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Planning Commissioner Fox to decide this week on mayor's race

Original post made on Aug 4, 2008

Planning Commissioner Anne Fox said she is considering challenging Mayor Jennifer Hosterman for the city's top elective post, to bring back slow-growth policies that would support more affordable and "reasonably-sized" homes as Pleasanton moves forward towards build-out.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Monday, August 4, 2008, 9:00 AM

Comments (18)

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Posted by westsider
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 4, 2008 at 11:23 am

Wow, Ms. fox was absolutely horrible at running Planning Commission meetings. One can only imagine what havoc she'd raise if she ran a City Council meeting the same way. Hello 3:00 am adjournments!

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Posted by Greg
a resident of Bordeaux Estates
on Aug 4, 2008 at 11:56 am

I hope I am wrong but the previous post sounds like Vinelander.
Planning commission meetings are not televised. Who other than our mayor, who tried to have Ms. Fox removed from the commission for challenging her, would make such an accusation.
I hope I am wrong in thinking that Ms. Hosterman is anonymously bashing every potential challenger.

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Posted by westsider
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 4, 2008 at 12:07 pm

Hey Greg -- Planning Commission meetings are not held in secret. There are actually people other than the Mayor who follow them. And saying that someone does a horrible job at something is not 'bashing.' In this case, its simply the truth.

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Posted by westenderaswell
a resident of Highland Oaks
on Aug 4, 2008 at 5:18 pm

To westender: I guess you didn't like Trish Maas either when she was on the planning commission. Planning commission meetings run late. It's the nature of them. It seems like they always take time as they did 7 years ago (see the "Why Midnight?" editorial Web Link ).

If you want to go to a meeting that lasts 30 minutes or less, you can always go to a parks commission meeting. Or maybe you are familiar with them already.

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Posted by Long Meetings = Part of the Deal
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2008 at 6:50 pm

Ms. Fox, like Tom Pico - let all issues be dicussed during meetings, actually HEARD and LISTENED to petitioners, and made sure all items were fully reviewed before decisions were made. The process means late meetings. Get over it.

We all know how Ms. Hosterman runs City Council meetings - not like Tom nor like Ms. Fox.

That pesky "mob" actually does have a voice - thank you Ms. Fox for listening!

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 4, 2008 at 7:50 pm

I'm not familiar with the Planning Commission meetings, but it is a well worn process in many governments to have a time limit per speaker on public speaking. That is why students are taught to make speeches in English classes with a time limit, so that they are able to prepare speeches that can get their message across succinctly. I agree that 3 minutes is somewhat too short. Five minutes is much more comfortable. A quick Google search shows some places give up to 15 minutes to speakers.

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Posted by Sue
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 4, 2008 at 8:51 pm

I think Anne Fox is great! Back when the city was supporting bulldozing the nursing home lawn on Neal Street to build, yes, mansions, of course, and the neighborhood was told time and time again by City Hall that there was no deal that the lawn should remain open space, she dug through all the city records to find out that it was supposed to remain open space.

I remember seeing the foot high stack of paper she dug out of the vaults---ones that City Hall for some reason could not find---that said open space was permanent. "So would you like me to start at 1965 and go to 1974 or 1974 and go backwards? Or would you like the Reader's Digest version with the old Independent and Herald articles?"

You have to hand it to Anne Fox. If the city is trying to hide something or snow the elected officials and residents, she'll find it! She is sort of the Erin Brokovich of the Planning Commission---she digs up the details when the city is hiding something. And at the meeting she chaired I attended, she gave all speakers from the public 5 minutes, by the way. The vote...5-0 denial. The nursing home lawn remains!

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Posted by iwastheretoo
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 4, 2008 at 9:47 pm

And you can bet the existing Mayor will not have the courage to reappoint her either. They don't like it when Ann digs up the truth and gets it out in black and white. It has happened in more than one time.

