News


Newsworthy events of 2014 reported in Pleasanton Weekly

Coming ValleyCare merger with Stanford, election highlight of year

Many newsworthy events took place in 2014, such as the city passing policies to preserve downtown historic homes and ValleyCare's merger with Stanford Health Care.

At the same time, life continued in Pleasanton as usual, with residents enjoying the museum lecture series, the farmers market, First Wednesday street parties and concerts in the park.

As the year continued, we came to realize the seriousness of the drought, and Pleasanton made plans to cope. Also elections were held and our officials continued to deal with development -- and those who oppose it.

Police warned of a "grandparent scam" and launched a new crime prevention campaign to reduce preventable property crimes, while the courts sentenced a speeding Pleasanton teen who killed a cyclist on Foothill Road, and a man was convicted of murdering a girl when both were high school students here in 1984.

Reading back over the last 52 Pleasanton Weeklies, it becomes clear that 2014 was a news-packed year.

January

* BART passengers start new year of commuting with fares up an average of 5% to help pay for new train cars, a new control system, and improvements to a maintenance facility in Hayward. The cost to park at the two Dublin/Pleasanton BART stations rises to $2 starting Jan. 27.

* Verizon Wireless Network announces it has added new 4G LTE cell sites along Vineyard Avenue, Isabel Avenue and Stanley Boulevard.

* East Bay YMCA leaders hold two forums for parents on how to "watch your children and listen" and be aware of changes in their behavior, in the aftermath of the arrest of popular Livermore golf coach Andrew Michael Nisbet on charges of sexually abusing boys.

* The 2014 Ed Kinney Speaker Series begins Jan. 14 with that quintessentially American humorist, Mark Twain, played by Pat Kaunert.

* Pleasanton's Community of Character Coalition chooses, as recipients of Juanita Haugen memorial scholarships for 2014, Alice Deng from Amador Valley High School and Diane Hadley from Foothill.

* Members of the Amalgamated Transit Union Local 1555 -- which represents 945 station agents, train operators and foreworkers -- approve a tentative four-year BART agreement to end nine months of labor strife.

* Former Pleasanton Mayor Ken Mercer, 71, dies Jan. 14 after a long battle with cancer. He was first elected to the City Council in 1976 and served in rotation as mayor before becoming the city's first directly elected mayor.

* The speed limit on the newly extended section of Stoneridge Drive is raised to 40 mph from 35 mph after a speed survey shows that 85% of motorists clocked were traveling at an average speed of 43 mph.

* After two years of public debate, the Pleasanton City Council OKs changes to its policies and regulations to preserve the look of historic homes in the downtown district; homes built before 1942 -- which will be listed in a register -- will now be considered historic and subject to the new regulations.

* The Rotary Club of Pleasanton raises $4,400 at its Saturday "yard sale" in the parking lot at Amador Valley High School to purchase and distribute wheelchairs to people with disabilities in Latin America, including Tulancingo, Pleasanton's sister city.

* Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors declares a local drought emergency upon learning that State Water Project allocations may be eliminated, pending the continuation of the dry climate.

* Pleasanton resident Philip Scholz, 35, is killed after being struck by a train at the Santa Clara station around 5:45 p.m. Jan. 20 after he reaches out to a man on the tracks to help save him.

* The Pleasanton school board talks about a bond measure after hearing a demographer's report calling for one new school on the city's north side to accommodate overcrowding.

* Police arrest a 21-year-old Pleasanton man, Jason Anthony Landes, just hours after he allegedly fires shots into the ceiling at Redcoats British Pub & Restaurant on St. Mary Street.

* State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), 61, throws his hat into the ring for the 11th Congressional District seat of longtime U.S. Rep. George Miller (D-Martinez), who announced that he would retire after his current term, his 20th in Congress.

* Tony Costello, a longtime Pleasanton resident and Amador Valley High basketball player and graduate who died in August of pancreatic cancer at age 57, is posthumously inducted into the Chabot College Athletics Hall of Fame during halftime of a traditional-rivalry game between Chabot and Las Positas College, the two schools where he coached for more than two decades.

February

* City Council calls on residents to voluntarily reduce water usage by 20% in response to Gov. Jerry Brown's state of emergency proclamation regarding California's drought conditions.

* San Ramon Regional Medical Center and John Muir Health acquire a building with more than 92,000 square feet at 5860 Owens Drive to house their new Pleasanton Outpatient Center, expected to open in early 2015.

* City Council OKs a plan to add more sports fields and create a wooded area to be called Oak Woodland in Bernal Community Park.

