News


Referendum set for June 7 on Lund Ranch II development

Petitioners gain required signatures from 10% of Pleasanton voters in effort to overturn council's OK of project

The Pleasanton City Council has scheduled a referendum for June 7 to let voters decide if its approval Jan. 5 of a 43-home development on Lund Ranch should be overturned.

The action came after the Alameda County Registrar's office determined that petitioners opposed to the development obtained 4,422 signatures from registered voters in Pleasanton to hold a referendum, which was more than the 10% of the city's registered voters to force a referendum, or 4,237 signatures.

Although Councilwoman Karla Brown urged the council to simply rescind its Jan. 5 approval, sparing the city and taxpayers the up to $247,000 cost of the special election, Mayor Jerry Thorne and two others on the Council – Kathy Narum and Arne Olson – disagreed. They cast the three deciding votes to proceed with the referendum, and then all four voted to hold it in conjunction with the California primary on June 7.

The fifth council member, Jerry Pentin, again recused himself from Tuesday night's discussion because he lives close to the one of the access roads that could lead into the proposed development

The council's decision to hold the referendum at the time of the primary was a costly one. Because there are no Pleasanton candidates or issues on the June 7 ballot, this will be a special election which requires the city to pay all the costs.

The County Registrar can charge between $4 and $6 for each of the city's registered voters, plus printing costs, for an estimated range of $164,000 to $247,000.

The council could have chosen a no-cost referendum date of Nov. 8, which is a General Election that includes the scheduled municipal election for mayor and two City Council members. Since the city's cost of that election is already budgeted, the referendum could have been held then with only the extra printing costs added.

However, the council agreed that it would be worth the cost to hold the referendum June 7, well ahead of the electioneering and political campaigns by the candidates facing election Nov. 8.

"Let's get this referendum decided quickly," Thorne said. "We need to move on this."

At issue is the city council's decision 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.

Even with the referendum approved, Tuesday night's meeting wasn't any less contentious both for council members and a council chamber half-filled with interest groups both in favor and opposed to the Lund Ranch development.

Speakers who had signed and supported the petitions calling for a referendum generally spoke in favor of urging the council to rescind its Jan. 5 approval and going back to the negotiating table to seek a better development plan.

Those who opposed a referendum in the first place, sided with the council majority in putting the referendum on the ballot.

Comments

25 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2016 at 9:52 am

@Jeb,

Accurate reporting, save one inaccurate statement:

"At issue is the city council's decision 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."

Re: the City Council's 1/5/16 decision/approval of Greenbriar's plan to build 43 upscale homes on the 195 acre Lund Ranch II site, let's be clear:

Everyone should know that NONE of those 43 homes are going to be built on hillsides--NONE, ZERO. Any that were proposed to be built on any hills/hillsides were struck/removed from the plan prior to the Council approving it. ALL 43 homes in the approved plan are going to be built in a VALLEY.

Re: that donation of 177 acres of Greenbriar's property to the city as open space? Those acres are overwhelmingly the hillsides and ridges that Greenbriar can NOT build upon due to Measure PP, which will include 2 miles of hiking trails to provide open, public access to them.

It is ironic that those who pursued the referendum turned around and voiced their objections about having the referendum actually go to the voters.

It was complete hypocrisy, and the Mayor and two City Councilmembers agreed.

If project opponents, including Councilmember Brown, were SO concerned about the cost to taxpayers, they shouldn’t have pursued the referendum, and instead accepted the fair compromise decision that was made on 1/5/16.

Project opponents wanted a referendum, they now have it. It will give ALL registered voters in Pleasanton an opportunity to carefully investigate and review the facts.

Those interested should visit the project site to see for themselves (as several have already done). Drive to the end of Sunset Creek Lane and look down into the valley where the homes are to be built, or drive to the cattle gate where Lund Ranch Road currently ends.

Residents of Ventana Hills and Mission Hills agreed to accept the traffic from 12 homes in the project via an extension of Lund Ranch Road into the project, despite previous agreements with prior City administrations that no traffic to the future Lund Ranch II project would go through Lund Ranch Road.

Residents of Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek, despite signing documents as part of their home purchases that clearly stated Sunset Creek Lane would be extended into this project in the future (and by signing agreeing to that), have refused to accept the fair compromise decision the Council made, appreciating that all traffic to this project was supposed to go through their neighborhoods, and none through our neighborhoods.

So it comes down to this:

A.) Support a fair, equitable compromise that also protects 177 acres of hillsides and ridges with access provided to ALL Pleasantonians by voting YES on the referendum, reaffirming the City Council's project approval;

B.) Support the selfish, "Not In My Backyard" desires of two wealthy neighborhoods and their supporters (Allen Roberts, a developer who lives on a hillside, Grey Eagle Estates, a private, gated community; Councilmember Karla Brown, who lives on a large subdivision built on hillsides and ridges, Kottinger Ranch; and Bill Lincoln, who lives at the current end of Sunset Creek Lane and doesn't want the road extended so he can retain his special privacy privilege of living at the end of the road) by voting NO and rejecting the City Council's previous approval of the project.

