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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Determining history in San Ramon

Uploaded: Jan 14, 2016
I will admit to chuckling when I read that the San Ramon City Council was considering adopting a date for the formal founding of the city. Its incorporation date is 1983 after years of being under the jurisdiction of Contra Costa County. Mayor Bill Clarkson, who has run his own real estate business for decades in San Ramon, has been pushing for a formal date from the city.
The recommendation is 1867 when the San Ramon Grammar School was completed. So be it, but the challenge San Ramon faces, as does Dublin, is that there is no there, there.
The best example is the number of studies done by the city, the chamber of commerce and Sunset Development Co. (Bishop Ranch owner/developer) trying to decide where to put “downtown.” There may have been an elementary school in 1867, but there is still no downtown gathering place today.
No city with an established downtown would have split the city in half with a business park as Contra Costa County did with San Ramon.
Dublin faces and continues to face a similar challenge, except its so-called core is filled with big box retailers and acres of parking lots. There’s precious little streetscape in the older areas of Dublin that invites strolling.
Both San Ramon and Dublin were “planned” by their respective counties which certainly had an eye on tax revenue when deciding land uses.
Among the Tri-Valley cities, Pleasanton and Livermore both were incorporated well over 100 years ago, while the other three all officially became cities (a town in Danville’s case) between 1981-1983. Danville leaders were fortunate that it has a long-established downtown in sharp contrast to San Ramon and Dublin.
I mentioned the San Ramon plan to long-time Tassajara Valley rancher Gordon Rasmussen, whose grandfather John bought the family spread on Highland Road in 1913. He recalled the story he was told about those days in the valley. Elliott’s bar in downtown Danville was the hangout for the ranch hands and has been since 1907. When John relocated the ranch, one of his key cowboys quit because it was too long a ride from the ranch to Elliott’s.
Reminds me of old-time Pleasanton when the race track and gravel were the key industries. Pleasanton was known for having the most bars downtown on Main Street of any town in Northern California. The one remaining bar from those times, the Pastime, was knocked down in the last couple of years and replaced by Starbucks.
That’s part of the reason Pleasanton has gone from a community of characters to the current version.

What is it worth to you?


Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jan 16, 2016 at 9:20 am

DKHSK is a registered user.

My respects to the residents of Dublin and San Ramon, but I would find it really off-putting to live in a town that didn't have a, you know, DOWNTOWN!

They're both really fine cities, and I do a lot of activities in both. But come one, absolutely no character in those cities.

It reminds me of a story from my youth. While driving from San Jose to visit relatives in Concord in the early 70's, my Dad looked out to the East where the land was being cleared for houses in what is now San Ramon and remarked "who the heck would live out here!?".

He'd be very surprised now.

Posted by, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 19, 2016 at 3:25 pm is a registered user.

The concept of a "downtown" comes from the horse and buggy era, when farms and ranches took up a lot of land on the outskirts and a central gathering place which was necessary for shopping, church, and recreation (women and booze).

A city like San Ramon, which was mainly developed in the 1980's not the 1880's, is built around a business park. This makes a whole lot more sense than an old fashioned downtown from 100 years ago.

Bishop Ranch is our "Downtown." The residential areas are the "Suburbs" of the business park. This is a 21st Century concept, not a 19th Century overly romanticized concept. It is so much better than setting time backwards 150 years.


Posted by Longtime Resident, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 19, 2016 at 11:05 pm

There was no San Ramon east of Bishop Ranch when construction of the business park commenced making it difficult to "split the city in half."

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jan 20, 2016 at 8:07 am

DKHSK is a registered user.


You're right. Families leisurely walking around a Bishop Ranch business park on a Saturday afternoon is so much more appealing than strolling around downtown Pleasanton eating lunch at Strizzi's and then grabbing an ice cream cone at Meadowlark.

Silly me.

Posted by rosalindr, a resident of San Ramon,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 12:12 am

rosalindr is a registered user.


Have you ever walked around Bishop Ranch, around the lakes and duck ponds? It's lovely (except for the goose poop). There are restaurants, sandwich shops, two farmers' markets, and regularly scheduled family events. It is a real PARK surrounded by office buildings. Check it out Web Link


Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Jan 21, 2016 at 7:39 am

DKHSK is a registered user.


Yes I have, that's why I responded.


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