Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - December 27, 2013

Saying goodbye to the old year

From January to December, 2013 packed a punch

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

We began the year 2013 by adjusting to the plastic bag ban in our stores. Soon we were facing a special election in the city to fill a council vacancy. Development projects were approved, BART workers went on strike, the Senior Center and the library celebrated big anniversaries, and the Aquatics Center was renovated. Sad news included the death of a bicyclist on Foothill Road and a pedestrian on Santa Rita Road. It was all duly recorded in the last 52 issues of the Pleasanton Weekly; here are some of the highlights.

JANUARY

* Pleasanton and the rest of Alameda County begin plastic bag ban in grocery stores. Single use bags are still available, at 10 cents apiece. The county hopes it will save on litter and storm drain cleanup.

* Workday purchases five office buildings comprising Stoneridge Corporate Plaza, which can be seen from I-680. The software company expects to grow to 4,000 employees.

* Planning Commissioner Kathy Narum announces she is running in the May 7 special election for the seat on the Pleasanton City Council vacated when Jerry Thorne was elected mayor in November.

* TV30 launches "Slipstream," a fast-paced community news program hosted by Tom Morrison to provide information on government, education, events and community news.

* Clorox begins to move its 1,000-strong workforce to its stunning new campus on Johnson Drive in Pleasanton.

* State budget has good news for School District: Deputy Superintendent Luz Cazares says PUSD will receive an extra $19 daily per student based on attendance in the coming year.

* Mayor Jerry Thorne goes to his first meeting of the U.S. Mayors Conference in Washington, D.C., with other Tri-Valley leaders and while there attends President Barack Obama's second inauguration.

* Pleasanton Police Chief Dave Spiller is keynote speaker at the 13th annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Fellowship Breakfast hosted by the Tri-Valley Y.

* Diana Fu from Foothill High and Arany Uthayakumar from Amador Valley are named co-teen poet laureates.

* The city puts out a call for two at-large members for the East Pleasanton Specific Plan Task Force, formed to guide the planning efforts for a 1,000-acre area that was formerly the site of sand and gravel mining.

* PUSD passes a $506 million facilities plan, a long list of potential projects to be used as a planning document.

* Brock Roby is installed as chairman of Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce for 2013, succeeding April Mitchell.

* In its first year of existence, the Pleasanton High School hockey team pulls off an upset victory, 2-1, over the San Ramon Grizzlies in the Tri-Valley High School championship game, held at Dublin Iceland.

FEBRUARY

* Pleasanton City Council decides high-density housing near the airport is OK for Livermore but votes 4-0 to keep the cap on allowing residential construction anywhere near the flight path in Pleasanton even though regulatory changes will allow it.

* City officials sign memorandum of understanding with county and Fairgrounds guaranteeing that the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) train station will stay where it is, across the street from the Fairgrounds.

* Amador Valley High School wins first place in the "We the People" state competition and begins fundraisers to represent California at Nationals.

* Planning Commission approves a bid by J.P. Morgan Chase to tear down the aging Santa Rita Junction Shopping Center at Santa Rita and old Santa Rita roads and replace it with a new Chase Bank, the fourth in town.

* East Bay Regional Park District board decides waterslides at Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area will come down, after no acceptable proposals were made by vendors to refurbish and run them.

* Panel of three judges at California Court of Appeal in San Francisco hears arguments over Jennifer and Fredric Lin building 51 homes on 600 acres in southeast hills of Pleasanton, which was blocked by voters in 2010.

* Castlewood Country Club signs new contract with its union member workers after three years of a lockout.

MARCH

* Pleasanton Senior Center celebrates its 20th anniversary at its location on Sunol Boulevard.

* Police Department hosts free speaker series on topics of interest to parents of children ages 10 and older, including the growing use of prescription and over-the-counter drugs, bullying, cyber-bullying and Internet safety.

* Foothill High begins a program called Restorative Justice, which allows the victim and perpetrator to meet and talk surrounded by peers.

* Centerpointe Christian Preschool closes for a few days for staff to get extra training after it is discovered that a teacher bound a 2-year-old with masking tape.

* City Manager Nelson Fialho asks City Council candidates to wait until March 29 to post campaign signs, the usual 40 days before the May 7 election, after candidate David Miller begins to post his signs early.

* California Educational Theatre Association Middle Stage Drama Fest recognizes Harvest Park Middle School for being pioneers in musical theater by awarding gold medals to all the students who performed in "Born to Hand Jive" from "Grease."

