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Letter: Don't destroy ridgelines

Original post made on May 14, 2010

Dear Editor,

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, May 14, 2010, 12:00 AM

Comments (37)

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 14, 2010 at 8:34 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

According to the real estate website Zillow.com, there are 520 properties for sale in Pleasanton. Using the reasoning above to turn down Oak Grove because of issues regarding school funding, we should also prevent these 520 properties from selling because they might be sold to families with children. How many new students could these families bring to PUSD, 400-500? There would be no collection of ANY school impact fees from the sale of these 520 properties. And we should ignore the property tax revenue the sale of these properties would generate because funding comes from the State.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2010 at 8:54 pm

Talk about misleading! A school board trustee should know that the students projected from this project is already included in the demographic study. If the study is correct, the extra $300,000 would certainly go a long way toward educating the students. At starting pay for Pleasanton it would certainly pay for 4-5 teachers which is half of what the paper said would actually be laid off this year. Stacey is correct. What developer fees do we get from students who move into our current housing stock?

The environmental argument is weak. The Sierra Club is controlled in this area by Brian Arkin and Richard Pugh. It is there perspective only. Well respected environmentalists in this area have left the Sierra Club.

Look at the documents. The area is zoned rural residential and has been for years.

Be informed vote Yes on Measure D


Posted by Moved here in 70's, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2010 at 9:33 pm

I went up Oak Grove on a tour of 2 cars with several YES guides. I would suggest any person not vote against something they PERSONALLY know nothing about...that would be rather close minded. This is a superior, well thought out plan. All the "NO""NO" "NO" to any houses are not dealing with reality. We could go back to the PREVIOUSLY APPROVED 98 houses if that's better....OR Atty Genl Brown just ruled Pleasanton is going to have to approve subsidized houses for working couples, maybe that would work !!
The naysayer above surely knows that Ruby Hill numbers of 1.7 children are being used....86.7. Someowners will not yet pregnant, some with toddlers, some college kids, some with 1 or 2, etc. The kneejerk "just say NO" are depriving Pleasanton of a 496 acre park, and 51 individual homes, each of which must be approved separately. Each owner must plant 15 native oak trees (from 3 choices)when they build their home.. Again, I encourage each of you to think for yourselves and not get caught up in the emotion of a few...primarily, the one bordering neighbor who is acting out of spite. Any informed voter owes it to themselves AND the COMMUNITY to take a tour, visually studying the overlay of homesites.
I'm not involved and had never seen the site. But I knew it was right for Pleasanton, even without the windfall. With the financial rewards for the city, it would be a real crime to unjustly parrot the 'NO" of others,without seeing with your own eyes. A slick campaign is no substitute for what is right. So you caved in to pressure for a sign based on false info, doesn't mean you can't VOTE RIGHT !
Having moved here in the 70's, I guess I COULD have said NO to most of YOU !







Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2010 at 10:38 pm

We should never look at external funding as a justification to approve any project. Judge the project on its on merits, no on temporary funds that may be supplied to the school district or the city. I am pro measure D based mostly on land owner rights but I would hate for people to believe that somehow magically that this project is going to make all things right with the PUSD budget.


Posted by long time resident, a resident of Birdland
on May 14, 2010 at 10:44 pm

Stacey, you still don't get it. The only thing discussed here was don't let the developer's claims of increased finances for the schools be a reason to vote for this development. People can vote for or against this development based on the merits of the plans but the developer's are only talking about the potential income to the schools and fail to address the expense of the additional students. Nobody has said that we should not allow people to sell houses. If you are voting for this development because you think it will help the schools, then you are wrong. It won't help the school situation. The argument made in the letter is thar the school financing arguments by the developer are false. Nobody has said that is a reason to not vote for the development; only you should not use the argument to vote for it.


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2010 at 10:57 pm

long time resident - very well said


Posted by Repleasnacrat, a resident of Mohr Elementary School
on May 14, 2010 at 11:08 pm

That diatribe by Ms. Arkin is down right scary. (Wasn't her husband the person that came in 5th in a 4 person race for city council a couple of years ago?) She and her family live in a house that has a carbon footprint that could easily power all the low income housing that is proposed by former Gov. Moonbeam! How sad these folks are that they think the "ridgelines" belong to them. Having been a mountain biker for some 15 years, I have yet to cross paths with the Arkin family on ANY ridge in the tri-valley! (I did spot them at a donut shop once!) Please people, be very careful who you select on election day. This woman is on the school board and she is focusing on environmental awareness! Wake up my peeps


Posted by letsgo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 14, 2010 at 11:20 pm

Repleasnacrat - what does the ridgeline have to do with the schoolboard?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 7:59 am

The no side is using students as a reason to vote this project down. It is being pointed out here that the logical argument then means no one should be allowed to sell homes to school aged children. The facts are this project DOES provide mitigation for each home built and each child who moves into that home. No one is claiming this will fix the problems we face at PUSD.

