Letters | November 30, 2007 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - November 30, 2007


Make an informed decision on Oak Grove

Dear Editor,

Pleasanton voters, beware! A group of disgruntled residents are out gathering signatures to subvert years of public planning for Pleasanton's newly approved 496-acre Oak Grove park. Don't be fooled--separate fact from fiction before signing any petitions.

Fact: If referended, the city will have to give back the 496-acre park. There will be no public access, no multi-use trails and no regional link connecting Shadow Cliffs with Callippe Preserve.

Fact: We lose the permanent open space along our southern border that Oak Grove affords. With no easement permanently protecting this open space, the door opens for future development and traffic, and puts more oak trees and streambeds back at risk.

Fact: Instead of 51 homes, the property reverts back to the 98 homes for which it's zoned.

Fact: We've got control of the home design process. In spite of the doctored photos you may have seen, no homes have yet been approved. In fact, the review process is similar to that of the homes at Kottinger Ranch, with the opportunity for public input on all 51 homes.

Fact: Four out of five City Councilmembers, the majority of our Planning Commission, almost all of our Parks and Recreation Commission, several of our school board members and many of our housing commissioners and Trails ad hoc committee members all strongly support this project. Why? Because it's an extraordinary deal for Pleasanton!

Please make an informed decision--decline to sign the petitions. If you've already signed and would like to remove your name, visit www.keepourpark.org.

Eric "Otis" Nostrand


Priest controversy involves 3 questions

Dear Editor,

The controversy over Fr. Greene can essentially be boiled down to three questions.

1) If, as some have suggested, no one's trying to hide anything, why did Fr. Patrick Green change his name to Padraig Greene)?

2) Why didn't the bishop inform local parishioners about Greene's past (especially in light of repeated promises to be more 'open' about clergy sex crimes)?

3) The bottom line: Why take the risk of making him the pastor of two churches?

David Clohessy

National Director, SNAP

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

St. Louis, M.O.

Show some respect for petition gatherers

Dear Editor,

Last Saturday, I collected signatures at the Farmer's Market for the Save Pleasanton's Hills petitions (www.savepleasantonhills.com).

The opposition tried hard to interfere by hovering nearby and shouting at prospective signers to "hear all the facts" before signing.

Regardless of how anyone might decide on this issue, tactics like those are offensive. I was especially disappointed to see a member of the current City Council leading the effort.

Anne Childs


Corrections to guest opinion

Dear Editor,

Thank you to the Weekly for printing my guest opinion ("Sign Oak Grove petition, give Pleasanton a voice," Nov. 23, page 17). I also appreciate the time you gave me to get it submitted. I have a few questions. First, why was Southeast Hills not capitalized through out my piece? Look at my piece and the General Plan and you will see that Southeast Hills is capitalized as the geographical name of this part of our ridges. For three references go to pages II-3, II-17 for the quote "Preserve scenic hillside and ridge views of the Pleasanton, Main, and Southeast Hills ridges," and X-2 where the quote "The Southeast Hills provide a major..." is stated. The General Plan recognizes this area as a valuable, major geographical section of our community.

I also noticed that in paragraph four it says 2 percent rather than the 25 percent slopes for grading. Please reference the attachment which is from the original email to the Weekly. The error of the 2 percent versus 25 percent significantly alters my guest opinion. Many people may get to this paragraph and think this is nothing to worry about and stop reading.

Lastly, I see the last sentence of my opinion was removed. I know that did get us down to the 500 words. Just wondered why it was left out as it was my way of introducing our Community of Character into the piece. I do not know if you rerun pieces with the errors corrected. Please let me know what we may do to correct the guest opinion.

Cindy McGovern

(Vice Mayor of City Council)

Referendum will cause loss of parkland

Dear Editor,

As a Trails Ad Hoc member and advocate, the Oak Grove project provides a unique opportunity to the residents of Pleasanton. Of the 562 acres, the property owner will dedicate 496 acres to the city of Pleasanton as open space parkland. In addition, the property owner will construct a regional trail along the entire eastern boundary, miles of Class A and Class C multi-use trails and a staging area. The amenities of the 11 stall staging area include a restroom, potable water, horse-trailer parking and a watering trough. The creation of this regional trail through Oak Grove will connect Callippe Preserve and Shadow Cliffs, which are vital components of the Pleasanton Master Trail Plan. It will allow access to all Pleasanton residents to enjoy this pristine open space.

