Letters, phone calls and Town Square postings on the Pleasanton Weekly's website have been coming fast and furiously since the City Council's decision on Jan. 5 to approve a 43-home development on Lund Ranch II.
Since then, an organized drive has started to hold a referendum to overturn the council's decision. Those organizers have until Feb. 5 to obtain signatures from 10% of Pleasanton's registered voters to qualify for placing a referendum on the ballot. Here are some of the Letters to the Editor we've received:
Oppose the Lund Ranch development; support the referendum
In 2008, Pleasanton passed Measure PP, the first words of which are "ridgelines and hillsides shall be protected." PP strictly limits hillside development.
The Lund Ranch project will build a 700-foot road across the hillsides behind Raley's, grading 1.6 acres of hillside and moving 650 truckloads of hillside dirt -- all violations of PP. To get around this, the council voted PP does not apply to roads, opening the door to roads developed all over Pleasanton hillsides.
The project will build homes on hillsides -- again a violation of PP. To permit this, the council ignored its staff's definition of ridgelines, arbitrarily cutting natural ridgelines to expand the area available for development. Again, a precedent for future projects.
The city's Environmental Impact Report recommended a different development plan as the environmentally sound alternative -- one without a hillside road. The council disregarded that.
Finally, the council ignored its own history. The council members who voted to approve this development each had voted that PP prohibits roads on hillsides. That isn't surprising, as it is the natural reading of PP and the plain intent of Pleasanton voters. That council members switched positions, for the sole purpose of allowing this development, is surprising and upsetting.
Please support the referendum, which will cancel the Lund Ranch development. Send a message to the council that the voters meant what they said in PP. Send a message for responsible development. Send a message to protect our hillsides. Please visit www.savepleasantonhillsides.com.
-- David Melaugh
Thanks for protecting Pleasanton's hillsides
As a member of a neighborhood committee and longstanding steward of our family community, I have had the privilege of working with several Pleasanton City Councils and supporting staff. The recent Lund II PUD presented our honorable mayor and City Council with the difficult task of approving a new housing development while expertly applying an important city initiative that offers protection for our hillsides.
The decision reached Tuesday (Jan. 5) evening provides a reduced housing footprint, balances the traffic impact on neighboring communities and keeps our hillsides free from unwanted development. I personally want to thank our mayor, council and city staff for their thoughtful consideration and protecting our view shed for all citizens to enjoy.
For more information, please visit: www.ProtectPleasantonNeighborhoods.com.
-- Carolyn Spain
Are roads protected by PP?
Much of the discussion about Lund Ranch II and Measure PP has been whether roads should be included in PP protections. After PP was passed, the authors and supporters of PP (including Kay Ayala), the City Council, Planning Commission and city staff all agreed that hillside roads were covered by Measure PP. Even the Ventana Hills Steering Committee agreed roads were structures (City Council minutes 11/27/12).
So what happened? When a proposed access road for the Lund Ranch II development was shown to be subject to PP, our council reversed themselves and voted to abandon protection for hillsides and ridges from road construction. They reclassified a road as "infrastructure" and said PP doesn't apply.
The voter's initiative was to preserve all the hillsides and ridges in Pleasanton, and those protections should not be sacrificed just to approve the flawed Lund Ranch II plan. This is not a choice between Measure PP and traffic in one neighborhood or another; it is about protecting our hillsides for all of Pleasanton.
Measure PP must be followed and both neighborhoods' traffic concerns respected. Please demand that your voice be heard by signing a petition so you can vote on the Lund Ranch II project.
-- Allen Roberts
Lund Ranch II approval process
We elect our local citizens to be City Council members. We trust they will carefully consider all aspects of the issues that come up regarding the welfare, growth and safety of Pleasanton.
Because we don't agree with their decision we decide for a referendum? Why fund an election for a city council? Why have public discourse in open City Council meetings? Why spend 1,000s of dollars on studies to improve the decision process?
Being an elected official is a tough commitment. Our five council members gave us their best in coming up with the Lund II development solution. Discourse was fair, options were considered, and a vote was taken by the people we elected to be our representatives. They deserve our respect, not a referendum to overthrow their good work.
-- Gary Sabo
Please support the Lund Ranch II referendum
We are stunned to see the Pleasanton ridgeline and hillside protections challenged yet again; this time by a city staff and council that seem determined to game the system in the interest of a sole developer, Greenbriar Homes.
How many times do the voters have to say no? The message was loud and clear when the voters passed Measure PP in 2008, amending the general plan with straightforward language on this matter. Now again in 2016, memories apparently have faded with the approval of the Lund Ranch II project.
