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Anti-Oak Grove petition certified for action Feb. 16

Council to vote on rescinding its OK or ask voters to make decision

The Pleasanton City Council Tuesday accepted the official certification of a two-year-old referendum petition asking that it rescind its approval of a 51-home development on the hills above Kottinger Ranch, to be called Oak Grove.

The petition, a result of efforts by former City Councilwoman Kay Ayala and others, was signed by 5,266 registered voters. It asked the council to reverse its decision or to send the issue to voters in a public referendum.

But before the petition was certified by the Alameda County registrar, attorneys for the Jennifer Lin and her brother Frederic, the Oak Grove developers, successfully sought legal action in the county's Superior Court to block its certification. They argued that many of the signatures had been improperly obtained by volunteers for Ayala's "Save Pleasanton's Hills" citizens' coalition.

Subsequently the state Court of Appeal overruled that decision and late last year the California Supreme Court rejected a bid by the Lins for a rehearing of that appeal.

The dispute is far from being settled. Although the council accepted the certified referendum petition, it must now decide if it wants to reverse its 2007 approval of the project, including the public land grant, or ask voters to make that decision. With Mayor Jennifer Hosterman in Washington this week, the council deferred making that decision until its meeting on Feb. 16.

If the council calls for a public vote, it could place the issue on the ballot during the state primary election on June 9 at a cost to taxpayers of $97,500 or wait until the General Election Nov. 2, when the costs would be $79,000.

In other action at its Tuesday meeting, the council selected 19 volunteers to serve on a task force to help shape the needs of 32 acres of high-density residential property in the Hacienda Business Park. By agreement, the task force will include council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Matt Sullivan and an additional member to be chosen by the Pleasanton school district.

Last year, the council rezoned the acreage to allow mixed-use development on three sites located within half a mile of the Pleasanton/Dublin BART station. They include 11 acres at the southeast corner of Owens Drive and Willow Road, owned by W. P. Carey; 8.2 acres at the north corner of Hacienda and Gibraltar drives, owned by BRE, and 12.4 acres south of Gibraltar Drive and between Hacienda Driver and Willow Road, owned by Roche Molecular Systems.

The land use change allows residential development on the sites with a density of at least 30 units per acre with buildings up to six stories tall. The city's inclusionary zoning ordinance would require that at least 15 percent of the 950 housing units that could be built on the three sites be affordable to low and very-low households

Over the next 12 months, the task force will meet with homeowners associations and rental groups in Hacienda to hear their complaints and suggestions as part of the study to determine what's needed there and how best to provide it.

No specific projects have been proposed, although they're expected once the rental and condo markets become more active.

The council also delayed until Feb. 16 consideration of a proposal t authorize preliminary cost estimates and site planning for a new 128-150-unit senior rental development that would replace the aging Pleasanton Gardens and Kottinger Place senior complexes on Kottinger Drive.

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