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Council signs off on agreement to scuttle housing cap, build more affordable housing

Original post made on Aug 18, 2010

The Pleasanton City Council agreed last night to pay $1.9 million in legal fees to two affordable housing coalitions in a 4-0 vote that also scuttled the city's voter-approved 1996 housing cap that was designed to prevent runaway residential growth.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, August 18, 2010, 6:54 AM

Comments (31)

Posted by ziippy, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 8:49 am

good news! it was boring living in such a great town. glad to see our local politicians are corrupt and will do their duty to drag us down to the sad level of the rest of the state. viva corruption. down with democracy!!!

Posted by Truth-teller, a resident of Valley Trails
on Aug 18, 2010 at 8:59 am

Urban Habitat is just a front for low-income housing developers and low-income housing management organizations. They've ruined San Leandro with a Section 8 housing project to be built in the school districts where the schools were the most overcrowded - while lobbying the city to make sure the developers paid the least amount of impact fees. They don't care if their Section 8 projects impact parking, traffic, air quality or quality of life in general - they won't stop until the urban ghettonization of all peaceful suburban towns is complete!

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:15 am

Stacey is a registered user.

What's interesting... this concept of anticipation.

The City tried to argue against this lawsuit on the basis that the City hadn't hit the cap yet. RHNA numbers are an abstract concept that does not necessarily translate into actual physical housing units or permits issued. In other words, the housing cap opponents were anticipating that the cap would be hit but it wasn't yet a physical reality. That argument didn't work.

In the Oak Grove lawsuits, there's also the concept of anticipation, that the City was anticipating the referendum of Ordinance 1961 so they were holding off on executing Ordinance 1962 (because of the poison pill language). The court ruled that they can't hold things in anticipation like that (because the poison pill didn't account for suspension).

Posted by Nosy Neighbors, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:22 am

OK fellow Pleasantonians, the ball is in our court now. If we were able to shut down a building project to protect "Our Ridges" we can certainly use every resource within the cities planning, review, permit, oversight & even possibly referendum process to see that this NEVER comes to fruition.

We've done it before now just focus all that anti-rich/mega-mansion sentiment towards the poor/low-income Mc Condo's.


Posted by worried, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:29 am

My humble opinion is that there should have been more permits issue for low housing instead of the multi-million dollar ones that were issued..We wouldn't be in this situation if the council wasn't so greedy..

Could someone tell me how the council thought they would get away with not being up to the quota of low housing? I don't believe Livermore or Dublin had this problem..Someone can correct me if I'm wrong.

I will not be voting for any incumbents and know a lot of other people feels the same...

Posted by Mike, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 18, 2010 at 10:47 am

Requiring section 8 housing ensures rising crime rates and undeserables coming into Pleasanton who otherwise wouldn't. I've seen up close those who receive section 8 funds treat their "homes." keep it up and Ptown will turn into Antioch or Brentwood with high crime rates and the influx of gangs.

Posted by McPleasanton, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Aug 18, 2010 at 11:31 am

@worried -- Have you been to Dublin or Livermore lately? They seemingly developed the general plan for both of these cities on the back of a napking at McDonalds in the early 70s. Bix box everywhere, no great downtown or sense of community. Dublin's sense of community is meeting there neighbors at the fireworks stand on the 3rd of July!!! As a 30 year Pleasanton resident I would oppose taking any lessons from Dublin or Livermore's growth and housing cap management plans.

Posted by Dublin dan, a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

87.3% of fireworks are sold to out of towners. Dublin is very smart for using this fundraiser that brings in so much money from other communities.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 18, 2010 at 3:10 pm

Parent of Two is a registered user.

They should make every dipwad who voted for Jerry Brown and his social engineering whackjobs pay for this extortion. Glad to see our STATE Attorney General has the time and funds to extort $2M worth of legal fees from a community that is already cutting teachers and education, in order to force-feed housing for welfare cheats and illegal immigrants.

Oh, but this ought to boost Jerry Brown's street cred amongst the low-income dirtbags that make up most of his gubernatorial voting bloc... Now they have a way to infiltrate nice, law-abiding cities like Pleasanton, as long as that drug-addled hippie has public office.