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Posted by anonymous
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 4, 2008 at 10:55 pm

Commissioners have term limits too

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Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:49 am

I can't think of a single person in city government that has caused more ridiculous arguments and overall divisiveness than Anne Fox. The fact that she thinks she even has a chance for mayor is hilarious.

Though, I'm actually looking forward to her running so she can see just how few people actually support her.

Using Kimberly Commons as an example adds more humor to the fray. The houses are 1,200 square feet with no backyard and are listed at $849,000. Yet she says "normal" people will be living in them. She obviously has *no* idea what is "normal" and should not only leave the Planning Commission but not have a prayer as mayor.

Thanks PW. Only "The Onion" has more ridiculous fiction.

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Posted by Timothy T
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 5, 2008 at 8:58 am

Let me correct myself. Those houses are now selling for $880,000. What "normal" people will be buying this? Firefighters? Teachers? IT Workers?

Please stop doing "normal" people favors. You're not helping.

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Posted by Jim
a resident of Ironwood
on Aug 5, 2008 at 11:04 am

I'd vote for Fox. She consistently supports neighborhoods, voted no for Home Depot and voted no for those Ironwood houses next to the firing range.

Whenver I hear the word 'divisiveness,' I just know that this sounds like politician-speak or a political consultant-speak. Maybe Tim can issue a press release like "Howard Dean Calls for an End of Divisiveness" or something. Here, you can use this as a sample. Web Link

Maybe a *normal* person like Fremont teacher Cheryl Cook-Kallio will buy one of the Kimberly Common units. She can add it to her collection of houses which already include her Pleasanton residence and her vacation home in Hawaii.

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Posted by Gary
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2008 at 11:33 am

Anytime someone tries to shame a person for challenging the status quo it gets my interest.

I want to know more about Ann Fox. If she is asking good questions and has good ideas I will support her.

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Posted by Marge
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 5, 2008 at 12:46 pm

If you want somebody who just accepts what the city staff tells them, then you do not want to support Anne. However, if you like somebody who questions, does research, and talks with a lot of people before making a decision, then you probably will like Anne. Whether you agree or disagree with all her decisions, she is well informed and does the most research of anybody on the commission. Hands down.

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Posted by Bill
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 5, 2008 at 2:54 pm

I'll bet that with widening the bernal bridge near the fire station and McDonalds, the city is trying to get home depot put back at the corner of stanley and valley.

During the city home depot saga when the city hall-produced report was filled with lies, including the $1 million dollars of bogus revenue, I called Ann. She had at least 6 different home depot reports prepared from other cities, including a fiscal analysis from napa showing how awful a home depot in town would have on local businesses, including facts that completely disagreed with the city-produced report. She told me that she had asked the planning director to have these distributed to the planning commission during the planning commission hearings on home depot, but she said he refused saying the commissioners 'lacked bandwidth and it would overwhelm them because they can't absorb a lot of information.' She said that was not true and that she felt the city was trying to get this project through at all costs, for some unknown reason. She also told me that the best thing she had ever learned about being a planning commissioner was from a man named gary in the Shadow Cliffs neighborhood during the waterpark project. He had showed her and then commissioner matt sullivan how to go to other cities, get their data on similar businesses, in order to see if what the P-town reports contained in them was actually true.

All I can say is that as a business owner for a local business that would have been devastated by home depot, when the chamber of commerce let me down by pushing for this project, Ann did not let me down. All of those documents she had squirreled away were the ones the neighbors and businesses used as ammo to hammer at the city council after they approved the project. I thank Ann for that and Gary from the shadow cliffs neighborhood. Otherwise, home depot would be at that corner now and my business would probably be shutting down.

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Posted by Mary
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 5, 2008 at 9:22 pm

I'll bet Hosterman has loathed Anne Fox since the city zoned a house owned by senior citizens as a park, yes a PARK, then Fox had the audacity to try to sort out the mess and get it fixed. Try selling your house if it is zoned as a park. Fox helps citizens fight city hall when bureacratic idiocy associated with our esteemed govt does stupid things. Fox fights for citizens whereas Hosterman fights with citizens.


