The housing division of Weyerhaeuser Real Estate, Pardee Homes, has promised to build 2,450 solar homes in north Livermore if its controversial ballot initiative to amend the city's urban growth boundary ordinance passes in November. The Livermore Trails development would be the largest all-solar housing division in the United States if voters approve the ballot initiative, the company boasts.
The solar proposition boils down to an environmental trade-off: Opponents of the project argue that protecting open space and natural habitat in the Bay Area's fragile ecosystem is more important than solar technology. Pardee says its solar homes and ''green building technology'' contribute greater good to the environment through energy savings.
But in the 1,300-acre tract -- called Livermore Trails -- the desirability of solar energy and green building is offset by an equally compelling set of environmental values espoused by the open space movement. The Bay Area's Greenbelt Alliance and the Sierra Club join Livermore's mayor and two city council members in strongly opposing Pardee's voter initiative.