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Council calls special meeting to consider agreement with Oak Grove developers

Original post made on Sep 29, 2011

The Pleasanton City Council has called a special meeting for 7 p.m. Monday to hear public comments on an agreement it is considering to delay litigation with developers while allowing time for city officials to consider another building plan by the same developers.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Thursday, September 29, 2011, 7:34 AM

Comments (26)

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Posted by I'm with Kay
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 4:43 pm

The Lins don't deserve any "extra" consideration.
It appears they are just bullies, who think ordinary courtesy, decency, or rules don't apply to them. They stand to make millions, and hope that by using lawyers as weapons they can thwart the community, and laugh all the way to the bank.
By asking to have their new proposal processed while they sue about the old one that lost in the voting, they want to have their cake and eat it too.


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Posted by Nimby
a resident of Kottinger Ranch
on Sep 29, 2011 at 6:06 pm

Kay Ayala:

Please start reimbursing the city for the legal expenses we are incurring. Please explain to me why is it okay for you to live on land formerly owned by the Lins yet any further development in this area is harmful.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 29, 2011 at 6:51 pm

First, Kay does not live on land formerly owned by the Lins so check your facts before you write.

I am with the first poster here, the Lin's are just bullies. They have no interest in our community, They keep filing lawsuits so it is them that is causing the expense to the city and they have lost every recent suit. Their tactic is to keep filing suits until we give in and give them what they want. I would not want them doing any business in Pleasanton because of their actions. You can already tell that if they did get something approved they will be imposible to work with and will not honor their conditions. They will do just want they want and then wait to be sued by the city if they do not honor their conditions, or they will sue the city after the fact because they do not intend on honoring the conditions.

The voters and the court threw out their previous proposal. The court also threw out their development agreement. Why then is the mayor and city council giving them special treatment now? They should be like any other land owner by proposing a new development and have it go through the public process. The city council also has no ability to negotiate a suit with the Lins for a future development. By doing so they circument the public process, which is against the law. City council: JUST SAY NO.


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Posted by Not your neighbor
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Sep 29, 2011 at 7:01 pm

Nimby you got the wrong person. Kay doesn't live on or near the Kottinger property.

All you folks who think Kay owes the city money for lawyers should pay attention to what is going on in the school district right now. Had they listened to Kay a few years ago when they were out re-upping the COPPS debt they wouldn't be in such a multi-million dollar hole right now.
Time and again they don't listen and the city or school district ends up on the wrong side of a debt of some kind. She pays attention and does her homework when many of our elected officials choose to take staff recommendations that cost us millions.
Be quiet and listen for a change Nimby!


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Posted by Karla and Allen's neighbors
a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:12 pm

Actually, it is Karla Brown and Allen Roberts who have large hillside homes in the areas right next to Oak Grove. Karla Brown's house is on property that the Lin's developed. Allen Roberts owns a house and lot right next to Oak Grove.

Karla Brown and Allen Roberts true Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) people as now that they are in the hills, they don't want other houses spoiling their views (or bigger houses making them feel small).

Lets have Karla Brown, Allen Roberts and their neighbors pay for the lawsuits, or raise their own money to buy the land to keep it open next to them.

I wanted the 500 acres of open space and trails for my family and Pleasanton to enjoy. Too bad we missed that chance.


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Posted by Jake
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 29, 2011 at 9:49 pm

"Had they listened to Kay a few years ago when they were out re-upping the COPPS debt they wouldn't be in such a multi-million dollar hole right now."

Bull. Had they listened we would be in worse shape now and we would have less liquidity and less money for classrooms and students. She would have screwed that one up too.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 29, 2011 at 11:49 pm

Those who write in support of the Lin's keep blaming one or two people. Maybe where the Lin's live, one or two people have this amount of control. However this item first went through a signature collection process in the city to put the item on the ballot and then went to a vote of the people and the voters overwhelming voted to not approve that development. It followed a democratic process. At this time, the Council should be protecting the will of the people; especially since every judge, up to the supreme court, has sided with the voters of Pleasanton.

Jake, you are wrong on the debt. If the district did not issue the additional debt, or refinance it with some creative financing, we might not have done as much facility changes (which we are now seeing we could not afford so the district just "charged it"). Charging your credit card (which is what a COP is) when you don't have the revenue is a dangerous thing to do. If our district does not do something soon with that debt, when the interest-only payments are over and we have to start paying the principal, we are going to be in real trouble financially and we will have to cut even more programs to pay the bill. The district has the choice of going into the general fund to pay that debt, which takes away from programs and teachers, or defaulting on the loan, and then we loose Harvest Park Middle School since that is the collateral. I do not see the district doing the later so dipping into the general fund will be the only way to pay the bill.

