Backers of a proposed referendum to overturn the City Council's approval of a housing development on Lund Ranch will be at high-traffic locations this week in their final push to collect enough signatures from registered voters to put the measure on the June ballot.
Proponents of the referendum have until 5 p.m. Friday to gain signatures from 10% of the city's registered voters, or 4,124 signatures from 41,237 on the city's registered voter rolls as of today.
Kelly Cousins, president of a grass-roots organization called PleasantonVoters.com, which is gathering signatures in support of a referendum, said her group is actually pushing for 5,500 Pleasanton voter signatures to have a sufficient margin in case of those who signed their petitions are not actually registered voters.
Allen Roberts, another referendum backer, said he's hoping for at least 6,000.
Once the petitions are filed at the end of the day with Pleasanton City Clerk Karen Diaz, she will send them to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters' office, which will check each signature against voter registration records and also look for duplicates.
It's that office's final number that will determine if there are at least 10% of the city's registered voters to call for a referendum.
If there are, Diaz will send that verification to the City Council which could repeal the ordinance it approved Jan. 5 authorizing Greenbriar Homes to build 43 homes on the Lund Ranch parcel on the city's southeast side, or within 88 days call for a special election to ask voters to decide how to proceed. That election would likely be held during the June 7 primary at an estimated cost to city taxpayers of $250,000.
It's that cost and the view by many residents, especially those living in the Ventana Hills and Junipero Street neighborhoods of Pleasanton, who supported the council's decision to allow Greenbriar to build its project, that has generated strong opposition to the proposed referendum.
At street corners and at Farmers Market on the last few Saturdays, a citizens' coalition under the online name of ProtectPleasantonNeighborhoods has been countering referendum backers, urging voters not to sign those petitions. At times, both sides have been accused of loud interruptions.
Also, those against a referendum have accused the referendum backers of using paid signature gatherers who are not residents of Pleasanton at a cost of approximately $30,000 to $50,000, "bankrolled by an unknown number of wealthy individuals in order to acquire enough signatures to put their referendum on the ballot."
"That's true, we are using some paid signature gatherers," Roberts said, explaining that outside help was need because of the difficulty in reaching more than 4,000 registered voters in a tight-30-day time frame.
"We originally thought the council vote would vote on Dec. 15 and we would have the busy holiday period to gather our signatures," he said. "It's a lot harder in January, but we still have far more volunteers doing the job than those being paid."
At issue is the council's approval to allow Greenbriar to build 43 homes on the 194-acre Lund Ranch site. As part of the agreement, Greenbriar would donate 177 of those acres to the city as open space, which would be kept free of any future development in perpetuity with hiking trails to be added.
Although the number of homes was reduced from Greenbriar's earlier bid to build more than 100, a road extending Sunset Creek Way to reach the development would have to be built on hillside slopes greater than 25% in violation of Measure PP, a voter-approved measure that now rules against hillside construction.
Many of those backing the referendum to overturn this vote also were among the more than 60% of Pleasanton voters who approved PP three years ago.
Councilwoman Karla Brown voted against the approval. Councilman Jerry Pentin abstained because he lives close the neighborhoods affected by the development. Three others Mayor Jerry Thorne and councilmembers Kathy Narum and Arne Olson voted for the agreement.
If there is a referendum and a majority of those voting approves it, the council's approval would be rescinded and Greenbriar would have to wait at least a year before returning with another development plan.
If the referendum is put on the ballot and fails, the council's action stands and Greenbriar could proceed with the development.