Posted by Pro-Law, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 3:40 pm

Low income housing is bad news for Pleasanton all around. Generally speaking, the properties are not kept in the best shape and many of the people taking advantage of it have family members of the criminal element (or they may part of it themselves).

Posted by Irate, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 4:18 pm

What is the deal here in Pleasanton? How do upscale communities like Piedmont, Atherton, Hillsborough, Woodside, etc. get away with no low income housing?? High density housing only puts more stress on our school system, roads, freeways, parks, etc.

Posted by Just the Facts, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2010 at 5:05 pm

It is sad to read the misinformed masses rail against affordable housing. People that equate public housing projects with unemployed Section 8 voucher holders as the same as affordable, tax credit financed affordable housing are simply wrong. It may not be entirely accurate to say that teachers and nurses can income qualify for affordable rental housing; however, it is accurate to say that a police dispatcher or court records clerk could income qualify. And that is the key - you cannot be unemployed and qualify for a tax credit affordable housing property. And furthermore, most affordable housing developments have more rigorous screening practices than their market rate counterparts. Do you see class A apartment owners running criminal background checks before leasing? Most affordable housing developments require this type of scrutiny before leasing a unit.

And why you ask would they do this? Because there is a private investor that purchases the tax credits and has a vested economic interest in the operations and leasing of the property. If the developer were to lease to problem tenants, allow overcrowding, or other issues to arise, they could forfeit the tax credits that funded the development. This is problematic for the investor, of course and accordingly, they ensure that the properties are well maintained and managed.

So before you condemn affordable housing, just a suggestion: learn the facts! Don't be a lemming! Check out the websites of some of the state's affordable developers. BRIDGE Housing, the developer of the project adjacent to the San Leandro BART station is among the best affordable developers in the state and country! Their developments are virtually indistinguishable from market rate developments.

Posted by TheMissingStory, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 18, 2010 at 6:45 pm

I am of the opinion that "low income affordable housing" nearly always becomes below-market rental property, with the rents subsidized by taxpayers or possibly by requirements imposed on the developer in order for them to be allowed to build other units on which they can make a profit. Desirable as I consider it for some form of owner-occupied low-cost housing, I am not aware of any such developments as a major portion of low-cost housing in expensive communities such as this valley. Small numbers have even been built in Pleasanton, but as a percentage they are dwarfed by the rental variety. If anyone has contrary facts I would appreciate learning them. Much of Pleasanton's current stock of below-market housing are rentals occupied by older citizens. This has the advantage of meeting previous state and county demands for low cost housing without burdening the city with crime or the school district with additional students. Hopefully Pleasanton can continue this technique. It seems to me to be the only practical alternative.

Posted by Just the Facts, a resident of another community
on Aug 18, 2010 at 7:37 pm

From a policy standpoint, my honest answer is that I do not agree with affordable homeownership. I believe that shortsighted politicians that believe that homeownership is an expedient and palatable way for a City to fullfill affordable housing obligations are oftentimes burying these households under a financial albatross that they might never crawl out from under. For example, if the water heater breaks, does an affordable homeowner have the income to afford to fix it without incurring credit card debt. And what if the car breaks down a month later....or a child falls ill. It is my belief that if affordable housing is to be a policy goal then it should be rental housing. Not only are there multiple stakeholders that can ensure proper management of the development, you can leverage equivalent resources into the production of more rental units. The goal of affordable housing is to allow households to use their income not on housing and related costs, but on other costs of living. Did you know that it has been shown that affordable housing actually lowers a household's dependence on public medical resources because they not only have safe/sanitary housing but also the ability to pay for medical services from funds they might have otherwise used to pay for "unaffordable" housing costs? The savings these households have are also able to be spent in local businesses. People mistakenly have the impression that affordable households do not spend hard earned dollars in their local retailers, but these are not the facts. That their housing unit is affordable to them gives the ability to contribute more to the local economy.

I understand the arguement that affordable housing is subsidizing people that do not work hard or have made bad choices and while in some cases this might be true, I believe that the long term benefits of well managed affordable rental housing far outweigh the negatives. Moreover, what I think people do not realize is the economic benefits of affordable housing.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:26 pm

The voter passed housing cap was found to be against the law.

