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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Lund Ranch opponents call in paid help

Uploaded: Jan 21, 2016

Neighborhood traffic battles have taken a new twist in the signature-gathering drive against the City Council’s approval of Lund Ranch II.
The council voted 3-1 to approve 43 homes instead of more than 100 that were proposed originally. The approval also includes 177 acres of open space with the homes clustered on the remainder of the 195-acre parcel.
Residents living in Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek have mounted the referendum drive because the majority of the traffic from the new homes will run through their neighborhood. Of course, that has been the plan since both developments were approved and original homebuyers signed acknowledgements of those plans.
The city staff and the council divided the traffic so some will run through Ventana Hills where Independence Drive currently is stubbed out, with the majority going through the two developments off Sycamore Road.
The difference, this time, is that instead of mounting a drive using their own time and recruiting volunteers, the wealthier folks simply have hired a professional signature-gathering firm that has crafted a message that some have labelled as misleading with its reference to Measure PP. The measure, drafted by citizens to halt or limit development on hillsides, was interpreted by the council with its decision that roads are not structures.
What’s notable to me is that former city councilwoman Kay Ayala, one of the authors of Measure PP, has written to publicly affirm the council’s decision. That’s an opinion that residents should weigh when deciding whether to sign the petitions.
The professional firm is the first time in my memory that a citizens’ group has paid for that type of help. There have been some developers who have enlisted professional firms to help with strategy and outreach against referendum drives, but this is a new one for Pleasanton—probably representative of the type of wealth that is clustered in some neighborhoods.
Ironically, Allen Roberts, who is serving as spokesman for the anti-Lund Ranch group doesn’t have an immediate traffic stake in the battle. He lives in a gated community built on a ridgeline that would not be permitted under Measure PP. The same goes for many other homes, particularly on the smaller eastside hills.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by Resident of Ventana Hills, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 9:24 am


Your comments are very cogent.

Our elected leadership worked with all four neighborhoods involved (Ventana Hills, Mission Hills, Sycamore Heights, and Bridle Creek) to help reach an acceptable solution. It's called compromise.

NONE of the proposed 43 homes would be permitted to be built on hillsides or ridges--NONE.

Additionally, if the project were reduced to 10 homes, under Measure PP, as Councilmember Karla Brown has suggested, all of those 10 homes, ironically, could then be built on hillsides or ridges.

Also, if the project was reduced to only 10 homes, what some may not know is that the developer could then sue the City of Pleasanton for what's known as a "takings." What that means is the developer could sue for the value of the number of homes being reduced as an unfair 'taking' of their property rights.

A lawsuit would not only cost the City quite a bit of money to defend against, losing that lawsuit would make the City liable for who knows how many millions of City taxpayer dollars.

If the project was completely rejected, as Councilmember Karla Brown has also suggested, well, it's still not over. The builder, Greenbriar Homes, can then come back with yet another proposal, dragging this matter out for who knows how many more years to come, at additional time and expense for the City.

The Mayor and City Council knew ALL of this before reaching a fair compromise to try to best resolve the matter for all.

Unfortunately, two of the neighborhoods involved, Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek, have refused to accept ANY compromise. They have never offered one of their own, either--ever. For example, they could have allowed access to some of the homes via land owned by the Sycamore Heights HOA, something also suggested by City Councilmember Karla Brown--they refused to consider it, rejecting that as well.

The residents of Ventana Hills and Mission Hills not only offered a compromise during the long debate(s) on this project, they've also accepted the compromise decision the Mayor and City Council approved on January 5th.

Unfortunately, the Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek neighborhoods, plus Allen Roberts, are banking on registered voters in Pleasanton to ignore the long history and all of the facts regarding the Lund Ranch II project in order to satisfy what amounts to pure NIMBYism, all under the guise of 'protecting Measure PP.' It's a smokescreen.

Equally ironic regarding this matter is that Councilmember Karla Brown, a supporter of the referendum petition drive, after voting against the compromise decision, lives in Kottinger Ranch, a vast community of some of the most expensive homes in Pleasanton, with many built on ridgelines that would not be permitted under Measure PP.

The Mayor and City Council tried everything they could within reason to strike a fair resolution for the four neighborhoods involved, and they provided a fair compromise.

