"We remain a force to be reckoned with," said Mayor Jennifer Hosterman, as she delivered the State of the City address Friday, telling the audience that while economic forecasts are dim, the city is in sound financial shape and continues to find new ways to improve its future. The speech was given to an audience of about 100 Chamber of Commerce members at the Pleasanton Hilton Hotel.
"In Pleasanton--our corner of the world--sound financial planning, a diverse economic base and an active and deeply involved community have provided us with a quality of life that is the envy of many," she said.
In the short-term, Hosterman said the city's finances look good. Last year, a $1.5-million surplus contributed to that and discretionary reserves total $26 million. In addition, the city has not hired additional workers or increased expenses in recent years, maintaining the same size staff for the past decade.
While the mayor acknowledged it's unclear what effect the faltering economy will have on Pleasanton, she said she does know there will be a reduction in revenues associated with residential development in the way of property taxes and building permit fees, though she didn't provide any financial estimates.
Despite that, she said commercial development continues to grow in the city with such projects as:
* an expansion to Stoneridge Shopping Center, which was recently acquired by Simon Property Group
* construction of a second BART station across from the mall
* a 25,000-square-foot building that will house new tenants in the Hacienda Business Park
* an expansion to the CarrAmerica Corporate Center to include new office buildings and a 130-room hotel
* expansion to pharmaceutical and medical technology company Roche Molecular
* the city's ongoing effort to annex the Staples Ranch property in northeastern Pleasanton, which plans to house an auto mall that will contribute to the city's tax base
In talking about the city's business success, Hosterman said businesses are attracted to the city's highly educated and skilled workforce.
"With over 61,000 employees working within the more than 19 million square feet of commercial, office and industrial space throughout the city, we remain a force to be reckoned with," she said.
A green building movement is expected to create a number of new jobs, Hosterman said.
"Someone has to install rooftop photovoltaics, and someone has to glaze windows on those renovated green buildings," she said. "And, that glazier may become a foreman, and that installer may become, with some education, an engineer.
"This is the largest opportunity for job creation that this country has seen in many years."
The city has for some time been mandating green building in commercial and residential projects, promoting solar energy through a partnership with Livermore "and reducing energy-intensive activities, such as improving diversion of waste from our landfill by 54 percent."
With the state in the midst of a water crisis stemming from the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta due to the declining levels of the Delta smelt fish population, the city is aware that it needs to institute ways to ration water usage, Hosterman said.
"The council will entertain a three-tiered approach to billing for water consumption--so that those who want to support vast lawns will pay a little more," she said.
The mayor listed a number of projects the city recently completed:
*the restoration of Kottinger Creek
*renovation of the Veteran's Memorial Hall downtown
*free WiFi service downtown
* public restrooms in Lions Wayside Park
* restoration of Pioneer Cemetery
Current projects include:
* a goal to build the Firehouse Arts Center by restoring the old Fire Station No. 1 downtown for art classes, gallery space and theater productions
* the restoration of the historic Alviso Adobe west of Foothill Road to offer visitors a look at Pleasanton's history with dairies
* work to the Bernal property, which is slated to have sports fields
The city has also made a strong effort to continue providing safety to residents, Hosterman said.
In an apparent reference to the recent double homicides that occurred in Castlewood, Hosterman said "the rare, recent acts of violence that have taken place remind us that even Pleasanton is not exempt from crime and of the importance of maintaining a constant vigilance on the safety front."
The city has met success in the way of community-oriented policing, she added.
Recognizing that the number of traffic collisions has decreased due to what police cite as an increase in traffic citations, Hosterman said the city continues to work on ways to improve the ever-talked about issue of congestion. Hosterman traveled with other Tri-Valley mayors in January to meet with Congressman Jerry McNerney, D-Pleasanton, in Washington, D.C. to lobby for traffic circulation funding. Among the projects to get under way include
* a 13-mile high occupancy vehicle lane on eastbound Interstate 580, which will break ground in two months
* widening to State Route 84 and 580
* new high-occupancy lanes on 580 (eastbound) and Interstate 680 (southbound), which are expected to decrease cut-through traffic in town
The city is also hopeful that a purchase agreement is close to being signed to allow 300 additional parking spaces in the city's acquisition of the Alameda County Transportation Corridor, the former railroad right-of-way that runs through the downtown.
Hosterman also highlighted the Tri-Valley Housing Opportunity Center in Livermore, a center supported and formed by Tri-Valley cities, which has helped families find affordable loans to buy houses, amidst the looming foreclosure crisis.
The mayor's annual State of the City address will be broadcast at 7 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday on Comcast Cable Channel 26.