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Council members chosen to write ballot arguments for and against Oak Grove development proposal

Deadlines late this month as Registrar gathers sample ballot information for June 8 referendum

City Council members have been chosen to write arguments in favor and against a ballot referendum to be voted on June 8 that will decide if the proposed Oak Grove development project on Pleasanton's southeast side can move forward as planned.

The question on the June 8 ballot will be: "Shall the Development Plan for the Oak Grove property be approved?"

The multi-million-dollar project, proposed by developers Jennifer and Frederic Lin, would create 51 lots for custom homes on a 562 acre site at the end of Hearst Drive. As part of the proposal, the Lins would give 496 acres of their land to the city of Pleasanton free of charge along with $1 million in traffic mitigation fees and a hillside firefighting vehicle, and they would build a staging area in the city's new parkland and trails before selling the sixth home lot.

The City Council approved the proposal in late 2007. After that, a citizens' group petitioned that a public referendum be called in an effort to block the council's action. After more than two years of litigation, it is that referendum that will now go to voters June 8.

Council members Cheryl Cook-Kallio and Jerry Thorne will write a direct argument in favor of the measure with council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan writing the argument against the measure. The same two will also write rebuttal arguments to the other two council members' arguments.

The direct arguments cannot exceed 300 words in length and must be written and submitted to City Clerk Karen Diaz by 5 p.m. Monday, March 15, with the rebuttals not to exceed 250 words and to be written and filed with Diaz by 5 p.m. Thursday, March 25. Diaz will then certify the submissions and forward them to the Alameda County Registrar's office, where they will become part of the sample ballot for the June 8 election.

Last Friday, Diaz accepted the impartial analysis of the ballot measure as required by City Attorney Jonathan Lowell. In his analysis, Lowell said the environmental impacts that would result from the development were analyzed in an Environmental Impact Report that was certified by the City Council

He also noted that Ordinance 1961 which was adopted by the council established Planned Unit Development zoning that governs the Lins' site and subjects the development proposed there to specific conditions of approval. These conditions, Lowell said, specify grading requirements, air quality restrictions, protection of special status species, hazard abatement, disclosure requirements, construction limits, design guidelines, development standards, engineering requirements, tree preservation and mitigation, fire safety, geotechnical requirements, water quality protection, open space dedication, payment of school impact fees, traffic mitigation (including the payment of traffic related fees), as well as other building permit requirements.

The conditions require the property owners to dedicate 496 acres of the site as permanent open space and to construct a regional trail and related improvements within the open space area.

Lowell said that while the Oak Grove development plan addresses the creation of lots and regulates house size and height; it does not approve the design of any particular home.

"Issues relating to design, siting and construction of each home would be addressed in the future through the project's design review process," Lowell states in his analysis.

"This process consists of city planning staff review, subject to appeal by any interested party, Planning Commissioner or City Council member to be considered at a public hearing before the Planning Commission or City Council," he explained.

Comments

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Posted by Explorer
a resident of Mission Park
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:09 am

Should make Farmers Market a fun place to go. I might wait until mid-June. This will get nasty around town. It's the kind of politics you expect when a town reaches build-out.


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Posted by Furdog
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:26 am

51 homes for a 496 acre park = NO BRAINER!!!

Come on people....get a clue. This makes all the sense in the world. This will not impact Pleasanton residents in a negative manner. Who wouldn't like 496 acres to mountain bike, hike, walk dogs, etc.

Plesae do the right thing and VOTE YES on OAK GROVE!!!


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Posted by Hiker
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:59 am

Furdog,
No, you get a clue! the 496 acres aren't all for fun. There are steep hills and gullies that can't be accessed and only about a mile of usable planned trail that starts nowhere and goes nowhere.
There are many more trails close by that by far exceed the amenities(?) found in this version of the in Oak Grove plan.

The development of the Lin property should wait until a full trail system from Callippe Golf Course to Del Valle is put into place-not just a mile of it. If it takes years so be it, what's the hurry? Better planning will benefit generations to come.
Vote NO on the development of the current Oak Grove Plan!

Also, don't forget that the City of Pleasanton will incur the expense of keeping up the property-it's NOT FREE in that regard.


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Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:19 am

@ Hiker- You might want to check you facts. I've hiked in those steep gullies and valleys without much difficulty. There is already miles of single track in and around the property from our local bovine friends. Maybe there is only a 1 mile section of class 2 trail being planned initially, but it is an important link in the planned ridge trail from Calippe to Del Valle. Why would you want to lose not only the open space, but the vital link in the ridge trail. Seems pretty short sighted to me.


