13,000-square-foot home given OK | April 4, 2008 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |


Pleasanton Weekly

News - April 4, 2008

13,000-square-foot home given OK

Current, ex-officials gather to debate plan

by Jeb Bing

Current and past elected and appointed officials crowded into the City Council chambers Tuesday in a sort of political homecoming to face off on a bid by Belinda and Daniel Sarich to build a 13,000-square-foot home on 20 acres of Vineyard Avenue property they own.

In the end, and after an eight-year effort, the Sariches won in a 3-2 vote. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and councilmembers Jerry Thorne and Cheryl Cook-Kallio voted in favor of the Sarich project; councilmembers Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan voted against it.

There in the same room for a discussion that lasted more than two hours were a number of familiar faces. They included former Mayor Tom Pico, who is now a paid consultant to some developers, including the Sariches; Kay Ayala and Steve Brozosky, both former councilmembers and mayoral candidates who each ran unsuccessfully against Hosterman; Mary Roberts and Brian Arkin, former Planning Commission members and one-time chairs of the commission; and Greg Reznick, chairman of the Firehouse Arts Theater Foundation.

The Sarich property is located on the south side of what is now called Old Vineyard Avenue, a local street that serves residents there. Roberts' and Brozosky's homes are west of the Sarich property; Reznick's acreage borders to the east. All three spoke against the proposed estate home, as they also did at earlier hearings before the Planning Commission. That commission also approved the Sarich project in a 3-2 vote, and the city's Planning Department has consistently recommended approval.

The proposed two-story house would actually measure 9,900 square feet, with a below grade basement that would add another 3,200 square feet. An adjoining garage would have more than 1,700 square feet of floor space.

Roberts urged the council to "ditch this mansion." She described the home's Tuscanesque-design as a "Tuscan compound," and one "that basically disregards the natural setting of the hillside along the south side of Old Vineyard Avenue.

Agreeing with Reznick, Brozosky and Ayala, she said the massive size of the project would be inconsistent with the Vineyard Avenue Specific Plan that was written in the 1990s.

Brozosky complained that Sarich would remove 73 trees, including some that are classified as heritage trees.

"The emphasis of the specific plan was to maintain the rural character of this area and this isn't being done," Brozosky said.

Reznick, who recently received approval to build homes on his adjacent property, said the Sarich home "would be too big for the area."

In casting their votes against the project, Sullivan and McGovern basically agreed. Sullivan said that while Sarich and his architect had worked hard to screen the home from neighbors, "I can't get to the point where I think this house should be built."

He said the council's approval of the Reznick development was "a stretch," adding: "This to me is a farther stretch and I'm not comfortable in taking it."

Hosterman said she struggled with her decision to approve the project because of her environmental concerns over big houses and how they use too much energy and harm natural resources.

But I have to rid myself of my subjective views and be objective as I can," she added. "Based on the plans, I actually think this house will be the least visible on Vineyard, that it's well screened and that the plan should be approved."


Posted by Fletch, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2008 at 11:49 pm

These folks recently donated $5,000 to Hosterman's campaign fund. That is an unheard of donation in local politics when most individual donations are $250 or less. It can give one reason to ponder......
Web Link

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2008 at 7:34 am

"That is an unheard of donation in local politics"

No it's not. Brozosky received over $5,000 from a single source in 2006.

Web Link
"Last year, Brozosky received a $10,000 donation and one of $9,000, while Hosterman received $2,500 and $1,000 donations, in addition to numerous $500 contributions."

Web Link
"Brozosky received a $9,000 donation from Michael Aminian of San Jose-based Fairland Investment Inc. and $1,050 from Mohsen Sadri. The two have a joint application before the city's planning commission, to subdivide a 2.45-acre parcel on Clara Lane."

