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Pleasanton Council to debate Lund Ranch referendum timetable tonight

County Registrar determines 4,422 voters signed petitions, 298 more than needed

The Pleasanton City Council will decide tonight how to proceed on its approval of a 43-home development on Lund Ranch II following a ruling that petitions to overrule that decision now force a voter referendum.

The Alameda County Registrar's office determined Friday that petitioners opposed to the development obtained 4,422 signatures from registered voters in Pleasanton to hold a referendum unless the council decides to reverse its decision instead. The petitioners needed 10% of the city's registered voters to force a referendum, or 4,124 signatures.

City Clerk Karen Diaz, in her role as the city's elections official, will present to the council at its 7 p.m. meeting tonight the verified Certification of Petition from the county registrar's office. The meeting will be held in the City Council chamber in the Pleasanton Civic Center.

Once the council accepts that certification, it must then either repeal the ordinance it adopted Jan. 5 approving the Lund Ranch project or call for an election to let voters decide if the development should proceed. That election could be held in conjunction with the June 7 state primary or during the General Election on Nov. 8.

If held during the primary, the cost to the city would be between $4 to $6 for each of the Pleasanton's 41,237 registered voters. The estimated fiscal impact associated with calling an election for June 7 could be in the range of $164,900 to $247,000, plus printing costs and would be charged to the city's current fiscal year budget.

However, if the council decides to schedule the referendum during the General Election, the city would bear no additional costs since it has already budgeted the costs for the mayoral and city council election at the time. Only the additional printing costs associated with the referendum would be added.

The city council also could choose to hold a special election, but then the cost would total $12 to $15 per registered voter or as much as $618,600 plus printing costs. Special elections are generally held in years when there are no other municipal elections scheduled.

At issue is the city council's approval on Jan. 5 in a 3-1 vote to approve the application of Greenbriar Homes Community to build 43 upscale homes on the 195 acre Lund Ranch II site in the undeveloped hills of Pleasanton southeast of Sunol Boulevard. As part of the agreement, Greenbriar would donate 177 acres of its property 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 council's vote to approve the plan came at the end of the sixth public hearing on the Greenbriar proposal, the two-hour-long final public hearing was again contentious both for council members and a council chamber half-filled with interest groups both in favor and opposed to the Lund Ranch development.

Mayor Jerry Thorne and council members Kathy Narum and Arne Olson voted in favor of Greenbriar's bid. Councilwoman Karla Brown again voted against it. Councilman Jerry Pentin recused himself from the discussion and voting because he lives close to one of the proposed access routes to the project.

But many speakers that night disagreed, and on Feb. 5, those opponents submitted a petition containing approximately 6,086 signatures calling for a referendum to overturn the council's action. After checking those signatures against voter registration rolls, the county registrar determined that 4,422 were valid.

The main objections centered on the access road off Sunset Creek Way which would be built on a slope of 25% or greater and would require retaining walls within 100 feet of a ridge.

Councilwoman Brown, who voted against the development and also campaigned to obtain signatures in support of a referendum, said the planned roadway would violate Measure PP, a voter-approved measure that now rules against hillside construction.

She said Measure PP rules that nothing is allowed with 100 feet of a ridge, no scarring, no severe grading, which the roadway extension would require.

Greenbriar's development plan also pitted two neighborhoods against each other. Those living in the newer upscale Greenbriar and Sycamore Creek neighborhoods objected to increased traffic the Lund Ranch development would add to streets serving their community, while those in Ventana Hills and others using Independence Drive and Junipero Street had similar objections.

To ease the traffic burden, the council ruled that only 12 of Greenbriar's new homes could use the Ventana Hills route, with the other 31 to use the new Sunset Creek extension.

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.

Comments

86 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 9:41 am

So here we go (again)...after YEARS of debate, to satisfy the wishes of two wealthy neighborhoods, one wealthy developer, and one City Councilmember (several of whom live on hillsides, btw).

Over who-knows-how many PAID signature gatherers, from a company that referendum leader Allen Roberts (a developer who lives on a hillside) refused to identify, collected signatures in order to ensure their referendum petition opposing the approved Lund Ranch II project got more than enough signatures (just barely enough were determined valid, I might add--approx. 300 above the minimum number required for the petition to be validated).

What that means is THOUSANDS of petition signatures were determined to be INVALID by the Alameda Registrar of Voters.

This effort is CLEARLY to shift traffic from one neighborhood to another (from Sycamore Heights/Bridle Creek to Ventana Hills/Mission Hills), as residents of Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek have publicly supported having ALL traffic from the Lund Ranch II project go through OUR neighborhoods via Lund Ranch Road.

