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Attorneys threaten 'costly' lawsuit against Pleasanton if Measure PP becomes law

Original post made on May 17, 2013

Years of effort to restrict residential and commercial development on Pleasanton hillsides ground to a halt this week after attorneys from Oakland and San Francisco threatened to sue the city if it tries to enact the Measure PP hillside protection ordinance into law.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 17, 2013, 7:34 AM

Comments (33)

Posted by Q. How can you tell if a lawyer is lying?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 17, 2013 at 1:41 pm

A. If his/her lips are moving!

Posted by resident, a resident of Birdland
on May 17, 2013 at 4:53 pm

Article says "The authors and backers of Measure PP agreed." Absolutely not true.

The headline of this story is also wrong. PP already went into effect and the potential suit is not on that. The threat of suit is against the Council writing a new ordinance on their interpretation of Measure PP. But actually this could have been a new ordinance on Measure QQ; the council-initiated measure that also won at that same election. QQ said the council, within a year (cannot remember the exact timeframe), would also come up with hillside regulations which could be more than PP. QQ won but the council had contempt for the citizens and never did what measure QQ says they were required to do (even though the council wrote QQ). So the headline here should really be that the Council is finally implementing the council initiative measure QQ and that has been threatened by some lawyers. This is more potential lawsuits and legal fees on council actions, not on Measure PP which was put on the ballot by signatures.

Posted by LF, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 17, 2013 at 6:38 pm

Pleasanton wants to extend streets up and down dangerously steep slopes, on land-slides, on ridge-lines without any environmental review?

Seems they just never learn. You would think that after Web Link they would one day get it right. Guess not.

Posted by Ken, a resident of Birdland
on May 19, 2013 at 9:59 am

Why does SF and Oakland care enough to sue??

Posted by olfthfl, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 19, 2013 at 4:32 pm

Why don't they just call it what it is . . . . "The Vintage Hills Protection Association"?

Posted by Lizzy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2013 at 8:26 am

Imagine how much better this country would be if we got rid of 90% of the lawyers.

Posted by resident--for awhile, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 20, 2013 at 8:55 am

Imagine how much better this city would be if we got rid of the "Vintage Hills Protection Association" and others in this town that fight for their own agendas and ignore what is best for the city as a whole. The selfish entitled attitude of so many in this community is what makes it an almost certainty that we will not retire here. We have lost out on so much tax revenue to Livermore and Dublin because we refuses to let the town evolve into a thriving business community, where people stay for shopping and entertainment. If you choose to live within blocks of downtown don't try to kill downtown because you live there. What did you think, once you bought we would just shut it down so no one would park in front of your house and you would never hear any noise? If you bought by the thruway would you expect them to shut it down, too, like the people who knowingly bought by the Stoneridge Dr. extention and W. Las Positas exit. Or, yes, the people who built in Kottinger only to fight that anyone else can live on "their hills", even though the development plan was already approved, like the Merritt property. Who gives you the right to take away people's property rights? I know, the referendum system in CA. and the fact that there are so many people like yourselves to vote with you. It is a disgrace and almost every time I read the comments on these boards it makes me ashamed to live here. Gosh we can't even get a cell tower that looks like a tree put up on the thruway so we can get decent cell service. The list goes on.....

Posted by The Real Issue, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2013 at 9:36 am

The former Council, headed by Thorne, Cook-Kallio, and the now departed Hosterman, approved the extension of Stoneridge Dr at the last minute without environmental review and against staff recommendations. The result was a citizen-initiated lawsuit that forced them to do the right thing. Now Thorne and Cook-Kallio are trying to illegally change a citizens initiative to allow development of ridgetops for the benefit of their developer friends, which again forces citizens to threaten litigation to make the city obey the law. A sad state of affairs, but illustrates who our elected "representatives" really represent.

Posted by Eric, a resident of Avila
on May 20, 2013 at 10:03 am

Ever been to Cinque Terre, it's on a hill side.

Posted by resident--for awhile, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm

The Real Issue, I don't know what you are talking about really. We looked at new construction housing near the Stoneridge extension when we moved her 17 years ago. The street just ended and we asked about it and the Realtor told us it was on the city plan to extend the road. Yes, 17 years ago. Everyone who bought there knew about it. That doesn't seem like such a rush deal to me. And don't get me started on the millions of dollars and years spent on environmental studies - this time on land bordering a thruway.. And it was built anyway. In the meantime we lost the tax revenue of the Outlet Mall that COULD have been part of Pleasanton and they backed out of building the new auto mall. Geesh.