Web Link

Secret meetings, eminent domain sour city's image

Some call it a Catch-22 situation. Others say it's a bureaucratic nightmare that Janice and Gary Duclair have found themselves in as they try to sell their house at 4254 Vervais Ave. After living there since 1977, and with their children now grown, they have moved to Manteca and asked local Realtor Mike Carey to sell the house. Located in a commercially zoned area, or so he thought, since the Duclairs moved there, he had an offer of $850,000 from a buyer who wanted to use the house for a business venture. But City Hall turned him down when he sought assurances the buyer could get a business permit. It seems that unbeknownst to the Duclairs or almost anyone else in Pleasanton, the City Council had rezoned the land for a park. Although the Duclairs could sell their house as a residential property as a nonconforming use on the newly rezoned parkland, businesses aren't permitted. As Carey and the Duclairs found, no one was interested, especially with the long-range plan by the city to tear the house down when funds for a park become available.
We're indebted to Planning Commissioner Anne Fox for her hours of detailed research to investigate what happened - how the city rezoned the Duclairs' property without telling them. She calls it an act of eminent domain. In a seven-page letter sent Jan. 26 to City Manager Nelson Fialho, she details the confusion, citing bungled task force decisions and secret meetings that rezoned the Duclairs' property without notice. It stemmed from the council's approval of a new Downtown Specific Plan after a two-year study by two task forces. While addressing downtown parking and housing issues, it also created a new Vervais Park at the northeast side of the Main Street Bridge to provide a better looking gateway to downtown. But none of the scores of task force members or members of the Planning Commission and City Council who later approved the new specific plan, apparently ever drove down the block-long Vervais Street to see the houses, like the Duclairs'.

Fox's research shows no one knew anyone lived on the street. And why would they? The Municipal Code, even today, still assumes that Del Valle Parkway will become a four-lane thoroughfare from Hopyard to Stanley, a 1970s plan that called for wiping out Vervais and properties along the north side of the Arroyo del Valle. That plan was abandoned years ago. The city's current General Plan map of the area that Fox viewed at the Planning Department's front desk is also out of date with what's actually there. But based on the new specific plan, the city Housing Commission ordered the house next door to the Duclairs at 4242 Vervais torn down. Until the Pleasanton Weekly sought information about that action, the Planning Department didn't know the house had been demolished. There's even confusion over just what the park would be if it's ever built. Some documents call it Vervais Park, others Main Street Green and another Arroyo Green.

What's just as disturbing to Fox has been the lackadaisical attitude of officials toward helping the Duclairs. No one wants to buy their house as a residence to use while awaiting a wrecker's ball, and the city also refuses to consider a special use permit to allow a business on property they rezoned for a park. The Duclairs have offered to sell their property to the city of Pleasanton at an appraised market value. In accordance with eminent domain procedures, but in closed door meetings with no records made of those discussions, council members have said no. According to City Attorney Michael Roush, who was there, the undisclosed asking price by the Duclairs was too high.

This doesn't make sense in a city that prides itself as a Community of Character that shows responsibility in its dealings with residents. Fox, in her letter to Fialho, says the city should allow the Duclairs to sell their property for commercial use, a use no different from preschool and day care centers the city, itself, operates in public parks. Or it should take action to reverse the rezoning decision by amending the Downtown Specific Plan and the General Plan. Fox says that would be a "responsible" action. We agree. >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 5, 2008 at 10:19 pm

I remember that. Does anyone know what the outcome was?

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Posted by Someone who has been to a planning commission meeting
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2009 at 4:34 pm

As someone who has actually attended the Planning Commission hearings, let me tell you how ridiculous the idea is for Anne Fox to run for any public office. She represents the epitome of government bureaucracy. Go to any planning commssion meeting and you will see what I mean. I wish she would have run for mayor, so we can see how miserably she would be defeated.

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