The "don't mess with our ridge" ads are offensive. They are not our ridges. Not unless we vote Yes on D.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on May 15, 2010 at 8:39 am

As an informed community member that has not declared a YES or NO side on Oak Grove, I am offended by the pro-OG attempt to mislead on the issue of school funding.

I think it is important for a credible voice like Trustee Arkin to correct the misperceptions created by the representatives of the developer.

Stacey on other threads you have conceded to the fact that school funding is not a valid reason to support this project. That logic was far more reasonable than the one you are trying to make here.

Kathleen you know that "provide mitigation" is not full mitigation and we will continue to be further behind with each new student. It is like drinking sea water to quench your thirst....it will only leave you thirstier.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 8:40 am

Ms. Arkin, "The $300,000 isn't going to be enough money to educate these students and doesn't put our district in better financial shape." Maybe I should suggest a mandatory payment for any new student moving into Pleasanton. I can't even imagine what that amount would have to be in order to put the district in better financial shape. I don't think the landowner owes you more for the students that may move into the development than any other student that moves into the district; do you?

I think the community learned through several lawsuits and a recent campaign that these are facilities funds. I haven't seen where the landowner has claimed $2 million in fees now, but maybe their intention is to pay in advance and collect from the home buyers?


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 9:00 am

Mike, I don't disagree with you. But each new student is each and every new student that moves into the community. If I sell my empty nester house to a family with three school aged children, those students will create the same pressure on the system and there is no mitigation for facilities. I don't have exact numbers, but I seem to recall those of us without children in the schools are far in the majority. Would we be able to stop those homes from selling to families with kids?

I think the landowner is fairly pointing out they are doing all that is expected of them in that regard. For me, 51 homes and 500ish acres of parkland we can legitimately call ours already won my vote.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 9:05 am

Maybe the question should paraphrase an old parable: let he who promises not to sell their home to a family with school aged children cast the first No on D vote.


Posted by Clueless, a resident of Birdland
on May 15, 2010 at 9:18 am

There are so many uninformed voters you can win many votes just by posting enough lawn signs around town.


Posted by Clueless, a resident of Birdland
on May 15, 2010 at 9:20 am

Yes on D folks should put up signs that says "SAVE OUR 500 ACRES OF PARKLAND. VOTE YES ON D."


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2010 at 10:04 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The spirit of the letter is to encourage voters to vote no, as is evident in the closing of Arkin's letter.

By way of taking an argument to its logical and absurd conclusion, I show yet again why concerns over the school impact fee is not a reason to turn down Oak Grove. If Arkin is concerned about not being able to educate the students Oak Grove would generate, it is logical to conclude that new students generated from the sale of current housing stock would be a greater concern as there are no impact fees (statutory or gift) involved in those sales.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2010 at 10:08 am

Stacey is a registered user.

long time resident wrote: "If you are voting for this development because you think it will help the schools, then you are wrong. It won't help the school situation."

If D provides _some_ money for the schools, it would follow then that voting no on D is taking money from the schools.


Posted by long time resident, a resident of Birdland
on May 15, 2010 at 11:10 am

This developer is not paying a cent to the schools since all they are doing is putting in the roads and the building pads. The school fees are based on square feet of a house so that will be paid for by the new homeowner as each homeowner applies for permits. So essentially this developer is being generous with other people's money (developer must work for the government ;-) ).

The new houses will provide some money to do a partial mitigation of the new impacts to the schools based on new students. So you could say that it provides _some_ money to the schools. But if you say that, you need to also say it impacts the schools by taking away _some_ money from the existing residents. You cannot take just one side of the equation. That is one of the reason our school system is in trouble now; handing out raises without an increase in income. Economics 101 says you have to decrease services if you are paying higher wages but not taking in more money.

Since the school district has consistently said that they do not receive enough money in ADA to provide the services our community wants, when you add another student you dig the hole a little deeper each time as the income does not cover the expenses. The No on D group has not said that we should not allow students into the schools, or for people to sell their houses to people with kids. They have just stated that adding houses that require massive grading and removal of trees is not the right thing to do.

It is the Yes on D folks that keep saying they are giving all this money to the schools and the No o D folks are correcting that false argument. I have not heard to Vote No on D because of the impacts to the schools (although Kathleen and Stacey keep inferring that). I think voting No on D because the developers are lying to us about this helping the schools is legitimate however. If the developer thought this was a plan that was great for the community, it seems strange that they have to invent new false arguments to support their cause. They obviously do not feel that confident that their development can stand on its own merits.

