Pleasanton Must Reconsider Staples Ranch Development

For Immediate Release

Organization Profile: 
Contact: 

Jeff Miller, Center for Biological Diversity, (510) 499-9185
Ralph Kanz, Alameda Creek Alliance, (510) 535-9868

Pleasanton Must Reconsider Staples Ranch Development

Lawsuit Settlement Requires Environmental Study of Impacts on Rare Species

PLEASANTON, Calif. - Conservation groups and neighbors have reached a settlement
agreement with the city of Pleasanton after a lawsuit challenged an
inadequate environmental review for the proposed Staples Ranch
development and Stoneridge Drive extension.

Under
the agreement, the city will study the project’s effects on sensitive
wildlife and the impacts of the extension of Stoneridge Drive through
the project site; it may reconsider the project approvals.

“This
agreement gives habitat for native wildlife species a fair shake during
the Staples project,” said Jeff Miller, a conservation advocate with
the Center for Biological Diversity. “We will be looking for stronger
protection of the creek corridor next to the arroyos and adequate
mitigations for wildlife impacts after the additional study and
Pleasanton’s reconsideration of its approval of the development.”

The
Center for Biological Diversity, Alameda Creek Alliance, and Safe
Streets Pleasanton sued the city in March 2009 under the California
Environmental Quality Act for failing to properly assess and mitigate
the environmental impacts of the proposed development and road
extension. An environmental impact report certified by the Pleasanton
City Council in February 2009 did not adequately address impacts to
habitat for sensitive species such as the California red-legged frog, California tiger salamander, western pond turtle, and an endangered plant, the San Joaquin spearscale.

“The
project is adjacent to important aquatic and riparian habitat in Arroyo
Mocho,” said Ralph Kanz, conservation director for the Alameda Creek
Alliance. “There should be adequate stream buffers and mitigation for
aquatic species and San Joaquin spearscale habitat when the project is
reconsidered.”

The Staples Ranch, on 124 acres
located at the intersection of Interstate 580 and El Charro Road, is
currently owned by Alameda County, and under the development proposal
would be annexed to Pleasanton. Two tributaries of Alameda Creek,
Arroyo Las Positas and Arroyo Mocho, flow together adjacent to the
project site. The arroyos provide important wildlife habitat and
corridors. In 2003, when the Arroyo Las Positas/Arroyo Mocho
realignment project was completed by Alameda County, fish ladders were
installed in the arroyos to allow for the future passage of steelhead
trout, and riparian vegetation was planted to improve wildlife habitat.

A free and independent press is essential to the health of a functioning democracy

San
Joaquin spearscale is a rare plant that occurs on the Staples Ranch
site. The city claimed wrongly, in its environmental impact report,
that the mitigations for spearscale from an adjacent 2003 Arroyos
project would be adequate for the Staples Ranch project, even though
existing plant habitat on the site would be destroyed. Habitat for
California red-legged frogs, which are known to occur nearby, could
also be degraded by the project. Western pond turtles, a state species
of concern, have been documented recently on the Staples Ranch site and
observed in Arroyo Mocho.

The original environmental
impact report did not analyze the impacts of the Stoneridge Drive
Extension, which was added to the project at the last minute by the
city of Pleasanton, on nearby residential neighborhoods and the
environment. Residents affiliated with Safe Streets Pleasanton
submitted comments pointing out that the draft report expressly and
unequivocally assured the interested public that Stoneridge Drive would
not be extended to connect to El Charro Road as part of this project —
exactly what the city and county then approved.

After
supplementing the environmental study, the city must reconsider the
project approvals in light of its new information. If the city rescinds
the project approvals it can either drop the project or adopt new or
revised findings, an updated mitigation and monitoring program, and a
revised Staples Ranch Specific Plan Amendment. If the city does not
rescind the approvals, the conservation groups can re-file the lawsuit
challenging the February 2009 approvals and the certified report, with
the supplemental report not admissible in the case. The conservation
groups retain the option of challenging any new or revised project
approvals, limiting any claims to the extension of Stoneridge Drive
through the project area, biological impacts, greenhouse gas emissions,
and cumulative impacts associated with a nearby mining operation.

Pleasanton
is prohibited from any ground-disturbing activities that would
significantly alter the site (other than construction activities along
the eastern edge of the project site associated with the development of
Livermore’s El Charro Specific Plan, such as the construction of El
Charro Road) until 30 days after a final decision regarding the
project, to give the groups a chance to assess and challenge the new
approvals. The city will hold a new public hearing on the supplemental
review and reconsider the project approvals in light of the new
information.

The Alameda Creek Alliance
is a community watershed group with over 1,750 members, dedicated to
protection and restoration of the natural ecosystems of the Alameda
Creek watershed.

 

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At the Center for Biological Diversity, we believe that the welfare of human beings is deeply linked to nature - to the existence in our world of a vast diversity of wild animals and plants. Because diversity has intrinsic value, and because its loss impoverishes society, we work to secure a future for all species, great and small, hovering on the brink of extinction. We do so through science, law, and creative media, with a focus on protecting the lands, waters, and climate that species need to survive.

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