PLEASANTON — City officials and attorneys for a regional environmental justice group that sued over the city's voter-approved housing cap have reached a tentative settlement.
Urban Habitat filed suit in 2006 over the city's 29,000-home cap approved by voters in 1996. Attorneys for Urban Habitat said in the suit that the cap failed to allow the city to meet its obligations to provide affordable housing.
The settlement includes the city's greement to pay $1.9 million in attorney fees to Public Advocates Inc., that represented Urban Habitat. The city also agreed to remove all housing cap references from city documents, including the general plan, by Oct. 19.
The settlement also requires the city to complete an updated housing element and to adopt a non-discrimination policy related to housing.
The tentative agreement was reached Wednesday and awaits city council approval. The council is expected to discuss and give city staff time to finalize the agreement at its regularly schedule meeting at 7 p.m. Tuesday at city hall, 200 Old Bernal Ave.
"To make a long story short, the cap is gone," said Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, who helped negotiate the settlement. "Now, the council is going to, with help from staff, review ways to lawfully protect our best interests and the ciyt's best interest and maintain as much local discretion as possible."
Once the council approves the agreement, it will vote to finalize the settlement at its Aug. 17 meeting. If the council allows city staff to execute the settlement, the city will be allowed to begin issuing nonresidential building permits that are approved by Urban Habitat until Aug. 17 when the suit receives final adoption. At that point, the city's permitting ability will be restored without limitations.
In a March 12 decision that found the city was violating state law, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ordered Pleasanton to plan for the construction of 3,277 housing units, including 2,524 affordable homes by 2014. And, he ordered the city to stop issuing nonresidential building permits until it complied with his order.
If the city had not settled, it could have faced paying attorney fees that could have exceeded $4 million, according to staff reports. The city also spent $625,000 for its own attorney fees.
Hosterman and councilmember Cindy McGovern worked with Public Advocates Inc., the attorney general's office and attorneys from the Public Interest Law Project to develop the settlement.
Among the other requirements for the city include, adopting core development standards and preparation of a climate action plan related to greenhouse gases.
Attorneys at Public Advocates Inc. did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Robert Jordan covers Dublin and Pleasanton. Contact him at 925-847-2184.