Posted by Bruce D., a resident of Canyon Meadows
on Aug 18, 2010 at 9:43 pm

To Parent of Two - the Attorney General's office (Jerry Brown) waived all rights to legal fees - the City of Pleasanton did not pay out cent to that office. The fees will be paid out to the other plaintiffs in the action - affordable housing advocates. The Judge made that decision, not the Council.

In Pleasanton, we struggle with providing affordable housing because of the cost to build and the cost of land. The State can foist housing numbers upon us, but its up to the property owner to determine what they can, or cannot afford to build. The Council decides the "fit" for the community, and works with property owners and developers, with public input, to decide upon the very best projects possible for the entire city. That's their job.

Posted by Parent of Two, a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 19, 2010 at 8:55 am

Parent of Two is a registered user.

Do a little research, people. The judge in this case, Frank Roesch, was appointed by Gray Davis, and has been named in corruption hearings in the East Bay, particularly during the garbage strikes in Oakland... Hmmmm, who was mayor of Oakland?

Even if Jerry Brown doesn't take a cent, it goes to the lawyers, who are rather large contributors to his gubernatorial campaign. So, whether or not the checks are in his name, the money will find its way to the head weasel.

Posted by worried, a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 19, 2010 at 8:58 am

McPleasanton, I was not referring to the way Dublin has developed there city and think it could have done better..
I was only stating that they don't have the low housing issue we here in Pleaseanton are facing..Out tax dollars went to pay for the mistake the councel thought they didn't have to adhere by!!

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 19, 2010 at 9:07 am

Stacey is a registered user.


The answer to your question partly lies in the concept of "job-housing imbalance". A city's work force size is taken into account when the RHNA numbers are allocated. The other part of the answer probably lies with those towns' outright flaunting of the Housing Element law.

Posted by Disgusted, a resident of Val Vista
on Aug 19, 2010 at 11:47 am

It is disgusting to me that our schools are still scrambling to raise funds to support technology, science, music, library and student support services as well as raising class sizes as a result of budget shortfalls... and then we get to hand over 2 million dollars to a bunch of lawyers and allow the building of over 2,000 more households? How does this make any sense at all?

Posted by Frank, a resident of Valley Trails
on Aug 19, 2010 at 5:15 pm

Response to Just the Facts:

Here are some facts about the BRIDGE housing projects in San Leandro:
> It required $9 Million in City Redevelopment money (property tax money) to implement. The whole point of Redevelopment funds is to generate higher property tax revenues when surrounding property values increase. How many times does low-income housing make the surrounding property values go up?

> While positioned as housing for working class people (e.g., teachers), the San Leandro project turned out to be for "very low-income people." BRIDGE does not demand that people hold a job, and Lydia Tan, Director of BRIDGE, told me herself that they are not allowed to discriminate against Section 8.

> BRIDGE and the San Leandro project developer first told people they would integrate a coffee shop and light retail for the project, once they got city council approval, they changed this to a daycare center.

> BRIDGE and the San Leandro project developer intentionally misrepresented the impact on public schools for 100 affordable housing units, in order to negate impact fees paid to the school district. School district members voiced concerns that the impacted nearby public schools were already requiring 3 lunch periods due to overcrowding, and could not deal with the influx of new students. What's more, the placement of the school would required children to cross two dangerous arterial streets to get to school. BRIDGE, the developer, and unfortunately, the city "leadership" didn't care.

It's interesting that the state would pick on Pleasanton for being out of compliance. Towns like Atherton, Los Altos and Piedmont get away with it - and they're a lot wealthier by comparison.

Posted by Patti K. (also a lawyer and a mom), a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 19, 2010 at 7:47 pm

Dear Disgusted,

I am disgusted, too! Do realize, however, that California State School Districts are funded from a very different pot than City agencies, like our City. Fortunately, we have been blessed with the leadership on the council to put away rainy day savings for these events. For this event, remember that the Council voted unanimously to approve defending the voter-approved housing cap, and the council saw that through to its natural fruition. The council, after the Judge threw out the housing cap, decided wisely to settle. This is a smart council.

