The Pleasanton City Council has scheduled a referendum for June 7 to let voters decide if its approval Jan. 5 of a 43-home development on Lund Ranch should be overturned.
The action came after the Alameda County Registrar's office determined that petitioners opposed to the development obtained 4,422 signatures from registered voters in Pleasanton to hold a referendum, which was more than the 10% of the city's registered voters to force a referendum, or 4,237 signatures.
Although Councilwoman Karla Brown urged the council to simply rescind its Jan. 5 approval, sparing the city and taxpayers the up to $247,000 cost of the special election, Mayor Jerry Thorne and two others on the Council Kathy Narum and Arne Olson disagreed. They cast the three deciding votes to proceed with the referendum, and then all four voted to hold it in conjunction with the California primary on June 7.
The fifth council member, Jerry Pentin, again recused himself from Tuesday night's discussion because he lives close to the one of the access roads that could lead into the proposed development
The council's decision to hold the referendum at the time of the primary was a costly one. Because there are no Pleasanton candidates or issues on the June 7 ballot, this will be a special election which requires the city to pay all the costs.
The County Registrar can charge between $4 and $6 for each of the city's registered voters, plus printing costs, for an estimated range of $164,000 to $247,000.
The council could have chosen a no-cost referendum date of Nov. 8, which is a General Election that includes the scheduled municipal election for mayor and two City Council members. Since the city's cost of that election is already budgeted, the referendum could have been held then with only the extra printing costs added.
However, the council agreed that it would be worth the cost to hold the referendum June 7, well ahead of the electioneering and political campaigns by the candidates facing election Nov. 8.
"Let's get this referendum decided quickly," Thorne said. "We need to move on this."
At issue is the city council's decision in a 3-1 vote to approve the application of Greenbriar Homes Community to build 43 upscale homes on the 195 acre Lund Ranch II site in the undeveloped hills of Pleasanton southeast of Sunol Boulevard.
As part of the agreement, Greenbriar would donate 177 acres of its property to the city as open space, which would be kept free of any future development in perpetuity with hiking trails to be added.
Even with the referendum approved, Tuesday night's meeting wasn't any less contentious both for council members and a council chamber half-filled with interest groups both in favor and opposed to the Lund Ranch development.
Speakers who had signed and supported the petitions calling for a referendum generally spoke in favor of urging the council to rescind its Jan. 5 approval and going back to the negotiating table to seek a better development plan.
Those who opposed a referendum in the first place, sided with the council majority in putting the referendum on the ballot.