If you want to add another thing to Kay's 'cap', she was the Council member who voted against the school cooperative fee agreement with Signature Properties. The district pushed this through and a lawyer who was on the board at the time went to the council meeting and said he was more qualified and this was an airtight deal. Since then the court threw out that agreement and Signature Properties got away with paying much less developer fees than any other developer or individual in the City of Pleasanton. If we listened to Kay back then, we would have much more money in developers fees and we would not be heading into this debt crisis.


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Posted by Concerned Californian
a resident of Valley Trails
on Sep 30, 2011 at 7:59 am

"Local" - you're absolutely right, but when was the last time the city council could be counted on to protect the will of the people. Seems like for everything from public employee pensions to low-income housing, the council protects the interests of unions and developers.


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Posted by steve
a resident of Parkside
on Sep 30, 2011 at 8:29 am

"I wanted the 500 acres of open space and trails for my family and Pleasanton to enjoy." Really? You can't afford to pay for the property that the Brown's and the Robert's own, how can you afford 500 acres on a prime hillside ? Oh, you expect the rest of us to cough up that money for you and your pack? As much as I detest the class warfare our 'leaders' are trying to foment, it is entertaining to watch some wealthy hill dwellers fight amongst themselves.


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Posted by DON"T TAKE MY RIGHTS AWAY
a resident of San Ramon
on Sep 30, 2011 at 8:39 am

No one not even the Lin's should have their land rights taken away by anyone. Every person who purchased in Kottinger Ranch from day one knew that someday the remaining land would be developed and they even made them sign a statement about this...the issue now is did the original sellers disclose this information to the new owners? If they did great if they did not then the current owners need to take that matter up with those sellers. The Lin Family was giving 500 acres to the City as open space WOW what a loss to everyone just because the current residents of Kottinger Ranch don't want more homes...well then raise the money and pay the Lin's and do what you want with the land...this is a true case on NIMBY and this needs to STOP. Pleasanton is already in violation of Federal Law by restricting building below government standards and will lose potential funding if they do not get this issue corrected which I understand is currently being worked on but what most don't know is that legal issue cost the City over $2,000,000 in legal fees from what I have been told (??). No matter peoples property rights should NOT be taken away just because a bunch of neighbors don't like the people or the project. (I believe some may not like the Lin's because they are a very wealthy Asian family and have developed many projects in the Bay Area but that shouldn't stop them from continuing to improve the area we all live and profit from it but I think some believe it should)
STOP this VIOLATION of RIGHTS and ALLOW the building to begin instead of wasting City money on attorney fees the new homes will be an added addition to the city you wait and see.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 30, 2011 at 9:05 am

Maybe in San Ramon there are vested rights in property but in Pleasanton there are not. The city is not in any violation of any federal law or loosing federal funding but I give you credit for making something up that sounded plausible to the general public.

Pleasanton does not have vested rights in developing a piece of property. The general plan has what is called mid-points of holding capacity for planning purposes. All development plans go through a process and there is no guarantee to the land owner that they will be able to develop at the mid-point; especially if their development plan is in steep terrain or other sensitive areas.

Also at issue is the general plan said that the city would develop a hillside planning document. The city council never did that and then they approved a development on the hillside. They should have developed the hillside planning document first. Since they did not, the citizens of Pleasanton had to take over, write, and submit a hillside planning document, for which the voters of Pleasanton voted for.

It is not that the home owners there do not want more homes, it is the voters of Pleasanton that voted that the plan submitted was not a responsible plan.

It is the Lin's that are wasting City money. The voters voted and the courts ruled. But the Lin's keep filing suits. Trying to wear the citizens down.


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Posted by linsRdevils
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 4:30 pm

I think it is amazing that a number of folks here seem to be of the belief that if you own property you can build anything you want on it. What if the Lins wanted to build a excriment fermenting facility on their property, or a plastics explosive manufacturing facility, or a plutonium processing facility, or a gigantic drive-in movie complex that showed nothing but XXXXX porno on their property? By your reckoning, that would be just fine because they owned the propety.

The Lins are people that don't even live in this country, let alone in this area. Why are so many in favor of the Lins bullying Pleasantonians strictly for greed, when they don't give a rat's a** about this city?


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Posted by linsRdevils
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 30, 2011 at 4:40 pm

MEMO

To: Jerry Thorne and Cheryl Cook-Callio
Subject: Your Vote on the Lin Matter

If you vote in favor of a "special arrangement" for the Lin property, you will not have a snow-ball's chance in hell of getting elected Mayor. We are sick and tired of Pleasanton City Council members that give "special consideration" to real estate developers, whether your motivation is "special considerations" of a personal financial nature, or whether your are just simply incompetent.