* State Court of Appeals rules against Jennifer and Frederic Lin in their attempt to build 51 homes on 562 acres of hilltop property in Pleasanton, backing up the majority vote in the June 8, 2010, election.

* BART allows cyclists to bring their bike on trains for a week to see how they integrate with other commuters. Previous tests were done on Fridays, but it was decided the trial was limited because Fridays are light commute days.

* A petition signed by 300 parents asks the School District to provide notices to families when a student in their child's class has head lice. The District agreed.

* City awards contract for children's programs to Bay Area Children's Theatre instead of the San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, which had run the program for years.

* A memorial garden next to the headquarters of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department is dedicated in honor of U.S. Army Specialist Jameson Lindskog, a Pleasanton resident and combat medic who died March 29, 2011, in Afghanistan while providing first aid to other troops.

* Popular Coldstone Creamery closes its store in Tully's Plaza when lease is not renewed.

* For the second year in a row, Foothill High's competition cheer squads earn three championship titles at the United Spirit Association's High School Spirit Nationals Competition in Anaheim.

APRIL

* Pleasanton Partnerships in Education holds its first Run for Education to raise money for local schools.

* Construction begins on $1.3 million intersection improvement project at Santa Rita Road and Stoneridge Drive, another in a series of multimillion-dollar programs underway to extend Stoneridge Drive east to El Charro Road and Livermore.

* PUSD begins switching from specialists who have direct contact with students to instructional coaches for teachers, to keep students in the classroom rather than have them leave for specific instruction.

* City Council approves final version of hillside protection ordinance, Measure PP, and decides roads are not part of the ordinance, after lengthy debates on whether roads are structures or infrastructure.

* Pleasanton runner shares his experiences at the Boston Marathon after he narrowly missed being a victim of the deadly explosions at the finish line.

* City Council approves multi-story, high-density apartment project and adjoining retail center for a section of the California Center at Rosewood and Owens, one property rezoned for high density housing as part of a court settlement to provide more affordable housing in Pleasanton.

* ACE steps up patrol of the parking lot at its station across the street from the Pleasanton Avenue entrance to the Fairgrounds to keep carpoolers from parking there.

* Amador Valley High's "We the People" team places second in the nation after competing against 44 other states and the District of Columbia during its six-day trip to Washington, D.C.

* Community activist Jack Dove, 89, dies in his home at Ridge View Commons. Dove served on countless city commissions and committees since moving here in 1986, and for many years manned the small wooden building at Lions Wayside Park, where he sold bus tickets and talked politics with civic leaders.

MAY

* Planning Commissioner Kathy Narum is elected to the City Council seat in a special mail-in election to replace Jerry Thorne, who was elected mayor in November.

* New Leaf Community Market, which specializes in quality organic merchandise, opens at Pleasanton's Vintage Hills Shopping Center in the space that was vacant for 15 years after being occupied by Flair, Romley's and the short-lived Pleasanton market.

* Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council presents the Big Draw, a citywide celebration that includes pianos on Main and community chalk drawing on Division Street to benefit the Arts in the Schools Grant Program.

* East Bay Regional Park District begins one-way shuttle that runs three days a week on Pleasanton Ridge for those who can make the trek down but not the steep hike up.

* The last Pleasanton link for the Iron Horse Trail, connecting Santa Rita Road to the Pleasanton-Dublin BART station, is formally dedicated. The 1.5-mile link is part of the East Bay Green Transportation Initiative.

* City pays off $20 million in outstanding bonds borrowed 10 years ago to pay for Callippe Preserve golf course; waiting for the bonds' maturity date in 2032 would have cost another $10.7 million in interest.

* School board approves smaller classes for first-graders, going from 30 to 25 after Pleasanton Partnerships in Education raised $213,000 of the $325,000 needed for the first school year.

* City Council OKs three-year agreement with city employees to raise individual pension contributions to 8% by end of the year while granting 7% wage increase over the life of the new contract.

* Seventh annual Juanita Haugen Community of Character Awards are given to Tom Fox, Jim Ott, Pam Yeaw and the Rotary Club of Pleasanton.

* Police Department's annual report shows that thefts and auto thefts climbed slightly in 2012 while violent crimes continued to trend downward, with the lowest number in five years.

* New bronze statue, "Joyful Empowerment," is unveiled on Main Street in front of the museum.