Posted by Josh, a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 27, 2008 at 7:35 am

I want them all gone. They are all dirty in some fashion. Elect Bozo Brozowski and you get different kind dirty politics. What's the diff? This property must be close to NIMBY's Bozo and Mary Roberts. They let a big winery building and monsterous houses be built on Old Vineyard already. The natural setting is alresdy gone. What bull?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 27, 2008 at 7:41 am

Here's more information on this: Web Link

NIMBYs! You got that right! First it is the "evil developers" giving money to the QQ campaign, now it is the next door neighbors this group of people want to fight against. Who will be next?

Posted by Josh, a resident of Country Fair
on Oct 27, 2008 at 8:10 am

I know that property. There was a house sitting on the ridge there already at one point in time. Looking at it from the outside-looks like mary is getting "some" tossed back at her-yeah!! You want disaster---look at all the houses along Vineyard and Old Vineyard---huge houses--and for what? 'm would not be surprised if Mary and Bozowski already made tons of money from those developments. PW maybe should follow that moneytree too. Like I said---I think all involved are dirty in one way or another. Maybe not dirty but have lined their pockets and then bitch about the other. Shame on us all for voting for these idiots.

Posted by Beth, a resident of Del Prado
on Oct 27, 2008 at 8:42 am

This is a newstory from 6 months ago. It is intentionally deceptive to pull it up from the archives in order to imply inappropriate campaign dealings.

Fletch, you're not on the Brozosky campaign staff are you??

Posted by Fletch, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 27, 2008 at 11:14 pm

It wasn't meant to be deceptive. I was reading on one of the other blogs about the $5000 donation to Hosterman's campaign from Belinda Sarich. I searched for more info and found this article from when the house was approved. The published date of April 4, 2008 is right there for all to read. Didn't realize it was my responsibility to point it for some folks!
Stacey, I stand corrected. I don't recall reading anything about those contributions two years ago. In both cases, it is still a lot of money from individuals. Any big donations raise my eyebrows because I wonder why.
Beth, yes I support Steve in this campaign. I have been a friend of his for a number of years. I have always found him to be a smart, hard-working, honest and responsive guy. I simply believe that he is the much better choice. I don't think that qualifies me to be considered "campaign staff." And if you take a look at his campaign statements, you'll see he is not paying any fees to professional consultants.

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Oct 28, 2008 at 9:22 pm

Fletch, let's get some facts straight.

First, the house that was approved in ordinance 1974 was two stories of approx. 10,000 square feet with a habitable basement of approx. 3,000 square feet. So, if portions of it are underground, why should anyone be concerned about these portions of the house?

Next. Brozosky's house is on a ridgeline. And Google Earth shows this. Go see:

Web Link

The water tank is indeed on a higher ridgeline. Ridgeline is not defined in the way you suggest (how about hilltop? Suit you better?). By the way, from the valley floor, such as when driving on Stanley Blvd., you will not see the water tank but you will see the cluster of trees surrounding Brozosky's property. Don't take my word. Drive and see for yourself. If it were not for the trees, his house would be visibly obtrusive from large areas of the valley floor. The water tank is NOT. I've lived in this area for 16 years, and his house is high on the hill (ridge). (With the trees around his property, McGovern should really really be upset about the fire hazard!)

Finally, the size of Brozosky's house is not wild guessing on my part, but a reasonable attempt to analyze the Google Earth photo using the available tools such as the ruler. See

Web Link

and analyze the image yourself. The variable that is not certain is whether there are two stories or one. It definitely looks like it is multi-storied from the picture. Since you say you were there, tell us which it is. The photo strongly suggests there are actually two stories. I used the measuring tool on the structure as you see it to come up with my estimate. Anyone can do this, too, if they are interested in getting the facts.

The whole point of Brozosky's house is the point: "so what?"

He lives on a ridgetop. His house would be visually obtrusive to anyone standing on large areas of the valley floor except it is well hidden by trees, so you don't notice it. But this election, as well as his campaign, is all about preventing anyone else from having a house like his on a ridgeline. The size of the house really does not matter in this case, as exemplified by Brozosky's own house, does it?

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 28, 2008 at 9:46 pm

I *heart* Google Earth.