The Oak Grove referendum will cause Pleasanton residents to lose this park and the public access. Please don't sign the petition. If you regret signing the petition, you can withdraw your name from the petition at www.keepourpark.org.

Deborah Wahl

(Trails Ad Hoc Committee member)

Extreme danger--fit to be fried?

Dear Editor,

When I read the article about frying a turkey, ("Fit to be fried," Living, Nov. 16, page 29), I was shocked to read in the "Safety first" sidebar that a fire extinguisher and a hose were somehow equivalent when fighting a grease fire. Honestly, I can't think of a more explosive combination than water on a grease fire.

Calling 911, shutting off the heat to the grease (if you can do so safely), and expending that fire extinguisher all are good ideas. Another good idea would be for Pleasanton Weekly to interview a safety professional (for example, one of the skilled and experienced firefighters that serve our community) and publish an article on home safety during the holidays.

Steve Taylor


Achievement possible with focus

Dear Editor,

Kristin McDeavitt, it was nice to read your article ("Having the homework blues," Guest Opinion, Oct. 26, page 18). You write very well, and I enjoyed reading about your experience.

You conclude, in part, that students "allow far too many distractions." Hold that thought forever. Distractions are forever, and they are always a choice.

If you were to ask everyone you respect or admire, whom they, in turn, respect or admire, everyone named will have this in common: they focused on the things for which they are now respected or admired.

People focus on different things at different times in their lives, but everyone who achieves anything does so because they have focused on it, for as long as necessary.

The insidious side is that "distractions" can also attract focus...your friends who focus on TV, cell phones, the Internet, or whatever else is "distracting" them, are probably very good at those "distractions," and getting better all the time. They know the latest TV show details, the fastest way to text message, the quickest way to add something to a Web page. The sad part is they are very likely unaware of how much their focus on those things has helped them become so expert.

You are right to experiment and verify things for yourself, to change your goals from time to time, to explore new things throughout your life. But no matter how you choose to spend your time, keep the results of your recent exercise in mind: no matter what you choose to pursue in life, you will only be successful in the areas you focus on, and you make those choices every day--forever.

Ralph Frey


Council meeting Dec. 4 for Home Depot

Dear Editor,

Most people know intuitively that it does not make sense for Pleasanton to re-zone the property on Stanley/Bernal to allow the proposed Regency/Home Depot project. As we approach build out and remaining space is limited, we must ask ourselves, Do we really want a second Home Depot? The residents of Pleasanton overwhelmingly say No. Recent data shows the revenue projections are a fraction of what was originally contemplated and the traffic and code enforcement issues are much more serious than were originally projected.

So many people think it's a done deal but it is not. I urge all Pleasanton residents to come to the City Council Meeting at 200 Old Bernal Ave. on Dec. 4 at 7 p.m. and to write to City Council at mlcampbell@ci.pleasanton.ca.us as soon as possible. I am certain our elected City Council Members and Mayor will act on the people's behalf but the people must speak up. Now is the time to say no to tractor-trailers in our neighborhoods and no to increased traffic in the worst traffic bottleneck in Pleasanton.

Heather E. Truro


Sign referendum if you value small town

Dear Editor,

Many years ago when the lights came on at the "Hayward Hotel" atop Pleasanton's western hills it was too late to preserve a natural, unbroken ridgetop no matter how disconcerting the view became for many of us. The construction of one home was the single driving instigator for a community movement to preserve Pleasanton Ridge, but every time one looked where the western expanse met the night sky right in the middle was that streetlight and we couldn't do a thing about it.

A big thank you goes to Kay Ayala, Karla Brown-Belcher, and the many Pleasanton residents who are circulating both a referendum to allow all residents to decide whether the Oak Grove southern hilltop development is a good project and an initiative to amend Pleasanton's General Plan to prohibit large developments from building on hills with 25 percent-plus slopes or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline.

If you value the sense of a small-town Pleasanton nestled within our natural skyline of hills, please sign both the referendum and the initiative. It really doesn't do a whit of good to miss something

after it's gone.

