It's over: Hillside protection is now the law in Pleasanton | April 19, 2013 | Pleasanton Weekly | |

Pleasanton Weekly

Opinion - April 19, 2013

It's over: Hillside protection is now the law in Pleasanton

It's a good thing folks in Kottinger Ranch and many other hillside communities in Pleasanton built their homes when they did, or there'd be nothing but lush woodlands for the rest of us to enjoy. After more than two decades of effort, hillside preservationists who sought rulings to keep housing off the steep slopes in and around Pleasanton, including the Pleasanton Ridgelands back in the the 1970s, won the City Council's approval Tuesday to ban all hillside development. The ruling is now part of the city's land use governing General Plan. Hillside protection language actually was part of the city's 1996 General Plan. Measure PP, approved by voters two years ago and ratified and strengthened by the City Council Tuesday, now completes that work, banning hillside development on or close to slopes with a 25% grade with few exceptions.

If PP had been in effect back in the 1970s, Pleasanton would be a much different, and smaller, city. Much of upper Vintage Hills, Vintage Heights, Foxbrough, Grey Eagle, Kottinger Ranch and developments along the west side of Foothill Road could not be developed within the new guidelines. There's even a question now if homes can be built along a proposed bypass road to the Callippe Preserve golf course where development was supposed to pay the $15 million cost of building the roadway. At least the road could be built. After two public hearings and despite a Planning Commission decision to the contrary, the council voted to define a road as an infrastructure, not subject to the rules of Measure PP.

Developers, city staff and lawyers now have a document that can be readily understood to protect the hills of Pleasanton in perpetuity. It will protect our scenic hills from development and preserve the character of our city and keep development and development speculation away from lands with environmentally sensitive features, lands with primary open space values and lands that the public can enjoy visually and on hikes along pathways that will still be allowed.

The only exemptions that will be allowed will be housing developments of 10 units or less, but even these will have to meet critical reviews to make sure that no homes will again be built on highly visible hilltops. For those who have long promoted these restrictions, theirs is a well-deserved victory that all who live here can enjoy.