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Posted by Prudent realistic resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:40 am

Tim Hunt's article in the Herald this weekend was right on...maybe Google. He stated multiple critically essential FACTS.
FIRST fact: The city would get 500 acres of open space,along with public access staging area, PLUS $$ 1 MILLION dollars for street improvements and a new fire truck.
SECOND fact: The only other major open-space Bernal Park, came as part of 200-plus home Golden Eagle development. THIS OAK GROVE land area is more than TWICE as many ACRES..for ONE-QUARTER the homes ! Spacious and beautiful.
THIRD fact: A mere 51 homes, around $ 2 million each generates generous amount of NEWLY created permanent property tax REVENUE FOR OUR SCHOOLS ! (otherwise DEMINISHING revenue ! )
Let's get real, logical, and drop the knee-jerk childishness.
This offers LOTS of school $$, LOTS of OPEN space, and a few beautiful homes. WHAT's NOT to like ! for open minds.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:02 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Hiker,

Why should my idea of a park be rejected because it isn't the same as your idea of a park?


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Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:13 am

Hiker,

I believe if you check the conditions of approval, Oak Grove had to set-up some kind of annuity fund to pay for maintaining the open space. If I'm not mistaken, it was extracted from the property owner at the last minute by the City. So the cost to the City to maintain the open space would be zero. This is a no brainer!


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 2, 2010 at 11:39 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Prudent,

Here's a link to the Tim Hunt piece you're talking about: Web Link


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Posted by Resident
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 2, 2010 at 1:22 pm

Just out of curiosity who pays the lawsuit if someone gets hurt hiking/biking these gullies and unpaved trails to nowhere? Is this a city owned property or a "play at your own risk" property. I can see it being a real fire hazard once people start using it. That grass is tall and very dry during the summer months and there will now be houses in the mix. I agree that 51 homes is better than what could be on those hills but so is NO MORE DEVELOPMENT. Why do Californians feel the need to build on every square inch of open space. The city probably could have bought the land and left it the way it is for a heck of a lot less money than what the Lin's have paid in trying to develop it. Ask the Lin's what the price would be to leave it undeveloped.


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Posted by Prudent realistic resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:27 pm

TO Vintage Hills Resident AND Oak Grove neighbor, the city has it's hands full trying to fund the city's too generous union pensions. So too bad, but the city won't be able to BUY you this incredible park for just your neighborhood. Why can't you just politely accept this miraculous GIFT TO all of Pleasanton.
If you blos this opportunity...be very afraid of what you are likely to get. The city and the schools are BROKE. You are welcome to buy it however. But I don't know WHY you would want to steal this permanent opportunity for tax $$ from 51 families TO THE CHILDREN OF PLEASANTON PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Nice opportunity....DON'T blow it !!!
It sure beats a parcel tax on ALL of us....WE sure WON'T be happy with you if you prevent the schools from this windfall.


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Posted by another resident
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2010 at 2:51 pm

There is no annuity to pay for the maintenance of the land. It was something that was suggested and I think there might be a condition that they need to look into it but if you do not get a developer to sign exactly what they are going to provide as part of their approval, we will never see it (e.g., Neal Elementary School).

It has also been mentioned before that the fees (i.e., $$$) will not help the schools. The school fees they pay are for facilities only and are paid because of the impacts the development makes on the school facilities. Property taxes will not help the school at all either. The financing for the school comes from the State. If it was related to property tax values, Pleasanton would be doing much better. We get an amount from the state for each enrolled student. The district has already told us that there is not enough money from the state to educate the way we want. So they are saying the money we get from the state, per pupil is not enough. That means that each student we add in Pleasanton will dig out hole deeper.

The other interesting thing about this piece of land is the city did talk with East Bay Regional Parks (they own the ridge) as part of this development plan. EBRP did not want this piece of land because of the way the development is laid out. The houses are all spread out, not making it a park that EBRP thought would be beneficial. If you cannot even give the "park land" to EBRP, that tells you something about its value.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 2, 2010 at 3:03 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

"EBRP did not want this piece of land because of the way the development is laid out. "

Can EBRP "get" a piece of land that is inside of city limits?


