For mayor of Pleasanton: now there are three | July 25, 2008 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - July 25, 2008

For mayor of Pleasanton: now there are three

Hosterman facing challenges from Oak Grove foes Mary Roberts, Anne Fox, possibly others

by Jeb Bing

Planning Commissioner Anne Fox and former commissioner Mary Roberts plan to challenge Mayor Jennifer Hosterman for the city's top elective post on Nov. 4.

Fox and Roberts are opposed to the Oak Grove housing project that Hosterman, with two others on the council, approved, and believe the council majority have veered away from slow-growth policies they endorse and that the City Council once enforced.

"Frankly, I think I'd make a better mayor than our current mayor," said Roberts, who served on the planning commission for eight years.

Fox, who chaired the commission last year, was appointed as a commission alternate in October 2003 by former Mayor Tom Pico. She was named a full member in December 2004 when Planning Commissioner Matt Sullivan was elected to the City Council.

Greg O'Connor, now an alternate on the Planning Commission, has also taken our papers to file as a candidate for mayor, but has not yet committed to run.

Besides their opposition to Oak Grove, both Fox and Roberts are active members of the Save Pleasanton's Hills citizens' coalition, which is being championed by former Councilwoman Kay Ayala. Ayala, who served eight years on the council, lost to Hosterman in the 2004 mayor's race.

Even with as many as three opponents trying to unseat her, Hosterman talked this week about pursuing a fourth term after she wins this one. First elected to the council in 2002 and elected mayor in 2004 and again in 2006, she told the Weekly that she has been asked to serve as vice-chair of the Alameda County Congestion Management Agency in September for a two-year term, and then could be the agency's chair for the following two years as she completes her fourth and final term as mayor.

"It would be very beneficial to have the chair of this important road-funding agency come from the ranks of the mayors in the Tri-Valley," Hosterman said. "It would give me a chance to make sure there's adequate funding to widen Hwy. 84 between I-580 and I-680 that would be a major benefit in reducing cut-through traffic in Pleasanton."

But Fox wants her out and believes she will have support from those backing the citizens' coalition as well as others who are unhappy over Hosterman's move into what Fox calls "the developers' camp."

"While acting as the mayor, Jennifer Hosterman has morphed from a slow-growth City Council member to completely caving in to the wishes of the developer groups who by virtue of their campaign contributions and their money and their power carry a lot more influence right now in Pleasanton than ordinary citizens," Fox said. "The pro-growth composition of the council right now represents a real imbalance between what the local people want us to do and what government is doing."

Fox and Robert have both been particularly agitated by Hosterman's and the council majority's decision to proceed on approving the Oak Grove housing project without the Planning Commission's recommendation or its review of the Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on how the project could affect Pleasanton's southeast hills.

The council voted 4-1 last November to approve the Oak Grove plan, giving the go-ahead for a public 496-acre nature park and 51 custom home lots at the end of Hearst Drive in the hills above Kottinger Ranch and Vintage Hills. The plan evolved during a four-year review process that included nine public hearings and was favored by the Parks and Recreation Commission, the Trails Ad Hoc Committee, the Housing Commission and the council, but not by the Planning Commission.

Within days, Kay Ayala, an outspoken opponent of Oak Grove, formed the Save Pleasanton's Hills coalition and, with other opponents of the Oak Grove project, including Roberts and Fox, gathered more than 5,000 signatures aimed at forcing a referendum seeking to overturn the council's action. The coalition's efforts, however, were blocked by an Alameda County Superior Court judge who ruled in favor of a suit by Oak Grove developers Jennifer Lin and her brother Frederic that the signatures were improperly collected.

The citizen's coalition has appealed that decision in the state Court of Appeal.

In the meantime, the coalition also filed a similar petition, collecting again more than 5,000 signatures, to place an initiative on the Nov. 4 ballot that would block future development on steep hillsides and also tighten the rules governing how housing units are counted. That initiative, along with a competing measure drafted by Hosterman and the council majority, will face off on the Nov. 4 ballot.

Roberts and Fox, as active participants in the coalition, could benefit by getting many of the votes of the 5,000 registered voters who signed the two petitions.

Roberts objected to the process that Hosterman and the council majority followed in approving Oak Grove. She said many were not notified of public and private meetings about the plan and that it was wrong for the council to approve it without a recommendation from the Planning Commission. She also has questioned the permanency of the land agreement the city has signed with developers Jennifer Lin and her brother Frederic, arguing that an 'in perpetuity" agreement with an elected government body, such as the council, may not mean forever.

Fox said that unlike Hosterman, she would never take political contributions from developers and would work to return the council to slow-growth decisions.

"Now we have a government of developers, by developers and for developers," Fox said. "As mayor, I would make sure that if anyone has influence on the city government, it's the people who live here."