It is NOT "...a broader objective to ensure that Pleasanton's hillsides and ridges remain a community asset under the protection of Measure PP," as Mr. Roberts and others would attempt to have you believe through full-page ads in the Pleasanton Weekly, and false statements posted to their website, SavePleasantonHillsides.

The Mayor and City Council already accomplished that with respect to the Lund Ranch II project by making a compromise decision in January that accepted the developer's (Greenbriar) set-aside to ALL of Pleasanton of 177 acres of hillsides and ridges. That's right--177 acres of PROTECTED HILLSIDES & RIDGES--HILLSIDES and RIDGES that Mr. Roberts, Councilmember Brown's and Bill Lincoln's (resident of Sycamore Heights--lives at the end of Sunset Creek Lane) homes don't arleady reside upon.

Adhering to Measure PP WAS foremost in considering the Lund Ranch II project, a longstanding project that was a very complex one to deal with--not a simple 'black and white' issue with respect to Measure PP.

Now that the referendum has qualified for the ballot, I hope our voters will
will see through the smokescreen (i.e., deception and ulterior motives) that Mr. Roberts and others that already live on hillsides and ridges (specifically, Grey Eagle, Kottinger Ranch, and Sycamore Heights) are presenting and clearly see that their objections masked by the false premise that they're trying to preserve the tenets of Measure PP is nothing more than a self-serving plan to get what they and a select few others (see wealthy residents of Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek) with the financial wherewithal to do so are trying to accomplish and preserve--Not In My Backyard.

Not In My Backyard--access to 31 homes and potential spoiled views from high above their existing hillside homes. NIMBYism.

I also hope voters will appreciate that 'the ends do NOT justify the means' here (i.e., paid signature gatherers saying anything and everything/making false statements to get people to sign on the dotted line so they'd get paid, plus, now, a $250,000+ bill to Pleasanton taxpayers that's potentially on the way, along with a potential 'takings' lawsuit from the developer, Greenbriar.

Reject the phony altruism from Mr. Roberts and others in the SavePleasantonHillsides camp. It's clearly disingenuous, as opposed to the NIMBYism that's so clearly evident to those who've educated themselves beyond the deceptive full-page ads and false statements that have been posted on the SavePleasantonHillsides website.

Ironically, now the referendum supporters reportedly will be pressing to have the City Council rescind the project. Why? Maybe because they're afraid the truth will finally come out.

Maybe it's also because they're not going to like how the referendum is worded, which is to approve or reject the City Council-approved Lund Ranch II project--that's all the referendum does.

To that, I, and others say, you got your referendum (barely), with your ends justifying your questionable means--now let's see what all of the voters of Pleasanton have to say.

The truth hurts. Bring it on.


41 people like this
Posted by Sandy
a resident of Country Fair
on Feb 29, 2016 at 10:27 am

It seems ludicrous to me the objections to this Lund Ranch development, yet no one seems to care about the hideous Town Square development on Valley next to Safeway. All the ugly 3 stlory homes blocking the view of the foothills for homeowners on the other side of the street (Valley). And now the traffic on Valley and Bernal will be an even greater nightmare than it already is.

I hope voters will NOT cave in to the selfish NIMBYS.


13 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:06 pm

@Resident of Ventana Hills :"To that, I, and others say, you got your referendum (barely), with your ends justifying your questionable means--now let's see what all of the voters of Pleasanton have to say. The truth hurts. Bring it on."

You and like-minded individuals have been fighting tooth-and-nail to prevent me and other Pleasantonians from voting on this issue. Now you want to hear our voices at the ballot box? OK. Seems like you could have saved yourselves a lot of time and energy if you had just adopted that attitude in the first place.


49 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Those of us opposed to this referendum were against any of us, including you Sam, having to pay for this farce.


3 people like this
Posted by FrequentWalkerMiles
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:47 pm

FrequentWalkerMiles is a registered user.

If the homeowners along Valley truly felt the 3 story homes are that bad, what was stopping them from getting their own campaign going?


20 people like this
Posted by Wilma
a resident of Ironwood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:53 pm

It seems absurd in the extreme to me that the taxpayers could have to pay up to $250,000.00 for a June election over what, 42 houses? What a travesty. That is money that should be used for parks, senior housing, helping our schools, and / or fixing potholes. In other words, any thing that really helps our community than actually being duped by rich, estate homeowners into getting US to pay for their superiority. I drove up to the area to see for myself after reading about this for years it seems like. I couldn't believe it. It is tucked into an area below the ridges and no one will see it -- EXCEPT of course by those looking down from above -- the referendum backers! This town should be renamed to "whats in it for me". And doesn't the realtor, Councilwoman Brown live up there???? Ummm. You know, the one who was listed as a big water waster by Zone 7 a few month ago? I bet she gets a lot of listings in that area for being a NIMBY and keeping the rest of us common folk away. What a total circus.