* To address financial challenges, Lawrence Livermore National Labs offers 600 employees a voluntary separation and 399 accept. The Lab now employs just under 6,200 people.

* Foothill High girls varsity relay team takes first at East Bay Athletic League Track and Field Championships, also breaking their school's record for the second time.

* Sandra Kay is appointed Pleasanton's new poet laureate, a two-year unpaid post. Her first step was to create a comprehensive list of arts groups and their meetings, found at www.firehousearts.org.

JUNE

* Pleasanton loses principals: Jim Hansen of Amador Valley and John Whitney of Pleasanton Middle School retire and Foothill's John Dwyer takes the principal's job at Lynbrook High in Sunnyvale.

* Dublin bicyclist Diana Hersevoort, 58, is killed on Foothill Road near Golden Eagle Way in Pleasanton by a speeding driver, 18-year-old Cody Hall.

* "Summer Fun Starts Here" is the theme of the 2013 Alameda County Fair, open for the 101st year at the Fairgrounds in Pleasanton. First week attendance is low due to temperatures over 100.

* Pleasanton School Board approves a $115 million budget for the 2013-14 school year, $2 million less than the budget for the previous year.

* A cultural arts survey shows residents would like more galleries, arts and live music events and more activities for youths; existing venues improved; and "enhanced quality and sophistication" in Pleasanton arts.

JULY

* Interstates 580 and 680 are crowded as BART workers go on strike, although city officials work with other agencies to provide chartered buses and free parking. Fourth of July holiday means less of an impact.

* An Auburn man is sentenced to 60 months in prison for bilking his 86-year-old mother, a Pleasanton resident, out of her life savings, nearly a half million dollars.

* Walmart opens new Neighborhood Market in the former Nob Hill space in Meadow Plaza on Santa Rita Road.

* Firefighters rescue four riders from roller coaster called the Zillerator at the County Fair after about a 20-minute wait. No one was injured.

* City Council approves three-year contract with San Jose engineering firm to handle an ongoing program of inspecting Pleasanton's 23 bridges.

* Coalition of Bay Area leaders approves long-term regional plan, called Plan Bay Area, which works to meet state mandates for cutting air pollution and improving access to public transportation, although Pleasanton Mayor Jerry Thorne, representing the mayors of Alameda County with the Association of Bay Area Governments, votes against it.

* Cody Hall, 18, a June graduate of Foothill High, is charged with vehicular manslaughter with gross negligence and reckless driving with serious injury, after striking and killing bicyclist Diana Hersevoort, 58, of Dublin on June 9.

* Stoneridge Creek retirement community opens in east Pleasanton on Staples Ranch, the 124-acre site at I-580 and El Charro Road, with 635 homes ranging in size from 700-square-foot condominiums to single family homes, as well as 60 assisted living apartments and a health center with skilled nursing beds.

* Pleasanton National Little League represents District 57 at newly created Little League Intermediate 50/70 Baseball Division World Series for 11- to 13-year-olds, held in Livermore July 30-Aug. 5.

AUGUST

* Pleasanton wraps up municipal transportation survey, which is done every three years, telephoning 350-400 residents, to assess commute patterns and preferences.

* City Council approves 345-unit upscale apartment complex at Stanley Boulevard and Bernal that will include a three-building retail center with a drug store and drive-through pharmacy.

* Kottinger Place Redevelopment Task Force approves a revised site plan for rebuilding Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens, two aging subsidized affordable housing developments for qualified older residents on Kottinger Drive.

* Charges against Cody Hall are elevated to murder for killing bicyclist Diana Hersevoort on June 9 while driving almost twice the speed limit. He faces 15 years to life on the murder charge and an additional three years and eight months for a charge of reckless driving causing bodily injury for striking husband Joe Hersevoort, who suffered a broken leg.

* Planning Commission OKs 210 apartments, 97 homes along Valley Avenue just south of Bernal Avenue, near the new Safeway.

* City Council gives permission to Ponderosa Homes to build 12 new homes on Stanley Boulevard on the site of a former mobile home park but votes to save a 101-year-old home on the adjacent property.

SEPTEMBER

* Dolores Bengtson Aquatic Center major renovations are completed, including redesigning the 25-meter pool, adding ADA access to two pools, and installing new plumbing, heating, electrical and filtration systems.

* School board hears update on demographics that includes the prediction that by 2018 another elementary school will be needed in the northwest portion of the district to keep enrollments at 700 students.

