The mayors of the greater Tri-Valley—Danville, Dublin, Livermore, Pleasanton and San Ramon—credited their unified approach to dealing with regional problems for major improvements in the outlook for transportation, air and water quality and state and federal assistance for projects that can benefit the area.
Speaking at the Tri-Valley Mayors' Summit, an annual event sponsored by the Chambers of Commerce in the five cities, the mayors talked about their trips to Washington, D.C., to meet with Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein and Congressman Jerry McNerney (D-Pleasanton). As a result, millions of dollars have been earmarked for Tri-Valley projects ranging from a new carpool lane on I-580, which was started two weeks ago, to assistance in funding a part of the new Alviso Adobe Community Park in Pleasanton, a historical site that is expected to attract thousands from throughout the Bay Area.
"I live in Danville now but I have lived all over the U.S. and have never seen five neighboring municipalities and five chambers working so well together," said Mark Curtis, master of ceremonies and a 30-year radio and TV personality who was most recently with KTVU (Channel 2) from 1993 to January 2008. "This is a unique thing and doesn't happen everywhere in the country."
Livermore Vice Mayor John Marchand, who was substituting for Mayor Marshall Kamena, agreed.
"We're always looking for regional solutions to problems," Marchand said. "Just two weeks ago, we were at the ground-breaking for the new 580 carpool lane. That project is the result of a cooperative agreement among each of us as well as the county, state and federal governments. By improving travel for those who commute long distances to other cities, it will impact all of our communities."
Dublin's Mayor Janet Lockhart said she has been serving on the boards of several regional agencies to provide better housing opportunities for commuters coming into the area.
"Do I believe that regional efforts are necessary? Yes I do," she said in response to a question by Curtis.
H. Abram Wilson, San Ramon's mayor who is also the Republican candidate for election Nov. 4 to the 15th State Assembly District, said it's imperative that the five cities work together on many issues, especially those that deal with transportation, traffic, housing and water.
"We are the envy of other cities because the five of us work so well together both here at home and when we go back to Washington to seek help from our federal legislators," he said.
Added Mayor Candace Anderson of Danville: "I would like to say that as a council member, we have complete control over what happens in our town. But the fact is that we all share transportation routes, freeways, transit opportunities and much more."
Pointing out the conference room's window to the Bridges Golf Club course, Anderson noted that 15 years ago the land they were on wasn't part of San Ramon.
"Its development, along with many others by the five cities, is having a great impact on the entire region," she explained.
In looking at actions cities have taken to reduce energy consumption and improve air quality, Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman said the city has mandated that all new development be green-building, energy-efficient certified. Both Pleasanton's new firehouse on Bernal Avenue across from the Alameda County Fairgrounds and its Firehouse Arts Center now under construction rely on solar power. She also cited a new solar power partnership developed with Livermore to advance that form of energy.
"We are working within our city and with other cities to reduce our carbon footprint and greenhouse emissions," she added.
Although Pleasanton does not use recycled water, Dublin, Livermore and San Ramon do. All three communities now use recycled water for sprinkling their parks and recreational fields and Livermore, with its highly visible purple fire hydrants, also has recycled water piped to those hydrants instead of potable water.
"Ninety-six percent of our residents recycle thanks to special programs in our schools with messages that the kids take home to their parents and to practice," Marchand said. "We are looking at the global warming impacts of all projects under way in Livermore so that we never have to ask if we know what our carbon footprint will be."
On the sluggish economy and concern over both the state budget deficit in the year ahead and the financial restructuring under way in Washington, the mayors said their cities long ago learned to salt away cash reserves to meet any sudden municipal revenue downturn.
They also cited their cities' efforts to boost their own economy with more tax-generating retail and business developments.
"With 22 cultural arts organizations and our new Bankhead Theater, we are turning downtown Livermore into a retail and cultural center that will have a regional appeal," Marchand said. "We have two of the most technically-savvy centers in the world (Livermore and Sandia laboratories, a highly educated work force, good jobs and good schools—all which make Livermore a great place to live, work and do business."
Citing the U.S. Census Bureau's recent report that, for the second year in a row, Pleasanton is home to the highest median income for any city its size in the U.S., Hosterman said residents have a little more discretionary income to spend, which helps the city's historic downtown and other retail centers.
"Location, location, location," shouted Lockhart, citing Dublin's crossroads at the I-580/I-680 interchange. "Plus, we've added more than 1,000 affordable housing units for people who want to live in this area and work locally.
"We have a responsibility to build smart, build green and at the same time save a lot of our open space," she added.
Wilson said he is the chief cheerleader for San Ramon's planned new downtown "that will be the jewel of our community and draw many others here."
Then, glancing at the four other mayors flanking him, he added: "But we're not trying to compete with other cities. We're trying to complement them."
Anderson said that Danville, which this year is celebrating its 150th year as a town, is nearing residential buildout.
"I don't see huge changes in Danville in the future except that we will keep updating and working to improve our downtown," she said. "We have a community that continues to attract new residents because of our excellent schools, a great downtown and yet still has that small town look and feel. I don't see Danville looking much different in future years, just becoming more charming."
Tuesday's meeting was hosted by the San Ramon Chamber of Commerce.