PLEASANTON -- After years of lawsuits and millions of dollars in legal fees, the city of Pleasanton is looking to move forward with new housing developments now that the City Council has approved changes to its general plan.
With a 4-1 vote Tuesday, the council put an end to a series of debates and legal issues dating back over 10 years when state officials first notified Pleasanton that its housing plan was no longer in compliance with state law.
Subsequently, the city faced state lawsuits starting in 2005.
Urban Habitat, an Oakland-based urban justice group, filed a suit against the city in 2006, claiming its voter-approved limit of 29,000 housing units prevented Pleasanton from building its share of affordable housing units, as set by the state.
The suit sparked a four-year court battle that ended in Urban Habitat's favor and an August 2010 settlement that required the city to drop its housing cap and to plan for more housing.
According to City Manager Nelson Fialho, the total payment for all litigation and legal fees has been about $3.9 million. Fialho said the fees don't include staff or in-house time spent by the city's legal team.
"All of this is now over," he said. "... We will no longer be the target of lawsuits."
Tuesday's vote was decided after extensive discussions, during which the council rezoned numerous acres of land around town to allow the city to be in line with state and court-ordered requirements. The rezoning will allow for more housing for low- to moderate-income families.
The only council member to vote against the measure was Cindy McGovern, who said she was concerned that because of the change, the state will now have more oversight on local zoning and development issues.
Contact Katie Nelson at 925-847-2164 or follow her at Twitter.com/katienelson210.