Pleasanton Planning Commissioner Arne Olson said goodbye to his fellow commissioners last night as he stepped down from eight years of service on the commission, a prestigious group that often serves as a stepping-stone to election to the City Council.
Commissioner Jennifer Pearce, who also was termed out after eight years on the board, missed her final meeting, but still received accolades from her associates for her work .
Appointed by Mayor Jerry Thorne with the City Council's approval to serve on the Planning Commission are Jack Balch and Gina Piper.
Mark Posson, who has served as an alternate for the last two years after previously serving on the Energy & Environment Committee, also was appointed to a regular seat, joining fellow commissioners Greg O'Connor, Nancy Allen and Herb Ritter.
Balch brings a wealth of experience to Planning. A certified public accountant, he owns his own business, Balch Enterprises, a commercial building, development and property management firm.
Active in both the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the Chartered Global Management Account organization, he is well-versed in financial and auditing standards for companies, nonprofits and federal, state and local governments. When it comes to budget preparation time in Pleasanton, Finance Director Emily Wagner will have an attentive compatriot on the Planning Commission.
Balch, who with his wife Maria has a 6-year-old son, grew up just south of Pleasanton on the Sunol/Fremont, where his parents still live, became active in the Sunol 4-H Club and exhibited pigs at the Alameda County Fair.
Now living in Pleasanton, he has long been involved in civic affairs here, is a member of the Valley Business Park Owner's Association and was appointed to the Parks and Recreation Commission in 2009, which he now leaves to join the Planning Commission. He also served on the Kottinger Place and East Pleasanton Specific Plan task forces.
Gina Piper was appointed as an alternate member of the commission, succeeding Posson. The alternate must attend meetings and participate in all of itsd considerations, but only votes when a rergular member is absent.
Piper is a well-known Realtor in Pleasanton and currently a member of the city's Economic Vitality Committee, which, like Balch, will leave as she moves to Planning.
Piper has been president of the Tri-Valley Women's Council of Realtors and on the board of directors of the Bay East Association of Realtors. An agent with Better Homes & Gardens Tri-Valley Realty, she considers her skills in negotiating and compromising with home buyers and sellers who often have opposing views and goals will be especially helpful in considering issues that come before the Planning Commission.