Posted by Just the Facts, a resident of another community
on Aug 20, 2010 at 2:21 am

@ Frank-

$9MM in redevelopment funds? While admitedly I am not sure what the source of the subsidy funds for the BRIDGE project at San Leandro is, I would think that a large portion of the redevelopment funds are from the 20% housing setaside. That is to say that 20% of all revenues generated from redevelopment areas are statutorily mandated to be used to facilitate the development of housing. That being said, if you care to look at the facts here is some information published by State HCD about affordable housing that contradicts the fallacy about property value declines linked to affordable housing:

Web Link

In terms of whether you believe a tenant at a tax credit funded project needs to hold a job, I can tell you definitively that they do. IRS Section 42, which governs the tax credit program mandates that tax credit housing is not for the unemployed, and those on only public assistance. So while you may believe that residents will not have to hold a job, they will. As for Section 8, you are correct. They cannot discriminate against a Section 8 tenant. However, they can turn them away for credit or on the basis of their criminal background check. This is completely legitimate, and what is typically required by either the local jurisdiction or the for profit, tax credit investor.

Out of curiousity, if the project maintained a retail/commercial component, why would you care? Child care center vs. coffee shop? Truthfully, I suspect that there would be a greater demand in the community for a child care center as opposed to a coffee shop. I guess I don't think this is such an egregious change....

As for the impact on the schools, it may well be that the impact was understated. I won't represent that I am familiar with the facts in this instance.

Ultimately, the reason Pleasanton was sued was because of a hard cap in terms of housing production, that statutorily prevented the City from meeting its fair share of the local RHNA goals. It may well be that the cities you identified are small enough that one or two small projects every couple of years is sufficient to meet their RHNA goals for low/moderate income housing. It would be interesting to know what their actual production is.....

Posted by Junebug, a resident of Alisal Elementary School
on Aug 20, 2010 at 11:12 am

The 1996 voters were naive and Tarver and Pico seized on it to make themselves political heros to P-towners by giving the illusion by picking an arbitrary cap, they would prevent and protect us all from vapid "runaway" and "unbridled" growth. General Plans and Zoning designations (including Urban Growth Boundaries)combined with Growth Management are the tools to have balanced growth and development which funds schools and other services. The lawsuit could have been avoided and the City would not be out another 1.9M which is incredibly sad.

Build market-rate medium and high density condos and townhouses with smaller square footage which are (more) affordable-by-design. Subsidize only rental apartments mixed in with market rate apartments if you have to meet the State RHNA. Subsidizing housing does not encourage a certain segment of people to earn more money or improve themselves because otherwise they exceed income limits. And there is a big scam of people moving numerous people into a subsized house or unit which is a misuse and abuse of tax-payers

Posted by Frank, a resident of Valley Trails
on Aug 20, 2010 at 11:32 am

@Just the Facts

Can someone qualify for Section 8 if they hold a job? What happens if they hold a job at the time they qualify for housing, and then lose it (which is a very likely possibility, especially in this recession)? Do they get kicked out? Isn't that inhumane?

As for the retail component of San Leandro Crossings, no I don't care if it's a coffee shop or childcare - I'm just showing you how BRIDGE lies because they initially position their projects as something other than they will really be - in order to gain community and city council support. And I'm right about the project's impact to schools.

I've seen those "studies" that show low-income housing raises the immediate surrounding property values - they're usually based on urban areas in Chicago and Detroit where condemned buildings in severely blighted areas are demolished and affordable housing is built in their place. But that's not an apples to apples comparison to a suburban community like Pleasanton which has little to no blight, high property values all around, and a lot of open space.

I'm not against low-income housing, I'm against high-density low-income housing PROJECTS. Whether they are low-income or no-income, they're destined to become ghettos. Subsidized units at already existing apartments is the way to go - this is a more inclusive housing strategy that doesn't segregate people who are low-income. Just look at what failures housing projects have been in New York, Chicago and Detroit. Do we really think it's going to be any different here just because they're designed by some big-name architect, and managed by a group out of San Mateo, whose management makes enough money by poverty pimping to live in the more affluent areas of the Peninsula, and nowhere near the affordable housing they build?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 20, 2010 at 11:37 am

Stacey is a registered user.

This is a pretty good read from a group specializing in helping citizens win land development issues: Web Link

"Occasionally folks will call CEDS with concerns about a proposed affordable housing project. The list of concerns usually include adverse effects on the value of nearby properties, increased crime, or compatibility issues such as increased through-traffic on residential streets. As will be seen from the following review of relevant scientific research, while these concerns may have some basis in fact, the effects are by no means consistent and each project should be evaluated on its own merits. In those situations where a negative effect is possible, a variety of measures are usually available for resolving the impact."


