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News


A short meeting but lots of action at Pleasanton Council meeting

Downtown historic home, backyard lot rezoned for business, housing

In a super-short 48-minute-long meeting Tuesday night, the Pleasanton City Council rezoned downtown site for combined residential and commercial uses, heard an update on the city's continued water conservation efforts and still squeezed in 11 public comments, mostly about efforts to call for a referendum to overturn its recent approval of a housing development on Lund Ranch II.

In its major action, the council voted unanimously to allow developer Financial Investors to convert an historic family residence at 377 St. Mary St. for a proposed business that could include a small restaurant, ice cream shop, coffeehouse and a bakery.

The area in front of the home and possibly along its Peters Avenue side would be rebuilt as an outdoor public patio.

Fireside Investors' representatives said an old garage behind the house will be torn down to make way for the construction of three 2,400-square-foot, three-story town homes on the property. They will face Peters with the development extending north to a parking lot and building that serves the headquarters of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce.

The development will result in the removal of four Peters Avenue parking spaces to accommodate the driveways leading to the three new homes.

At the start of Tuesday night's meeting, Bill Wheeler, owner and CEO of Black Tie Transportation , and Allen Roberts of Grey Eagle Court led off remarks on issues ranging from development on Johnson Drive to the Lund Ranch housing development

Wheeler, who speaks frequently at city and civic forums, again asked the council to hold back on rezoning property along Johnson Drive the could accommodate a new Costco membership store. A city task force is currently looking at possible uses for the largely vacant site, once home to a Clorox research center that has since been torn down.

Roberts, a sponsor of efforts to force the council to hold a referendum on its recent approval of the Lund Ranch development, said the planned development would violate Measure PP, a voter-approved measure that bans the construction of homes on hillside.

Other speakers supported Roberts, although many complained about tactics being employed by paid individuals who are seeking signatures on petitions calling for the referendum. They cited high-pressure efforts that include "in your face" approaches at last Saturday's Farmers Market and what they called "deceitful" forms they were asked to sign purportedly about other issues, but actually backing the referendum.

The pro-referendum backers have until Feb. 5 to submit petitions signed by at least 10% of registered Pleasanton voters.

Daniel Martin, Pleasanton's utility superintendent, closed the brief meeting with a favorable report on water conservation.

Speaking in a nearly empty council chamber after other speakers left when their remarks were completed, Martin said residents and businesses continue to conserve drinking water despite recent and ongoing heavy rains.

"The city achieved a 27.8% reduction in water use during all of 2014 and 37.7% last year," Martin said. "That amounted to savings impacts of 1.65 billion gallons of water in 2014 and 2.23 billion last year for a savings of 3.88 gallons."

He said the statewide snowpack is holding at 10.2 inches of water equivalent, which represents 105% of the average snowpack for this time of winter. A year ago, the snowpack measured at just 50%.

But despite the snowpack, the major water reservoirs are storing far less water this year than their late-December historical averages, according to Martin.

"Considering the encouraging early snowpack data and future rain and snowpack projections, we are recommending continuing the temporary suspension of the excess use penalties," Martin said.

The City Council agreed, with plans to look again at water shortage issues in March.

Comments

14 people like this
Posted by City Council watcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2016 at 1:50 pm

Regarding these comments from the article:

"...many [other speakers] complained about tactics being employed by paid individuals who are seeking signatures on petitions calling for the referendum. They cited high-pressure efforts that include "in your face" approaches at last Saturday's Farmers Market and what they called "deceitful" forms they were asked to sign purportedly about other issues, but actually backing the referendum."

That is illegal under California state law: Web Link

If you signed the referendum petition and wish to rescind your signature because you believe you were misled (which is illegal under state law), go to: Web Link


7 people like this
Posted by I watched on TV and heard it differently
a resident of Laguna Oaks
on Jan 20, 2016 at 3:09 pm

I watched the meeting and heard it is legal to pay people to collect signatures for a cause. So what's the problem here? They are working for a living.

It sounds like the one neighborhood is so rude they are harassing the paid signature folks. They may be collecting for a cause you don't support, but at least they are doing what they are paid to do and that is a good thing. Didn't you mom teach you to say 'no thank you.' How easy is that?

Besides, I would rather these professionals get money for working for their families and putting this project on the ballot, than have the developer make millions with the help of Ayala and the other people that are yelling and screaming at farmer's market. Call the cops if you feel threatened, but be sure you are not a part of the problem or they might arrest you as well.