Matt Morrison


Save Pleasanton's Hills using hyperbole tactics

Dear Editor,

Proponents behind the Save Pleasanton's Hills referendum are using hyperbole and misleading Photoshop renditions of homes they claim will be placed on our ridgelines in the southeast hills of Pleasanton. They are running out of time to gather signatures, so they're resorting to measures that omit the full truth about the Oak Grove project.

In contrast, KeepOurPark.Org encourages Pleasanton residents to be fully informed about Oak Grove, and to politely decline to sign any petition.

KeepOurPark.Org supports the many years of collaborative effort by our slow-growth City Council, the Oak Grove property owner, and the project's neighbors (i.e. Kottinger Ranch) in securing 496 acres of open space for a natural park in Pleasanton.

A few facts about this project:

* only lots, with many, many conditions, have been approved, each and every home will, individually, have to be brought to the city for approval

* this project has decreased the number of homes allowed from 98 to 51, which also decreases the amount of traffic in half as well. The property owner also agreed to pay one million dollars in traffic mitigation fees.

* this park will not cost the residents of Pleasanton a dime. Ever. The property owner is deeding the 496 acres to the city, will build the staging area and trails at their cost and pay the endowment to the Tri-Valley Conservancy. The Oak Grove HOA will cover all maintenance costs.

To become better informed, please visit KeepOurPark.Org, and join our many community leaders who have chosen not to sign away this great opportunity for everyone in Pleasanton.

Jerry Pentin


Beware of the wolf in sheep's clothing

Dear Editor,

Please sign the initiative to Save the Hills and Protect the Housing Cap, and the referendum to overturn the 51 mega-mansions of the Oak Grove development. Pleasanton voters should have the right to decide on any development that will affect our surrounding hills.

The story has played out over and over in surrounding cities: Developers spending tens of thousands of dollars on four-color mailers and marketing phone calls thinly disguised as "surveys" to convince regular citizens that our hills can be bought. Pleasanton was just given 1,500 acres of parkland near the Pleasanton Ridge with no strings attached. Why should the southeast hills have to be scarred with hillside homes? An initiative passed by voters in the early '90s protected our western ridge and this one can similarly protect the rest of the hills around our city.

1) The initiative will actually protect against the developer revisiting this property, unless the 10-home limit and less than 25 percent slope conditions are met. 2) These ballot measures will not give away parkland. They will actually protect our views without paying the price of development on the hills. 3) Voters in Livermore successfully kept 1,200 Livermore trails homes off their hills by a 72 percent margin. Aren't the voters of Pleasanton just as wise? 4) Why would anyone be afraid of the people's vote? Who is paying for the glossy ads and the expensive signage against voter input...Charter Properties! (A wolf in sheep's clothing.)

Michelle LaMarche

(PUSD Environmental Awareness Committee Member)

Exercise right to vote with referendum

Dear Editor,

While at the Farmer's Market on Saturday, I saw our Mayor Hosterman and Councilman Sullivan asking our citizens not to sign the referendum against the Oak Grove development. Were these the same people that told us how strongly they support the referendum process at the Nov. 6 City Council meeting? I guess when they heard how many people are signing the referendum, they decided that this process wasn't so great.

Could these be the same people who complain about how the federal government is not listening to the will of its citizens? It seems like they don't want to hear the will of Pleasanton's voters in an open election. Let's all exercise our right to have a vote on the Oak Grove development by signing the referendum to put this choice on the ballot. The developer is spending thousands and thousands of dollars to try to suppress this right. All we ask is for all the people to have a vote.

Bill Rasnick


Opposition doesn't trust Pleasanton voters

Dear Editor,

Why all the scare tactics, misinformation and harassment of signature collectors by the hill initiative opposition (not to mention the expensive mailers by the Oak Grove developer)? Signing these initiatives does nothing but place these important items on the ballot for voters to decide on our hillsides. Seems they don't trust Pleasanton voters to make an informed decision that just might differ from their own views.

Editorials about Oak Grove by Mayor Hosterman and Councilman Sullivan state, "The plan then went through the normal Planning Commission and City Council public review process..."

The plan did not go through the normal process. In fact, the 51-unit plan that moved forward was the result of closed-door meetings held with many of those listed as opposing the referendum; the public was not invited and the Planning Commission was not involved. Afterwards, the Planning Commission repeatedly identified areas of concern in the EIR that were never addressed; so the Planning Commission majority voted against EIR certification and never even addressed the PUD or development agreement.

