But they're not trivial and, as Councilman Matt Sullivan pointed out, it's a right of anyone in Pleasanton to come to the council and make their case. And, he added, it's an elected official's job to listen. Unlike in some larger cities where neighborhood disputes never reach elected officials, Pleasanton has always encouraged the hometown discussions.
Instead of streamlining or curbing formal appeals, perhaps better efforts can be made to meet with those who can't solve their backyard disputes amicably with a more formal mediation process. Pleasanton had success with this approach when St. Clare's Episcopal Church found its neighbors objecting to a church expansion plan. With mediation, arranged and conducted through government channels, all sides reached an accord and the expansion, with some limitations, is moving forward. Across Hopyard, Trinity Lutheran Church couldn't reach agreements with its neighbors for a school building addition, and that project failed to proceed.
Pleasanton has always taken a neighborly approach to solving issues. State requirements call for notifying those within 100 feet or so of a proposed construction project such as a room addition or new fence; Pleasanton sends notices to those within 1,000 feet. A city building official or planning department consultant is always listed on these notices with phone umbers to call. Pleasanton has a good record of "working things out." Some cities never allow these "hometown" issues to reach the lawmakers. But in the end, when mediation and negotiations over the backyard fence don't work, it's the City Council's job to hear everyone out for as long as it takes, and then make a decision. It's the Pleasanton way.
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