22 people like this
Posted by 46 year resident of Pleasanton
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 20, 2016 at 3:10 pm

Why wouldn't the Pleasanton residents wanting to place a referendum in front of the other residents of Pleasanton be the ones out on the street corners gathering the signatures. Hiring outsiders whose only motive is profiting from each signature reminds me of some awful stories we read about in school studying American History.


30 people like this
Posted by Castlewood
a resident of Castlewood
on Jan 21, 2016 at 6:20 am

Why does the city council continue to approve more housing when they can't supply enough water to those of us who are here. The council has approved over 1,000 new units since the drought began. If the rain stop, as they did last year, will we be reduced to a 50% allocation. If the council cannot make decisions about our water until March 1, why are they giving our water away to non-residents?


15 people like this
Posted by Homeowner
a resident of Birdland
on Jan 21, 2016 at 6:24 am

Until the city council can assure us that our allocation of water will not be reduced further, they should stop approving addition homes in our war we district. Perhaps they should be replaced with more responsible representatives!


25 people like this
Posted by Jett
a resident of Downtown
on Jan 21, 2016 at 7:09 am

@Homeowner......"Perhaps they should be replaced with more responsible representatives!"
You think!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


1 person likes this
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Jan 21, 2016 at 8:57 am

Michael Austin is a registered user.

In the super-short 48-minute meeting Tuesday night the Pleasanton city council voted 4-0 to give them self's a 10% pay raise.


4 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 21, 2016 at 9:40 am

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

Saw that in another paper this morning; should have been in PW coverage. It's good to be the king(s).


12 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 21, 2016 at 10:15 am

City Council watcher,

I was collecting signatures for the referendum at the Farmer’s Market last weekend. There were several other residents collecting signatures but I saw no paid gatherers. The only people using “in your face” tactics, being aggressive and loud, physically confronting and interrupting signature-gathering activities, all in attempt to dissuade the referendum process, were those opposed to the referendum. The signature-gatherers I saw were civil and respectful, but I made sure that the opponents knew that their tactics were questionably legal and were certainly not acceptable in the exercise of our democratic rights. I called the City Manager and asked that the police monitor the situation, which they did.

The people I interacted with come from the Ventana Hills neighborhood who are concerned that if the referendum is successful all of the traffic for the 43 homes will come down their streets. This is understandable and I sympathize with their plight. By approving the project in the manner they did, and ignoring of key provisions of Measure PP, the City Council has started a war between neighborhoods (Ventana Hills and Sycamore Heights) and between the Ventana Hills neighborhood and citizens gathering signatures to protect Measure PP. Pleasanton has a long history of voter referendums and initiatives, and the dynamic has always been between residents and a pro-growth City Council and developers. This has been turned on its head with Lund Ranch with residents fighting each other and the likely result benefiting the developer, Greenbrier Homes. This is tragic for grassroots democracy in Pleasanton and an unconscionable act for a City Council elected to represent the public. While clearly bought and paid for by developers and the Chamber of Commerce, I wouldn’t think the Council would come up with a scheme so devious on their own. But Angela Ramirez-Holmes, the lobbyist for Greenbrier and a long-time political operative in Pleasanton (think Hosterman. Cook-Kallio, and Measure QQ) with strong ties to the corporate wing of the Democratic Party, has a demonstrated track record of this type of politics.

The Council could fix this problem in a minute by granting the Measure PP exemption of ten units and the troubles will go away. Unfortunately they won’t because Greenbrier doesn’t want them to. As I’ve said elsewhere, the only losers in this fight will be the people of Pleasanton.


16 people like this
Posted by Matt Sullivan
a resident of Stoneridge
on Jan 21, 2016 at 10:22 am

Just to clarify my earlier comment, we do have ONE City Councilmember that takes her responsibility of representing the public seriously: Karla Brown. She has constantly advocated on behalf of Measure PP and for the public's right to set policy through the referendum process when it becomes necessary due to non-responsive government. We need to elect at least two more Councilmembers like Karla at the next election if we have any hope for local government of, by, and for the people.


4 people like this
Posted by BobB
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

Hey Matt Sullivan,

How will the owners of the 41 homes be "losers"? Won't they be Pleasanton residents?


19 people like this
Posted by Jennifer
a resident of Pleasanton Valley
on Jan 21, 2016 at 11:11 am

The signature gatherer outside Trader Joe's on Monday told me he was paid $3 for each signature and would appreciate it therefore if I signed the petition.

