PLEASANTON -- Are roads considered structures?
Dozens of residents from two Pleasanton neighborhoods turned out Tuesday to debate whether new roads should fall under an initiative meant to protect Pleasanton's hillsides from development.
The City Council hearing was the first of two rounds of public comment. A second will be held April 16 before the council decides whether to amend city code regarding Measure PP. Passed by city voters in 2008 -- it requires the city to restrict development of housing and commercial structures on steep slopes and within 100 vertical feet of a ridgeline.
"If the (initiative's) authors had intended a road to be a structure, they would have included it in the language," said Amy Lofland, of the Ventana Hills steering committee.
The ordinance being considered, besides clearly defining ridgelines and taking inventory of slopes, could prohibit roads planned to connect the Lund Ranch II development to Sunset Creek Lane or Sycamore Creek Way, as well as a bypass road through Happy Valley. The proposal has caused a rift between homeowners in Ventana Hills and Sycamore Heights, with neither neighborhood wanting the added traffic.
Lofland and other Ventana Hills residents told council members to honor prior planning agreements Bridal Creek and Sycamore Heights homeowners had with developers and the city, stating that the future connecting roads would be made through their neighborhoods.
Several Sycamore Heights residents said they weren't made aware that the roads would be extended when they bought their homes, while others argued they should be considered structures under Measure PP, preempting any previous agreements.
Sycamore Heights resident Chris Martin said he'd read about the plans in the disclosure documents when he bought his home but argued it was "common sense" that roads should fall under the initiative.
"It was clear that the connector was coming through my neighborhood, but all that changed when the voters voted for PP," Martin said.
Planning Commissioner Greg O'Connor said roads were considered in the creation of Measure PP and urged the council to look at the measure's intent.
"When voters were thinking about what this was going to cover, I don't know that they were looking at exact words ... I think they thought the hills were going to be preserved," he said.
Kay Ayala, a former Pleasanton City Council member and a driving force behind the initiative, said it didn't mention or consider roads during the process. She supported not defining a road as a structure to avoid future developer lawsuits.
"I can assure you that the intent of PP was to protect the ridges from housing and commercial structures, not roads," she said.
Council members said they got calls from residents who would be away for spring break, asking for the item to be continued. As a compromise, another round of public comment will be held prior to the council's decision April 16.
"We want to make sure that everyone who wants to be heard can be heard," said Mayor Jerry Thorne.
Contact Jeremy Thomas at 925-847-2184. Follow him at Twitter.com/jet_bang.