Lins plan 10 'ranchettes' on southeast hills | March 25, 2011 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

News - March 25, 2011

Lins plan 10 'ranchettes' on southeast hills

Landowners nix 51-home plans with trails

by Jeb Bing

Proponents of a voter-rejected 51-home development called Oak Grove in Pleasanton's southeast hills filed a new plan Tuesday that would subdivide their 526 acres of hilltop land into 10 residential -- or ranch-type -- lots.

Brian Dolan, Pleasanton's Community Development Director, said the plan was filed by Attorney Marty Inderbitzen, who represents landowners Jennifer and Frederic Lin.

The new development calls for lots ranging from 14 acres to the largest lot of 205 acres. The home sites would be served by a winding two-lane road that would be an extension of Hearst Drive that now goes through Kottinger Ranch from Bernal Avenue.

The Lins, who have owned the property since 1979, have been rebuffed several times in efforts to develop the land. Most recently, they lost their suit against the city of Pleasanton in Alameda County Superior Court in which they sought to invalidate a voter referendum approved June 8, 2010. That referendum rejected their plan to build 51 homes on part of their property, a development called Oak Grove.

That court judgment has yet to be signed. Once it is, the Lins have 60 days to file an appeal of that decision. Inderbitzen said there has been no decision by the Lins on whether to file an appeal of that court decision and that this new proposal for a 10-lot subdivision does not affect that case.

Gone from the Lins' newest proposal are not only the 51 multi-million-dollar custom homes that were planned for a section of their property but also their offer to give the rest--497 adjoining acres--to the city to be used as public land. The Lins also had offered to develop trails and equestrian pathways as well as a staging area for cars and horse trailers.

Gone, too, are the Lins' offers of several million dollars in traffic mitigation fees, which included paying for a traffic signal at Bernal Avenue and Kottinger Drive, a crossing guard on Hearst Drive to serve students from the nearby Vintage Hills Elementary School, a four-wheel firefighting vehicle for use on hillside properties, and at least $2 million in advance fees to be paid to the Pleasanton school district.

"Unfortunately, when you're developing only 10 lots, those amenities that were part of the Oak Grove development plan, just don't pencil out," Inderbitzen said.

Dolan said the new 10-lot proposal includes specific plans for individual lot developments, including the size and design of homes likely to be built on those lots and their approximate positions. Water, sewer and other services required for the development also are part of the plan.

Dolan's planning staff now will review the Lins' new plan to see if it will require a new environmental impact report and if it conforms to land use guidelines in the city's General Plan.

Former Councilwoman Kay Ayala, who led the fight against the Oak Grove project, said state law bars anyone on city staff or the City Council from considering any plan submitted by the Lins for at least one year after the June 8 date of the referendum. City Attorney Jonathan Lowell is reviewing the Elections Code law to determine if it applies to this new 10-lot development plan, which appears to be unrelated to the Oak Grove plan that the referendum rejected.

Dolan said the law would not prevent someone from submitting another plan, even if it is similar to the one rejected, but would block the city from acting on the proposal before one year had passed.

However, he added, the question is moot since it's expected planners and others on the plan review staff won't complete their work before June 9, at the earliest.

Others on the city staff also indicated that the Lins' new plan would not be affected by the stringent hillside development rules voters approved two years ago as part of Measures PP and QQ. Those apply to developments on less than 10 acres only.

Inderbitzen said that if the Lins' new plan wins final approval, that will end development on their land holdings in Pleasanton. The family has considerable property in Dublin and other parts of the Tri-Valley with projects awaiting approval and others forthcoming.

The Lins' hillside acreage at one time included Kottinger Ranch, a site they sold to a developer who built the homes there. Later, they proposed an 18-hole public golf course and 98 homes on the 576 acres of the remaining property that they owned. That plan was rejected by voters in an earlier referendum.

The most recent Oak Grove plan surfaced later as a 98-home development without a golf course. In negotiations with city officials and staff, as well as civic organizations and the board of directors of the Kottinger Ranch Homeowners Association, the number of homes was whittled down to 51 with an agreement that the 497 adjoining acres of the Lins' property would be given free of charge to the city of Pleasanton for trails, public parks, equestrian pathways and open space.

It was that proposal that the City Council approved in a 4-1 vote in late 2007, with only Councilwoman Cindy McGovern opposed.

Ayala then formed the "Save Pleasanton's Hills" citizens' coalition and during the Thanksgiving holiday period in 2007 obtained enough signatures to force a referendum to reverse the council's decision.

Lawsuits by the Lins and countersuits by the citizens' coalition followed, with Ayala's group finally prevailing. The council then took up the issue again and made its decision to let the voters decide the outcome.


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