For those who missed it, politics took its most dysfunctional form on the day of the approval when Councilmember Arne Olson revealed his thought process to the public. "I had to change my opinion on this project in order to get to this point after seeing how Measure PP impacted this (Greenbriar) plan, so I did." Mr. Olson, is that all the voters mean to you? An obstacle in your way to support hillside development?
We would all like to avoid the referendum process, but in this case, our elected officials have taken clear steps to contradict the will of the voters (and their own election platforms). Please sign the petition to have the Lund Ranch II project put on the ballot. Let your voices be heard and help protect Pleasanton from hillside development projects -- now and in the future.
-- Gary Williams and family
Let your voice be heard
The people of the Mission Park, Ventana Hills and the Lund Ranch neighborhoods do not want you to sign the referendum because they are afraid of the truth. They do not want the voters' original intent of PP to be reaffirmed. Their argument is a road and retaining walls are not structures.
The Pleasanton Municipal Code says:
"Structure" means that which is built or constructed, an edifice or building of any kind, or any piece of work artificially built or composed of parts joined together in some definite manner and permanently attached to the ground, as defined in the California Building Standards Code. (Ord. 2000 Sec. 1, 2009; Ord. 1934 Sec. 1, 2006)
Clearly according to Pleasanton's own municipal code, a retaining wall and a road meet the definition of a structure.
Then why didn't the City Council uphold PP?
1. The city believes it has the right to interpret the code, but when codes are written this specific, it leaves nothing to interpret.
2. The above-mentioned neighborhoods have way too much political clout in this city. The Bridle Creek, Sycamore Heights neighborhoods do not and are not scared of the voters. The Mission Park, Ventana Hills, Lund Ranch neighborhoods are scared; they would rather hide behind a City Council they can manipulate.
Please sign the referendum and let your voice be once again heard.
-- John Patterson
Signatures are void
In the high-paced world in which we live, decisions are often based on limited information.
Misleading voters with blatantly false information and bullying those trying to express dissenting public opinions is not in the character of Pleasanton. This regretfully is the case with the petition for a referendum on the Lund Ranch II PUD-25 project, as Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek residents (and others) have hired a company incapable of professionally collecting informed signatures.
They haven't been properly trained to share anything about the project, where it is or what it's about. One paid signature gatherer claimed signing the petition would prevent the kind of apartments being built next-door to the Bernal Safeway. Another at Luckys claimed it would stop them from building "Mansions all over the Hills" while pointing to the Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park.
All of us have rights to our opinions, but when residents hire outside people, all should be held to the standards this city was built upon and signatures gathered to date should be considered suspect and void.
-- Justin Brown
Lund Ranch II ignores local law
Please sign the referendum to rescind the sprawl-inducing Lund Ranch II approval.
The property is located 1/2 mile from the Verona Fault. Not only does its approval violate Programs 20.2/20.3 of the Pleasanton General Plan Community Character element policies that specifies new developments shall preserve scenic hillside features including ridges, plants, streams and wildlife and prohibit grading of slopes 25% or greater, but its approval also ignores Land Use Element Policy 21/Program 21.3 to preserve hillside and ridge views of the southeast hills and the voter-approved Measure PP policies to protect ridgelines and hillsides.
There is no vertical 100 feet buffer zone between the top of street light structures and tops of buildings and the nearest ridgeline. Furthermore it violates the Public Safety element restricting major grading on slopes 25% or greater and doesn't comply with the Pleasanton Municipal Code provisions and definitions in the hillside ordinance adopted by a previous City Council.
An ad placed in last week's Weekly that implied developer ally Kay Ayala authored ridgeline/hillside protection parts of Measure PP; in fact PP ridge and hill protections were slightly revised wording from a measure adopted by the voters of Walnut Creek authored by "Citizens for a Better Walnut Creek." Her role in Measure PP was a line item drafted to reduce the housing cap from 29,000 to 28,000 housing units -- a line item that was dropped prior to its circulation.
-- Anne Fox,
Former planning commissioner
Co-author of hillside/ridge protection sections of Measure PP
Throwing PP under the bus
We are disappointed by the action of the City Council Jan. 5. In a 3 to 1 vote (with Karla Brown voting no), they approved the 43-home Lund Ranch II development.
With their vote for approval, Mr. Thorne, Mr. Olson and Ms. Narum threw Measure PP under the bus. Despite the opportunity to set a far-reaching precedent for no future development in our hills, they voted to carve an access road into and over a beautiful hillside in order to let Greenbriar Homes build out their project. We voted for Narum and Olson, elected on platforms that included support for Measure PP. Their campaign promises vanished Jan. 5.
The access road the council approved includes 6-foot-high retaining walls, a culvert or bridge over a creek, curbs, sidewalks, light standards, hydrants, etc. Their decision permits this road and accompanying structures to be built on a hillside with a slope greater than 25 degrees, and requires the grading and movement of 650 truck loads of dirt -- severe and permanent changes to our natural hillside.