Posted by Fletch, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2008 at 12:10 am

"The whole point of Brozosky's house is the point: "so what?""

Yes, Frank, so what?
If you look above at my original post related to the news article from last spring, you will note that I made no mention of the size or location of the house. I was only noting that a $5,000 campaign donation from an individual is pretty extraordinary.
You are the one who has been discussing home sizes and making big leap over to discussing the size of Steve's house in great detail. You seem to be the only one who has been writing on other blogs about the same thing, previously posting links to maps. Seems to me, you have a strange obsession about this.
But I will answer your questions to the best of my ability just to help dispel some of your presumptions. First, I will agree with Stacey that Google Earth has some cool features---things I didn't know you could do. I'll have to play with that later. Your previous links were not so detailed and were of purely aerial views where it was very difficult to discern heights. Now, you have somehow done that for us. Don't know how but have to trust your calculations.
Now you will have to trust me when I say that I only saw one story. I entered the front door on the ground level with no second floor. I was only in the main rooms of the house including the kitchen and they were all on the same floor. I saw no stairs.
We stepped out onto the back deck to admire the fabulous view---of the quarry and asphalt plant!! I sure hope they didn't buy the property for the views.
You can see the deck in the photo that appears dark gray much like the roof color. The deck has been expanded and done with a lighter colored material or it has not darkened with age yet. As I recall, the new area was a couple of steps lower than the part we were on. If there is a lower floor, I think the windows would be obstructed by that new deck.
I don't know what you see that "strongly suggests" two stories. But if your calculations are using that assumption, then it looks like you had better reduce it by half!
I am DONE discussing Brozosky's house. The mayoral election is about much more than where Steve lives. Let's move on.

Posted by anonymous, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 29, 2008 at 3:25 pm

The Vinyard Corridor Specific Plan details what is acceptable in that area. Building locations in those hills are specifically located in the specific plan map. The Brozosky house fits the guidelines (and was built by a prior owner before the specific plan was drafted). Same with Mary Roberts' house, and they are supposed to be screened by trees per the plan. Other land owners have also received approvals to build homes in those hills under the same guidelines.

The issues with the Sarich house (the basement is only partially below ground) are really not about its size or design. It will probably be one on the best, and most expensively, constructed homes in town to date. The issue with its construction are with location: they are taking 40 feet off the top of the hill to create the building pad, which also removes many heritage trees (among others) in the process.

Posted by Not Hosterman staff, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:34 am

Fletch, you must have been out to lunch in 2006! Brozosky has only recently made this turn around. In 2006, he had a heavily funded campaign to the tune of $80K, with $40k going to paid consultants. This time he isn't paying a consultant, because he doesn't have any money! In 2006, he took a $10K contribution! When it is from developers, we cry foul. Now that it is from an individual, we also cry foul. What gives?

The "so what" is the hypocrisy. When you live on 1 Brozosky Hill Lane and then say no building on hills, it doesn't quite add up. Anyone wonder why the 10 unit exemption with PP? Maybe Steve would like to build a house for his kids on his 20 acres? None of this would matter except for the whole glass house argument.

The whole point is that we must act in the best interests of all of Pleasanton not just for neighborhoods. Not Steve who complains about his neighbors building and not Kottinger Ranch folks who complain about having to share "their" open space and not Bridle Creek folks who knew about the plans to extend their road and now have decided not such a good idea.

Please. Vote for QQ and Hosterman. At least with Hosterman you know where she stands.

Posted by Norma, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2008 at 12:54 pm

Given the direction this thread is going , I think it is time to repost my comments of Sept. 8, 2008.

I think we all need to take a hard look at Steve Brozosky and his record of “flip-flopping”. Unfortunately for those of us who are not thrilled with Hosterman's left wing leanings in the past, Steve is an even worse choice. He has proven himself to be the most prolific "flip-flopper" in the history of our city.