That was a little weird.


15 people like this
Posted by Tired of the lies
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2016 at 2:59 pm

As a resident of Pleasanton, I witnessed the altercation at the farmers market Matt Sullivan. I saw a very large man yelling at two women-saying they were being paid by the developer. The two women, Matt Sullivan, were representing themselves and asking people not to sign. One of be women called the police and the police spoke to the man who was harrassing the women. I think that Matt you should get your facts straight!

I also just hear from a neighbor who was asked to sign - said no. I guess he raised a ruckus as the manager of the store asked him to leave. When he did he followed my friend and shoved a cart into her car. These paid petition people do not care about our city or our residents and are getting aggressive. I told my friend to call the police.

I am in agreement with Council's decision and don't believe their decision should be overturned. I am also tired of hearing the lies the paid guys are saying.


28 people like this
Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Jan 21, 2016 at 3:00 pm

Kathleen Ruegsegger is a registered user.

"government of, by, and for the people" . . . Which people? Right now you want it to be representation of you, but I don't. The measure worked; the compromises made and agreed to. Yes, the losers would be the taxpayers of Pleasanton if they (1) have to pay for a referendum to support your inability to accept the compromise and (2) all Pleasantonians lose again if they don't see you and those who support your position want Pleasanton to vote to keep "us" off "your" land. (I have no idea where you live Matt; its your position I question.)

This isn't so much NIMBYism as it is I got mine; I don't like to share.


22 people like this
Posted by justwondering
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2016 at 3:45 pm

Matt, get your facts straight--there was a paid signature gatherer at farmer's market on the first street side. In addition, just a couple of blocks away, there was a paid signature gatherer at the library.

Please explain how using paid signature gatherers is grass roots? It should be pointed out that Oak Grove was successfully referended by the residents without paying one person to collect signatures. If a developer were to pay people (think Ponderosa) you would be the first to scream not right. I am having trouble seeing the difference here.


3 people like this
Posted by FAQ checker
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:02 pm

Greenbriar Homes spent thousands of dollars to defeat Measure PP along with the Northern California Homebuilders PAC. In addition the Measure QQ materials to defeat Measure PP in the first place were developed by the same political operatives - Alliance Campaign Strategies - that are pushing the Lund Ranch development and are getting rich off of being paid by this developer.

Greenbriar funded Measure QQ to defeat Measure PP in the first place and Alliance Campaign Strategies were paid for all the door hangers and mailers. The Greenbriar developer supplied money to defeat Measure PP and all of those door hangers and mailers can be found on the Alliance Campaign Strategies website:

Web Link
Web Link
Web Link




10 people like this
Posted by City Council watcher
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jan 21, 2016 at 9:38 pm

Matt Sullivan, you're woefully off the mark in more ways than one:

First, to say "The Council could fix this problem in a minute by granting the Measure PP exemption of ten units and the troubles will go away."

FALSE. Forcing a 10 unit project exposes the City (and all of us taxpayers) to a "takings" lawsuit by Greenbrier, which could end up costing all of us millions of our taxpayer dollars. Don't believe me? Check with the City Attorney, or, check the City Council meeting minutes (of one of the many meetings re: PUD-25 that you never attended--if you had/had cared so much about this, you'd have been there and already knew this--the City Council certainly did).

Re: "grassroots democracy," hmmm, does that include hiring out-of-town signature gatherers, at an estimated cost of $30,000 to $50,000? Including one person, Allen Roberts, who lives on top of a ridgeline/hillside in a gated community (Gray Eagle)? Yeah, grassroots--right. Guess he doesn't want his private, exclusive, pristine view of the valley/flat land that the proposed 43 homes would be built on spoiled.

Finally, you keep insinuating that the Mayor and City Council members are all corrupt, and that the only honorable person on the Council is Karla Brown.

Well, equally ironic regarding this matter (see 'where does Allen Roberts live?') is that Councilmember Karla Brown, a supporter of the referendum petition drive, and whom you are putting on such a high pedestal, lives in Kottinger Ranch, a vast community of some of the most expensive homes in Pleasanton, with many built on ridgelines and hillsides that would not be permitted under Measure PP.

Take a drive up Hearst--lots of BIG homes sitting on ridgelines and hillsides up there. Great views from all of that private property.

Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek have created, as you call it, this 'war' because they refuse to accept a fair, pragmatic compromise.

What it's really called is NIMBYism.


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