The referendum system is doing nothing in this town but costing us money, taking away property owners rights and really hurting the city.
The "Save our Hills" (by the way they weren't OUR hills, they were the Lin's hills) initiative would never have been on the ballot if the people hadn't literally BULLIED people to sign the petition. I was followed into Raley's all the way to the back of the store after declining to sign it. All the while being harassed and told that if I would just "educate" myself on what it was I would sign it and having the clipboard pushed in my face. I literally had to tell the woman to back away and leave me alone or I would get the manager. And I knew other who experienced the same thing. I'm sure a lot of people were intimidated enough to sign. I had "educated" myself to know it had been approved by the city years before and the NIMBYs who already had built on "their hills" didn't want anyone else to build and drive through their neighborhood to get to the houses and 100s of acres of donated trails and parkland the Lins had been approved to build and were on the city plan. Same with the Merritts who were going to pay to 4 lane Foothill Road which desperately needs it. So lets keep spending money justifying in court why we take away people's rights and complaining about how much our teachers make because we are broke!

Yes I have, Eric, and it is one of the most beautiful places on earth, in my opinion. Hiking the train is one of the highlights of all my travel and the houses on the hills are breathtaking!

Posted by Dear Resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 20, 2013 at 11:36 pm

Done venting? Don't like it here, then move.

By the way, those hills weren't yours to be used as a park either.

Your contempt for the citizens of Pleasanton is clear. Lets hope you are not in our city government trying to dictate your opinion over the will of the voters.

And finally, no one bullied me to sign and no one bullied me to vote YES for PP to protect the ridges now, and for my great-great grand kids.

Posted by Concerned, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on May 21, 2013 at 9:58 am

The oakland attorney represents "... an unincorporated association of Pleasanton residents...". PLEASANTON RESIDENTS ARE SUING, NOT OAKLAND! I hope the person/people leading this come forward soon.

Posted by resident, a resident of Laguna Oaks
on May 21, 2013 at 10:11 am

Nope, not done venting yet. I guess only those in favor of taking property rights away from citizens are allowed to express opinion, much less force referendums. As usual, heaven help a person who disagrees with your opinion, voices the other side or stands up for the rights of others. I am so sick of people calling those hills "OUR HILL" as if they own them. Maybe we should start calling your house "OUR HOUSE" and figure out how we think it should be used, or maybe even if you should be allowed to live there at all, and then get a referendum up to accomplish our will.

I didn't say they were "My hills" to be used for anything. I said the CITY as a whole would have benefited from new parklands for free. Those hills belong to the Lins who bought and paid for them. For those who don't want to pay for them to call the "Their Hills" is wrong. If those people wanted to stop the development that had been approved they should have raised money to buy the land from the from the Lins and then it would have been theirs. They had been approved to build the houses. I don't support the houses, per say, I support people rights. Pass laws to protect the hills that have not gone through the process and approval of their use.

This is at least the second time since I have lived here this has done to a property owner in this town (Merritt Property/ 4141 Foothill Rd. PUD-96-14 TR 6892 45.7 (Project approved by CC and then denied by voters)But I am sure you believe that you are above having something like this done to you. Good luck with that. The more times it is successful the more brazen the abuse will become.

It all comes down to the issue that facts, reality, right, wrong, law, have all become so relative and shady or hard to comprehend for so many people. They try to justify everything to line up with their own selfish wants and what they see as their entitlement. Then they wonder what has happened to our country. Oh, but don't take my assault rifle away. That is really the only right we have that seems to be untouchable now. The right be able to kill masses of people quickly. Property rights, freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equal rights, trample all over them, but don't take away my guns.

And you come on here all sanctimonious chastising me for standing up peoples rights and the laws of our country. Well too bad.

Posted by LF, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Resident, if you want to talk about assault rifles and guns and referendums, perhaps you can start your own message thread.

I want to know why the city did not send the entire city a postcard notifying all registered voters that they were planning to change Measure PP. 18,623 voters approved Measure PP and now the city attempts to completely change it without notifying anyone?

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 6:05 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

I had always thought that the Lins possessed the same property rights as when they purchased the property. Both the Lins' property and the Merritt property were outside Pleasanton City limits. Both tried to contract with the City of Pleasanton for a development to be annexed into Pleasanton. Both agreements were voted down by Pleasanton voters. Nothing wrong here, democracy in action.

