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Pleasanton's bid to dismiss housing cap lawsuit rejected

Original post made on Sep 4, 2009

An Alameda County Superior Court judge has rejected a bid by the city of Pleasanton to dismiss legal challenges by an affordable housing coalition and the state of California to the city's 1996 voter-mandated housing cap.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 4, 2009, 12:00 AM

Comments (11)

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Posted by Ken McNees
a resident of Valley View Elementary School
on Sep 4, 2009 at 11:47 pm

Pleasanton voters voted to restrict new housing to keep Pleasanton from turning into a traffic nightmere and maintain a safe community.

High density housing brings in a lot more people in a small area. With them come their cars. Vineyard avenue is a good example. The street is lined with apartments, and condo's. The people that live there have more cars than car parking places. The overflow cars line Vineyard and other streets.

Affordable housing in Pleasanton? This is an oxy-moron statement about Pleasanton. Land value alone pretty much rules out low cost homes or apartments much less when you add construction costs on top of that.

Last of all, low cost housing brings in low class people prone to crime. I have had a few problems from some of the trash coming out of the drug infested apartments off Vineyard Ave. with property theft and car breakins. For the most part, Pleasanton is a safe place to live simply due to the caliber of people that live here and the very high diligence of our Pleasanton Police Department.

If Attorney General Jerry (Moonbeam) Brown wants affordable housing, let him start in Black Hawk or Ruby Hills.

Ken McNees

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Posted by TSB
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 7, 2009 at 10:04 am

Some of you arguments are gross genralizations and contain inhereent contradictions. First of all, the largest cause of traffic is lack of workforce housing (affordable housing), close to job centers. This means that many of the nurses, teachers, public servants that server the Pleasanton community commute from the Central Valley because they can not find housing in Pleasanton.

Secondly the definition of affordable housing can not be restricted to poverty levels. Affordability measured by amount of gross income an individual or family allocates to housing. The generally accepted standard is 30 percent. This means that a teacher at Valley View Elementary School that makes $60,000 per year spends $18,000 per year or $1,500 per month on a mortgage or rent. As we both know this is a longshot in Pleasanton.

I also think it is important that all cities in the Tri-Valley do their share to build a mixture of housing. Why should Dublin pick up the slack because Pleasanton lives in a glass bubble.

Lastly, traffic is a fact of life and a by product of prosperity. Want to get away from traffic, move to Montana.

I am so tired of NIMBYS complaining about traffic, Stoneridge drive, housing developments etc. Public policy for the greater population should not be dictated by a few disgruntled, narrow minded, and ininformed residents. Think the greatest good for the greatest number.

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Posted by Nosy Neighbors
a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Sep 7, 2009 at 9:51 pm

TSB, you sir have no say in this matter & in my opinion, are way off base. The citizens of Pleasanton voted (in a vast majority btw)to put scaled restrictions to the level of growth for not just "affordable housing" but to scale it's entire housing & internal growth. We do not have lands in which we can annex for our use & this issue in many other cottage-like communities around the Bay Area (anywhere on the Peninsula, Danville, the La-Mor-Inda triangle, etc.) this has NEVER been a source of contention.

What you have in the Urban Habitat folks & their complicit troll Jerry Brown is a small, bitter, litigious group of individuals bent on using class envy & the court system to usurp the will of a majority of voters to alter the landscape of our community to fit their political & social desires. The worst part of this is that they probably will find someone in the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to side with their views & this will end up costing the City of Pleasanton untold amounts of money in legal fees to fight it to produce what? An ungodly eyesore like that hideous monstrosity of town-home/codo/apartment hell that lies just to the north of Camino Tassajara in Dublin?! No effing way sir, not in my town, we will fight you & every shady, do-gooder lawyer that you sick on us.

At some point in time the voice, the will & the majority of public opinion is going to trounce the bitching & moaning of those small yet annoying folk who seek to negate our legally & unanimously voted upon legislation. Your days are numbered.

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Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Sep 8, 2009 at 1:54 am

Dear Nosy Neighbor and Ken -

The Courts and the Attorney General have probably been reading your posts and feeling like heros!

Just because a majority of residents voted for a housing rule that excludes families making less than $80,000 from living in Pleasanton, that doesn't make it legal. These discriminatory housing policies have resulted in well over 50% of our workforce needing to commute from outside the Tri-Valley, which causes air pollution and traffic in other communities. There are state and federal laws to protect citizens from being effectively barred from living in communities where they work, and to prevent the resulting air pollution from their forced commute.

