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Oak Grove Developer Spends $379k to date

Original post made by Matt Sullivan on May 28, 2010

City of Pleasanton campaign reports reveal that as of May 22nd Oak Grove land speculator Fredric Lin has spent $379,000 so far to win approval of Measure D. To put this in perspective, I spent $11,000 on my City Council campaign in 2008. As far as I know this amount of spending blows every record out of the water in Pleasanton.

Much of this money went to political consultant Davies Public Affairs, whose motto is "we make NIMBY's and naysayers irrelevant", and who brags about "winning in the court of public opinion to overcome NIMBY's (we have) won approval for offshore oil, nuclear plants, coal plants . across the county". ( Makes me wonder how the "NIMBY's" in Louisiana are holding up under the brunt of the BP oil well blowout?

As a City Councilmember, my concern about this goes far beyond houses in the hills. This election is about nothing less than saving local democracy and how vast sums of money, influence, and power can undermine it. If you believe that NIMBY's are actually citizens and that our democratic rights are worth fighting for then join me and vote NO on Measure D, Oak Grove.

Matt Sullivan
Pleasanton City Council

Comments (23)

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on May 28, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Matt - It is you that is helping to turn the Measure D election into "nothing less than saving local democracy". Last I checked, only Pleasanton registered voters are deciding Measure D. Voters can ignore all the hype and read the voter guide in order to make their decision. Voters have only themselves to blame if they succumb to listening only to pollsters, stickers, yard signs and hyperventilating supporters on both sides.
If you believe that NIMBY's are actually citizens who got their ridgetop home in Kottinger Ranch and that our democratic property rights are worth fighting for then join me and vote YES on Measure D, Oak Grove. Preserve our YES on Measure D.

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on May 28, 2010 at 12:14 pm

p.s. I think you'll have to spend more than $11,000 if you want to keep your seat.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 28, 2010 at 12:58 pm

A developer who spends $379,000 to defend a development that a city spent 4 plus years vetting, countless staff time and money, and approved by a 4-1 margin.

Sullivan spends $11,000 as an incumbent to win a council seat.

A so called neighborhood activist, (Sullivan), who want collaboration spends 4 plus years of his life negotiating a settlement with the developer and the neighborhood, makes the motion to pass the ordinance while complimenting EVERYONE involved including the developer and then flips on the issue because of, yes, neighborhood pressure: priceless!

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 28, 2010 at 7:46 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Mr. Sullivan also voted against putting Measure D on the ballot. Apparently democracy is only so great when one agrees with the issue.

Posted by john, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on May 28, 2010 at 8:37 pm

Disrespect toward Mr Sullivan does nothing to help the yes cause.

Stacey, I thought that you were going to say that this was a case of the "tyranny of the majority" and been against a vote anyway.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 28, 2010 at 8:53 pm

Stacey is a registered user.


Mr. Sullivan has branded himself as a champion of direct democracy sitting on Council. Then he argues for why he cannot support sending the referendum to a vote of the people. It has nothing to do with whether or not I personally believe in the initiative and referendum process. It has everything to do with holding Mr. Sullivan accountable to his own ideals.

Posted by S Curtis, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 28, 2010 at 8:58 pm

Would Councilman Sullivan please explain to me why you have changed your mind about this project since voting for it originally, to now opposing it?

Posted by john, a resident of Donlon Elementary School
on May 28, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I followed your view for some time, off and on. I think I can fairly accurately predict which side of an issue you will land on.
This is why I question your motives in regard to Mr Sullivan.

Posted by neighbor, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 28, 2010 at 10:01 pm

The reason Sullivan voted to reverse the approval of the development vs. bringing it to a vote of the people was that we have since had the voters vote on hillside protection with Measure PP. The people had spoken. Also, the developer was using every lawyer to try and block the voters for having a vote on this and sued the city and the proponents. The Busch development went through a similar scenario. The council approved a development, residents collected signatures to referend the project, the developer harassed the citizens, so the council voted to repeal the development instead of bringing it to a vote. In that case, as well as two members of this council, do not tolerate developers who harass our citizens. I thank the council when the Busch property went through this, and Sullivan and McGovern for standing up to the developers. BTW, the Busch property did eventually come back and they had honest open discussions with the community and when they were done their project was approved without anybody speaking against it. The Lins have the opportunity to do the same thing.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 28, 2010 at 10:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I don't agree that Measure PP represents the people's will on Measure D and it would be "no". They are two different, albeit similar issues. With Measure D, 500 acres (including ridgetops) are placed into a conservation easement as protection against future development. If one could argue that Measure PP represents protecting Oak Grove ridgelines from development, it could also be interpreted as supporting Measure D.