The article continued, "For the units potentially most visible from the valley floor, one-story limits, reduction in size..." Only three homes are restricted to a single story and only seven homes are held under 8,000 square feet.

The Save Pleasanton's Hills group is not some small group of disgruntled neighbors, but a grassroots organization from throughout Pleasanton concerned about preserving our remaining hillsides. Please join us by signing both the initiative and referendum and let the voters be heard.

Greg O'Connor

(Planning Commissioner)

Put hillside initiatives to a vote

Dear Editor,

There is a lot of misinformation being written about the Save Pleasanton's Hills initiative and the Oak Grove referendum. For instance, a letter to the editor written by Becky Dennis states that reversing the Oak Grove development will "increase the number of units permitted from 51 to 98." This is not true; there is no vested entitlement to homes on this property. Any new development proposal would need to follow the normal process; and if the hillside initiative is passed by the voters, the developer would need to adhere to that ordinance and refrain from building within 100 feet of the ridgeline or grading any hillsides steeper than 25 percent slope. Period.

The Pleasanton 1996 General Plan also states "Preserve scenic hillside and ridge views of the Pleasanton, Main and southeast hills ridges" by developing a ridgeline and hillside preservation ordinance; such an ordinance has never been put in place during the last 11 years by our City Council. If such an ordinance had been enacted, the Oak Grove development would not have been approved as proposed. This is our opportunity to create such an ordinance before the remaining hillsides in Pleasanton are developed. The Save Pleasanton's Hills and Housing Cap group merely wants to put this ordinance and referendum in front of the voters for their input. Please sign both the hillside initiative and the

Oak Grove referendum so the voters of Pleasanton can decide

Janet Winter


To sign or not to sign?

Dear Editor,

To sign or not to sign; that is the question facing many Pleasanton residents as they encounter both proponents and opponents of the Oak Grove development planned for the southeast hills of Pleasanton. Those in support of the City Council's decision to allow the project to go forward cite the vast acreage that will be set aside for hiking, should the project proceed. Those who agree with the Planning Commission's decision to reject the project question the benefit to Pleasanton of homes up to 12,500 square feet on the ridgelines to the south of town, and rightfully point to the beauty of our protected Pleasanton Ridge to the west as the appropriate model for the remainder of our attractive surrounding hills.

As a Pleasanton resident, you may be justifiably confused by conflicting and incomplete information on the topic (including letters to the editor here) and may not yet have decided one way or the other.

The referendum petition will bring this project to a vote of the people, and the accompanying initiative will allow you to decide if you would like our ridges permanently protected from hilltop mansions overlooking town. Your signature will only allow the matter to be put to a vote, as it should be. You will then have the time to make an informed decision at the ballot box. Don't let the developer and their friends on the council decide for you; help us bring these issues to a vote.

Please empower your right to decide by signing the referendum and initiative petitions.

Bob Grove


Don't trade ridgetops for dirt trail

Dear Editor,

Are you willing to trade Pleasanton's pristine ridgetops for a 1 1/2-mile dirt trail? Four City Council members are. Help us put this to a vote of the people in 2008.

Oak Grove is not good growth. Through grading, our ridges will be reduced 32-, 38-, and in some places 43 vertical feet sliced off of the top, followed by mega-mansion construction on what is left. These ridges plus 1,000 trees will be gone forever.

All for 1 1/2 miles of dirt trails that go from one side of this land to the other, connecting to nothing to nothing yet.

The council plans to trade off ridgelines to gain dirt trails on the very edge of town. Not a "park." No playground, no soccer, no tennis, no lacrosse, nothing but a dirt trail.

What will the next link in their "chain of trails" ask us give away?

I say "no more."

Sign the referendum and initiative to put these decisions in the hands of the voters of Pleasanton. Go to www.SavePleasantonsHills.com and sign today. We need 3,500 signatures by Dec. 5 to put this on the ballot just so we can all vote. Help protect these hillsides for our children and the character of our charming town.