At the very least, Pleasanton voters should check/review the January 5th, 2016 City Council meeting minutes. They should also check the many previous City Council and Planning Commission meeting minutes regarding Lund Ranch II (aka PUD-25).

Posted by Chris Markle, a resident of Sycamore Heights,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:48 pm

If we the people of Pleasanton let our city council decide on a case-by-case basic how to apply measure PP to future developments, like they are trying to do in this case by allowing a road and associated structures like retaining walls to be built on a greater-then-25%-slope, then who knows what they'll decide to do to appease the people that paid to put them in office when they get to approve Foley Ranch, Sportano, and other projects in the hills.

I for one assumed that when we (and 60% of our neighbors) voted for PP in 2008, that we were voting for NO roads, structures or anything on our precious slopes. This referendum will let the Pleasanton voters again state their specific wishes so that this time maybe the council gets the message.

What's the harm in letting the citizens weigh in on this issue?

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 5:19 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

The reality!

I have hiked, walked and run all over the Pleasanton Ridge.
There are all sorts of roadways on the ridge where I have hiked, walked and run.

These roadways are currently used by the East Parks Service, Alameda County Fire, and other agencies.

When the developers are ready to develop they will simply improve the roads that are there. They will not be building new roads, thus bypassing PP and all other measure that will come along.

Posted by Trina, a resident of Mission Park,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 8:37 pm

To Chris: . This is ALL ABOUT you NOT wanting traffic though your neighborhood. End of story

Posted by Bill Brasky, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 9:46 pm

Bill Brasky is a registered user.


Thanks for the unbiased assessment. After attending as many of the planning session as I could I believed both sides would hold their noses and go with council's final decision. Ironically, I was going to shake the hands of the main players of Bridle and Sycamore heights for sticking up for their neighborhoods, now I almost feel contempt for them.

Posted by JC, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood,
on Jan 22, 2016 at 11:12 am

Can't wait to see this development get going. I'm very interested in buying one of there homes!

Posted by Ed Dantzig, a resident of Carriage Gardens,
on Jan 23, 2016 at 12:50 pm

First, Mr. Austin says "they(THE DEVELOPERS) will simply improve roads that are there". Where is that required of the developers?

Second, if roads and infrastructure are not covered under PP, was it not understood by those affirmative voters who approved PP that nothing human made, would mare our hillsides?

Third, will the precedent of this decision allow any "road" the council approves to be two or three or more lanes, on any Pleasanton slope of 25% or more, going to Livermore or Hayward or within the city?

I don't live in either of these contesting neighborhoods, but as a long time Pleasanton resident, I have questions and I don't see answers being offered.

Oh, and Tim Hunt needs to stop not so subtle name calling, trying to divide us into "Wealthier", "Gated community" and "Wealth that is clustered", from the rest of us "not as fortunate" Pleasanton residents.

Let's stick to the issues.

Posted by Michael Austin, a resident of Pleasanton Meadows,
on Jan 23, 2016 at 4:35 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

How about this issue?

2010 census population of Pleasanton was 70,825.
2014 estimated population of Pleasanton was 77,682.
That is an influx of 1,714 new comers every year.
That is on pace for population of Pleasanton in year 2020 to be 87,966.
By year 2030 the population is currently on pace to be 105,106, a 25% population increase over the next fourteen years.

There is nowhere near that number of new homes currently under construction, or nowhere near that number of new homes projected for construction, or where they will be constructed.

The ridge land not owned by the East Bay Parks Department will be developed. The EBPD may be forced to surrender land for development in fifteen years.

Posted by Bill Brasky, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School,
on Jan 28, 2016 at 3:15 am

Bill Brasky is a registered user.

Is anything man made a structure? Definition of a structure- the arrangement of and relations between the parts or elements of something complex. A bridge yes and a road hmmm. I wonder what a fire department would call it if this road was on fire since they use the term "structure" fire every day.

When a building or dwelling regardless of its use (occupancy type) is on fire, FD calls it a "working" structure fire. A bridge on fire, FD calls it a working "structure" fire. Grass field or mountain side is on fire "brush" fire.
Trash on a road FD would call it a "rubbish" or "trash" fire. They would no way call the road being being built to access one of the sections of LUND II a structure fire.

Just because a road is man made does not make it a structure

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