* Marcy Feit, president and CEO of ValleyCare Health System since July 1997, abruptly resigns her post.

* District Attorney Nancy O'Malley, citing lack of sufficient evidence, says no charges will be filed against teens involved in an altercation that left Pleasanton resident David Lamont, 51, unconscious.

* Purple pipes are laid in Pleasanton to carry water from Livermore's recycling water plant for irrigation, now used at Stoneridge Creek Community Park and Callippe Preserve Golf Course.

* Amador Valley High team wins the California state "We the People" competition, earning a place at nationals in Washington, D.C., in April. Foothill finishes second.

* Mystery still surrounds fate of former Walnut Grove principal Jon Vranesh as school board votes 3-2 in closed session to strip him of any administrative duties after he finishes the school year as an itinerant principal.

* The Pleasanton Weekly and its partner, Silicon Valley Community Foundation, distribute $75,000 to 10 Tri-Valley nonprofit groups, recipients of the Weekly's 2013 Holiday Fund.

* Pleasanton resident Kenneth Kenitzer, 70, is sentenced to six years in federal prison for his role in a Ponzi scheme that netted more than $80 million in a little over two years.

* A Pleasanton resident loses $34,000 in a "grandparent" scam, in which a caller pretended to be the victim's grandson in trouble in a foreign country.

* The Foothill Wind Symphony is accepted to perform at the New York International Music Festival at Carnegie Hall in New York in April.

* The school board unanimously signs off on a plan that would cut class sizes to 25 students for grades 1-3 in 2014-15, and for kindergarten and transitional kindergarten classes the year after.

March

* City Council votes 4-1 (Councilwoman Karla Brown dissenting) to continue the planning process for developing the mostly vacant 1,000-acre tract of land called East Pleasanton, even though there is no longer a requirement for additional housing there.

* Pleasanton Police Department announces that Detective Matthew Lengel has been named Officer of the Year and Community Service Officer Shannon Revel-Whitaker is Professional Staff Employee of the Year.

* Safeway, one of Pleasanton's largest employers with approximately 2,600 employees between its grocery stores and headquarters, announces a proposed merger with Boise-based Albertsons.

* City Council approves a developer's plan to build an apartment complex on West Las Positas Boulevard across from Hart Middle School with 177 units and buildings as high as four stories on the 6-acre site.

* Pleasanton resident Susan Xiao-Ping Su is found guilty of visa fraud, conspiracy, wire fraud, unauthorized access to a government computer and money laundering in connection with Tri-Valley University, a bogus, unaccredited venture she ran.

* Alameda County Fair announces a fireworks show will follow each of its free nightly concerts, including the return of the Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular.

* Zone 7 Water Agency cuts flows to Pleasanton arroyos to save limited supplies of water for delivery to its customers during the continuing drought emergency.

April

* PG&E agrees to hold off on cutting down hundreds of trees as part of its program to improve natural gas pipeline safety, after Pleasanton and other cities question whether it is necessary in all cases.

* Congregation Beth Emek holds Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 75th anniversary of Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass), the first organized acts of violence against Jews perpetrated by the Nazis across Germany and Austria.

* Arnoldo Avalos, the founder and CEO of the Pleasanton-based Avalos Foundation, is appointed to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors by Gov. Jerry Brown.

* Pleasanton Planning Commission votes unanimously to approve plans by CarMax Inc., the country's largest retailer of used cars, to build a regional auto superstore on a 20-acre site at I-580 and El Charro Road on Pleasanton's far northeast side.

* ValleyCare Health System announces that the ValleyCare Auxiliary has given 1.6 million hours of volunteer time and raised more than $6 million to expand facilities, programs and services since it started in 1958, even before Valley Memorial Hospital opened.

* Cody Hall, the Pleasanton teen whose high-speed crash on Foothill Road in June 2013 killed a Dublin bicyclist, pleads no contest to felony vehicular manslaughter in connection with the death of cyclist Diana Hersevoort.

* Valley Humane Society cancels its popular annual spring Hidden Gardens of the Valley fundraising tour because of drought conditions. The tour has raised more than $100,000 since it began in 2006.

* Workbench TrueValue Hardware opens on Main Street in the 11,000-square-foot space that was home to Domus kitchen and home accessories store for many years.

* Pleasanton launches Mobile Citizen, a web-based application that allows residents to notify city staff about maintenance issues, including potholes, graffiti, broken water sprinklers, clogged storm drains and streetlight outages.

