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Local environmentalists, organizations plan court suit to stop Staples Ranch development

Original post made on Mar 23, 2009

Two environmental groups in concert with a Pleasanton coalition that has opposed extending Stoneridge Drive to Livermore are expected to file a suit in Alameda County Superior Court as early as tomorrow challenging the legality of an Environmental Impact Report for Staples Ranch.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, March 23, 2009, 7:55 AM

Comments (41)

Posted by West Side Observer, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:15 am

They just spiked our trees. Who will sue these enemy combatants?

Posted by Cindy, a resident of Danbury Park
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:49 am

The Stoneridge Extension, enviromental impact, noise abatement, Sierra Club, Coalition, delay, delay, delay, Yada Yada, blah, blah, blah. More from the Obstructionist, Parcel tax, schools losing $$, loss of tax revenue, waste of time, whining neighborhoods that signed full disclosure, just let it go!
Jeeze Louise, let Livermore hang a "Livermore City Limit" sign at the end Stonerdige and move on or out, whatever suits you.
As a citizen at large, this entire soap opera needs to just get over.

Posted by ScottWalsh, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:50 am

No one will win but the lawyers. A city should always put the roads and infrastructure in first, then approve houses.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:54 am

Stacey is a registered user.

This lawsuit doesn't seem to do anything other than delay the final outcome, as pointed out in the article.

Posted by Sue, a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Mar 23, 2009 at 9:22 am

Build Staples Ranch, keep Stoneridge closed!

Posted by RC, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 23, 2009 at 9:36 am

If the city had acted accordingly, a full EIR report would have been available before the vote. Regardless of the outcome, it is prudent to have all the proverbial ducks in a row before voting on such an important issue. You never push an agenda just for the sake of good regional politics.

Posted by Jeff Miller, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 9:39 am

Is there a good reason the Weekly is printing the private e-mail conversations of groups working on this issue? Why not pick up a telephone and call us if you want to run a story? This is journalism? - Jeff Miller

Posted by AVHS Dad, a resident of Stoneridge Park
on Mar 23, 2009 at 9:57 am

AVHS Dad is a registered user.

The fact that Stoneridge Drive would eventually reach Livermore was as obvious to me 12 years ago when we bought our home, as the Livermore airport and the sound of the freeway.
Good luck with the lawsuits, and keep writing those checks.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:06 am

Stacey is a registered user.


It is a good bet that someone forwarded an email conversation to someone at the PW. The email is no longer private once that occurs.

Posted by West Side Observer, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 23, 2009 at 10:11 am

Delays will cost Pleasanton the auto mall and the Sharks complex and the tax revenue they will generate. That is the M.O. of the eco extremists—delay and delay until the developers lose interest. Stacey implies that whatever city steps forward for this development and annexation will face the same lawsuits leaving Pleasanton in the driver's seat on annexation. She is correct. However, it is moot if the developers pull out seeking friendlier places than the Tri-Valley to do business. When that happens, the wackos have won. Again.

This threatened suit will also cost Alameda County and us money. Since we and Supervisor Scott Haggerty are on the hook for the suit, it is time to retain an outside legal team (Pacific Legal Foundation) to countersue these way-out-of- the-mainstream groups who have no interest in the development and annexation (other than obstructing all development using a suspected Spearscale plant as their local cause celeb).

The organizations and the local agitators are not new to this process. Frankly, I did not think this was the project for which they would take extraordinary measures. There are bigger projects in the pipeline. I suspect they did not like being outflanked by a minor, but usually sympathetic, city council that told the agitprops to talk in their library voices and take their seats. The Center for Biological Diversity seems to troll for more prominent causes than a few acres in Pleasanton. We already know that leftist organizations like the CBD are not about the ecology or environment; they are about socialism with a slight tinge of fascism (my way or the highway, take no prisoners).

Alternatively, this might just be the beginning battle of a protracted war over the eastern Pleasanton-Chain of Lakes proposals due at any time.

We should have seen this coming with so many hybrids in town.