Posted by Arroyo, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 29, 2010 at 10:32 am

Thanks Matt for your input -- I think I'll vote YES ON D. I might suggest that you avoid spending any funds in your next campaign -- wasted money.

Posted by Matt Fan, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on May 29, 2010 at 9:22 pm

Hats off to Matt for listening to his voters! He thought he knew what they wanted, but when signatures were gathered with ease to put PP and Oak Grove on the ballot, he started to re-think, re-trench and re-evaluate his decision.

What a an idea - actually listing to your voters. Can't happen if Jen, Cheryl and Jerry only listen to the Chamber and the Lin's attorney(s).

Posted by annonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2010 at 7:13 am

Let me see. 5000 signatures is what percentage of the City of Pleasanton? And five thousand voters signed a form asking that it be put on the ballot, not rescinded. Matt voted against putting it on the ballot. Yes, Matt listened to some people who wanted a chance to vote. Last count I thought there were about 70,000 people in Pleasanton.

It is easy to get people to sign something with, don't you want to vote on it, don't you want to save our hills? I hope that those people who signed actually know that they are not OUR hills, It's NOT Pleasanton Ridge and actually read the ordinance in the sample ballot.
The area is already bordered on three sides by homes. The 500 acres of open space will protect the highest ridges.

Years went into the planning of this. I appreciate leaders who do their homework and then own what they do. Matt was as responsible or more so for the development agreement as any other council member with the exception of the mayor. He was intricately involved with lot placement. Are you suggesting that what Matt did was not political. How do you think those people who trusted Matt and his word when he helped negotiate the project feel about his leadership now? How can you trust someone who makes the motion to approve, then sings the praises of everyone involved and because a small percentage of people sign something just wanting to vote on it he flips?

Posted by Dark Corners of Town, a resident of Country Fair
on May 30, 2010 at 8:48 am

There are 40,452 registered voters in Pleasanton as of the latest count. Web Link

Posted by Matt Fan, a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on May 30, 2010 at 1:09 pm

It takes 10% of the voters to put something on the ballot. Dear Anonymous- new born babies are in the census numbers but they are not voters.

Years of planning & negotiations do not always result in good policy, and Oak Grove is a good example. But neither was off-shore oil drilling and weak levies in Louisiana, communism in Russia, and Watergate. Lots of planning - not good ideas.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2010 at 3:09 pm

Wow, comparing a housing development with 500 acres of open space to oil drilling, levies, COMMUNISM and Watergate, wow. Wanting to take someone's private property is a lot like socialism though.

10% of verified signatures, which was my point! Which make the signatures on the referendum only about 4000 verified if there are only about 40,000 registered voters in town.

People standing on street corners using sound bites to negate four plus years of planning doesn't make good policy either. Gesturing to the Pleasanton Ridge while saying "don't mess with OUR hills." is misleading, oh wait that is out right lying. If you looked at the agenda of those donating money, oh wait, speaking of transparency, who is paying for the No on D campaign?

Which is why it is so important not to listen to you or to me, but read the material in the sample ballot. Go back and look at the minutes of the night the development was approved, go up and look at the property and ask questions. Go up Bernal and turn up Hearst Drive and go to the end of the road.

I think it will be clear that Yes on Measure D is the right thing to do. It is the best thing for all of Pleasanton.

Posted by fact checker, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2010 at 3:11 pm

Opinion - Friday, November 16, 2007

Save our pristine hills and our park

by Jennifer Hosterman and Matt Sullivan

We had planned to stay out of the debate over the Oak Grove referendum; however misinformation about the project and confusion in the public about our support considering our history of slow growth, environmental advocacy, and support for neighborhoods, compels us to provide this clarification.