I'll add that that's all this referendum does--it does not stop the development--it's an up or down vote on the currently approved project--that's it.

I, for one, am confident that the majority of Pleasanton voters will vote for what's in the best interests of ALL Pleasantonians (A), not the self-interests of a select few (B).

So, will it be a fair compromise traffic split to finalize a project that's been publicly debated for 25 years, with the huge benefit of guaranteeing 177 acres of protected hillsides and ridges, with public, open access on them to all (and an affirmation of Measure PP working), or an affirmation of NIMBYism to protect the interests of a select few?

That's what it boils down to.

You decide.


10 people like this
Posted by Patriot
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2016 at 10:44 am

Remember the drought? Looks like the council want s more development! We need schools! Not more mansions and apartments! So what if built in a valley? They will have pools and green grass. Time to be serious about water this year !


20 people like this
Posted by rrr
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2016 at 10:52 am

If you were really concerned on the drought, you should have worked on a referendum on the new homes on Bernal by Safeway, the apartments at Stanley Blvd, and other apartments being built. These 43 homes will just be "noise" compared to the large developments approved in the city when it comes to water and school capacity.


14 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2016 at 11:06 am

@Patriot,

@rrr has a valid point.

All of the massive high-density construction you see being built around town is a result of the City being forced to rescind the previous housing cap that preserved the quality of life in Pleasanton as we knew it for as long as possible. The business development that took place in the '80s and '90s (e.g., Hacienda Business Park) helped create the revenue base that helped Pleasanton survive the 'Great Recession' and keep Pleasanton fiscally solvent, and still does today. The unfortunate epilogue though is that because of state law (i.e., control) superseding local control, we have limited local control over planning (see Gov. Jerry Brown, Urban Habitat, and ABAG). The state is using the existing business base as the leverage to force Pleasanton to build what they refer to as 'workforce housing.' It's a formula whereby each city in California is required to provide housing in proportion to how many businesses operate in each city, so, for example, having Workday based in Pleasanton, has its plusses and minuses (i.e., increased tax base, but increase requirements for additional housing). That's how it works at the state level.

Previous City administrations tried to maintain local control as long as possible, but the City lost a lawsuit filed against it by Gov. Brown and Urban Habitat (a San Francisco-based housing group), which resulted in the City having to rezone various properties around town to allow for that high-density housing that is now being built. They (and we) had no choice.

Public policy in this state is such that it's rammed down local municipalities' collective throats, and the current City administration is trying to deal with that as best they can.

The Lund Ranch II housing project has been in the General Plan since 1986, and, the size of this project (43 homes) is indeed peanuts compared to the high-density housing projects now being built.

Unless growth can be substantially slowed down or eliminated, which is unlikely given the relentless growth mandates imposed by our state government, due in part to the nearly equal relentless increase in population in California, it's inevitable that Pleasanton will continue to grow in size, unfortunately at the expense of preserving the small town that Pleasanton is increasingly growing (literally) away from.


13 people like this
Posted by Map
a resident of Del Prado
on Mar 2, 2016 at 11:24 am

If Lund ranch II gets built along with that road(structure) while ignoring measure PP then hold onto your hats because every tom, dick and Harry builder will be lining up to "Dublinize" our hillsides and don't think that it's not going to happen, that our planning commission and our city council will watch out for us!!! HA, has happened yet, too much money to be made!!


18 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2016 at 11:41 am

@Map,

177 acres of Greenbriar's 195 acre property are being donated (given) to the City as public, open space.

Why? Because those acres are overwhelmingly on hillsides and ridges that Greenbriar can NOT build upon due to Measure PP, which will include 2 miles of hiking trails to provide open, public access to them.

The 'Tom, Dick and Harry builders' won't be "..lining up to "Dublinize" our hillsides", as you put it, because they can NOT. Why? Because of Measure PP.

Greenbriar wanted to build homes on hillsides as part of the Lund Ranch II project, but they can NOT. Why? Because of Measure PP.

ALL of the homes in the approved project are being built in a VALLEY. Why? Because of Measure PP.

Measure PP prevents any "Dublinization" of Pleasanton hillsides and ridges.

Those are facts.


21 people like this
Posted by rrr
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

Resident is correct, none of the houses in Lund Ranch II are being built on hillsides. The Council even took a strict interpretation of Measure PP and would not let the developer build on man made slopes, in addition to natural slopes. These homes are in a valley and will not be seen; the opposite of what Dublin is doing.