Karla Brown

Co-author of the Save Pleasanton's Hills

Elected officials should be silent, not residents

Dear Editor,

The elected members of the City Council that are telling residents "Don't Sign the Petition" are telling us to remain silent. They want us to ignore our rights to have a voice. To see the mayor and a former mayor out on the street corners holding up signs telling us that is pathetic. How sad that they want us to accept their view without knowing all the facts.

"Save our Parks" is their rally cry. How can you save something that we don't have? Is this so-called park already a Pleasanton park? No. Is it a park they are interested in or all the homes they want to build on the ridge? I noticed that on their fliers and maps they show how the land looks now: open land, trees, rolling hills. Why don't they show what the hills will look like with all the homes built on them? One bit of information they are leaving out is East Bay Regional Parks is against building on the ridge in the way the city council wants it. For me, the fact that elected and former elected officials are telling us to remain silent is far worse than the issue of building or not building.

If the voice of the people that put you in office is asked to be silent, I think it's time you reconsider what you are doing as elected officials. Pleasanton politics should be free of anyone telling the residents to remain silent. Maybe it's time that if any elected official that wants us to be silent, they themselves should be silent by stepping down.

Brad Zetterlund


Fr. Greene offers loving guidance, professionalism

Dear Editor,

During the hard times, you find out who you can truly count on. After losing my son in July 2003, I found myself so completely lost in despair. Father Padraig Greene was introduced by a young teenager who shared that Father Greene had been such a great comfort. Father Greene has been my single most inspirational healer. His guidance and wisdom taught me how to face a loss I could never have imagined, and his workshops gently and purposefully allowed me to find my path again. Father Greene continues to help heal the hole in my heart and his powerful guidance has been instrumental in the surrounding parishes in the Tri-Valley, Pleasant Hill, and Fremont.

Father Greene has offered only loving guidance and professionalism within this close knit community. The innuendoes and gossip do not represent the man who stands before us today. His work in the grievance ministry has made a positive and profound impact to those fortunate to have been his pupils and parishioners. I speak from an outside vantage, as I am not a parishioner, but am so grateful Father Greene welcomed me into his fold without prejudice as his ministry is provided to all faiths. His strength and virtue have been ever-present in the four years that I am honored to have worked under his tutelage. I strongly support his moral fortitude and am so saddened to see a group who seeks to disparage this wonderful man of God.

Valarie Gordon


We are all sinners

Dear Editor,

I am writing this letter in response to the negative responses of Father Greene and his remorseful act. I am 29 years old; I am a catechist to the second grade at St. Augustine and hold God as No. 1. Before any of you accuse Father Greene as a sinner, let's first look at our lives. Have we ever sinned before? Told a lie to our loved ones, thought inappropriate thoughts, masturbated, parked illegally, talked behind someone's back? Have we ever once thought about our lives being absolutely perfect the way God wanted us to be?

If the answer is yes, then let's get out of our dream world because that doesn't exist.

That's why God lets us repent for our sins. Father Greene is human just the way you and I are. He did an act that you and I would never do in public, but probably have done behind closed doors; maybe. Who cares? Father Dan has been my role model since I was a little girl. I put my complete faith in him, and all of you who grew up in Pleasanton and who was a parishioner of Father Dan, will know exactly what I mean.

Karissa Kernan


Democracy works both ways

Dear Editor,

With other dedicated citizen environmentalists, I jumped into the planning of the Oak Grove Project to protect public interests and fulfill the vision of a mega-park on the southeast hills. We wanted the best for Pleasanton and were willing to give of our time and energy to help shape the project. We read EIRs, studied countless reports, attended stakeholder and public meetings and provided input to assure public needs were met and the valuable and fragile resource protected.

Now it appears that since we are opposing the initiative to protect that hard work and the project we believe the best possible for the land, we are accused by the initiative promoters of being less than democratic. What could be more democratic than participating in a public process and working to protect the resulting project? The initiative promoters forget democracy works both ways--they are free to propose an initiative, others are free to oppose.

What was the result of that two year democratic community process? Mega-concessions were garnered from the developer: the number of homes reduced from 98 to 51; 496 acres of open space lands dedicated to the city and protected in perpetuity by a conservation easement; the developer agreed to construct and dedicate the trail system and public staging area.

For more information please visit www.keepourpark.org.

How can you join me and other open space advocates save our park? Easy, just don't sign the initiative petition.