If this happens, a precedent is set and our pro-growth council will be empowered to continue finding loopholes and ways on a case-by-case basis to get around Measure PP requirements for future hillside developments. Our few remaining hills must be protected, not just for us to enjoy, but for future generations as well.
Please sign the referendum petition you will see around town. It only takes one minute and will send the council's decision back for a vote by those who care most about preserving our beautiful hillsides -- Pleasanton citizens.
-- Bill and Carolyn Lincoln
Traffic impact on neighborhoods is the heart of our concern over development in southeast Pleasanton dating back to Bonde Ranch in 1991. The Lund Ranch II PUD-25 that passed recently by the City Council honors previous agreements/understandings made by past Pleasanton City Councils, and the compromises agreed to with the Ventana Hills/Mission Hills neighborhoods and city staff represented in their recommendation to City Council for Lund Ranch II.
The Ventana Hills Steering Committee supports council's decision, which represents compromises from all parties. Although all traffic was slated to exit through Sycamore Heights/Bridle Creek (who were made aware in their CC&Rs before purchasing their homes), the plan splits the traffic (including 15 homes on Middleton Place in the Bonde development). Twenty-seven will exit Lund Ranch Road in Ventana Hills/Mission Hills and 31 will exit through Sycamore Heights/Bridle Creek. We do not support a referendum.
-- George Dort,
Referendum to overturn Lund Ranch II
As a resident of Ventana Hills for over 15 years, I've enjoyed many a walk with my dog through our beautiful Ventana Hills and Sycamore Heights neighborhood. It saddens me to see that the recent Lund Ranch II development issue has pitted one neighborhood against another; otherwise friends when out walking our dogs.
Though not perfect, it was with relief to see that the recent City Council decision to split the traffic between the neighborhoods would finally bring closure to the issue. Unfortunately, Sycamore Heights does not accept the City Council's decision and is paying aggressive signature gathers to put a costly referendum (up to $350,000) on the ballot.
The referendum will not stop the development; it will just re-hash the issue of where to route traffic, with Sycamore Heights lobbying to have 100% of all traffic to go through our neighborhood. I urge all residents to pause and read more carefully and not sign the petition to overturn Lund Ranch II.
-- Linda Coleman
Lund Ranch: Fact or fiction?
When PP was being written Kay Ayala believed a road was a structure: Fact.
Now because the traffic from Lund Ranch will be coming into her neighborhood she has changed her position: Fact.
The people in Mission Park, Ventana Hills and Lund Ranch Road argue the referendum will cost the city money: Fact.
What they are not telling you is if they had not gotten their way they would have sued, which would have also cost the city more money: Fact.
A road and retaining wall are structures according to both the Pleasanton Municipal Code and the California Building Standards Code. Fact.
The City Council believes they can bend any rule to suit their own purposes: Fact.
The voters have the right through the referendum process to tell them they can't: Fact.
Please sign the petition.
-- Darlene Patterson
They did it again
First Oak Grove, now Lund Ranch II. When will they listen to the voters?
In 2008, the Pleasanton voters overwhelmingly passed Measure PP in order to protect our remaining hillsides and ridges. But on Jan. 5, by approving the Lund Ranch development in the southeast hills of Pleasanton, our pro-development council majority went out of their way to redefine terms in Measure PP that were inconsistent with our own municipal code and the California building codes in order to build on hillsides over 25% slope and within 100 feet of a ridge.
They ignored prior unanimous votes by both City Councils and Planning Commissions that stated Measure PP applied to roadways, and they created new exceptions to PP that were never contemplated or listed in the measure -- they decimated the protections of Measure PP.
This was the first test of Measure PP and sets a very dangerous precedent for future hillside development.
Please sign the referendum petition so the voters can reaffirm their support of Measure PP. This is not a neighborhood vs. neighborhood dispute, as a few would have you believe. The remaining hillsides and ridges of Pleasanton are at severe risk.
-- Greg O'Connor
Petition effort setting bad precedent
At issue of the Lund Ranch II project is whether it violates Measure PP as some people say a road is a structure. I was a member of the group that worked on the writing of Measure PP and roads were never considered to be structures.
Due to the success of Measure PP, this development went from 113 homes down to 43 homes, all to be built in a bowl to minimize the visual impacts. The City Council also eliminated homes that would be on man-made, not natural, slopes of 25%, and split the development so one neighborhood would not take all of the traffic.
I strongly support the right to collect signatures to put a referendum on the ballot. However, I will not be signing this petition. If you intend to sign, I recommend first educating yourself by going to the city website or the project area.
Of great concern to me is the bad precedent of using paid signature collectors for a local issue. Call me "old fashioned," but I value grassroots signature campaigns by passionate residents, like all the campaigns in the past.