Our city is well known throughout the state for having a feisty majority of residents who aren't afraid to thumb their nose at these laws and say, as you do, "no effing way" to the people who work here, to our Tri-Valley neighbors like TSB who get all our traffic and air pollution, to the courts, the Attorney General, and anyone else who objects to Pleasanton's majority opinion. Many residents don't agree with the majority, and have questioned the legality of their actions. However, as a minority we don't have much pull, and usually are told we should go pursue the cause of social justice in some other town.

At one time in the not too distant past, the "small and annoying" people in Pleasanton produced some very nice affordable housing where very nice people live to this day. But we haven't kept up with the need created by our commercial growth. Soon after voters passed the cap there was a rush to use up the numbers with high end housing, and affordability fell by the wayside. Just to make sure it wouldn't come back, residents voted to reaffirm the cap AFTER we were sued.

So thanks to a majority of voters and the Town Square forum, the courts probably know pretty well what they are up against here in Pleasanton. From what you're saying, if they do lay down the law on the cap, they'd better stick around to enforce it because they won't get any cooperation from you or the majority of Pleasanton residents. On this point, the minority concurs!

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Posted by Mrs. G. P. Keller
a resident of Birdland
on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:07 am

When we will ever realize that we just can’t have it both ways? Wasn’t it just a few months ago that there was this uproar in regards to Measure G & that if we didn’t pass it our property values would tumble & we would be facing a near collapse of our real estate market. It’s probably too early to tell if it’s an affect of the general economic & real estate downturn or the more specific symptoms of our under-funded school district but nonetheless, our property values & housing prices have been in a virtual state of free fall for almost two years now & are showing little signs of recovery.

I just fail to understand the timing of this groups action in these tough economic times. Real estate & rental property has never been more affordable within the City o Pleasanton & since we have lived here (almost 21 years now) we are seeing homes in our neighborhood selling for pre-1995 prices. While I feel for the workers, service employees & teachers that so proudly serve this city, the statement that they should be entitled to live in the town that they work in is simply preposterous. Do teachers, firefighters & civil servants in Menlo Park, Atherton, Burlingame or Hillsborough HAVE to live in those towns? How about Danville, Lafayette, Alamo or Orinda? A quick glimpse at a map of the Bay Area will quickly give you an immediate, if not right next door community where the low-income & rental property is both prevalent & plentiful. In this case yes, poor old Dublin seems to be the go-to community for affordable housing & for a good reason. They have land. Lots of land. The Windermere development alone has built over 20,000 single family homes rental units & we’re not talking a 45-60 minute commute from the central valley, we’re talking about 10-15 minutes to almost anywhere in P-Town.

I believe what irks most of the residents is that this whole mantra of we are being elitists, we have no empathy for the workers, we want to shelter ourselves in our little cocoon of a community & that we are simply being selfish. THAT line of reasoning does indeed to me wreak of trying to sell the class envy line to those affected & that’s where I call foul play & smell a (not so) hidden agenda by this group finally surfacing.

I wish I could live in Los Altos Hills & have my husband be closer to his work too but…

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Posted by Pleasanton Parent
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Sep 8, 2009 at 11:51 am

What's the penalty?

I'm more than happy to pay it in order to grow our community in the way our community has elected to grow it.

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Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Sep 8, 2009 at 3:01 pm

Dear Mrs. Keller -

I would like to assure you that no one unsavory is singling out Pleasanton unfairly. I refer you to the following Association of Bay Area Governments table at:
Web Link

You will note that Pleasanton has one of the highest number of jobs to available housing ratios in the 9 county Bay Area. But I think what really made Pleasanton a target for legal action is that, as you can see, we are the ONLY city with plans (just recently adopted by the City Council) to make a bad situation even worse by adding even more jobs while limiting housing. Also look at the statistics for other cities you mention. They are all much more in balance than Pleasanton, and most are improving their ratios even though they are not necessarily job centers like we are. Commute information is available from the US Census Bureau, and shows a worsening trend for Pleasanton in terms of the number of commuters and the length of their commute.

