In the Media

Long awaited Pleasanton development moves toward construction

PLEASANTON -- The city council took action on three items Tuesday whose outcomes could affect the future landscape of the city.

Council members voted to approve development on the Staples Ranch site, ending years of delays and moving forward with the city's biggest development project since the Hacienda Business Park back in the early 1980s.

The council also took action on two different lawsuits. The council voted unanimously during closed session to defend the city against landowners Frederic and Jennifer Lin, who filed suit against the city after their bid to build 51 luxury homes, known as Oak Grove, in the south east hills during a June election was struck down by voters.

Federal Civil Rights Review Raises Governance Questions at MTC

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The long-term impacts to transportation funding as a result of the Federal Transit Administration's (FTA) civil rights compliance probe of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) won't be clear for some time, but the action by the federal administration has transportation policy circles buzzing. Experts in civil rights and regional planning policy couldn't point to another instance of a metropolitan planning organization (MPO) like the MTC being required to submit to similar scrutiny from the FTA, while social justice advocates felt vindicated for their longstanding contention of discrimination in transportation funding. The FTA probe stemmed from a complaint by Public Advocates, a civil rights law firm in San Francisco, over BART's failure to properly analyze the equity impacts of its fare policy for the controversial Oakland Airport Connector (OAC) as required under Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. As a result of the complaint, the FTA denied BART $70 million in federal stimulus funds for the project. Because the MTC channels significant federal funds to BART and because it continually approved motions to send stimulus funds to an agency that ultimately failed its responsibility to comply with Title VI, the FTA turned its eye on MTC.

Pleasanton council will pay out $2 million, wipe voter-approved housing cap from its records



PLEASANTON -- The city will pay out $2 million and wipe any trace of a voter-approved housing cap from its records in a settlement with an environmental justice group that sued the city.

Urban Habitat claimed the cap, which set the maximum number of housing units in the city at 29,000, prevented Pleasanton from providing its share of affordable housing,

City Council Approves Settlement Agreement in Housing Cap Lawsuit


City councilmembers unanimously approved a settlement agreement in the housing cap lawsuit during last night's meeting. 

By approving the agreement, city staffers can move ahead with executing the terms of the agreement. These items include:

  • A payment of $995,000 to plaintiffs, Urban Habitat, within 30 days. Another $995,000 will be paid off no later than July 31, 2011.
  • Removing the housing cap from the General Plan. Instead, the city will consider other"growth management" strategies that are consistent with state laws.
  • Rezoning of three sites in the Hacienda Business Park development project will have to incorporate state requirements. The agreement calls for, among other things, a set of development guidelines that sets a minimum density of 30 units per acre and allows for at least 15 percent of the housing units to be affordable housing.
  • Updating the City Housing Element to include discussion, identification and inclusion of housing for all income levels.
  • Adopting a resolution on non-discrimination housing policies and preparing a Climate Action Plan to address concerns on how the city analyzes environmental impacts of development projects.

Council signs off on agreement to scuttle housing cap, build more affordable housing



The Pleasanton City Council agreed last night to pay $1.9 million in legal fees to two affordable housing coalitions in a 4-0 vote that also scuttled the city's voter-approved 1996 housing cap that was designed to prevent runaway residential growth.

With the vote, the council authorized the first payment of $995,000 from its "Self-Insurance Retention fund as the first of two installments totaling $1.9-million in taxpayer funds to cover legal fees incurred by Urban Habitat and Public Advocates, who first sued the city in 2006 over affordable housing issues, including the cap.

BART board OK's airport connector despite financial concerns

Anti-connector demonstrators before today's vote. Photo by  Casey 
 Miner.

After a marathon hearing today at which more than 20 people spoke, the BART board gave its final approval to the Oakland Airport Connector project, pending a guarantee of funds from the Port of Oakland. The project stalled earlier this year when it ran afoul of federal civil rights statues and lost $70 million in stimulus money, but roared back to life a month ago when BART found a way to fund the project without stimulus dollars.

Today's hearing offered little solace to those with persistent concerns about the project—namely, whether the job numbers are all they're cracked up to be and whether ridership on the new system will be high enough to justify the financial burden BART is assuming. Representatives of transit advocacy groups TransForm and Urban Habitat raised these issues repeatedly, and a number of BART board members seemed to share them: District 7 director Lynette Sweet said she was unsettled by the fact that BART had overstated the number of jobs the project would create; vice-president Bob Franklin catalogued at length the reasons he felt uncomfortable with the funding structure; and even board president James Fang expressed serious reservations about the agency's ability to pay for the project over the long term. "Long after this thing is over," he said, "BART will still be on the hook."

Pleasanton approves deal to end lawsuit over housing in the city



PLEASANTON — The City Council has agreed to kill off a voter-approved limit on the number of homes that can be built in Pleasanton.

Tuesday night's 4-0 decision settles a lawsuit filed against the city by Urban Habitat over the city's 29,000-home cap approved by voters in 1996. Urban Habitat claimed that the limit doesn't allow the city to meet its obligations to provide affordable housing.

Pleasanton’s battle for local control over housing could reverberate around California

Pleasanton officials expect a plan they will unveil next week will resolve a dispute that has stalled the city’s housing plans.

The outcome of the lawsuit at the core of the dispute could set a precedent for how California cities plan for housing and meet state-mandated requirements.

Council approves plan to scuttle housing cap, open up more land for low-income housing



The City Council Tuesday approved a tentative settlement agreement with two affordable housing coalitions and the state attorney general's office that will scuttle Pleasanton's 29,000-unit housing cap and set aside undeveloped acreage for high density housing for low-income residents.

The council also agreed to pay fees to the housing coalition attorneys totaling $1.9 million in two installments. With the settlement agreement in place. Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown agreed to waive the costs incurred by his office in suing the city and in joining in arguments n behalf of the housing coalitions.

Pleasanton likely to lift housing cap

Pleasanton's City Council has tentatively agreed to lift a cap on the number of residences in the city after a judge ruled that the limit violates state law.

The decision was part of a settlement between the city, the state attorney general's office and two lawsuit plaintiffs that requires Pleasanton to remove the voter-approved cap, pay almost $2 million over two years in attorney fees and implement a plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 2012.