Pleasanton City Limits: Web Link

(Please note that this is not legal advice. I cannot vouch, from a legal perspective, for the accuracy of this comment and the owners' actual property rights.)

Posted by another resident, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 21, 2013 at 7:12 pm

Nobody bullied people into signing AND THEN VOTING on measure PP. Are you saying that people followed you into the voting booth and made you vote yes?

As somebody who has collected signatures before, I can attest that if somebody does not want to sign, you would not waste your time in following that person and trying to convince that person to sign. In the amount of time you spend following and trying to convince one person, you could have got another 5 signatures. You have a limited amount of time to collect a certain amount of signatures due to California Election Code.

As for property rights, the property owner did not have a right to subdivide and build on that property. No different than you do not have the right to add three more stories to your house. There is a review process and it is subject to being denied by the planning commission, elected officials and ultimately referended by the voters. Oops, my mistake, the Lin property did not have its development plan go through the planning commission. The council bypassed that normal review. The EIR was voted on by the planning commission, and was denied, but the City Council did not allow the planning commission to go through the complete development plan.

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 7:20 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

Actually, Merritt property appears to be outside of Pleasanton. The property of the Lins' Oak Grove proposal looks to be inside Pleasanton city limits.

(Please note that this is not legal advice. I cannot vouch, from a legal perspective, for the accuracy of this comment and the owners' actual property rights.)

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 7:24 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

Ha, see I should be studying instead of ready the Weekly's website!

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 8:00 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

"reading," sheesh...!

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2013 at 8:15 pm

The Merritt Property sits between 680 and Foothill Road adjacent to Foothill Farms... That's outside of Pleasanton?

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 21, 2013 at 8:34 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

Yup, according to this City Limit map: Web Link

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on May 21, 2013 at 9:07 pm

Makes sense...

Posted by Shelia, a resident of Country Fair
on May 22, 2013 at 7:06 am

Why is a discussion about property and hill tops derailed by bringing up assault rifles?

Anyway, I voted No on Oak Grove and I was very glad to have the chance to participate in the decision. I trusted my government to do the right thing and they let me down. I heard the Lin family gave a lot of money to many council and mayors and I really don't like that. Maybe that is why they pushed Oak Grove on us.

I read the papers and my ballot statement on Oak Grove. I did not want huge homes on those hills. The Lins are professional land buyers, they knew people did not like their plan, but they did not care.

A few people would hike and bike those hills, but for the rest of us, we would look at cut off hills and huge homes for multimillionaires. No thanks.

Posted by Fred M, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 22, 2013 at 7:16 am

I am also part of the 18,000+ that voted NO to Oak Grove.

I had my brother-in-law, a dirt biker from Livermore, get in my face and tell me how mad he was that he could not go biking in the hills in Pleasanton if I voted NO. When I talked about cutting off the ridges and hauling up to 70,000 (don't quote me but I think that is right) truck loads of dirt, he did not care at all. He just wanted the trails for his use. Now that is selfish.

Posted by Brian M., a resident of Happy Valley
on May 23, 2013 at 8:58 am

Once again I call "Shennannigans!" for almost 95% of the election process our family thoroughly opposed to the Linn/Ridgeline project after we encountered a "friend" who we have known for almost 10 years who was out in front of the Raley's on Sunol Blvd. collecting signatures one sunny Saturday afternoon clearly pointed west across the freeway to the Pleasanton Ridge and to our faces told us that houses would be built there unless we helped to vote it down. I can't tell you how many other people we spoke with who were similarly informed as to which RIDGELINES were affected and it was not until I read the entire bill and viewed their map outlining the REAL location of the Linn property that I realized we were being hoodwinked.

The worst thing was the fact that the initial gatherers did not even try to correct peoples misconceptions of the "Ridges" location. Something I did at least a dozen times at the Farmers Market, in front of Safeway, at a parents volunteer meeting and during a round of golf one afternoon where 3 of our foursome were similarly unaware of just where the Linn property really was.

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 23, 2013 at 11:59 am

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

Brian, perhaps you misunderstood.

There was a plan to build 2,640 homes on the Pleasanton Ridge centered around Sinbad Canyon east of Palomares Road. This 20-year-old plan was promoted by the Pleasanton City Council at the time and some of the same folks who later supported Oak Grove. The plan for houses on the Pleasanton Ridge was only stopped through the initiative of Pleasanton residents taking political action directly to the citizens.