The whole argument on the lack of a definition of a ridge line sounds as silly as Clinton saying "it depends on what 'is' is."


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 11:24 am

Well you have a board member suggesting a no vote is right because of school impacts. I don't like the schools argument unless you apply it to everyone in Pleasanton anyway. The money will go to schools regardless of who pays it. I'm voting for a landowners rights and a park. That is a win win that applies to all of us equally.


Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on May 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm


long time resident,

Thanks, you nailed it.

"It is the Yes on D folks that keep saying they are giving all this money to the schools and the No o D folks are correcting that false argument. I have not heard to Vote No on D because of the impacts to the schools (although Kathleen and Stacey keep inferring that). I think voting No on D because the developers are lying to us about this helping the schools is legitimate however."


Posted by Mike, a resident of Birdland
on May 15, 2010 at 12:59 pm


long time resident,

Thanks, you nailed it.

"It is the Yes on D folks that keep saying they are giving all this money to the schools and the No o D folks are correcting that false argument. I have not heard to Vote No on D because of the impacts to the schools (although Kathleen and Stacey keep inferring that). I think voting No on D because the developers are lying to us about this helping the schools is legitimate however."


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 1:21 pm

You'd vote no because you think the yes side is lying? The fees will come to our district. Where is the lie? Oh, and if you are looking for saints in this, calling them OUR hills is the first misstep.

Protecting this landowner's rights protects each of our rights as homeowners, and 500 acres of preserved ridge land park is something we can all enjoy. Those are the reasons to vote yes.


Posted by Patriot, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2010 at 2:48 pm

"Destroying our ridgelines for houses isn't the right thing to do. "

This is the kind of fear mongering we have heard before from these people. How about we give the free market a chance for a change? This is America, right?

YES ON D!


Posted by Susan, a resident of Ponderosa
on May 15, 2010 at 3:10 pm

I support protecting our country, our air, our oceans, our community and our ridges. I may not personally own all of the above but we all have a stake in them.

We realized almost too late that our beaches should be available to the public. Laws have been passed and government agencies are working to reclaim and restore our beaches to public access.

Thank you all who are acting to protect OUR ridges!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 15, 2010 at 3:33 pm

Susan, private property and there are rights that go with it, just as is the case if you are a homeowner--no way around it.

Restored and reclaimed how? With taxpayer dollars? Fine, make an offer for this property to see if this ridge can be ours. It would be silly to do when it is being given to us for free, though.

Until then, it isn't yours and none of us has a legal right to be on that land.


Posted by Moved here in 70's, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 15, 2010 at 4:28 pm

RightO ! Susan's uninformed and mean no vote, will likely guarantee that she will NEVER have the right to even STEP on that private property ! YEA !! That should make her happy in her arrogant, greed. That 'ol fist in the jar, will keep her from getting ANYTHING ! Rightfully so. Sad for her neighbots who might wish they had 500 acres with a view upon which to hike ! Shame !


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2010 at 9:08 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

long time resident wrote:

"So you could say that it provides _some_ money to the schools. But if you say that, you need to also say it impacts the schools by taking away _some_ money from the existing residents. You cannot take just one side of the equation. That is one of the reason our school system is in trouble now; handing out raises without an increase in income. Economics 101 says you have to decrease services if you are paying higher wages but not taking in more money."

AND

"Since the school district has consistently said that they do not receive enough money in ADA to provide the services our community wants, when you add another student you dig the hole a little deeper each time as the income does not cover the expenses. "

I'm not sure how you arrive at the conclusion that adding students is going to take away money from the current residents. Each new student brings additional funds because each new student increases the ADA. PUSD gets $6,209 in revenue limit per ADA (using 2008-2009 data from Ed-Data, the amount is actually $2-3K higher when one adds in categorical funding). The estimated number of students to be added to PUSD by Oak Grove is 40-51. Let's take the higher number of 51 students and multiply the revenue limit per ADA on that to arrive at $306,000. The schools have staffing ratios based upon the number of students. 51 students would require roughly 1.4 FTE (at 30:1 staffing ratio). If the average certificated salary in PUSD is $81,928 and we need 1.4 FTE additional of that, PUSD would spend an additional $114,699.20. Looks like there's plenty of money left over from the additional $306,000 that 51 students would bring.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2010 at 9:14 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

If you want some more information on how increasing enrollment positively affects the financial health of school districts in California, here's some summary information from one of Stanford's IREPP "Getting Down to Facts" studies: Web Link

This idea is one of the tidbits I had come across while doing all the reading I did on school financing and other education issues during the Measure G campaign.