Posted by Ralph Kanz, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 11:48 am

We informed the City almost one year ago that the EIR for the project did not meet the legal requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). I spoke to the Planning Commission on May 14, 2008 raising our concerns. We sent an EIR comment letter on June 4, 2008 again reiterating our concerns. Stoneridge Drive Extension is not analyzed in the EIR as required by the law. The City has known for some time that the EIR is inadequate if it does not analyze the impacts of Stoneridge Drive and how the traffic impacts in the area will be handled when the road is extended. The Draft EIR specifically states that "the project description does not include the Stoneridge Drive extension." The County has admitted that changes will be required at some Pleasanton intersections when Stoneridge Drive is extended, but without the traffic studies and analysis we do not know what those mitigations would cost or consist of. The City Council does not have the information required to make an informed decision about the project, because the required analysis was not provided in the EIR.

Many other issues addressed in the EIR also fail to meet the legal standards of CEQA. I met with City and County staff on February 2, 2009 and expressed our concerns about the legal deficiencies of the EIR, and our desire to work out a resolution that would benefit everyone without legal action. The City and County refused to consider taking a short delay in the process and insuring that they had a legally defensible document.

It is unfortunate that we were not contacted before publication to clarify our position concerning the City's failure to meet the requirements of State law. If the Weekly would like any of the documents clarifying our statements and positions please contact us and we will provide them.

Ralph Kanz

Posted by Dominic Di Blasio, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 23, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Dominic Di Blasio is a registered user.

Looks like a microcosm of of the Obama administration here as special interests groups gain more and more influence over our lives and community...looks like a an example of more bureaucratic ineptitude here, unfortunately...

Posted by who???, a resident of Foothill High School
on Mar 23, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Mr. Kanz, who is the 'we' you refer to? When you say 'our desire' and 'we expressed our concerns,' to whom are you referring? I think Pleasanton taxpayers would like to know the 'inner circle' who is behind this lawsuit.

Posted by Mike, a resident of another community
on Mar 23, 2009 at 12:46 pm

Dominic, what does President Obama's administration have to do with this local discussion? Stick to the topic and not let your political agenda be dumped on us.

Posted by Matt Morrison, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm

"Inner Circle" was just my offhand description for folks who participated in confidential aspects of the lawsuit, most of whom are named in the article.

Posted by West Side Observer, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 23, 2009 at 2:23 pm

As you can see from Mr. Kanz post, the eco frauds will say and do anything to stop development.

This is not a matter of doing the EIR right; it's a matter doing it their way.

Mr. Kanz is disingenuous when he says he wants to work with the city and county representatives. When city and county officials pushed back, this bunch got offended. You see, no one does this to the red-legged frog set.

Furthermore, who the heck is Ralph Kanz why the heck does he think he should be given more consideration than anyone else should be given. I suspect he thinks the answer is the size of his checkbook and Pleasanton's past lack of resolve on firmly answering the threats of the eco extremists. Supervisor Scott Haggerty might have greater resolve however. The county really, really wants to sell the land. We can only hope.

I would like to see the Alameda Creek Alliance and the Center for Biological Diversity and their local puppets be forced to post a bond to cover the city and county legal fees and any possible lost revenue because of this promised suit. Messer's Morrison, Arkin, O'Connor, Fox seem to have plenty to sue us, let's see if they have enough for a bond just in case they lose this vindictive and frivolous suit. In addition, if the enviro legal beagles were without a public payday for suing the public, (oh yes, they sometimes get legal fees paid for by the public) I doubt they would be that anxious to represent those people who would stop a perfectly legitimate project because of a suspected Spearscale or an EIR.

The lunatics are running the asylum.

Posted by javadoc, a resident of Dublin
on Mar 23, 2009 at 2:24 pm

javadoc is a registered user.

So what is the goal of the lawsuit, and the "inner circle" driving it? Are you suing, Mr. Kanz, simply to ensure that the city crosses its t's and dots its i's? Would you, and the other environmental activists working in this cabal, sign a statement that once your concerns are addressed you will not seek to halt development through additional lawsuits?

Stories like this, and anything involving "environmental activists" make me so mad I have to erase a dozen things I write before settling on a limited response.

Posted by gerry Brunken, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 23, 2009 at 2:57 pm

For Matt Morrison---When it comes to Staples Ranch open space parkland or eastern gateway discontent, you have never said any thing offhand. The intent of the insider group is to prevent the ultimate SDE, and with very extreme downside for Pleasantons financial health. I am getting tired of ecological dissidenting malcontents.

