)the project for those projected HUGE homes could continue unabated.
I was stunned by this and continued to read on. In my opinion the project did not have a lot to offer Pleasanton. As a hiker I thought the 1.5 mile "trail" was a farce. I'd love to see a path from Callippe to Shadow Cliffs but just don't see it as a reality any time soon.
More planning should be done.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 19, 2009 at 10:16 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

GiiW,

What I'm saying is that the Trails Master Plan document I linked to is the document which is the subject of the line: "Provide a document for the City to assist in coordinating the development of a trail and route system with the County, neighboring municipalities, regional agencies, the community, land owners and developers." I think my reading of this is backed up by the fact that the quote above comes from section 2: "Study Objectives". That section lays out the objectives the Master Plan document completes in order to provide the reader with history and context of the process that produced the Trails Master Plan. The document is being self-referential in this case. Actual goals yet to achieve are in section 11: "The Master Plan". I.e., the goal of "provide a document" is already completed by the existence of this Trails Master Plan.

I think what you're looking for are actual contracts with property owners. If you notice in the Trails Master Plan, it mentions that actual routes may vary depending upon the opportunities that present themselves. I like to think of this in terms of the proverb "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush." It means that as we achieve the goals in the Trails Master Plan a little bit at a time, it leads towards the whole system being completed. If we don't have certain pieces already built (like the Oak Grove 1.5 miles), it makes it easier for the trail system plan to not be implemented.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 19, 2009 at 10:22 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

PS: I understand better now your point about the Oak Grove trail being called a system. Certainly it is not a regional system at this point. It can only become part of a system after it and the rest of the plan is implemented. I don't think I've ever said it is a system (other than a self-contained system). I intend that it is only a piece of a future regional system. We have Callipe on one end and hopefully we'll get Oak Grove in the middle on the way to the other end. That provides a lot of incentive to connect all the trails just the way the existence of Shadow Cliffs and the Pleasanton Ridge provided incentive to develop a plan to connect those pieces of land through the southeast hills.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 19, 2009 at 10:26 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

annonymous wrote: "they are already hiking on it, they are trespassing."

I don't think it is just "them" who live up there that are hiking on it. :)


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:05 am

Excellent points raised. GiiW is dead on when he noted that the Development Plan included (yes it was a 4-1 vote), but was not limited to:
* The location of the houses has been determined
* The max. size of the houses on a lot per lot basis is set
* The number of houses
* Grading has been approved for over 40+ vertical feet off the top of some of the ridges to build lots and roads
* City reports state nearly 1000 native trees will be removed
* The ingress/egress routes plus the EVA routes are set
* OG will offer a single link in the potential chain of trails
* Finally, the gift of 500 acres of steep terrain/open space is part of the Development Plan. Who will be footing the bill to maintain the open space and remote trail-it is agreed upon-the taxpayers.

These are all critical factors in the public's approval of this development. Critical and by the way - and not at all complicated either.

It seems obvious to me after the clear support of Measure PP & QQ here in Pleasanton, voters are not interested in this developement - and the Council that supports it plus the developer/land owners need to accept that fact. Yes it will reduce the value of the land - but isn't that what land speculation is all about? You win some and you loose some.

To sit and argue about no houses have been approved yet - is really not important.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Karen
a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Jul 20, 2009 at 10:10 am

Regarding hiking on the hills - have you looked lately? The barbed wire fencing is a clear message to keep out. Oh plus the No Trespassing signs. I hear stories about teens up there making out & lighting campfires. Anyone up there knows that they shouldn't be there and should be escroted out by Pleas. Police!


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Roger
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Jul 20, 2009 at 11:49 am

Please stop feeling sorry for the Lins. I agree that we should not say unpleasant or rude things based on where they live etc etc . They are land developers. They bought this and other land in Dublin long time ago at very low prices. It is the nature of the business that they take a gamble on whether they will get permission to build or not. This land was zoned Agriculture when they bought it.So no one should say that land is being taken without compensation. The issue is not that homes are being built in the hills which will spoil the hills it is also that there is only one ingress and exit that is via Hearst Drive. Imagine what happens if there is a fire. Secondly the traffic which will be added to Bernal.
To all those who talk about revenue to the city and the school district would it not be better to build condos/homes close to BART so it is eco friendly plus gives a chance to our fire fire fighters and teachers to live and work here.What Pleasanton needs most is affordable housing and not Mega Mansions.
To me it seems Stacey is working for the Lins or their attorney.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Get it in Writing
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Jul 20, 2009 at 12:25 pm

Stacy, yes at some point I'd like to see a plan in writing, contracts and all.
As I've said part of the route I heard the Park and Rec folks talk about lies in Measure D land. Purporting to the public that the Oak Grove "trail" will be part of a "system" including this land, as well as other land held by other private, rather eccentric folks is what irks me the most. This will involve a tremendous effort to accomplish if it is indeed possible. No one to my knowledge has even started this conversation so selling it to the public as even probable is disingenuous at best and a fib at worst. And yet, I hear about this trail system all the time as if fact.

When the public figured out that $1 million in traffic mitigation wasn't much (the trees, plants and resurfacing of Vineyard Ave totaled $1.8 million!), and a little fire truck wouldn't make much of a difference in this community, the "park" and trail "system" became the major marketing points for the council's yes vote. I suspect this tactic will continue if the council votes to take the Appeals win to a vote of the people in 2010.

The truth is Oak Grove has no park-oops, a PARKing lot I guess, and there is no "system," just a trail from nowhere to nowhere. If the council really cares (about the a trail from Callippe to Shadow Cliffs) they should begin by telling it like it is and make a commitment to work for more.


 +   Like this comment
Posted by Jerry
a resident of Oak Hill
on Jul 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm

It should be a lively council meeting when this issue is discussed. It will be fun to see who jumps ship and who stays. This just may not look good on the resumes of those that could be looking at future political moves...

Any predictions on how this issue will be dealt with...


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Email:


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: *

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

Not Endorsements
By Roz Rogoff | 9 comments | 1,257 views

A second half of life exceptionally well lived
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 678 views