* Police Department begins to transition to a new era of fuel-efficient vehicles with plans to acquire 12 Ford Interceptor SUVs to replace V8 gas guzzlers this fiscal year with the remaining fleet being replaced over the next 12 months.

* By placing wheelchairs on local campuses, the Wheelchair Foundation's From the Heart schools project aims to raise awareness about disabilities in the world, inform local students about issues faced by people with disabilities, and raise funds for people in need of wheelchairs.

* Amador Valley High School's "We the People" team places second at the national competition in Washington, D.C., where it competed against other state winners.

May

* City Council votes to require all households and businesses to reduce their water consumption by 25% over their 2013 usage or face penalties.

* This year's Juanita Haugen Community of Character awards go to Brad Hirst, Emily Scholz and Bob Williams for individuals and Lynnewood United Methodist Church.

* Students report to school officials that they are being asked to send pornographic images of themselves through Instagram. Police say they find upon investigation that there were two reported victims at one school in Pleasanton.

* Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation presents school district with a check for $551,000, of which $80,000 came from its Fun Run for Education in April.

* Dublin police shoot and kill Foothill High student Oscar Herrera after he allegedly attacks with a metal baseball bat a police officer who is responding to a domestic disturbance call.

* The school board appoints Brentwood school administrator Jan Steed, a Pleasanton resident, as the new principal of Walnut Grove Elementary School, the permanent replacement for Jon Vranesh.

* Lisa Highfill, the school district's instructional technology coach, is named the 2014-15 Teacher of the Year.

* Pleasanton resident Laura Turner DeMott is inducted into the International Skateboarding Hall of Fame.

* Dr. Arthur Barnes concludes his 50th season as music director of the Livermore-Amador Symphony, which was founded one year before he joined.

* The City Council approves three major business developments -- Workday Inc., CarMax and the Hendrick Automotive Group -- that will cost millions of dollars to build, add millions to the city's sales and property tax revenue, and create a thousand or more jobs.

* Jon Vranesh, who was placed on administrative leave Oct. 25, files a formal claim against the Pleasanton Unified School District for "money damages and injunctive and other relief," saying the district and employees defamed him.

* Foothill and Amador Valley high schools are among the top 100 best public schools in California, according to a recent U.S. News & World Report survey with the magazine ranking Amador at No. 46 and Foothill, 64.

* Goodguys celebrate the 50th anniversary of the iconic Ford Mustang at the Summer Get-Together at the Pleasanton Fairgrounds with Mustangs from the 1960s through the current models on display.

* City Council approves $62.8 million plan to tear down both Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens and replace them with new structures that will double the size of the development, with 185 units for low-income seniors upgraded to today's living standards.

* Cody Hall is sentenced to nine years in state prison for the crash that killed a Dublin bicyclist and injured her husband.

* Pleasanton's Lady Cavaliers rugby team prevails at the National High School Rugby Championships in Massachusetts after defeating its three opponents with a combined score of 156-3 en route to earning the Division 2 title.

June

* Republican attorney Catharine Baker tops the ballot in the June 3 primary in the 16th State Assembly District winning 36.5% of all votes cast. Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti finishes second with 29.6%, setting the state for November's two-candidate runoff.

* The College Board invalidates hundreds of Advanced Placement exam scores at Amador Valley High School due to reported "seating irregularities." At first, 400 students were determined to have to retake the exams but that was reduced to 315.

* Planning Commission gives final approval to a developer's plan to tear down the 104-year-old Pastime Pool building at 511 Main St., replacing it with a two-story commercial building that will have offices, a restaurant and possibly other retail businesses.

* City Council unanimously approves new Parks and Recreation Master Plan, a 200-plus-page document which concludes that, in addition to playgrounds and baseball fields, the parks need programs and facilities with more of an adult focus, including dog parks, walking and hiking trails, more lighted tennis courts, and more picnic tables and barbecues.

* Amador Valley High varsity softball team caps an undefeated season with its second sectional crown in four years following a 2-1 victory over Granada High in the title game at St. Mary's College.

* The city renames Pleasanton's sports park as Ken Mercer Sports Park to honor the city's longest-serving mayor, who died last January. The park extends northeast of Hopyard Road.

* Alameda County Fair begins its 102nd year, to run June 18-July 6. The theme is "Taste the Red, White & Blue," to celebrate the return of the Fourth of July Fireworks Spectacular.

* More than 1,200 students graduate from Pleasanton's high schools.