Posted by Gerry Brunken, a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 23, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Excuse me, I meant dissident malcontents. Thought is still the same. Good to see your comments again Scott W.

Posted by Chuck, a resident of Birdland
on Mar 23, 2009 at 5:04 pm

We have lived in this beautiful City since 1972, and have worked with many over the years to help make it the great place to live that it is. But, there are ALWAYS OBSTRUCTIONISTS who oppose almost EVERYTHING, regardless of the merits of the plan. They will not be happy now until the senior development and the auto mall go somewhere else -- where they are welcome! And, then listen to howling when we lose all that sales tax revenue!!! You might as well move the Livermore city limits sign to the current end of Stoneridge, because that is what WILL happen! HOW DOES THIS BENEFIT PLEASANTON, OR FOR THAT MATTER, ANYONE??? IT DOESN'T! NIMBIES -- GET LOST!!! After all these years of planning on this Staples Ranch project, I am sick and tired of this obstructionism. If the shoe fits -- wear it!!!

Posted by amazed at the hypocrisy, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 23, 2009 at 5:50 pm

Too bad Matt Morrison and his "inner circle" aren't Pleasanton teachers, they'd sure get more respectful and fair treatment from this blogging "newspaper."

Posted by Dublinmike, a resident of Dublin
on Mar 23, 2009 at 6:41 pm

I would like to acknowledge that Mr. Kanz and Mr. Morrison had the courage to use their full names. I am not agreeing with them nor disagreeing.

Please, let's give them the respect that they deserve even if you do not agree with them. Civil discourse is preferred over emotional rhetoric.

For my personal viewpoint, I believe Stoneridge should go through. I prefer regionalism when it comes to major arteries. I also believe in speed bumps when it comes to neighborhoods. Sorry, but I have known about the Stoneridge issue for a very long time, and I do not live in Pleasanton!

Good luck.

Posted by Claire, a resident of Harvest Park Middle School
on Mar 23, 2009 at 7:56 pm

Mr. Kanz and others,

I am disappointed that you and a handful of others who live along Stoneridge Drive are continuing to find another way to block this important project. In today's economic times and even in health times), Pleasanton needs the $3m/year in new revenue this project will provide (if Pleasanton does not take it, Livermore will) and we will then lose our own park so many have worked years for. The retirement center and the skating rink are also great additions for Pleasanton.

The whole concept of Staples Ranch and Stoneridsge Drive was defined in the 1980s with the Stoneridge specific plan. No homes were even to have been built without Stoneridge Drive. To say that we need to spend more time studying Stoneridge Drive after the many years of discussion and the facts this has been in all the early plans is just not right.

Please help find solutions to bring new services and funding to help our community vs. puting up blockades and very likely have Livermore take our park and develop this area and get al the revenues.

This parcel next to the freeway and near the airport will be built by someone if not us.

Please help us find solutions not create blockades.

Posted by curious, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 23, 2009 at 8:30 pm

I'm curious to know what the lawsuit would intend to accomplish besides just delaying the construction of Stoneridge Dr. extension. Its interesting to me that John Carroll sent out an email appealing for contributions towards the lawsuit and in that email basically talked about delaying the extension not stopping it.

Should a lawsuit actually be filed, there are some interesting questions that will need to be asked. For example, in the last election, Matt Sullivan received $450 from Richard Pugh (husband of Planning Commissioner Anne Fox), $50 from Brian Arkin, $550 from Mark Emerson, $500 from Greg O'Connor and $300 from John Carroll. Cindy McGovern received $250 from Planning Commissioner Anne Fox, $1000 from Richard Pugh (husband of Anne Fox), $100 from John Carroll, $500 from Greg O'Connor and $100 from Judith Geiselman.

These folks are all opposed to the Stoneridge Dr. extension and appear to be part of the inner circle discussing aspects of the potential lawsuit. So what happens when the Council has Closed Session to discuss strategy with regard to the City's position. How are Sullivan and McGovern going to react if they are on the losing end of end closed door council meetings with regard to the lawsuit? What are they going to tell these folks regarding discussions in closed session? It seems like they would really need to recuse themselves given their NO vote on the extension and the campaign contributions they received from people actively involved in trying to delay the extension.