16 people like this
Posted by Fact Checker
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 2, 2016 at 1:05 pm

Actually there was no reason for the developer to donate the land to the City at all. The developer of Kottinger Ranch kept their remaining land as PRIVATE open space for only their residents and belongs to their HOA. That land is unavailable to the public to enjoy. This Lund Ranch land, which is 89.5% of the total property, will be 174 acres of permanent open space that is publically accessible and will belong to the City. In addition, the developer is building the trails, over 2 miles of them. Greenbriar also donated the land for Bernal Community Park.


18 people like this
Posted by Alexis B
a resident of Mission Park
on Mar 2, 2016 at 1:20 pm

Alexis B is a registered user.

I support the city council's decision last night.

As for the Sycamore Heights/Bridle Creek/Allen Roberts/Karla Brown... It was a total LIE to ask people to sign a petition "in order to vote" and then turn around and ask the city council to keep everyone from voting. This has always (and continues to be) about political games, all while lying to the residents of Pleasanton. They knew it was going to cost the city up to $247K from the beginning, but they still hired an outside company to collect signatures anyway. They can't act shocked and outraged at the cost - this was 100% expected. You can thank THEM for this price tag!

And I also have issue with this article - there is no housing being built in the hills. Measure PP doesn't allow that. All the homes are in the valley. The hills are all being preserved as open space. I feel like that's an important clarification that the public needs to understand.


9 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2016 at 1:39 pm

@Fact Checker,

Re: "Actually there was no reason for the developer to donate the land to the City at all."

Yes, there is: They can NOT build on 89.5% of the total property acreage because that portion, 174-177 acres, consists overwhelmingly of hillsides and ridges, protected by Measure PP. Donating it to the City made sense because they could never build on it unless Measure PP was rescinded, and that's not going to happen, and they know that. Measure PP worked.

I'm not a tax expert, but I suspect there's a tax benefit/write-off for Greenbriar in donating that land to the City, as well.

I do know that at the very least, if Greenbriar didn't donate the land that they can't build on, they'd still be responsible for paying taxes on those 174-177 acres of real estate, and that obviously would not make practical business sense for them.


13 people like this
Posted by Johnson
a resident of Ruby Hill
on Mar 2, 2016 at 5:15 pm

As a builder I can tell you, we only donate land because it is a liability to us. If there is no active HOA like Ruby Hill, Kottinger Ranch and Laguna Oaks with an agreement to pay for regular mowing of the wild grasses near the homes, plus the fire plus liability insurance, then the builder is happy to "give" it to the city. The key word is that the land is unbuildable. We don't want it, we can't build on it and we can't sell it.

Let the city stop the fires in the hills when kids go up there to smoke pot and start campfires. We developers are off to another project and most HOAs don't want it.


12 people like this
Posted by mike
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 2, 2016 at 5:23 pm

So the city council decides to put the vote on the June ballot at the cost of $247,000.00 instead of when in November at almost zero cost.
Yet we are laying off school district staff because of a money shortage?
Hmm.. do you think it is because the voter turnout for the November election
will probably generate a larger participation than the June election?


22 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 2, 2016 at 5:32 pm

BobB is a registered user.

@Patriot,

This has nothing to do with what you said. This is a traffic dispute. Water use is negligible.

Did you mean for your comment to be deceptive, like the neighborhoods who paid signature gatherers to get this on the ballot? Let me guess, you won't answer this.


15 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 2, 2016 at 7:20 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

mike, apples and oranges. The City and District are separate entities.as are their budgets.


11 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2016 at 9:07 am

@Mike,

This debate has dragged on for 25 YEARS. Delay a decision for almost another year? The Mayor and City Councilmembers ended it on January 5th, but a select few people with ulterior motives decided they weren't going to accept what is a fair compromise, because they had the money to do so.

Thus, you can thank developer Allen Roberts, City Councilmember Karla Brown, and the referendum supporters for that $247,000 bill.

They NEVER wanted the referendum, as proven at this past Tuesday's City Council meeting, where they asked the Mayor and Council to rescind the project, figuring they could use the fact that their petition getting (just barely) enough signatures to qualify for the ballot could be used effectively as leverage against the Mayor and City Council to get what they want.

Political shenanigans led by Councilmember Karla Brown.

It didn't work. The Mayor and the majority of City Councilmembers weren't going to be bullied by a special interest group.

Tell you what--Allen Roberts and company spent $30,000-$50,000 for paid signature gatherers to make false statements (check Councilmember Kathy Narum's comments on the record from this past Tuesday's City Council meeting as one powerful example of the evidence to that effect) in order to get enough valid signatures to put the petition over the top/get certified, maybe he/they can pony up some or all of the $247,000.

I'm sure he/they will be ponying up for more full-page ads in the Pleasanton Weekly soon.

Ask them to instead spend that money/donate it on defraying the costs to taxpayers of putting their referendum on the ballot.