We have the $$$ to make the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce PAC as insignificant as a gnat on a horse's a**.

Have a good day!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 30, 2011 at 5:35 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

local,

Good posts, but perhaps the issue of property rights could be clarified. The "by right" style of development rights is only one planning process style and you're correct that Pleasanton does not provide for that kind of entitlement. Pleasanton instead uses a PUD planning process whereby property owners become entitled to a certain kind of development through application approvals and development agreements (which leads to "beauty contests"). There's still a basic concept of property rights under the law; meaning, that the process used is consistent with law.

I still am left wondering whether a property can indefinitely be held hostage to referendum. The will of the people was to vote in a hard-limit housing cap yet that was illegal too.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 30, 2011 at 5:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

In other words, the law is not so clear with regards to setting aside an ordinance not subject to referendum. As for the Lins submitting a new 10 unit proposal consistent with the voter-approved hillside ordinance while at the same time appealing one lawsuit and also suing for damages, they're hedging their bets. I can't imagine anyone else in their position not pursing their own interests.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 30, 2011 at 10:31 pm

"the law is not so clear with regards to setting aside an ordinance not subject to referendum". If you are talking about the Lin's developer agreement then that was already decided by the courts to be tossed out. The development agreement ordinance referenced the ordinance that was referended, and the developer agreement said that it was invalid should the other ordinance be referended. In the first case where the Lins were forcing the city manager to sign the developer agreement, the Lin's lawyer as part of the court hearing even said they were aware that if the project was referended that their development agreement was to be tossed out. That judge agreed and then when they sued on this, the second judge also agreed.

I think it is fairly clear now.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

Stacey is a registered user.

The case was assigned to a judge new to that case law subject and the judge didn't even hear the case. (Which the Lins are predictably appealing.) It amounted to, "We think you made a mistake in how you presented your position so now you lose, sorry." So no, I don't think the actual legal question is clarified at all.

In any case, Pleasanton voters made it legal for the Lins to build 10 ranchettes right on the hilltops there and threw away the chance for publicly accessible 500 acres of open space and trails. I'm sure someone won't like that either and will bring another referendum to the ballot box, thereby indefinitely suspending property rights.


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Posted by Pete
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 1, 2011 at 9:41 am

Stacey... "new to that case law subject" can you prove that? What kind of answer would represent closure for your? "So no, I don't think the actual legal question is clarified at all." Yes... Pleasanton voters may of thrown 500 acres of open space and trails away, but as I recall, the marketing of the project was poorly done. If farmers markets,silly phone surveys and e-mails to elected officials... that offered answers not even related to the questions asked, were acceptable, then the vote was right. Time to move on.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 1, 2011 at 10:49 am

Stacey, you are spreading the rhetoric of the Lins. by saying "Pleasanton voters made it legal for the Lins to build 10 ranchettes right on the hilltops there". Absolutely not true and you know that. The city has a PUD process, as you acknowledge above. Yes, the Lins can submit whatever they want but the city has complete discretion in approving, or modifying plans for acceptance. The Citizens said that any more than 10 units was illegal but under 10 units it follows the city process and other city laws in the general plan. The measures voted on by the people did not make it legal to build 10 houses on a hilltop. The city could allow 10 houses in that area and make a condition of approval that the rest of the land become publicly assessable. This has been done in other projects where the city made a condition of approval of donation of land for parks, trails, etc.

In fact, I am sure the Lins would want to donate this land. That land is of no use to the Lins, who do not live here. If there are no development possibilities on that land, the Lins would not want it as all they want is land for speculation for development. If they kept it, it would become a liability as they would have to maintain it for fire danger plus they would have to pay property tax on it. In the previous development, the Lins were not being generous by donating the land to the City. They wanted to unload that liability.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 1:55 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"The measures voted on by the people did not make it legal to build 10 houses on a hilltop."

In what way? Measure PP explicitly exempts projects of 10 units or less from the hilltop restriction, thereby giving the City absolutely no discretionary powers in the PUD process with regards to hilltop construction and grading. Thus, PP made it perfectly legal to build 10 houses on the hilltops. It would be illegal for the City to reject the project due to construction and grading of hilltops. The City is left only with rejecting projects based on other criteria, which is no guarantee. Maybe you think that's ok because voters can just referend again. I don't think that's ok, to keep a community and a developer in an endless loop of PUD and referend, PUD and referend, PUD and referend.

From the text of Measure PP:
"No grading to construct residential or commercial structures shall occur on hillside slopes 25% or greater, or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline. Exempt from this policy are housing developments of 10 or fewer housing units on a single property..."

