Pleasanton Council OK's 48-home development on Lund Ranch II

Lawmakers vote to split development to ease impact on complaining neighborhoods

Despite threats of law suits and several demands to continue the public hearing for a fourth time, the City Council voted 3-1 Tuesday night to allow a developer to build 48 upscale homes in Pleasanton's southeast hills with access roads slicing through two heavily populated neighborhoods.

The vote came after another lengthy public hearing – the third by the council – with the council chamber packed at standing-room-only capacity. It also ended years of debate over building houses on the 195-acre Lund Ranch II site in the hills south of Sunol Boulevard, a debate that started in 2002 and at one time involved a builder's bid for 113 homes.

Mayor Jerry Thorne and council members Kathy Narum and Arne Olson voted in favor of the current bid by Greenbriar Homes Community to develop the site, allowing 29 of the new homes to have access to Sunol Boulevard through Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek neighborhoods and the other 19 to use Lund Ranch Road, Independence Drive and Junipero Street to reach the main thoroughfares in Pleasanton.

Councilwoman Karla Brown voted against the Greenbriar plan, arguing that construction of a road connecting Sunset Creek Way to the new development from Sycamore Heights would have to cut through hilly terrain in violation of voter-approved Measure PP, which bans residential and commercial construction on Pleasanton hills with slopes greater than 25%.

Councilman Jerry Pentin recused himself from voting on the issue because he lives close to one of the proposed routes. That decision brought complaints from several speakers who noted that the state Fair Political Practices Commission had ruled that he could participate.

"By not casting a vote, Mr. Pentin has avoided his responsibility," one speaker told the council. "As an elected official, I would expect you to uphold all the responsibilities of office regardless of how you may feel about this issue."

At a previous hearing on the Greenbriar issue, Pentin recused himself after another speaker accused him of living too close to the affected neighborhoods to remain impartial.

Besides concerns over Measure PP's reach over roadways as well as hillside residential construction, the council fielded comments from 23 speakers at Tuesday night's meeting, mostly from homeowners on Independence and Junipero who said those streets were already congested with peak rush hour traffic and should bear no more.

Several homeowners in the Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek neighborhoods also urged the council to reject the proposed extension of Sunset Creek Way which would have future Lund Ranch II traffic going their way.

Both Narum and Olson expressed some angst over their votes favoring the Greenbriar development. Narum has said repeatedly that she did not want to separate neighborhoods in the new housing development, which the council's final decision orders.

Homes in the 19/29 split will have access to each side only by pedestrian and bicycle paths. To drive from one neighborhood to the other, motorists will have to travel circuitous routes by way of Sunol Boulevard to reach the other side.

As part of its plan, Greenbriar agreed to contribute 150 acres of its Lund Ranch property to the city of Pleasanton to be used in perpetuity as open space. Although how the public will reach that land was unclear in Tuesday night's presentation, it most likely will require traveling through Sycamore Heights.

Changes to the connector road that must be built to extend Sunset Creek Way into Lund Ranch were made by Greenbriar just 24 hours before the Tuesday hearing, aggravating Councilwoman Karla Brown who said the public didn't have adequate time to evaluate the changes.

But Greenbriar's spokeswoman, Angela Ramirez Holmes, said the changes were moderate and reduced the amount of retaining wall that will be needed for the roadway to cross a creek and the amount of dirt that will have to be excavated and trucked off the site.

That modification is what caused Councilman Olson to shift his previous opposition to the project to a favorable vote, allowing a majority to support the plan. At a hearing two weeks earlier, he had sided with Councilwoman Brown, which would have led to a 2-2 deadlock if a vote had been taken. Thorne, seeing the dilemma, continued the hearing in hope that the possible tie vote, which would have killed the project, could be broken.

"We've been working on this for years and it's time to make a decision," Olson said.

"While I said previously that a road was a structure, there are others who say that it was not the intention to include roads as structures in Measure PP," he added. "The modified plan we have before us tonight will have has less of an impact on PP. Therefore I can support this modified plan."

Olson continued: "Let me say that for those of you who are disappointed that I choose not to follow PP rigidly in this case, I must point out that PP already has had a major impact on this project and will continue to affect other projects."

He added, however, as part of his motion that the council accepted, that "If our interpretation of this is successfully challenged (in court), this entire (action) is considered null and void and must return to the Planning Commission and the City Council for future consideration."

After hearing from many speakers Tuesday about increasingly heavy traffic on Independence and Junipero in the Mission Park neighborhood, the council also asked Traffic Engineer Mike Tassano to move quickly to lessen the impact.

One suggestion was to make left turns illegal off Bernal at the traffic light at Independence during peak rush hour times. Residents said many motorists make that turn in the mornings to avoid congestion at Bernal and Sunol Boulevard and as a shortcut to reach Hearst Elementary and Pleasanton middle schools.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


24 people like this
Posted by Brown Act Violations galore
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 9:29 am

I believe the District Attorney General needs to investigate the Brown Act violations that have occurred during the last two weeks.