To illustrate my point, Steve first ran for office in 2002 on a political slate with Hosterman and Tom Pico. They called themselves the new "slow growth team". They stood on street corners together and campaigned on an anti-business, anti-development and anti-progress platform. Steve's association with Tom Pico and Measure V propelled him onto the City Council in spite of the fact that all of the other candidates were much more qualified.


At some point during the first two years of his term Steve's dislike for Jennifer Hosterman overcame his commitment to slow growth and he began courting the developer and business community. His conduct toward Hosterman during Council meetings was distracting and disgusting and he began one of the most personal and absurd campaigns against her that this community has ever seen. Because of his conduct, the Pleasanton election of 2006 became the laughing stock of the tri-valley.
Steve raised $80,000 mostly from business people and developers and spent more money than has ever been spent on a political campaign in the history of Pleasanton. Yet today he insults us by calling himself a campaign finance reformer. He even changed his political party affiliation to gain the trust of more conservative voters.


Now that Hosterman seems to be trying to govern more from the middle of the road, Brozosky has latched onto the Ayala/McGovern crowd and is trying to become the new "no progress" candidate once again, double crossing those that supported him in 2006. He is supporting Measure PP trying to recreate the win in 2002 when he used Measure V. Unfortunately, Measure PP could leave this community with years of litigation to pay for. It is obvious to me that the cost of litigation to defend Measure PP will likely exceed the cost of defending the Neal School debacle. Putting Steve Brozosky in the Mayor's seat is simply not worth that cost.

In conclusion, I am no fan of out of control growth, but we must not support a candidate whose sole mission is to promote himself and to defeat Jennifer Hosterman, not to serve this community. As I said, I am not thrilled with Hosterman, but she is a far better choice than Brozosky. We just don’t know which Steve Brozosky will show up if he is elected.

Posted by Tom, a resident of Downtown
on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:19 pm

Just what does happen to politicians? Hosterman must have really been out of her mind to vote to approve something as large as a hotel on the top of a hill.

When New Cities came through she said in the paper: Councilwoman Jennifer Hosterman was the only "no" vote. "When I ran for office I said I'm not going to support million dollar homes unless they brought with them mitigation."

Now she is voting yes on $25 million dollar palaces on the top of hills. Glad she will be out of office soon.

Posted by Disappointed, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:39 pm

I got forwarded one of those Dear Friends and Neighbors chain emails from Hosterman in fall of 2004.

"In any case, I absolutely have no compunctions about taking their money, nor any one else's, for that matter, so long as it's understood that my vote is not for sale."

Yeah, right.

Posted by anything for money, a resident of West of Foothill
on Oct 30, 2008 at 1:58 pm

I remember that! I got that one forwarded to me too. Seriously, I keep up with the paper fairly well, she hasn't voted no on anything in years, except religious facilities.

What bothers me is her comment that she has no issue with taking ANYONE'S money. Gee. Even McCain and Obama don't take money from everyone. McCloskey returned some money a couple of years ago that was tainted.

Saying you'll take $$$ from anyone is just bad judgment.

The full paragraph was

".....every opportunity to attempt to spin developer and business support by saying that Hosterman has been bought, or some such thing, I'm sure. The truth is, many of those in the development community have told me that they find meaccessible, willing to listen, and fair. And, they very much appreciate that I don't jerk them around, leading them to believe a project might pass muster with the community, when I know clearly it will not. In the long run, my honest discourse with them is a money-saver. So, either they're telling me the truth, or I'm simply the least of two evils. In any case, I absolutely have no compunctions about taking their money, nor any one else's, for that matter, so long as it's understood that my vote is not for sale."

Posted by 1/3 of Hosterman's $ is out of town, a resident of Birdland
on Oct 30, 2008 at 2:10 pm

One third of the people bankrolling the Hosterman campaign are from out of town (18 out of the 55).

The Independent says in today's edition that the Chamber PAC is spending $11,000 to bankroll her and QQ.