I can imagine a number of allegories from the 1990's struggle to preserve the Pleasanton Ridge that would be pertinent to the Oak Grove referendum and the Measure PP ballot initiative to protect scenic ridges throughout Pleasanton.

Whether or not you misunderstood what someone was trying to explain (signature gatherers were all Pleasanton volunteers, not paid professionals) all the information put out by Save Pleasanton Hills referred to preserving "ridges of the rolling hills on the south side of Pleasanton..." Web Link

Are you trying to argue, based on your experience, that 18,623 Pleasanton residents who voted yes on Measure PP were deceived? Web Link


Posted by Casual Viewer, a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on May 23, 2013 at 12:45 pm


Even though I voted yes, several times before the election I was told that this indeed included the Pleasanton Ridge and the People for the initiative even pointed to the Ridge. This took place on Main St near Tully's. When I tried to correct them I was told I was wrong. I sat on the bricks and listened for 45 minutes as this was mentioned to prospective voters over and over.

Posted by LF, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2013 at 1:26 pm

Measure PP was adopted by the voters in November 2008. Now the city of Pleasanton wants to change substantially change the voter-approved measure, but they don't have the authority to do that. Only the voters do.

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 23, 2013 at 5:35 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

Measure PP does indeed include the Pleasanton Ridge, at least all of it that is inside Pleasanton's city limits.

Measure PP added a new policy to the General Plan to prohibit placing housing units and structures, and prohibit grading to construct residential or commercial structures, on properties with slopes greater than 25% or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline (exempting housing developments of 10 or fewer units).

Brian, above, was talking about a friend soliciting his help opposing houses due to be built unless we "vote it down" i.e. the Measure D REFERENDUM against houses to be built on the Lin Oak Grove property (a citizen supporting a referendum votes no to stop an action by the City Council).

Measure PP restrictions apply to the development of any property inside of Pleasanton, including along Pleasanton's western ridgelands. If any people encouraging voters to vote Yes on the INITIATIVE (Measure PP) indicated it would protect hillsides and ridgelands on the west side of Pleasanton, such people would be correct.

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 23, 2013 at 5:38 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

(Please note that my comment above is not legal advice. I cannot vouch, from a legal perspective, for the accuracy of the comment and owners' actual property rights.)

Posted by Brian M., a resident of Happy Valley
on May 23, 2013 at 5:51 pm

Matt I am most concerned that the signature collectors did not make an effort to correct the citizens misconceptions if they were assuming that the ridge lines in question were the Pleasanton Ridge and not a hillside only visible from certain parts of Stanley Blvd., Vineyard Ave. or the immediate area. The disingenuous aspect of that behavior is what troubles me. At one occasion I even confronted Steve Brozosky at a Farmers Market and after he realized that he and his minions were about to lose an argument and perhaps the war did he specifically say where the ridge line in question were. To which I reminded the crowd that Steve just happens to have a beautiful RIDGELINE home adjacent to the area in question...that shut him up.

So yes, I do believe that if all 18,623 people believed that they were protecting the Pleasanton Ridge, the supporters would not (& from my personal experience) did not correct that information. And yes, I do believe that there was dis-information given to the voting public. Whether it was intentional or not remains the $1 Million question.

Posted by LF, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 23, 2013 at 6:11 pm

What I wonder is why does the city keep making the same mistakes over and over and keeps getting sued over and over?

I seem to recall almost the same headlines 4 years ago. "Environmental groups claim City Council erred on Staples Ranch
Threaten suit unless city rescinds EIR that allows development, Stoneridge extension" at Web Link

BTW Brian M, the city's municipal code does not distinguish between hills and ridges. They are both protected. You can find it online.

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on May 23, 2013 at 6:50 pm

Matt Morrison is a registered user.

I think you are conflating two issues, Brian.

The 18,623 yes votes were cast in favor of Measure PP, which indeed applies to the Pleasanton Ridge areas within Pleasanton city limits.

It is my understanding that Measure D, a referendum opposing the Oak Grove development, has been fully litigated as a result of lawsuits filed by the Lins against Pleasanton. The challenges to the Measure D referendum have been resolved in favor of the City of Pleasanton and supporters of the referendum.

Ha, LF, thanks for the memories! Sometimes the powers that be need a little nudge... :~)

(Please note that my comments are not legal advice. I cannot vouch, from a legal perspective, for the accuracy of these comments and owners' actual property rights.)

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