"Early experiments in creating affordable housing occasionally resulted in increased crime and other problems. Foremost among these failed experiments were the housing projects of the inner city. These projects created pockets of poverty where a lack of jobs, access to good schools, and a plethora of other problems led to hopelessness and high crime rates. Today, most affordable housing projects strive to disperse homes for moderate- to low-income people throughout a community and strive for locating housing near jobs and public transportation. The potential for crime can be further reduced through techniques such as Crime Prevention Through Environment Design (CPTED), which is described in the chapter on Crime."

To me what sticks out is that the historic problems that have lead to negative stereotypes of affordable housing are design/planning issues. So it follows that each project has to be evaluated on its own merits, on what its design is, because a poor design will cause a negative impact. Therefore citizens need to watch the proposals closely and ensure that good design is being followed.

Just the Facts brings up some good points about ownership versus rental. I'm not sure I entirely agree with the conclusions. There's an assumption that the property owner will provide adequate maintenance where the lower income person would be unable to. Where's the incentive for that to occur? It doesn't always happen. One can find some pretty rundown looking apartments around Pleasanton.

Posted by Why Not, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 20, 2010 at 12:57 pm

Why not make it affordable housing for Seniors? There's a need for Senior housing. Also, those over 55 tend to be good neighbors and responsible citizens and.... they won't have kids who will impact the schools.

Posted by Just the Facts, a resident of another community
on Aug 22, 2010 at 11:23 pm

@ Frank-

A portable Section 8 voucher pays the difference between 30% of the holder's gross income and the unit rent. I believe that the terms of the voucher differ between jurisdictions; however, I AM NOT a property manager, so don't quote me on that.

As for the arguements on affordable housing and property values, your thoughts are inaccurate. There are a variety of studies and sources from case studies nationwide that support the premise that affordable housing does not lower property values. Here is another link:

Web Link

The high density product that you envision as affordable housing are the public housing projects of yesteryear. Cabrini Green or Jordan Downs is not the same as tax credit funded affordable housing. So do I believe it would be different in Pleasanton? Absolutely. I know that it would. The 25 year track record of LIHTC financed affordable housing backs that statement up.

@ Stacey-

I agree that just because a market rate owner purchases a unit, there is no guarantee that they will maintain the unit any better than a below market rate household. What is different however is that they at least have the financial resources to do so, if they are so inclined.

Posted by Gunslinger, a resident of another community
on Aug 24, 2010 at 12:50 am

Nosy Neighbor is right on

Posted by Frank, a resident of Valley Trails
on Aug 24, 2010 at 9:52 am

@Just the Facts

Low-income and no-income housing not having an effect on surrounding property values is inaccurate, because the argument is contrary to common sense and reality. The studies you provide are all by government entities with a vested stake in promoting low-income housing. Do you yourself live close to affordable housing, or do you know many people who desire to buy a home close to affordable housing? Would most realtors recommend living close to affordable housing projects when choosing a home? Would people pay *more* for a home that is close to affordable housing for the privellage of living in a more "diverse" community? And can I ask if you are even a resident of Pleasanton? In San Leandro, those who spoke the loudest in favor of the San Leandro Crossings project were mostly low-income housing activists (e.g., those who make their living off of low-income housing/poverty pimping) from Oakland and San Francisco.

My high-denisty "vision" of affordable housing is already a reality - the San Leandro Crossings project is 100 units, five story, to be built only a few hundred feet away from San Leandro's BART station. There's also an Amtrak rail line directly in back of the project, putting it on the "wrong side of the tracks" both ways! How can you "know" things would be different in Pleasanton?

Basically, low-income housing projects have been nothing but failures, including the low-income housing mixed-used projects at the Fruitvale BART station - most all of the merchants have left and crime has skyrocketed in the surrounding area. But by putting projects close to public transit, they've been rebranded "Transit Oriented Developments." The only thing these things will do is discourage BART ridership as the low-income housing will bring crime as a reality to one's daily commute.

Posted by Mackenzie, a resident of Mohr Park
on Feb 9, 2011 at 6:52 pm

OMG!!!!!!!!!!! I luv this website! I read it everyday!!!!!

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