Over three years ago, the property owner started work on a 98-unit plan, which was opposed by the adjacent Kottinger Ranch neighborhood. We have both campaigned against development in the hills and in support of affected neighborhoods. But instead of entering into yet another endless land-use battle, we thought there might be a better way: a collaborative process with the neighbors, the developer, and the city to see if agreement could be reached and these outcomes avoided. Our goals were threefold: empower the neighborhood to help shape the project, provide "finality" from future development, and create a model for the acquisition of public open space for the remaining developable properties in the southeast hills.

The result has been a resounding success! A consensus plan was facilitated by the city for a 51-unit project--half the size of the original--with the addition of $1 million in traffic mitigation fees for the neighborhood, and the dedication of a 497-acre public open space park. The plan then went through the normal Planning Commission and City Council public review process, input was sought throughout, additional issues identified, and adjustments were made. Regulatory agencies will evaluate habitat and mandate mitigation measures, or prohibit building on environmentally sensitive areas. No taxpayer monies will go to fund the open space park--the developer will deed the property to the city, will construct the trails and a staging area, pay the endowment to the easement-holder Tri Valley Conservancy, and the future HOA will be responsible for ongoing maintenance costs. For the units potentially most visible from the valley floor, one story limits, reduction in size, strict design guidelines, and plant and earth berm screening have been mandated. Finally, not one single house has been approved for this project--each will submit detailed plans and visual simulations to both the HOA Design Committee and the city for approval. The Planning Commission can choose to bring each to a public hearing, and any house can be appealed to the City Council for final decision. With these requirements and processes in place, the images presented by some project opponents of two- and three-story 12,000-square-foot white glowing "mega-mansions" sitting on barren hilltops are simply false.

Similar to what the city achieved with the Bernal property, Oak Grove provides nearly 500 acres of public open space in exchange for minimal development within the context of a collaborative neighborhood process and the support of four out of five councilmembers. With this success, the council has taken the first step in achieving a vision for a magnificent 2,000-acre natural park completely accessible to the public stretching from Shadow Cliffs to the Callippe Preserve Golf Course--forever protecting these hills from development. This is an important legacy that this generation can leave to future Pleasantonians.

Jennifer Hosterman was first elected to the City Council in 2002, elected mayor in 2004 and re-elected as mayor last year. Matt Sullivan, after six years as a planning commissioner and two years on the West Las Positas Interchange Committee before that, was elected to the City Council in 2004.

Posted by Joe, a resident of Danbury Park
on May 30, 2010 at 4:56 pm

I dont see anyone talking about the low life PR firm the Lins hired to pull the wool over on us. What about, "(we have) won approval for offshore oil, nuclear plants, coal plants . across the county". ( Yes, oil spills in the Gulf are dispicable, but so are land owners that hire a wolf in sheep's clothing. No way. I am not voting to support these people. I am voting no.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on May 30, 2010 at 6:12 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I suspect that there's no talk about the PR firm because they're just a tool and are absolutely irrelevant to the judging of the project based upon the pros and cons of the project itself.

Posted by Patriot, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on May 30, 2010 at 8:56 pm

"What about, "(we have) won approval for ... nuclear plants ...across the county"

What is so bad about nuclear plants? I would be proud of that too. What are you afraid of?

Posted by u are who you hang with, a resident of Birdland
on May 30, 2010 at 10:41 pm

Didn't your momma tell you, you hang with losers - you are a loser?

Posted by Tim, a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on May 30, 2010 at 11:11 pm

Is this expensive PR firm also part of that Superior Court judge John Creighton campaign?

Just wondering because I keep seeing Yes on D signs with John Creighton signs in illegal locations. I see them attached to city fences and in parks close all over the east side of Pleasanton, for example, like up and down the Santa Rita Road area.

Someone running for a Judge position with illegal signs? They won't get my vote.

Posted by Judy, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on May 30, 2010 at 11:23 pm

Sounds like Kay standing on school grounds to campaign- illegal.

She'll fight to save the hills, but just the opposite for pleasanton's schools. Funny she chose Walnut Grove's campus to wave her signs. Like she didn't know the law?!

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