This isn't to say that we can plop a ton of new students into PUSD, only that the addition of 40-51 students from Oak Grove are not going to take away from current students. 51 students hardly constitutes a growth issue.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 15, 2010 at 9:15 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Forgot to paste this quote from the study:

"State allocations based on enrollment provide an advantage for growing districts because they receive additional funding based on an average per-pupil rate but incur costs with a marginal increase, THUS GENERATING EXTRA FUNDS. Losing funding due to declining enrollment can have the opposite effect: districts lose funding at the average per-pupil rate; but they may be unable to reduce costs at this same rate, which threatens fiscal solvency."


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Del Prado
on May 16, 2010 at 8:36 am

Stacey,
I always love your research and usually your logic :). You make a good case to support that if PUSD was spending our tax dollars responsibly we should not need to keep giving them more. You know how LTR arrives at the conclusion that adding students is going to take away money from the current residents, The District tells us that ADA is not enough to support our students. As we have seen due to high salary......... in PUSD it is not.

Back on topic........ FACT, there is NO need to build another home to acquire additional ADA dollars. We could simply accept the many students that would like to come from neighboring districts (if our campuses were not already overcrowded).

As you know the opponents of OG are not the ones that started this discussion, they are only correcting the untrue and misleading propaganda put out by the pro D campaign.

We all agree that school funding should not be a factor in the OG decision and yet it is a BIG piece of the pro D campaign, showing an serious lack of integrity in misleading OUR community that wants to protect OUR ridges.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 16, 2010 at 9:00 am

Nancy, It's all marketing, as they say. Let's suppose the Lin's don't believe they can dupe a relatively intelligent voting community, and let's say they might have been trying to show us what they, as responsible landowners, will have to contribute--ADA and developer fees are not optional. You are still left with a smaller development and a 500 acre park--pretty good compromise and one that serves the entire community well.

Voting Yes on D is a vote for the rights of every homeowner in Pleasanton and it provides all of us access to nearly 500 acres of ridge land park.


Posted by Nancy, a resident of Del Prado
on May 16, 2010 at 9:30 am

Kathleen,

When the "marketing" is not researched and contains misleading and false information it forces citizens without deep pockets to work to correct that wrong information.

I am disappointed (I do respect you) that you do not acknowledge that the effort to exploit OUR communities fears about school funding was at best misguided. School funding should NOT be a factor in the OG decision!


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on May 16, 2010 at 10:19 am

Nancy, I think where we disagree is whether what was written was intentionally misleading or somehow misstated. Either way, the numbers are correct--$300,000 in ADA, $2,000,000 in developer fees. I don't see a reason for the Lins to exploit fears either--families with children are far in the minority in Pleasanton. They could just as easily have avoided the topic altogether. No matter their presumed intention, the facts remain the same. I don't see a reason to vote no based on this part of the campaign.

If we agree the numbers are accurate, then the decision that is left can be based on the merits of the project mitigating any students produced by the project (they do), protecting all homeowners rights, the compromise of 98 to 51 homes, and access for all of us to a park.

We may vote differently on this measure, but I do appreciate being able to understand each other's positions.


Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 16, 2010 at 12:04 pm

There was no misleading information from the Lins. In fact the numbers are understated. Their lit does not state that the money would solve the problems of the schools, only that they would contribute to the pot of money that goes toward the schools. The far more compelling argument is that 90% of the property, the parts that contains the ridgline, will be maintained by a conservancy in perpetuity as publically accessible open space.

Vote Yes on Measure D!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 16, 2010 at 12:39 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Here's what the Lin's "propaganda" says:

- $2,000,000 to the school district in one-time fees (for facilities and improvements. School District fee is $8.62 per sq. ft. average home estimated at 5,000 sq. ft.)
- $300,000 to the schools each year (for books, programs, teachers, and curriculum. School district student generation rate applied to ADA per-student fees, plus voter-approved bond measures)

One can see the same thing on their website: Web Link


Posted by Ann Pfaff-Doss, a resident of Val Vista
on May 16, 2010 at 5:13 pm

All you have to do is to take a tour of the property, as I did this afternoon, so see the obvious merits of the Oak Grove development.

The building sites are towards the front of the property and set low enough that only a handful of people living in that part of town will ever be able to see even the occasional top of a roof.

The park land is on rolling hills, above and toward the back of the property. It contains the best of the Valley views. This area is filled with hundreds of old oaks and wild flowers. I walked the length of the proposed main trail and it was easy going even for this 64 year old.

Vote yes on D. Vote yes on this beautiful park.


Posted by Cholo, a resident of Livermore
on May 19, 2010 at 4:11 pm

Pleasanton in the news! Web Link


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