Posted by Steve, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:51 am

Hosterman pro-growth? Laughable! I love how Roberts and Fox whine about Hosterman being controlled by developers when their buddy, Steve Brozosky, took a ton of money from these developers in the 2006 election. Suddenly, Pleasanton Republicans - who have been pro-growth throughout the 1970s, 80s, and 90s – find the need to be anti-growth over Oak Grove because they see a political opportunity. If anything, there has been a sharp decline in residential development under Hosterman compared to previous Pleasanton mayors. Anybody remember how much out-of-control residential development happened under mayors like Ken Mercer? I’m sorry, but where are all these huge housing developments that happened under Hosterman that make her and the council “pro-growth”?

Posted by Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm

Hosterman has not questioned any developments lately. She just approves them and then tries to sell the development to the community. I think part of the problem now is there are places for houses that make sense and places that do not make sense. Most of the houses approved in the 80's and 90's were on flat land (Pleasanton basin) and therefore fit in with the environment. Hosterman is now approving houses in the hills where the houses conflict with the environment.

In the last two housing proposals that went to the City Council, Hosterman voted for them and then talked about how great they were. One of the plans requires taking 30 or 40 feet off the tops of hills, snaking roads through the sensitive riparian habitat, and cuting down around 1,000 trees. For the other development, how she could support a single family house that required taking 30 feet off a hill and cutting down 80 or so trees (yes, for a single house), goes beyond me. Several years ago she would be the one up there arguing if a single tree was cut down for a whole housing development and now she has no problem cutting down 80 trees for a single house. These are not orchard trees, like walnut trees. These are native oak trees. And then in a time of a drought she approved their landscaping plan that will plan 500 trees. So while we are all being asked to conserve water and we might go into mandatory water rationing soon, she is approving a single house that probably uses more water than a whole housing development. Oh, and this "environmentally friendly" house and external structures is around 23,000 square feet. That is about 10 times the size of my house and only a single family will be living there. Now that it looks like people are running against Hosterman, she will have an opportunity to explain to the community how a house and landscaping plan like that could be approved in Pleasanton.

Posted by Citizen/Voter, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 25, 2008 at 1:24 pm

Mayor Hosterman,

You are an elected official and should not hide behind the anonymity afforded non-elected persons on these threads.
Please use your name when defending yourself or criticizing others.


Posted by Steve, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 25, 2008 at 2:02 pm

It’s funny how the most vocal critics of the Hosterman and Oak Grove are hypocrites that live in McMansions on hillsides. Classic NIMBYism.

Posted by just the facts, a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2008 at 2:43 pm


Please get your facts straight before posting so that there can be an honest debate. Start with the single house that you have at 23,000 square feet including the external buildings. The external buildings were not entitled as part of the house. The house itself was around 9,000 square feet not including the below ground basement and garage. A far cry from 23,000 square feet.

Posted by Who Have Filed???, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 25, 2008 at 3:17 pm

Which of the candidates have filed their papers for mayor?

Which of the candidates have filed for City Council?

The anouncement by the PW is interesting, but until the candidated actually file their papers, the anouncement by the PW is MM...or "Much ado about nothing!!!"

Posted by just the facts, a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2008 at 4:06 pm

Big surprise, Steve Brozosky has now taken out papers for Mayor. So likely, as many suspected, in the end it will be two candidates for Mayor.

Posted by Julie, a resident of Mohr Park
on Jul 25, 2008 at 4:10 pm

Just who is saying Anne Fox is a Pleasanton Republican?

That is hilarious! She is a registered Democrat.

I worked with her in gathering signatures for the Preserve Nielsen Park and Save the Martin Avenue buffer zone petitions. Believe me. And last I looked, there are no McMansions around me in the Mohr area. And Anne Fox is a Democrat.

Posted by iwastheretoo, a resident of Amador Estates
on Jul 25, 2008 at 4:22 pm

Something else to thank Jennifer (and others) for taking what used to be a bipartisan position and turning it into a partisan one. Bringing in outside 'professional' political managers. Instead of worrying about and trying to do what is best for Pleasanton, we are worried about our next elected position, Democrats versus Republicans etc. Too bad. Pleasanton loses in the end. . .

Posted by Bob, a resident of Birdland
on Jul 25, 2008 at 5:17 pm

Just the facts, the house itself is around 16,000 square feet. I would think you would want to include the 5 car attached garage when doing a calculation as that is the size of the building. The other buildings were approved with them only going through design review as the council wanted to approve the ability for them to build these additional structures without it coming back to the Council. If this house were "only" 9,000 square feet then it would be hard to see why they would have to cut down 80 trees, 20 of them are heritage trees.

