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Pleasanton officials agree to extend appellate court hearing on developer's lawsuit

Case now moves into 2012 for consideration as election campaigns get under way

Pleasanton's city attorney and outside legal counsel acknowledged Monday night that they have agreed with a developer's legal team to extend the deadline for arguments before the state Court of Appeal in a lawsuit the developer is pressing against the city.

The legal arguments were scheduled to start Oct. 11, but now are likely to begin after the first of the year, City Attorney Jonathan Lowell told the City Council at a special meeting Monday night.

The extension, suggested by attorneys for Frederic and Jennifer Lins, who own 552 acres in the city's southeast hills where they are seeking permits for a housing development called Oak Grove, will give both sides more time to prepare legal briefs. The Lins are asking the appellate court to overturn a judgment in the Alameda County Superior Court against their claim that a development agreement once-signed by City Manager Nelson Fialho should allow them to build 51-homes on the property they have owned since the 1970s.

Also at Monday night's meeting was Amrit Kulkarni, an attorney with the firm of Meyers/Nave, who has been hired by Pleasanton as outside counsel to argue against the Lins' appeal.

The extension means that the three-judge Court of Appeal won't start deliberating on the arguments in support of the appeal by the Lins and against granting the appeal by Kulkarni and his Pleasanton-financed legal team until well into 2012 with a decision likely in May next year.

That will move the Oak Grove debate into the start of a political campaign year when the mayor's post and two seats on the City Council will be open. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman and council members Cindy McGovern and Matt Sullivan are termed out next November.

Along with the Court of Appeal delay, city officials said that they are bound by law to continue processing another proposal by the Lins to build 10 custom homes on the 552-acre site. That process, which will require an environmental impact review, could take six months of planning staff work to reach the Planning Commission and finally the City Council for consideration.

Given the timeline spelled out Monday night by Lowell, it's unclear which action, the court's decision on the Lins' appeal in the case of the 51-home project or the city's final consideration of their 10-home plan, would be finalized first.

Monday night's council meeting was initially scheduled to give the public an opportunity to comment on a proposal by the Lins to delay court actions against the city while its planning staff processed their bid for the 10-home project, which was seen as a substitute for the 51-home development.

But the Lins took that offer off the table before the meeting after a citizens' group head by former Councilwoman Kay Ayala protested against any agreement with developers who were in litigation against the city.

Even so, Ayala and others in support of her efforts, voiced their opposition to an apparent agreement by Lowell and the city's outside counsel Kulkarni to delay the Oct. 11 hearing before the Court of Appeal.

"Theirs (the Lins) is a frivolous lawsuit," Ayala said. "They're going to lose. Why would you give the Lins more time?"

"What is the rationale for the city8 assisting this developer on an extension of the lawsuit?" she asked, without getting an answer from Lowell or the City Council.


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Posted by Laugh to bank?
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2011 at 11:17 am

See the chain of comments on this topic.

Web Link

Why do they keep trying to negotiate with a bully?
You can't bargain with a terrorist, either.
And if you do, it just encourages more of the same.

Will it ever end?

Like this comment
Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 4, 2011 at 11:36 am

Stacey is a registered user.

After following all these lawsuits over the years, deadline extensions seem to be nothing novel or unexpected, but rather the normal way lawyers conduct their business with the courts.

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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Oct 4, 2011 at 11:38 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Contrary to this article, I think Lowell _did_ give an answer on what the rationale is for extending the deadline.

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Posted by follow the money
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Oct 4, 2011 at 11:42 am

The reason, "follow the money".

James Tong who is the developer for the Lin's is a big campaign contributor. He has given so much that he has to do special filings with the state FPPC.

The politicians in our city that are running for Mayor or Assembly (Hosterman, Cook-Callio, Thorne) want to appease Tong so they can receive money (directly or indirectly).

Like this comment
Posted by Sue Happy
a resident of Downtown
on Oct 4, 2011 at 2:55 pm

This must be an agenda of someone with something to gain. This one project can not be significant to foreign investors. Who are their local representatives? Where is the momentum behind this campaign against Pleasanton really coming from? Is Mr. Inderbitzen, the lawyer, responsible for this attack on our city or is it James Tong? Why was James Tong an honored guest at a past mayors dinner? Is this issue influenced by campaign contributions?

It is not reasonable to accommodate the interests of anyone who is actively and repeatedly suing our City. Citizens who care about the quality of life in Pleasanton should trump the interests of outside investors.

Like this comment
Posted by franco
a resident of Vineyard Hills
on Oct 5, 2011 at 8:48 am

franco is a registered user.

I don't understand the reported comment by the city attorney that legal arguments are not likely to begin after the first of the year. The appellate court website's docket for this case shows that the last extension of time was made last Wednesday and granted on Thursday with the notation that no further extensions of time contemplated. This activity must be the extension mentioned in this article. The opening brief is now due October 25. That's not after the first of the year. Of course, oral legal arguments would not happen until next year. Still, the lawsuit is going forward.

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