-- Steve Brozosky,
Pleasanton City Council 2002-06
Don't be fooled by the illusion
Bridle Creek/ Sycamore Heights residents who want to overturn Lund Ranch II at taxpayers expense of up to $247,000 have branded their efforts under the illusion that they are "Saving Pleasanton's hillsides and PP."
Sounds praiseworthy on the surface to "protect" all of Pleasanton from the "hillside sprawl" as they would lead you to believe, but what this illusion really amounts to is a small group of residents who want to push traffic out of their neighborhood that was developed to accommodate it into another.
These residents purchased their homes knowing the facts regarding the general plan. Now they elect to serve their own interests at taxpayers' expense. A referendum redirecting traffic is not "saving the hillsides" and "protecting" the PP" agenda as they want you to believe.
The illusion that Lund Ranch II violates PP is another falsehood. Simply listen to the voices of truth who authored PP and know they will not be signing this referendum.
By pushing this manufactured idea of "saving hillsides" and "protecting PP" in the media, outside schools, at the farmers market and other local shopping areas by an outside firm hired to collect signatures, the Bridle Creek/Sycamore Heights residents are hoping many Pleasanton residents will believe their illusion and sign the referendum. Please don't be fooled by these catchy phrases and deceptive impressions. I for one stand with the truth-tellers and will not be signing the referendum.
-- Teresa Cross,
Ventana Hill resident
Lund Ranch deception
I saw a full-page ad in the Jan. 15 Pleasanton Weekly. It was a letter from Kay Ayala, claiming to be one of the authors of Measure PP and stating that the Lund Ranch project is exactly what the authors of PP hoped to achieve. Well, the other authors, who wrote the section on hillside and ridge preservation, don't agree with her. Lund Ranch does not comply with PP. Structures are within 100 feet of a ridge and are on hillsides.
Look at the ad closely. In the bottom right corner it says, "Paid for by GHC Lund Ranch LLC," the developer. So Ms. Ayala, and her group advocating for approval of Lund Ranch, are in bed with the developer. I think she should have told us that.
Their second half-page ad is also filled with half-truths. They would have you believe this is a neighborhood vs. neighborhood battle. Again, look at the bottom right corner where it says, "Paid for by Pleasanton Residents who support Protecting Pleasanton Neighborhoods." Plural. But in fact, they only want to protect one neighborhood.
Measure PP is in place to preserve all the hillsides and ridges in Pleasanton for all the residents of Pleasanton. Pleasanton already has enough traffic, overcrowded schools and water shortages. We don't need more housing, especially on our hillsides. Support the voters who asked for hillside protections by signing the referendum, putting this development back onto the ballot for the voters to decide if it is what we want.
-- Nicole Johnson
Lund Ranch II referendum
I voted for Measure PP because I didn't want our remaining hills in Pleasanton to be touched, and so did an overwhelming number of our voters. All the arguing about what things in PP mean, by our council and by some residents who think this development in our hills is acceptable, is embarrassing.
We shouldn't be touching our hills; stay far away from them. The citizens don't want any more houses built anywhere in the city, especially in the hills. Hasn't the council learned anything from the citizen outrage over the east side planning they started but were forced to stop?
The neighborhood that thinks this development is OK is just worried that they might get more traffic later. They need to be thinking about all of Pleasanton, our hills, our schools and traffic.
I signed the referendum, and I'm asking all the other voters to do the same. And if our council doesn't start supporting our citizens, especially the initiatives we have passed, we should certainly vote them out of office.
-- Sean Brusseau
Why we're not signing
As a Ventana Hills resident and Measure PP supporter, I have participated in the well-planned development of southeast Pleasanton since 1991. Traffic flow from the developments of Bonde Ranch, Bridle Creek and Sycamore Heights was designed to ensure that existing neighborhoods were not overburdened from new development.
The approved Lund Ranch II PUD-25, a byproduct of this planning, is located in a bowl in the eastern hills and not visible. Some now suggest roads fall under Measure PP and are petitioning to overturn this development simply to redirect traffic. Go to the facts of what the voters were told prior to voting:
1. June 26, 2008 Special City Council meeting minutes on Measure PP. Proponent Karla Brown spoke clarifying roads were not a part (Page 10).
2. The rebuttal argument from the proponents of Measure PP that was available to citizens in the voter pamphlet.
We were all told that "roads are not a part of Measure PP." They can't change the intent of a measure after it's passed, simply because they want to redirect traffic.
No more time and money should be wasted because Sycamore Heights and Bridle Creek don't want planned traffic connected to their streets, something they agreed to in their closing documents.
Paid signature gatherers are giving false information to get people to sign the petition. Don't be misled into signing this petition and wasting up to $247,000.
-- Amy Lofland