I'm going to be interested to watch how they handle this. Especially Matt Sullivan given his strong position about good government and how he handles the ethics of his position given some of his campaign contributors.

Posted by Mike, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 24, 2009 at 6:53 am

I was not in favor of developing Staples for esthetic reasons but conceded for the greater good of the community. I am aware of the collective benefits beyond objections to urban sprawl. My concession however was based entirely on a Council promise (Written and spoken) to hold off on SDE until 84 et al were in place.

Had the Council honored their promise, I would not be supportive of this Suit.

To be clear, I look forward to Stoneridge being extended to Livermore, but not as a 580/680 interchange bypass.

On another note, if the County has $6M to burn, why not put it into the 84 project?

Posted by Eric Weinhagen, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Mar 24, 2009 at 8:00 am


Those of us that actually live in Pleasanton and the immediate area have overwhelmingly expressed our desire to develop this land which is nothing more than a blight on the side of 580. I am not sure what redeeming quality the Sierra Club or those outside our community that bring this delay to our community see in this land.

I am sure the Sierra club has children that would appreciate state of the art facilities in their sport of choice as the Sharks Ice Center will provide for the great many hockey and figure skating and ice enthusiasists. Their legal efforts should be focused on the facilities offered in this area as of today.

We must not fall into the trap of standing still but looking forward and improving the tri valley area and much of this developement (Ice Center, Senior Center and our Church) improves the Tri Valley Area. We can not allow those outside our community to continually delay our progress!

Posted by Another Gatetree Resident, a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 24, 2009 at 8:04 am

Why is open space -- a field somewhat left to that which nature created -- considered a "blight?"

When is man-made better than nature made?

That line of thinking is what is truly wrong with what used to be a "Community of Character."

Posted by Mike, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 24, 2009 at 8:17 am

Farmland a blight? And another Dublinesque Shopping Center progress?

Development of this property is inevitable and I'm sure we can do a better job of it than others.

It's the timing of the Extension around which this revolves.

Posted by West Side Observer, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 24, 2009 at 8:50 am

Do not kid yourselves. This is not about timing and cooperation. It is obstructionism in its purest form. These groups do not want any development. They want a park for frogs, salamanders, and some king of thistle.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Mar 24, 2009 at 8:50 am

Since I don't see many trees in the area, maybe the envirofirsters could go out there and chain themselves to the weeds.

Posted by Rae, a resident of Mohr Park
on Mar 24, 2009 at 9:55 am

No matter which side of the Stoneridge Drive extension (SDE) you come out on, every single Pleasantonian should be saying "NOT IN MY TOWN" to a Council majority that has refused to address the impacts and mitigations of the SDE in the Staples Ranch EIR. It's not only a question of ethics in this "community of character", but one of monetary impact as well. Those so willing to set aside the ethical issues, usually balk when their pocketbook could be affected.

The writing was on the wall that the SDE was going to be approved sooner rather than later. It further became obvious that the Council majority knew they were going to approve the SDE with the Staples Ranch project. Why not include the impacts of the extension in the Staples Ranch EIR so that the mitigations could be identified and the costs that would be incurred known upfront? Mr. Kanz was quite right when he stated above, "the City has known for some time that the EIR is inadequate if it does not analyze the impacts of Stoneridge Drive and how the traffic impacts in the area will be handled when the road is extended. The Draft EIR specifically states: "the project description does not include the Stoneridge Drive extension."" There would have been little, if any, delay in circulating the EIR if the SDE had been appropriately included.

Instead, our Council majority, setting aside Staff recomendations, allowed Alameda County attorneys, who are, in effect, representing the County as a developer, to tell them that they did not need to specifically include the SDE in the EIR. They accepted the developer's (Supervisor Haggarty) estimate that $1M will cover all of the mitigations required at intersections impacted by the additional traffic on Stoneridge due to the extension.

So, Pleasantonians, will you still be concerned when previously unknown impacts of the SDE are identified? What about when there is a cost overrun to mitigate the impacts, and we have to pay for that lack of EIR work through our taxes or a bond? How will you feel when this Council majority, who is so ready and willing to shortcut a process that is in place to protect all of us, does it in your neighborhood? With your business? To your house? Will you wish you'd been a little more outraged with the ethics of our Council then?