1. No revised Developer plans were posted to the city's website 72 hours in advance of the meeting or even an hour before the meeting. The city council members Olsen, Narum and Thorne apparently met with the developer and had phone calls and meetings among themselves and the Chamber of Commerce to come to a consensus motion.

2. When Olsen and Narum were discussing who would read the pre-prepared motion there was a discussion among themselves as to who should read it. How obvious are comments like "do you want to read or do you want me to read it?" They apparently had a pre-prepared motion in front of them in writing which indicates that they met with each other outside of the public meeting to come up with the motion.

3. This was so obviously a situation where the Brown Act was violated that the District Attorney needs to get phone and cell phone records of Narum who apparently convinced Olsen in the last two weeks that a road is not a structure even though two weeks ago he stated for the record that a road is a structure.

26 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:04 am

Let's remember this at election time

11 people like this
Posted by David
a resident of Mission Park
on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:17 am

The traffic situation is obviously more dangerous in Ventana Hills than in Sycamore Heights. I thought the only barrier to routing all Lund Ranch II traffic through Sycamore Heights was Measure PP. Not only was Measure PP ignored (which I'm fine with in this case), but more traffic will be going through Mission Hills Park area, which is already unsafe. This is an unjust decision.

12 people like this
Posted by Yup
a resident of Birdland
on Dec 2, 2015 at 10:38 am

Ah, Angela--the Chamber's Political Consultant Whiz from a couple of elections past, Zone 7 Boardmember representing Greenbriar! Follow the Campaign money Pleasantonians, follow the money.

5 people like this
Posted by Curious
a resident of Del Prado
on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:29 am

To the Pleasanton Weekly-

Do you proofread the articles you post to your website? There are so many grammatical errors in the article, it is difficult to read. Please have your copy editor do a more thorough job of proofreading.

Thank you,

A Concerned Reader

15 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:58 am

48 houses! This is so scary!

You people crack me up.

Go do something useful with your time.

17 people like this
Posted by Angry and Betrayed
a resident of Mohr Park
on Dec 2, 2015 at 11:58 am

I voted for PP and did not attend the meeting last night, and opted instead watched from my easy chair at home. This council is placing large walls, a bridge or culvert within 100 ft of a ridge. I don't agree that a road is not a structure, but these other structures are clear violations of PP.

One speaker told of promises the made during election time that are not broken. Who did we elect?! Time for a recall cuz if these people can't follow a simple measure like PP, what are they doing to the rest of the city when no one is watching?

Toss the Flip Flopping liars out.

17 people like this
Posted by Ptown fan
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 12:15 pm

@BobB-we get it. You are not concerned about increased traffic, over crowded schools, etc..that these homes and big box stores will bring to Pleasanton. There really is no need for you to constantly mock the concerns of others.
Personally, I am not happy with the direction that the City Council is taking with this decision and the one they are considering with the rezoning on Johnson Drive. New homes and apartments are popping up everywhere in Pleasanton. Nevermind the traffic and destruction of green space, what about the crowding in our schools?
I am paying very close attention now so I know who NOT to vote for in the next election!

5 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 3:25 pm

BobB is a registered user.


Maybe go work in a soup kitchen or volunteer to help with the homeless. Do something useful. It may help with your anger.

6 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 2, 2015 at 3:33 pm

BobB is a registered user.


Overcrowded? Let's hope they improve, just as they have in Dublin with the influx of highly motivated students and involved parents. Test scores have improved greatly because, and will do so here too.

Traffic? Just makes me laugh. 680 and 580 have traffic at rush hour, but a lot of that is just coming through. 49 houses won't have any effect on that.

Big box stores? I like big box stores. Why don't we have a Costco? Or a Target? I've worked directly with more that one big box store providing software consulting services, and would like to see them succeed.

17 people like this
Posted by sknywench
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Dec 2, 2015 at 4:17 pm

sknywench is a registered user.

FINALLY A DECISION! I have followed this as well as the failed Oak Grove development for years. After reading the staff reports and knowing the area, I can say that 48 new homes will not cause the decimation of hillsides nor cause traffic impacts that residents fear. I appreciate the community involvement but the process should not be this long. Tax money is spent to cover City Staff time. I drive by the new apartments on W. Las Positas and keep remembering how the neighborhood there thought that development was the end of the world. It turned out nice and the sky didn't fall. THANK YOU to the councilmembers who voted for approval and spent their time analyzing the matter without letting politics get in the way.

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

Don't be the last to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Couples: Mirror, Mirror on the . . . Fight?!
By Chandrama Anderson | 3 comments | 1,229 views

Talking sports and life with Tommy Dyer
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 1,219 views