Is that the ultimate goal, to remove development possibilities from the land through the initiative process that were originally created through the zoning process?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 2:29 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Pete,

Sorry, I'm a little rusty on this subject after so much time has passed...

The judge was Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers. She presided over mostly family law court.

Recall that a previous court *in a different Lin lawsuit* already settled the idea that the development agreement was _not_ suspended through the poison pill language and so the City had to sign it. Rogers dismissed her case by ruling on a matter already settled and said the DA was suspended. Of course the Lins are appealing.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 2:36 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Web Link

Hrm, here's the overview:

- Lins sued to block referendum vote, saying signatures were improperly collected. They won the case then lost on appeal. Referendum went to vote, but before the vote...
- Lins sued to get the City to sign the development agreement. Lins won. City signed.
- After vote, Lins sued to get the City to honor signed development agreement. Case was dismissed without a hearing based on the judge re-ruling previous case. They are currently appealing.
- Lins now also suing for breach of contract damages.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 2:40 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I haven't read the details on the latest suit yet, only recall that the Lins had asked the City to execute a protection provision in the signed and valid development agreement (because it was not suspended) and remove the poison pill before the development agreement was set aside through the poison pill. So they sue for damages because the City said "no" and left the poison pill in.


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Posted by local
a resident of Birdland
on Oct 1, 2011 at 3:33 pm

"Measure PP explicitly exempts projects of 10 units or less from the hilltop restriction, thereby giving the City absolutely no discretionary powers in the PUD process with regards to hilltop construction and grading."

Stacey, you are absolutely incorrect!

The Chamber of Commerce keep spreading this lie during the campaign and the City Attorney during public record kept saying that it was incorrect. Measure PP explicitly disallowed developments of more than 10 units on hillsides but did not change the cities discretion on any development of less than 10 units. The city retains the right/power of those 10 units like it does for any other development in town.

In summary,
1) if the city receives a development plan for more than 10 units on hillsides (as defined in PP), the City cannot process the application since the voters made it illegal to process. The only way for this to go forward is for the developers to write an initiative to modify the hillside regulations for their development, collect signatures, bring to the voters, and then if the voters approve the initiative, the developer can then submit the development to the city planning department. It then goes to the Planning Commission. Then to City Council. And is subject to referendum at the end.

2) if the city receives a development plan of more than 10 units in the 'flat lands' of Pleasanton, it first goes through Planning to ensure it is consistent with the General Plan and zoning, makes appropriate changes. Then the Planning Commission hears the item. They have the discretion to approve the plan as submitted, approve with changes, or not approve. This decision can then be appealed to the City Council. The City Council can approve as is, with modifications, or deny the application. If approved, citizens can collect signatures, if they want, to put on the ballot for a referendum and then the voters have the final say on whether it is approved or denied.

3) if the city receives a development plan of less than 10 units in the hillsides of Pleasanton, it first goes through Planning to ensure it is consistent with the General Plan and zoning, makes appropriate changes. Then the Planning Commission hears the item. They have the discretion to approve the plan as submitted, approve with changes, or not approve. This decision can then be appealed to the City Council. The City Council can approve as is, with modifications, or deny the application. If approved, citizens can collect signatures, if they want, to put on the ballot for a referendum and then the voters have the final say on whether it is approved or denied.

As you can see, items 2 and 3 are the same and consistent with what the City Attorney and City Manager have been saying all along.

Sorry for the long post but it boils my blood when I see people posting something that is blatantly wrong and I needed to explain this all so readers know the facts.




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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 11:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

local,

Could you point to where in the public record those comments may be found? That may be one interpretation. Here's the other.

Your number 3 scenario is precisely what is occurring. The Lins' latest proposal is a 10 unit development even though they could fit more units onto that property under PP. Therefore, I think it is rather obvious why they would submit such a proposal: to build 10 homes on the hilltops. For 10 units on roughly, what, 600 acres, that's the only economically/profitable sensible scenario from a property owner's viewpoint. I'm not saying I agree with whatever the new proposal may look like (I was an advocate for the 500 acres open space), only that it better be a d*mn good reason given to reject the hilltop development since we're allowing (via scenario 3) 10 unit or less developments to go through the PUD process and be exempted from PP.

You do seem to skirt the bigger picture, which is the indefinite suspension of property rights through a seemingly endless cycle of PUD approval, referendum, and initiatives that reduce development possibilities previously granted through a different public process.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 1, 2011 at 11:30 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

(Who would spend the amount of money needed to buy a 60 acre property where the house didn't have a view?)


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