Bowing to threats of law suits or an expensive and time-consuming voter referendum, the City Council Tuesday night voted to adjourn a final public hearing on a proposed development on Lund Ranch to Jan. 5 when it will likely approve a scaled-back plan.
It was the fifth time the council has delayed a final vote on the controversial project planned by Greenbriar Homes Community, the developer that is seeking approval to build 48 upscale homes in Pleasanton's southeast hills with access roads slicing through two heavily populated neighborhoods.
Tuesday's 3-1 vote to "adjourn" the hearing came after opponents of Greenbriar's latest plan said five of the proposed homes would be built on hillside slopes greater than 25% in violation of Measure PP, a voter-approved measure that now rules against hillside construction.
Councilwoman Karla Brown voted against the adjournment plan, and Councilman Jerry Pentin again recused himself from the discussion and voting because he lives close to one of the proposed access routes to the project.
In emails, letters and comments to the council, opponents made clear that they will go to court to stop the development and might seek a voter referendum as well.
In another review of the plans, council members seemed convinced that at least five of the proposed homes would be built on lots steeper than 25%, although the developer insisted that those slopes were "man-made," created by grading years ago that raised the level of portion of the lots.
Councilman Arne Olson noted that Measure PP doesn't differentiate between man-made and natural slopes.
"25 percent is 25 percent," he said.
As it became clear during the late-night discussion that there was enough concern the Measure PP proponents were right, Mayor Jerry Thorne, after consulting with City Attorney Jonathan Lowell, recommending taking the five homes out of the earlier-approved agreement. By adjourning the hearing, city staff has the time to rewrite the final ordinance for a vote at the special Jan. 5 meeting.
"We've been through these referendums and they can be nasty," Thorne said. "They are filled with sound bites and no one ever listens to the facts. I don't want to go there again."
Greenbriar's spokeswoman Angela Ramirez Holmes briefly commented that the developer had relocated and downsized the five lots to keep homes off 25% slopes. But she did not respond after the council indicated it intended to reject the five lots.
The adjourned hearing will resume again at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 5, which was a regularly scheduled council meeting that had been cancelled earlier.
Public debates over building homes on the 195-acre Lund Ranch II site in the hills south of Sunol Boulevard started in 2002 and at one time involved a builder's bid for 113 homes.