Long fight over Pleasanton hills ends as Measure D fails
By Robert Jordan
Contra Costa Times


June 9, 2010

PLEASANTON -- The fate of the city's bucolic southeast hillsides was decided Tuesday as voters rejected Measure D and the 51-unit luxury housing development known as Oak Grove on the city's southeast side at the end of Hearst Drive.

With 100 percent of precincts reporting, 54 percent of voters shot down the measure.

The no vote ends the near decade-long saga -- that has included a referendum, lengthy court battle and divided a community -- to an end. But many voters said Tuesday that they didn't expect hillside development debate to end.

"Some people will not be discouraged," said Ana Macedo, a 19-year resident, who voted no on Measure D. "They are not going to take no for an answer."

Macedo said she voted no because she didn't want to see any more development in the city and especially in the hills.

Measure D, which has been in the works for years and included a lengthy court battle, would have allowed landowners Frederic and Jennifer Lin to build homes ranging in size of from 7,000 to 12,000 square feet on 67 of the 562 acres of land.

The remaining 495 acres would be gifted to the city as open space. The city would also receive $1 million in traffic mitigation fees and a wildland fire truck.

Controversy over the current project began in November 2007 when the City Council voted 4-1 to approve the plan. Former council member Kay Ayala and a group of Pleasanton residents responded with a referendum and gathered 5,225 signatures on petitions opposing the project,
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more than the required minimum of 3,700 to put it on the ballot. The Lins attempted to block the referendum in court with a lawsuit that sparked a two-year court battle that reached the state Supreme Court, which ultimately sided with Ayala.

During the court battle, voters approved two measures in November 2008 that were aimed at protecting the city's hillsides. Measure PP prohibits grading to build development on slopes with a grade greater than 25 percent or within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline. Measure QQ requires the city to develop a collaborative process to create an ordinance to protect the hillsides and ridgelines.

However, the measures don't apply to Measure D because it received majority approval from the council before the passage of measures PP and QQ. In that time, Councilman Matt Sullivan, who originally voted for the development, changed his stance after seeing the response to the referendum.

The Lins originally sought to build 98 homes on the same plot of land but compromised with the city for the 51-unit project.

It was the compromise from 98 to 51 homes and the dedication of 495 acres of open space to the city that swayed Steve Rosefield to cast a yes vote on Tuesday.

Rosefield said he struggled with his decision and weighed the rights of the property owner against his own belief not to build on the ridgelines.

"I thought it was a reasonable compromise," said Rosefield, an eight-year resident. "I think it will be developed and I feel for the folks living near the development."

Contact Robert Jordan at 925-847-2184.

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Posted on Wednesday, 6/09/2010 - 3:08 p.m. PDT ó by SaveOurHills

Congratulations on the hard fought battle to save Pleasantonís hills.

Sometimes you just have to say enough is enough.

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