Interestingly, Pleasanton's greatest period of economic prosperity and rising real estate values coincided with the period when we built the most affordable housing for lower income workers and seniors. Before 2001, Pleasanton was actually a statewide leader in developing programs and legislation to ensure cities' ability to provide workforce and senior housing. Today the other cities you mention appear to be following the lead we set more than a decade ago. In accordance with California law, they actually are building more housing in proportion to the jobs they are creating. They don't have to build more than they need for their workforce and residents. They wouldn't anyway because, with California's property tax limitations, residential development doesn't pay for itself the way commercial development does. So they can't, won't, and shouldn't have to, pick up our housing slack any more than we should have to pick up theirs. We should all just do our part.

That's really what the housing law and the housing lawsuit are all about. Efforts by the California Department of Housing and Community Development, concerned Pleasanton residents and, finally, Public Advocates, to bring Pleasanton into compliance with the law have been going on for over 5 years.

Other cities follow the law, even though some of their residents (maybe even a majority) don't support affordable housing. Pleasanton residents have just taken their objections one step beyond the pale by writing and passing a different law they like better. Fortunately or unfortunately, depending on your point of view, cities cannot enact laws that contradict state and federal laws, especially if they result in negative impacts and discrimination against entire categories of citizens. In the case of the housing cap, it has been implemented in a way that prevents households earning the median income (in Alameda County) living in Pleasanton.

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Posted by Becky Dennis
a resident of Foxborough Estates
on Sep 8, 2009 at 3:12 pm

Hi, Pleasanton Parent-

If it is determined that Pleasanton will not comply with California Housing law, I imagine the Court would step in to plan and build the housing necessary to bring us into compliance. That's my guess.

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Posted by Julie H.
a resident of Del Prado
on Sep 8, 2009 at 3:18 pm

Maybe I'm a little slow for a Monday (oops, wait it's Tuesday, see what I mean) so hopefully somebody can help me out.

As Becky states, "There are state and federal laws to protect citizens from being effectively barred from living in communities where they work..."

Hogwash! That would have to pertain to all existing rental & real estate property & would need to collusion of landlords, the real estate industry, private sellers & city officials to in any way "bar" people from living in this or any community.

Mrs. Keller points out in a nutshell, that every community has somebody that wishes that they could live there. Antioch folks wish they could afford to live in Concord, in turn the Concordians wish they could live in Lafayette, the Lafayettians probably wish they could call Alamo their home & so forth. (until you talk about Mt. House, they just hope for a Trader Joes or Cheesecake Factory)

Now I'm a total exception to this rule because I live in SF & commute to Pleasanton every day (BART baby!) but that is MY choice & has no economic bearing whatsoever. I love San Francisco, the various neighborhoods, the culture, the eclectic nature of the people, thae fact that the town doesn't shut down @ 11:00, everything. This whole "you have to make housing affordable for me because I live here" attitude is just ridiculous & ultimately destructive to the people that choose to live out here.

Besides, anytime Jerry Brown gets involved in a "cause" It makes me nervous because I just know that SOMEBODY is going to get thrown under the bus.

Peace out you suburbanites, I've got to make the 3:57 train back to the sanity of San Francisco.

Never thought you'd hear that huh?

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Posted by Rae
a resident of Mohr Park
on Sep 8, 2009 at 4:12 pm

Let me get this straight.

The purpose of this lawsuit is to "protect citizens from being effectively barred from living in communities where they work". Yet, this suit was initiated in 2006 on behalf of Pleasanton resident, Sandra DeGregorio and Urban Habitat.

So, we have a Pleasanton resident involved in a lawsuit against Pleasanton saying she was economically barred from living here? What's wrong with this picture? Am I missing something?

Oh, I understand Urban Habitat. "Environmental and social justice campaigns" seem to be their thing. But when the court system allows a litigant to take up court time with what seems to be a false premise, something is very skewed.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Sep 8, 2009 at 4:28 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

California has laws that basically require municipalities to provide adequate housing for all California residents. It isn't hogwash. Pleasanton, with its hard-limit housing cap, is providing a prime example for why the State has these laws. One can chose to live and work where they do, but imagine now if all communities were to have hard-limit housing caps. Suddenly you'd feel as if you didn't have very many choices in where you live anymore.

To me the joke is that somehow little ol' Pleasanton is causing all this traffic and, by extension, pollution because of this. How about the role the State has in providing for (and funding) an adequate transportation infrastructure in order to provide for adequate housing for all California residents? Pleasanton certainly has little say in providing for adequate regional transportation (widening freeways, building BART extensions, etc.) It's like, why have laws requiring cities to come up with adequate numbers of housing units when you don't fund the corresponding infrastructure improvements that need to also take place in order to relieve regional traffic and pollution?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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