Posted by Meg, a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jul 25, 2008 at 5:23 pm

Just the facts: are you calling the city every day to see who is pulling papers or are you already there everyday? Your remarks sound just like Jennifer speaking. Just like you defending your vote of the large houses.

To Steve: Kay Ayala has a small house and does not live on a hillside so I don't know what you are talking about.

Posted by Citizen/Voter, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Jul 25, 2008 at 6:35 pm

Mayor Hosterman,

You are an elected official and should not hide behind the anonymity afforded non-elected persons on these threads.

Please use your name when defending yourself or criticizing others.


Posted by Jane, a resident of Avila
on Jul 25, 2008 at 7:17 pm

To 'just the facts' or whoever you may be (if you are elected official, perhaps you need to check with the city clerk by rereading ordinance 1974)--

The hilltop villa you refer to resulting in the destruction of the hilltop and cutting down native trees that Hosterman approved over the objections of environmentalist Matt Sullivan and former School Board member Cindy McGovern was 13,140 square feet comprised of 9,990 square feet on two stories and 3,150 square feet of a habitable basement with second unit. Hosterman also approved a 1,785 square foot 5-car garage, a 660 square foot cabana, a 185 square foot pool bathroom, and a 165 square from greenhouse with this development.

Posted by just the facts, a resident of Danbury Park
on Jul 25, 2008 at 7:43 pm


Thanks for the compliment but I'm not Mayor Hosterman and in fact didn't vote for her in the last election. I'm just an informed citizen concerned about the direction the City is taking and wanting debates and discussions to be civil and based on the facts, not on hatred or being a sore loser of the Mayor and current City Council. BTW, who has taken papers out is public information, what's the big deal?

Bob, if you check minutes of the planning commission meeting and city council meeting it lists the house as 9900 square feet with a 3150 square foot below ground basement and a 1785 square foot garage.
The planning commission didn't entitle expansion of the existing house. The City Council went further and didn't entitle some of the other existing structures so that they have to go back through the Planning Commission for review and approval. This is a bit different from the 23,000 square feet you listed above.

I am not defending or criticizing approval of this home, only stating what the facts are based on approved minutes.

Meg, I suspect what people are refering to is that Councilwoman McGovern lives in a house on a hill that wouldn't be approved with the proposed initiative. People have a problem with her defending the initiative given that she lives on a hill. Also, several other speakers in favor of the initiative live on hills. But yes, Kay is the one person that doesn't.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 25, 2008 at 8:36 pm

My questions are these: Who is going to provide leadership in this community? Who can help settle all the anger? Who can assist our school district with the challenges they face? Who is going to maintain the pubic safety standards we all expect? Who can help rebuild the city staff? Who can move this community forward?
Houses on hills? Nobody wants houses on hills, silly.
As for bashing the Mercer Era: To be in power so long, and if they had it so wrong, why do all of us still choose to live here?

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 25, 2008 at 10:04 pm

Would we all choose to live here if the train of uncontrolled housing had continued to chug forward and Ptown now looked like Dublin?

I don't criticize the Mercer era, I said they were right for that time, but the Tarver era changed the direction of growth in Pleasanton and I don't want to see that undone.

Posted by Jack, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 26, 2008 at 12:18 am

Mercer had us a public golf course for free in the early 1990's.
Fifteen years later, we have one, and it cost us $45 million.
How many similar situations don't we know about?
No growth, slow growth, build out, urban limit lines, housing caps, call these things whatever you want, whichever camp you're in, these things have to be approached proactively. Pouting, pointing-fingers and name-calling are not going to get a general plan update completed. We all like Pleasanton the way it is. (We loved it twenty years ago.) But we like Pleasanton because of where we are in the race, we're ahead of the pack, and always have been. The problem with the angry people, is they think "change nothing" means "do nothing." Well, "do nothing" leadership will damage (and has damaged) this community a lot more than a few final houses.

Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Jul 26, 2008 at 10:12 am

LOL! So someone else is now getting accused of being Mayor Hosterman here? Every one of us only knows and believes that which is within the limits of our own experiences. When we come across someone else who doesn't agree with us and we do not fully understand why, we tend to get mad or frustrated because that other person isn't behaving how we expect we would behave ourselves. This is actually how road rage happens (according to some study I read ages ago about it). We get mad at the other person because we expected them to drive how we drive ourselves. So then we have to make stuff up like "You must be Hosterman!" because we do not understand how that person can disagree.

Posted by Sarah, a resident of Downtown
on Jul 26, 2008 at 12:17 pm

The cost of the golf course is a Pleasanton embarrassment.

Posted by Vinelander, a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Jul 26, 2008 at 9:53 pm

The golf course a a gold mine to the City of Pleasanton. Take a drive up there sometime.