* On June 14, the bicentennial of the writing of "The Star-Spangled Banner" by Francis Scott Key, folks gather at Wayside Park to sing the National Anthem, led by members of the Jose Maria Amador Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, part of a national effort at the same time.

* School board approves the modified "lite" school calendar starting in 2015-16, which will schedule school to begin early August, end late May, and include a one-week break in October, the first semester ending before winter break and a nine-week summer break.

* Some 2,000 runners and their families turn out for the 21st annual Father's Day Spirit Run, hosted by the Rotary Club of Pleasanton.

* City Council agrees to spend $300,000 to build an off-leash dog park on a 2-acre site at the Lagoon Road/Bernal Avenue staging area of the Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail.

* Sunol residents and Girl Scouts Troop 32866 finish building a small community library on the town's Main Street, which is accessible 24 hours a day and stocked with about 250 books ranging from adult to children works.

July

* Hacienda business park reports strong tenant activity after the close of the second quarter of 2014, with both new and existing commitments made from more than a dozen tenants since April.

* Administrators of the joint powers authority that provides liability coverage to Pleasanton Unified School District reaches settlements in two claims filed by district employees alleging sexual harassment and a hostile work environment at the hands of former Walnut Grove Elementary principal Jon Vranesh.

* Despite temperatures hovering near the 100-degree mark for several days, attendance at the Alameda County Fair is up 22% over last year, with 475,762 visitors during the 17-day run.

* Great Bull Run and Tomato Royale come to the Alameda County Fairgrounds, an Americana version of the world-renowned Running of the Bulls in Pamplona, Spain.

* Homeowners form a group, Pleasanton Voters for Smart Growth, to halt construction of additional high-density housing in Pleasanton, citing shortfalls in water, school space and other infrastructure needs.

* A two-alarm fire destroys a second-floor apartment and damages at least one other on a Friday night in an eight-unit apartment complex at 1302 Hopyard Road. The Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department believed the fire was caused by burning grease on a stove.

* City Council agrees to spend $420,000 to improve the small park at the north end of Main Street near the Arroyo del Valle bridge and to rename it Rotary Park in honor of Pleasanton's Rotary clubs, which will celebrate their 50th anniversary in May 2015.

* A citizens' task force is established to look at ways to spice up the Alviso Adobe, a historical landmark that the city of Pleasanton spent $4.5 million to restore six years ago, which includes a 7-acre park and small parking lot.

* Residents of 300 apartments in Pleasanton's Springhouse Apartments go without water for four consecutive days after the complex's main high pressure water pipe breaks and attempts to repair it result in another pipe section blowing out.

* The Victorian home on Second Street and Angela becomes a movie set as crews move in to film "Gibby," drawing residents to enjoy meeting the stars, especially Crystal, a 20-year-old capuchin monkey movie star.

August

* Safeway shareholders vote overwhelmingly to approve the acquisition of the Pleasanton-based supermarket chain by an affiliate of Albertsons, another national supermarket firm, which has its corporate headquarters in Boise, Idaho.

* Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area beaches are closed for nearly a week after bacteria measurements do not meet state health standards.

* Urged on by Mayor Jerry Thorne, the City Council creates a process for monitoring state and regional legislation that is under consideration, in order to retain local control on urban issues.

* PPIE Foundation announces the recipients of its 2014 Innovative Education Grant Program -- 20 educators and counselors who were awarded $41,000 in education grants to fund projects that are student-focused, promote creativity and innovative thinking, and offer expanded learning.

* The Pleasanton Meadows Sharks claim their second straight title in the season-ending championship meet for the Tri-Valley Swim League, comprised of teams from Pleasanton and Dublin.

* Civic Center Station office building owner Vera Revelli holds an art contest for children to spread the message that we must conserve water, then hangs the entries in some of its 25 offices.

* An Alameda County bankruptcy court trustee seeks a jury trial for the leaders of the now defunct Tri-Valley Community Foundation in an effort to collect $928,000 in appropriated funds that the foundation didn't have, contending that longtime TVCF president David Rice and the board members failed in their management and administration of the affairs of TVCF and should stand before a jury on the charges.

* East Bay Regional Park District holds a dedication ceremony at Creekside Park for the completion of the Iron Horse Regional Trail extension from the Dublin/Pleasanton BART station to Santa Rita Road in Pleasanton. This 1.6-mile project was the last gap in the trail between Pleasanton and Concord.

* PPIE Foundation raises a record $330,000 during the launch of the annual Giving Fund Campaign during the first day of school registration. Last year, $275,000 was raised; in 2012, it was $170,000.