And most of who Hosterman is paying is Alliance Campaign Strategies, the group running the Measure QQ campaign, which is bankrolled by $10,000 from the Greenbrier developer, $10,000 from the Home Builder PAC, and $10,000 from the del Arroz developer family.

Look at the Independent article on all of those PACs:

"Among her donations are $5000 from Belinda Sarich, who lists no occupation, $1000 from the California Apartment Association PAC, $500 each from the Electrical Workers Local 595 PAC, California Real Estate PAC, Mona Shari, Maria Phillips, and Al Lopez, Art Dunkley, $100 from Ayn Wieskamp."

Of her 55 donors, 18 were not Pleasanton residents or
businesses." That means 1/3 of her donations are from out of town.

Posted by JD, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2008 at 1:08 am

Hosterman's disclosure statement also lists $1000 and $500 from a couple of men with Danville Petroleum. What is that all about?????

Posted by acg, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2008 at 2:04 am

Fletch, we might trust you but you are wrong:

Web Link

Definitely two stories. Looks pretty big. If ". . . this election, as well as his campaign, is all about preventing anyone else from having a house like his on a ridgeline" then it's useful to know what "a house like his" means.

Here's where you can see these views: Web Link

Posted by Danville Petroleum?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 31, 2008 at 8:51 am

Danville Petroleum is the partnership that owns the Shell Station/Jack in the Box on the corner of Valley and Bernal near 680. They have contributed to her campaign over the past several elections.

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 1, 2008 at 8:45 pm

Hey, acg, that's exactly the house I have been looking down on using Google Earth. I was right, two stories and BIG. A mega-mansion on a ridgeline!

Posted by Mark, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 1, 2008 at 10:31 pm

Steve and Cindy both live on ridges---ok for their houses to be on ridges but no one else. What a load of c... Kay, Steve and cindy are about negative politics. Cindy hides in the bushes and yaps while Steve and Kay are the attack dogs. Both can be nasty and vile. All have been on council at one time or another and together producing little, including reduced traffic mediation. I will take my chances with Sullivan or Pentin and Hosterman. KAY, STEVE and CINDY will be the new Scream Team if they gain control. We will all have nightmares.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2008 at 11:19 pm

Can someone explain to me this one? Is this the same Greg Reznick who owns the property between Mary Roberts and Steve Brozosky and wants to subdivide his property into 8 lots, with the 7 custom home lots all allowing for over 5000 sq ft homes, 2 of the lots allowing for homes about the same size as the Sarich home (over 9000 sq ft)?

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 1, 2008 at 11:43 pm

Greg Reznick.

See Web Link

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 1, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Greg Reznick development - size of homes.

See Web Link

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 1, 2008 at 11:55 pm

It is from 2006. Does anyone know if it got approved? The road improvements have been done on that property and the City did install a new water tank. Maybe it got approved. I wonder what the Sarich's did wrong to gain the wrath of their neighbors who appear to have no issues with seven huge homes on a 20 acre property.

Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Nov 2, 2008 at 12:09 am

It came up on the council agenda:

Web Link

I suppose it was approved. Need to research the minutes of this meeting.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 2, 2008 at 11:47 am

Here's the minutes: Web Link

"Mary Roberts said she had no problems with the road the tank or the Reznick PUD"

"Steve Brozosky addressed the Council as a member of the public He
indicated he had no concerns with the development or the tank"

Ayes Councilmembers McGovern Sullivan and Thorne
Noes None
Absent Mayor Hosterman
Recused Councilmember Brozosky

McGovern was concerned about tree removal, was told about replacement trees, then passed the PUD.

Honestly, what makes this different from the Sarich proposal? Why the hostility towards the Sarich's while Reznick appears to get a free pass?

Here's the minutes from the Sarich PUD discussion at City Council back in April: Web Link

Posted by fact checker, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 3, 2008 at 10:56 pm

Ayn Wieskamp is the President of the East Bay Regional Parks District Board. So, even though she lives in Livermore she represents this area. Can she really be counted as out of town? I guess we want to be nitpicky.

I am still voting for Hosterman.