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Posted by curious
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Another Resident, Double check all 250 conditions of approval for this project--I'm pretty sure there is a condition requiring establishment of an annuity to maintain the land given to the City or it was added to the Development Agreement at the last minute before the Council approved it.

Regarding impact fees, the question is How many children is this development realistically expected to generate? That should be something the experts are fairly able to predict. I can't believe it will generate enough children to fully utilize the school impact fees generated from the homes; especially elementary school aged children where there are fewer children to a class room and could require additional class rooms be added. Don't forget that the schools collect money on our tax bills for the last school bond measure that was approved. I don't know when that bond is paid off but i would I assume these homes would pay towards that as well until its paid off. Also, if a parcel tax is successful these homes would pay that as well.

I can't find my current tax bill but I thought some small amount of property taxes we pay, in addition to the bond assessment, goes to our school district just like some of our property tax money goes to city government. Not sure about the school district piece of it but these homes will definitely help the city finances since they will likely each be worth in excess of $2MM


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Posted by another resident
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Nothing in the conditions for them paying for the maintenance. If you can find it, let me know.

Stacey, EBRPD owns Shadow Cliffs which is in Pleasanton and they own part of the ridge which is in Pleasanton.

As for the property taxes paying for the bond, the bond is secured by the property tax now. By law the bond will be paid by the additional assessment on the property taxes so this has no affect on our school district. However, these properties would add to the valuation of property in Pleasanton so our bond tax could go down by a few cents since each of our properties would be a less percentage of the total valuation of the city.

As for them not having children there... That is what the "experts" said about Ruby Hill, "those big expensive homes will not have many children". WRONG! And another thing, those houses are only taxed on 6,000 square feet of their homes for the school impact fees; something the developers negotiated some time ago. Those homes can be around 12,000 square feet I am sure I read somewhere.


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Posted by Prudent realistic resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

So you're all running off spliting hairs over minutia. Stop twisting facts. The 51 $ 2,000,000.oo homes will be paying PROPERTY TAXES like we all do....except $ 2,000,00.oo homes pay MORE property taxes than the average $600,000. home in Pleasanton. Now you're worried some homes might have 3 or 4 kids ! Were you worried about all the subsidized, low-rent apartments full of illegals around WalMart...where they have 3-4 kids crammed in each of the apartment, that are also cramming our schools. Don't digress. The 51 homes WILL HELP our school district. If you want to prevent our schools from gaining new, PERMANENT funds, don't look to me to pay a new parcet tax that should not be necessary. Get back on track to 500 acres of open space, 51 homes, and new permanent funding for our schools. Nothing else is worth taking up space.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:21 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

Ah, thanks for pointing out Shadow Cliffs and answering my question. But I still challenge your assertion that EBRPD didn't want the land for stated reason and that is somehow a reason for why to turn down the development. I'm recalling that EBRPD was endorsing the adoption of the 51-home option and that they didn't want the land because they usually acquire land that is contiguous with their existing land. Can you provide details from the public record that back up your assertion?


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Posted by Don't buy the hype
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Mar 2, 2010 at 10:53 pm

Thank you another resident for trying to point out to folks that the "families" building homes at Oak grove won't save the school district in any shape or form. I mean really folks use a little common sense here.
Ruby Hill added 800+ homes to Pleasanton (super big and super nice!) and our schools are still BROKE not to mention overcrowded. Yes, developer Signature Properties did get a discount on the $/square foot fee compared to other builders, but 800 is a much bigger number than 51 and if your theories were correct, we should be sitting in pig heaven!

DON'T FORGET EITHER that due to the ineptitude of PUSD administration and school board we never got Neal school OR THE MONEY promised for it from Sig. Prop. The money from Oak Grove would go to the same group of people elected to spend it.

Nice try "Prudent", but this argument is a total DUD!
In addition, think a little more about the $1 million traffic mitigation fee you brag about. That money is to add a turn-out lane and yet another traffic light to Bernal due to the increase in Hearst traffic generated BY THE Oak Grove residents. Also, recall that the simple "beautification" of Vineyard Ave from Bernal to Montevino cost over $1.8 million. Fire truck, same story, it's an SUV that is only necessary due to the fact that Oak Grove is planned for wild land which is hard to reach quickly with a conventional firetruck. It's only required for that community and NOT the rest of Pleasanton or Livermore.

Curious, dead wrong too. No annuity to run the "park," it is up to the taxpayers of this city.
Would have been a nice idea though.

VOTE NO ON OAK GROVE!


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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