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.