The Dublin City Council reversed its previous “with-prejudice” rejection of the controversial At Dublin development project in favor of a “without-prejudice” vote.
The unprecedented move means the plan cannot come back to the council in its present application, but could be resurrected in another form without renewed council approval. A with-prejudice rejection means that a plan as proposed is dead and cannot come back without the property owner or applicant starting over with the approval process.
The 3-2 vote at the Aug. 18 regular city council meeting breathed possible new life into the beleaguered project that has been rejected three times in various iterations over the years. Vice Mayor Arun Goel and Councilmember Melissa Hernandez were the dissenting votes in the Aug. 18 decision.
The last time the council rejected the plan was on June 22, when the council denied the project with-prejudice. Now, with the new ruling, the applicant or property owner could return to the council and continue working on the general plan/East Dublin specific plan ammendments and subsequent portions of the project without the new authorization process – a move the council hopes might facilitate a solution to the parcel’s development.
“I have said I have no intention of resurrecting the rejected plan. That is why I asked for it to be brought back for consideration of the nature of the denial … not a reconsideration of the project,” Councilmember Shawn Kumigai said. “We have tried this three times before, and we keep failing, and the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting a different outcome ... We have infrastructure that needs to be built. We have planned for this to be something, and we need to move forward with a plan.”
The At Dublin project is a 79.9-acre proposal bordering Tassajara Road, Interstate 580, Brannigan Street and Gleason Drive, calling for 566 residential units and 240,000 square feet of commercial space. The project was planned to include apartments, detached small-lot single-family homes, senior housing, retail development and other infrastructure and landscape improvements. The current general plan allows for 261 residential units and 902,563 square feet of commercial development on the parcels.
Public comment on the changed designation was mixed.
“Why are we here again?” asked resident Shirley Lewindowsky, who disapproved of At Dublin. “How many times does it have to be rejected? There is really no compelling reason to change your minds now.”
“I strongly urge the city council to deny without-prejudice and then reconsider the At Dublin project,” said Ian Kaplan of Dublin.
Acknowledging the challenges the city has faced with one of the largest remaining pieces of land in Dublin, City Manager Linda Smith addressed some of the ways the council might move forward.
“This property is I think the last remaining piece of property that has the most contention on how it needs to develop,” said Smith. “I guess the question to the council would be, ‘How do you want to solve that?’ This is one single property owner with one piece of land … the concern that staff has is that they have been down this road three times. Certainly, we can go down this road a fourth time, but I don’t know if we will end up with something that is more attractive to the community without trying to engage the community in a more robust process than previously done … we are not going to get 100% consensus on this site. I think that is important to note. I don’t think on any project being proposed in this community you get 100% consensus.”
Mayor David Haubert said he believed the best solution might be in taking a different approach to the plan.
“There is no way forward for the landowner if we keep denying the project,” Haubert said. “But the landowner can work with staff to communicate with the community … I would rather stay the course with staff.”