Dolores Bengtson


Brozosky doesn't understand democracy

Dear Editor,

Read the following and then decide for yourself how well this former councilman understands democracy.

Mr. Brozosky states:

"...aggressive actions by groups to stop people from signing initiatives..."

I thought democracy was symmetric. Is not each group just exercising its rights under our constitution? The use of the words "aggressive" and "stop" is nonsense.

"Why would they not want to have these items qualify for the ballot?" There can be many very valid reasons. In fact, if you read and listen to what 'they' say, you will learn them. They want the original council decision to go forward on a timely basis.

"Do they think that the community is not educated enough to make an informed decision? Putting information before potential signees of the initiative is enabling them to make an informed decision. What makes anyone think that "they" don't trust the voter just because they want to put their information out?

"... please respect the rights of others to practice democracy and collect signatures." Simply, this is an unfair accusation. It implies that if anyone publicly opposes the signing of an initiative, they are therefore disrespecting the rights of others and are opposed to democracy.

If there is going to be increasingly the use by small groups of the initiative or referendum process to try to upset elected government's decisions, then there are going to be counter-groups that arise in response. That's democracy. Mr. Brozosky needs to enlarge his understanding of democracy.

Frank Doljack


Support keepourparks.org

Dear Editor,

I cannot be a citizen who would deny a 496-acre park to Pleasanton residents. Therefore, I urge all my neighbors to support www.keepourpark.org and not sign any petition, which would negate the approved Oak Grove development agreement. Well done to city staff, four of five of our council, the Kottinger HOA and the property owner. This is a deeded gift to the city, monetary mitigations are in place from the owner, who will build trails and staging areas, and no homes will be constructed without planning approval.

Having read the ads and letters in the Weekly lately, this seems just like a normal election period. Pertinent information is there for all to consider and make an early decision. Not all issues or candidates make it to a ballot, or should. Those opposing the Oak Grove petitions are exercising grassroots democracy, not subverting a vote. I also sincerely trust that the facts of this issue will prevail over the emotional rhetoric.

What plan do the anti-Oak Grove petitioners have for the property? There seems to be no alternative outlined, except that the 496-acre urban park and trails would be denied to our citizens, as well as the permanent protection of our southern greenbelt.

Neighbors, the Oak Grove agreement is to benefit, the petitions are not, pleased don't sign.

Gerry Brunken


Say no to Home Depot Dec. 4

Dear Editor,

There have been studies, meetings, workshops, and even a preliminary vote regarding the proposed Home Depot/Regency Center development at the corner of Stanley, Valley and Bernal. It seems that our City Council is in favor of this project. However, no final decision has yet been made by our city council.

A Home Depot will generate more traffic, more noise and more problems for the city than their small revenue stream can justify. A big box store, three miles away from the nearest freeway, makes no sense. Imagine the delivery trucks traveling between the current Home Depot store and the proposed location. Trucks are allowed to use the most direct route, which will give them several options to get from the northwest corner of the city to the southeast. Many other issues have been raised, so that one wonders how the council could support this project. This is the wrong project for this location.

Our council needs to hear from the people. On Dec. 4, at 7 p.m., our City Council will again meet to hear from the community on whether or not the Home Depot/Regency Center would be good for Pleasanton. This is our last chance to speak out. Please attend the meeting, prepared to state your reasons for opposing this project. Write to the council. Talk to your neighbors. Let your voice be heard. Just say no to Home Depot.

Jennifer Rieble


Oak Grove development is a fire risk

Dear Editor,

How many homes will have to be lost before we learn from our mistake? The fires in Southern California continue. More and more property is being burned in hillside developments with the steep terrain common to our southeast hills.

The City Council has just approved another hillside development on top of the ridge of these hills. A mile of roadway is to be constructed with several cul-de-sacs that will "cluster" the 51 mega-mansion residential units. The only ingress and egress out of this development for the "new" residents is Hearst Drive even though the development does not meet the standard five-minute response time of our fire department. There are two earthquake faults within three miles of the development. Does this make sense? Why develop in such risky areas? Is it just the multi-million dollar views? Stop this type of development and sign the two petitions to keep development off the top of our steep ridgelines.