* Pleasanton's Paratransit Door-to-Door service receives funds from an Alameda County "gap" application to continue to provide rides to those 70 and older.

* Leadership Pleasanton, which helps develop informed future community leaders by introducing them to civic, educational and professional aspects of the city, turns 25.

* City Council creates a seven-member committee to determine what is needed at the 120-year-old, city-owned Pioneer Cemetery on Sunol Boulevard and how much it will cost.

* Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce launches "Pleasanton Young Professionals," a networking group for emerging and established people between the ages of 21 and 40 to help them continue to grow in their careers while becoming business and community leaders.

* Pleasanton resident David Lamont, 51, is attacked and left for dead near his home on a quiet cul-de-sac when he goes outside late at night to confront some juveniles making noise. Lamont remains in a coma while police investigate.

* City Council approves spending $1.6 million to replace city's old street lights with new light emitting diode (LED) energy efficient lights in the coming year, part of the city's Climate Action Plan adopted last year.

* Pleasanton receives Beacon Award from the Institute for Local Government at the California League of Cities Conference in Sacramento for its success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, saving energy and adopting policies and programs that promote sustainability.

* East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force presents its "preferred plan," calling for retail, commercial and residential development on 400 acres of mostly vacant land, to the Planning Commission.

* Brock Roby, a civil engineer with BKF Engineers, chairman of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce and for many years a church ministry leader, is named the 2013 recipient of the prestigious Mayor's Award.

OCTOBER

* The City Council agrees to move forward on the East Pleasanton Specific Plan to allow homes, apartment buildings, retail and commercial businesses and a public elementary school to be part of a major land development.

* Yizhen Zhou, 65, is killed walking in crosswalk on Santa Rita Road near Francisco Street shortly after 8:30 p.m. on a Saturday. Her husband also sustains severe injuries.

* Firefighters Expo draws about one thousand people to the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department's training tower on Busch Road to watch demonstrations and participate in fire extinguisher drills and a kids' obstacle course.

* Alviso Adobe Community Park holds fifth anniversary celebration that includes showing a student-produced documentary about the adobe and a visit with Fiona, the park's life-sized, fiberglass cow-in-residence.

* East Bay Regional Park District plans to acquire the 231-acre Castleridge property in the Pleasanton hills for $2.2 million and add it to Pleasanton Ridge Regional Park, which will provide direct access to the Ridge from Alviso Adobe Community Park.

NOVEMBER

* Stoneridge Drive opens to Livermore, carrying out what was in the original plans decades ago and providing a direct, safer route between Pleasanton and Livermore.

* Pleasanton Public Library celebrates its 25th anniversary with an evening reception that includes a silent auction, prizes, food and music, with proceeds going to buy more children's books.

* Pleasanton agrees to proceed with a recycled water feasibility study that could see many of the city's parks and landscaped street medians irrigated with recycled water.

* Walnut Grove Elementary School principal Jon Vranesh is suddenly replaced without any explanation by the School District, which does not publicly discuss personnel matters.

* City Council approves agreement with MidPen Housing Corp. to tear down apartment complexes at Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens and replace them with new structures that will double the size with 185 units for low-income senior residents.

* Former Councilwoman Karin Mohr, 74, dies from injuries suffered in a fall from a ladder while cleaning the gutters of her house.

* Foothill High Falcons are the victors in this year's crosstown rivalry football game against Amador Valley, 41-14.

* Pleasanton Finance Director Emily Wagner reports that the city ended fiscal year 2012-13 more than $1 million over its projected municipal operating budget as sales and hotel taxes edge their way back from recession-year lows.

DECEMBER

* ValleyCare Health system participates in Operation Walk USA, with Drs. Aron Salyapongse and Robert Sproul providing free hip replacements at ValleyCare Medical Center to two local patients.

* Paws in Need, a new Tri-Valley nonprofit group that offers financial assistance for spaying, neutering and urgent care for pets, acquires tax-exempt status. An anonymous donor matches any donation up to $10,000 by Dec. 31 to help the group get going.

* Fund is set up for donations to help the family of David Lamont, who was left comatose after being beaten outside his home two months ago when he went outside to investigate some noise.

* City Council votes unanimously to start making major modification on Black Avenue to curb speeding and reduce traffic volumes.

* An oven explosion in a kitchen at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin injures 11 people, one critically. Seven were treated at the jail infirmary while four were taken to hospitals.

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