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Mar 24, 2009 at 10:33 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Amazing that the Stoneridge extension debate is hearing more from environmental extremists than from neighborhood safety advocates. In Val Vista, we already see Livermore/Tracy traffic attempting to bypass the 580 commute by cutting through our fair city. Extending another suburban thoroughfare into Livermore will lead to more traffic, more accidents (and burden on our law enforcement), and almost certainly more crime.

And I'm definitely not an environmentalist. Dead open land doesn't help anyone. I'm completely in favor of developing the end of Stoneridge for a Senior Center and Sharks facility. They'll bring in needed capital/revenue and fill in some gaps in Pleasanton services.

How about if we allow some of the Staples Ranch development to start with the only construction access being from the El Charro side, and make the Stoneridge extension only in time to meet the completed facilities? As stated, they won't be ready for at least a year to even begin construction... That way, the traffic/crime problems won't be exacerbated for years, and we'll be able to better understand the impact of the development. (plus, we can generate revenue from the developers immediately)

Posted by West side Observer, a resident of Oak Hill
on Mar 24, 2009 at 11:47 am

Parent of Two makes great sense. However, the eco-extremists will not hear of it. Their threatened lawsuit is not about mitigations and timing. It is about a 126-acre park for suspected salamanders, suspected frogs, and the suspected San Joaquin Spearscale that is not even on a threatened list. Anyone found a taxpayer advocacy group to countersue?

Posted by cholo, a resident of Livermore
on Mar 24, 2009 at 10:55 pm

"It is a good bet that someone forwarded an email conversation to someone at the PW. The email is no longer private once that occurs."

yeah stacey, you can't expect a newspaper to have much in the way of ethics.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 25, 2009 at 7:48 am

Stacey is a registered user.

It's another good bet that the above post is not by the real Cholo, but written by a cyberbully who wants to confuse readers and intimidate posters this bully doesn't agree with.

Posted by June, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 25, 2009 at 11:37 am

C'mon. These people who are challenging the EIR are not environmentalists. They arent protecting endangered or threatened species or even creeks. Its a fallow piece of land that is disc-ed on a regular basis, and which abuts a freeway as well as residential subdivisions. Wow, a real pristine piece of earth. And soon, it will also abut a new freeway overpass or interchange and a new arterial roadway being built by Livermore. This property is what real environmentals consider suburban infill and an opportunity for SMART GROWTH for compact development. The only things these fake environmentalists want to protect are their property values. What an abuse of the CEQA process and an insult to people truly concerned about the environment.

Posted by Helen, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 25, 2009 at 10:53 pm

June - your post says that the Stoneridge residents are only concerned with their property values and you are knocking that idea. The parcel tax issue that is getting strong support in our community is using property values as their main argument in supporting this tax. Do you question that? Or are property values only an issue when you disagree with that opinion?

Posted by June, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 26, 2009 at 12:37 pm

To Helen - yes, I support the parcel tax for schools but my support has zero to do how it may or may not affect the value of my property. Its about quality education for children (by the way, I dont have kids in the district and Im not a teacher either). Based on your posting, it sounds like you have the question about whether development or a parcel tax ultimately affects your property values.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 26, 2009 at 12:43 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

If you support quality education for children, why not donate your money directly to the schools instead of supporting the levying of a regressive tax upon property owners who are most likely not in the same financial situation as yourself?

Posted by Helen, a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 26, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Property values are affected by the quality of the schools here. The majority of residents who moved here did so because of the schools. If the schools deteriorate, property values in the entire town will be affected. Property values will go down if Stoneridge goes through too. If the argument is made for one, it should be made for the other.

Posted by June, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Mar 31, 2009 at 7:01 pm

Thank you for your candor that your objection to Stoneridge completion IS based on how you think your property values will be affected. So all the discussion about good community planning, providing access and mobility to residents, and constructing long overdue regional traffic improvements is moot. Thats classic NIMBY-ism. AND forget about senior housing, a new ice skating facility,retail, and community park. How do you think school district funding is provided? A big part of it in Pleasanton and of course the State was school impact fees paid by development til 2007/08.

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