Leslie Coonan


Former Mayor Pico behind Oak Grove

Dear Editor,

When will our local newspapers fully disclose that our slow growth former Mayor Tom Pico has been and is still working as a consultant for both the Oak Grove project ( 51 mega-mansions on the ridgetop)

and the project recently approved by a 3-2 vote of the Planning Commission which allows a 16,000-square-foot house and accessory buildings project in the southeast hills.

When you see former Mayor Pico on the street corner waving and asking you not to sign a referendum and the hillside preservation ordinance, he is at work. Pleasanton residents have a right to vote on these issues.

Betsy Everett


Environmental, aesthetic impacts for Oak Grove

Dear Editor,

Are you a Pleasanton resident that loves the scenic beauty of the Pleasanton ridges? The western Pleasanton Ridge has been protected by a 1993 voter-approved ordinance, Measure F. The southeast hills are not protected.

A 51 housing unit project has been approved in these hills and they will be built on the ridgelines off of Hearst Drive. These houses have been approved at up to 12,500 square feet with an additional 800-square-foot garage. That is up to 13,300 square feet for the house and garage without counting pools, patios, and landscaping. Imagine what 51 houses of this size would look like on top of a ridge.

Some argue that landowners have the right to develop their privately-owned land. Yes, but the environmental impacts and aesthetics need to be considered. Why can't the developer build below the ridges? The trails could be on the ridge tops. Why won't the developer do this? It would cost the developer more money.

This area is the visual backdrop when looking south from our new Bernal Park. Let's preserve the beauty of Pleasanton for future generations.

Please give Pleasanton residents the voice in what happens to our southeast hills by signing the Save our Hills Initiative and the Oak Grove Referendum.

Valerie Arkin



Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:10 am

An opinion from March 3, 2005 on Oak Grove... well worth another look.

Web Link

I laugh when I read complaints here about the grading of the ridgelines. Haven't you guys driven around Kottinger Ranch at all? Boy I wonder where you opponents to Oak Grove all were before the Lins (yes the same developer as Oak Grove) developed Kottinger Ranch. Oh wait, you live in Kottinger Ranch...

So it is ok for Kottinger Ranch to have PRIVATE trails on the valley floors between the ridgelines, massive ridgetop grading, and the associated addition to traffic and the schools, but not 51 homes in Oak Grove with a PUBLIC trail? *whew* I bet the Lins are ruing their decision to develop Kottinger Ranch.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:19 am

Let's not show the public that we have short memories.

"Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, always hostile to development, insulted the Lins with questions regarding their motives and suggested that money was their only interest and they surely have some figure in mind to sell their property to the city for open space."

"The most irksome part of the Kottinger saga is that area residents wrote to City Hall to lament the loss of trees, the increase in traffic, increased school enrollment, and the loss of views. What a bunch of self absorbed, pretentious collection of NIMBYs. They did not even mask their pretentiousness by leaving out “their view” complaint. While every other street is gorged to the gills, these people have the unmitigated gall to suggest that 98 Charter Properties homes will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back when it comes to traffic and school enrollment."

"What is more, the City Council is the developer of the Callippe Preserve Golf Course and Open Space and that project was approved to save 400 acres from development. "

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 30, 2007 at 9:23 am

Another thing that makes me laugh is when people write about Livermore voters turning down the Livermore Trails proposal and compare it with Oak Grove just because the developer is the same. The two proposals are completely different and the process they went though to get to a final stage were different too. Pleasanton would never even consider a plan to bring 1,200 homes to a ridgetop! Why do you think the developers were talked down from 98 homes to 51? This is like comparing apples to oranges. Please throw out that useless analogy.

Posted by Suzanne, a resident of Bridle Creek
on Nov 30, 2007 at 1:32 pm

By the way, the Lins did not own Livermore Trails...Pardee homes and Weyerhauser did. There is so much bad information out there. Let's let the City Council four-year review of the facts stand. Don't sign the petitions.

Posted by Pete, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 30, 2007 at 5:08 pm


Run for Mayor Stacey. You should get your facts right before lip service.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 30, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Yea, you're right. I should doublecheck my facts before repeating nonsense written by other people on this forum.