5 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:56 pm

@Sam,

Re: "Seems like you could have saved yourselves a lot of time and energy if you had just adopted that attitude in the first place."

No, everyone could have saved themselves a lot of time and energy if some selfish folks with ulterior motives had just accepted a COMPROMISE decision that had already been ironed out/resolved by the City Council after YEARS of public meetings and debates.

But no, if you've got the money, you can pursue your NIMBYism.

I'm simply stating that it's a fact that the referendum is now a reality--let's see how ALL the voters in this town feel once TRUTH is provided to them, for those that want to take the time to seek and examine it.

It's too bad we have to ask people to now take the time to do that because two neighborhoods (Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek), a wealthy developer who lives in a gated community atop a hillside, and a Councilmember who lives in a community atop several hillsides, insist on getting their way.

I don't think those folks will have much luck trying to intimidate the Mayor and City Council into rescinding the project and avoid the referendum, either--and why are they reportedly planning on doing that in the first place if they feel so strongly about 'protecting Measure PP'?

Maybe they can pony up the election costs. They pursued this self-serving referendum, so don't tell me they're going to start saying, "Please don't spend taxpayer dollars on the referendum."

We've been saying that since the get-go. Waste of the people's time and money.

Unfortunately, for those who pursued the referendum, hey, you make your bed, you sleep in it.


20 people like this
Posted by MsVic
a resident of Mission Park
on Feb 29, 2016 at 12:59 pm

MsVic is a registered user.

@Sam you are missing the point. Many of us tried to avoid the high cost of a ballot initiative and supported the City Councils decision. Sycamore Heights, Allen Roberts, Karla Brown wanted the issue to go to the voters. And all the voters can do is approve or reject the current plan! Now those very same people Allen Roberts, Karla Brown and Sycamore Heights residents don't want it to go to the voters. They can't have it both ways, they practally stood on their heads to take this to the voters and now they don't want that? SMH!! I agree with Resident of Ventana bring it on. As a matter of fact it is now time for Karla Brown to recuse herself from further input on this issue as she can no longer be objective and represent all the people of Pleasanton.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 1:03 pm

@Wilma,

Spot on--you got it. Hopefully, so will the majority of Pleasanton voters.

And yes, Councilmember Brown, a staunch referendum supporter, lives in Kottinger Ranch, a major subdivision built on numerous hillsides and ridges. Take a drive up Hearst sometime. Beautiful views from above.

I'd say take a drive up to Grey Eagle Estates, too (top of Crellin) to see where Allen Roberts lives, but that's a GATED community (i.e., you're not welcome to enjoy the views from up on those hillsides).


9 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 1:06 pm

@Ms Vic,

I agree--time for Councilmember Karla Brown to recuse herself.

She is clearly NOT an objective party wrt whether to rescind the project or not.


14 people like this
Posted by Sam
a resident of Oak Hill
on Feb 29, 2016 at 2:17 pm

@Kathleen Ruegsegger : "Those of us opposed to this referendum were against any of us, including you Sam, having to pay for this farce."

No, Kathleen, the cost of the referendum has nothing to do with your opposition to it. Don't try to pee on my leg and then tell me that it's raining. You and others don't want the referendum on the ballot because you're afraid that Pleasanton voters will uphold their support for Measure PP, and on that particular point you're right.


3 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Feb 29, 2016 at 2:38 pm

@Sam,

Re: @Kathleen's comments, I don't think so. She's just reiterating the common sense and practicality that those of us who believe in compromise adhere to.

And as I've already stated, re: the referendum, bring it on.

See @Wilma's post/comments. The more folks like @Wilma there are in this town, the better.

BRING IT ON. Let's see how many voters want to support some wealthy, self-serving residents whose agenda is Not In My Backyard.


7 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Feb 29, 2016 at 3:08 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

This isn't about PP, on your leg or otherwise. So it's a tremendous waste as others have pointed out. People will vote; fine by me. I'll be supporting the opposition.


12 people like this
Posted by Jack
a resident of Del Prado
on Feb 29, 2016 at 7:40 pm

My wife and I would were looking for a larger home in Pleasanton because we had outgrown our Del Prado home. At one point we thought we might like to live in a house in Ventana Hills, but after reading this thread, the negative attitudes in this neighborhood continue to disappoint us. I don't want my kids raised in this area and will be looking else where.


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

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