13 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2016 at 9:14 am

@Johnson,

Thanks for weighing in. Figured as much, per my comments on why Greenbriar is giving 174-177 acres of the Lund Ranch Project site acreage to the City as part of the approved project.

Unfortunately, getting a huge acreage of protected hillsides and ridges doesn't matter to the referendum supporters. All they care about are their own self-interests.


6 people like this
Posted by rrr
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 3, 2016 at 9:19 am

The council did the right thing by putting this on the June ballot.

First, the were right to put on a ballot instead of just rescinding the project. There were barely enough signatures to qualify plus there are probably many of those signatures from people who were not necessarily wanting to referend the project but rather put it on the ballot so they could get all the information. The signature collectors cannot tell people to sign so it just goes on the ballot for the public to decide, and do a bait and switch to use that signature to indicate a rescind of the project.

Second, the applicant should not be delayed anymore. The council by putting this on the June ballot does the least amount of delays. A November ballot would delay the project by another year and that would not really be fair to the applicant. While I don't like to pay for unnecessary things, there is a cost to democracy and I would rather pay for it then throw it out the window. Just like I don't like a council appointing a new member when somebody leaves office, I don't like the council making a decision on a referendum to save money.


46 people like this
Posted by CJ
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 3, 2016 at 12:33 pm

This whole issue was decided and now it is costing all the taxpayers money. Shame on the lies being told by those that could afford to pay for lying signature gathers. I hope they get their comeuppance at the ballot box!


25 people like this
Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 3, 2016 at 12:58 pm

@CJ,

Worse yet, it appears that referendum supporters and their paid signature gatherers may have broken the law, per the California Elections Code, and based on comments made on the record by Councilmember Kathy Narum at the 3/1/16 City Council meeting stating that false statements were indeed made to her by more than one referendum petition signature gatherer last month.

SOURCE: Web Link

18600. Every person is guilty of a misdemeanor who:
(a) Circulating, as principal or agent, or having charge or
control of the circulation of, or obtaining signatures to, any state
or local initiative, referendum or recall petition, intentionally
misrepresents or intentionally makes any false statement concerning
the contents, purport or effect of the petition to any person who
signs, or who desires to sign, or who is requested to sign, or who
makes inquiries with reference to it, or to whom it is presented for
his or her signature.
(b) Willfully and knowingly circulates, publishes, or exhibits any
false statement or misrepresentation concerning the contents,
purport or effect of any state or local initiative, referendum, or
recall petition for the purpose of obtaining any signature to, or
persuading or influencing any person to sign, that petition.
(c) Circulating, as principal or agent, or having charge or
control of the circulation of, or obtaining signatures to, any state
or local initiative, intentionally makes any false statement in
response to any inquiry by any voter as to whether he or she is a
paid signature gatherer or a volunteer.


2 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 3, 2016 at 11:49 pm

Let's get on with it. I want lot 24 in Lund Ranch and will honk my horn a few times when driving through Sycamore Heights. Good thing the drought is ending with all this rain because my family wants a large pool. Can't wait to see the model homes.


3 people like this
Posted by Long Timer
a resident of Pleasanton Middle School
on Mar 4, 2016 at 2:47 am

when I voted for Measure PP, I thought it would be a moratorium on building on the hillsides....this includes the access. I don't know if allow this developer access is a "leakage" of the spirit of Measure PP. Leaks in faucets are generally not dangerous, but a leak in a dam is. Providing access to an area that IMHO was off limits as a "compromise" may violate the spirit of what I had voted for. Someone had detailed out that the development is not on the hillside and ask us to verify for ourselves that it is not in violation of Measure PP. But IMHO, the key word is "compromise". I as a voter and supporter of Measure PP thought I was voting for "NO COMPROMISE". The mayor and others on the council thought it was OK to allow this developer to build in an area that would not show......
Measure PP is very clear that only 9 or less housing units are allowed. IMHO they violated the public trust of what I had voted for. I am stunned that they think a "Compromise" is acceptable. For those that voted for Measure PP, It not about the low-cost housing.. it is not about bribing the Pleasanton voters with a donation of 177 acres of land. It is not about it impact about affecting a few wealthy individuals..... or a few neighborhoods...... Measure PP was about you and me not wanting anymore building on the hillsides and the associate properties...including roads that lead into the areas (eg a leak into a dam). I am frustrated that the Mayor and the councilperson think that 43 housing is the same as "less than 10 housing units" per Measure PP

So, if you supported Measure PP , Please support this referendum.
Please let your voice be heard and let the council members know that we don't want a "Compromise" and that they need to support what the voters wanted.


7 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 4, 2016 at 10:34 am

BobB is a registered user.

@Long Timer,

The compromise is with regard to traffic. The compromise is not about PP. PP is not violated by the current proposal.

Two neighborhoods don't want any of the new traffic. They are refusing to compromise on that, not on PP.


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

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