Web Link

"By the way, this is the same owner who wanted to develop land in North Livermore and called it "Livermore Trails". This development was overwhelmingly voted down by 72% of the residents of Livermore on an initiative. If you want to see other work by this developer, this is the same developer who is proposing a 21 story office building in Dublin.
Posted by long time resident, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, on Nov 7, 2007 at 6:10 pm"

Posted by Barbara, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Dec 1, 2007 at 10:36 pm

I would support Oak Grove except for the size of the homes - 12,000sf is too large to fit in with the surrounding neighborhoods and could easily dominate the landscape. I will sign the petition - why let the city take away our right to vote on this?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Dec 3, 2007 at 11:04 am

I think Matt Morrison's comparison of Oak Grove to the Pleasanton Ridge with the "Hayward Hotel" is slightly misleading. The Pleasanton Ridge is a primary ridgeline visible from the entire valley floor and building upon it affects everyone. The area around Oak Grove is not a primary ridgeline. It is more secondary or even tertiary. Take a look at a photo like here: Web Link The "Hayward Hotel" is on a ridgeline comparable to the one directly in the center while the Oak Grove lots are pointed out as being on a secondary ridgeline that is not easily visible.

Contrast this with looking at Dublin's buildout to the north where the homes are visible from practically everywhere.

A smart ridgeline ordinance would take the differences in primary, secondary, and tertiary type ridgelines into consideration. The initiative does not provide this. Keep the City's hands free to create a taskforce to compose a smart ridgeline initiative. Don't sign the initiative petition.

Posted by Angela, a resident of Heritage Valley
on Dec 3, 2007 at 3:46 pm


Not one home has been approved! The city council approved 51 LOTS with maximum size restrictions. There are only 3 lots that COULD BE as big as 12,500 sq ft. EVERY home must go through design review and planning. In addition, the city council approved many conditions for this project regarding height restriction, visibility, etc. The sites are located where impacts are less significant. All homes will be no more that 30 feet tall with single story homes on the most visible lots no more than 25 feet tall. Most of Oak Grove will go unseen to the rest of Pleasanton unless you go for a hike at the beautiful new park.

Elections are rarely the time or place for quality community dialogue. I am thankful to all of our public servants out there from commissioners to councilmembers who work hard to stay informed and try their best to make the best decisions for ALL of Pleasanton.


Posted by Carol, a resident of Stoneridge Orchards
on Dec 4, 2007 at 9:48 pm

Stacey - if I were here when Kottinger was being built, I may have joined the forces to fight that one too. But, I wasn't and maybe that's a shame. It doesn't preclude my right to fight further development, does it? Regarding your post about "Pleasanton would never consider ridge top homes", what about Measure V? Because that passed, we got a reduction of something like 1500 homes off of Bernal (and forgive me, I may not have the exact number, but I'd have to look it up). Please don't believe for one minute that something like that doesn't happen here - it did! You had a comment about the city having a "smart ridgeline task force". Where did you get this? I haven't heard of such a thing. Please reference that if it's correct. If there were a task force in effect, these initiatives might not be in play here.

Angela - yes, the homes do have to be approved. I just found out that a 16,000 square foot home was recently approved in the Vineyard Corridor. What makes you think these size homes wouldn't get approved on these ridges? First off, it only takes a majority vote and there are probaby a majority pro-growth people on both the Planning Commission and Council. Second, do you honestly think the developer will build small homes up there? These are view top lots. They are not going to be 1500-2500 square foot homes that the average home buyer can afford. And, if I'm not mistaken, the 30 foot height restriction you mention, isn't that 3 stories?

Yes, our commissioners and council members do put a lot of time and effort into serving their city. That is definitely the case no matter what their viewpoints and opinions are. However, there are times when the residents feel that they make decisions that are not in sync with the majority of their constituents. That is when citizens feel compelled to act. Please allow them their right to do so. If the council's decision represent what the majority of the people want, then that will be reflected in a vote of the people. I don't understand why they can't see that.

Posted by karen, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Dec 6, 2007 at 11:49 am

I bought this house in Pleasanton because I wanted to live and raise my family in a small town. It seems everyone is dazzled by the idea of a "free" hiking trail, but at what cost... more houses and more people. I would rather have a small town with less homes, small local owned shops and walk down the street to see people I know.

No big box stores, no big huge chain restaurants, no huge houses on the hills.

I think Pleasanton is almost perfect -- no leave it alone.

And I will stand up to anyone who says that is wrong!