* Operations Services Director Daniel Smith, also known as Pleasanton's water czar, reports to the City Council that Pleasanton has achieved its goal of reducing water consumption by 25%. City meters that monitor watering parks and street medians show a 56% reduction, and of the 14,405 residential and business water bills sent out over the last month, 13,321 had achieved the required 25% reductions or better for a compliance rate of 92.7%.

September

* Pleasanton school board votes 3-2 against the motion to rescind June's approval of the "modified lite" calendar for the 2015-16 school year. Trustees Valerie Arkin and Jamie Hintzke vote in favor of the rescission, stating they would like to see the community more involved in the decision-making process.

* Planning Commission supports a new 7-Eleven convenience store at the Valero service station at West Las Positas and Santa Rita Road, along with a new drive-thru car wash.

* Planning Commission, with the support of the Pleasanton Downtown Association, approves a beer and wine garden with food service in the 1938 home on lower Main Street that most recently housed Serenity Stoneworks, with dozens of fountains spread throughout the rear garden, Bracelet Bar and a guitar lesson studio.

* City Council approves the city's Housing Element, 4-1, after a three-hour debate as speakers say Pleasanton doesn't need any more apartments. The Housing Element needed to be submitted to state housing authorities to show Pleasanton is meeting the goal of "attaining decent housing and a suitable living environment for every California family."

* A new kosher 2012 Livermore Valley Cabernet Sauvignon named "Alef" is released in time for the Jewish New Year, which begins at sundown Sept. 24. The new wine is introduced at an event to celebrate the 10th year of the Chabad of the Tri-Valley's Jewish Community Center.

* City Council approves plans by Dublin's Stoneridge Chrysler-Jeep dealership to build a 32,000-square-foot showroom and service building on Staples Ranch, at the southwest corner of I-580 and El Charro Road.

* City Council agrees to temporarily ease up on the onerous penalties imposed this summer on residents who exceeded a mandatory 25% cutback in water use. Council also OKs an environmental review report, clearing the way to start building a multimillion-dollar recycled water system to replace or augment existing systems that irrigate public parks and landscaped street medians.

* Ken Mano -- a trailblazer with Special Olympics, the Boy Scouts and a host of Tri-Valley activities ranging from blood drives to the American Cancer Society's Relay for Life -- is presented with the Mayor's Award by Mayor Jerry Thorne.

* Pleasanton is ranked No. 4 in a survey of America's 50 Best Cities to Live; Money Magazine places Pleasanton at No. 31 in its list of Best Places to Live, and the publication also recognizes Pleasanton as No. 9 in the country for its economic vitality.

* City Council votes to waive an affordable housing requirement for an already-approved 345-unit apartment complex and take the developer's offer of $4.5 million instead, to be used for a variety of uses, not necessarily for low-income housing.

* Stanford Health Care and ValleyCare Health System sign an affiliation agreement that calls for the Pleasanton-based medical facility to become a subsidiary of Stanford Health Care.

October

* Housing, growth, taxes and water dominate mayoral and City Council candidates' concerns as they share their views at forums hosted by the Pleasanton Weekly and TV30 in the City Council chamber and taped by Tri-Valley Community Television for broadcast leading up to the Nov. 4 election.

* City Council approves proposed master plan that will enhance the amenities and appearance of Pleasanton's downtown Lions Wayside and Delucchi parks, best known as the sites of the weekly farmers market and free Friday night summer concert series.

* Pleasanton Unified School District is one of 71 districts in the nation whose School Climate Transformation Grant is selected for funding; the 100% federally funded grant award is $2,342,985 over a five-year grant cycle to allow the district to develop a Positive Behavior Interventions and Support (PBIS) Project.

* Police Department introduces "Nextdoor," a private social network accessible only to residents in each neighborhood that enables them to communicate online, in a private secure website.

* Foothill High School senior Isaiah Langley, a Falcons cornerback, is selected to join the 2015 U.S. Army All-American Bowl team to represent the West. The Bowl has been the nation's premier high school football event for 15 years, featuring the nation's top 90 high school football players.

* Steven Carlson is convicted of first-degree murder for the brutal 1984 stabbing death of 14-year-old Tina Faelz, a Foothill High School classmate. Carlson was 16 years old at the time of the crime.

* Pleasanton Parks and Recreation Commission approves a long-range master plan that calls for expanding Pleasanton's Pioneer Cemetery to make it a better place to be buried and a more attractive place to visit. The city purchased the 120-year-old cemetery in 2007 from the International Order of Odd Fellows.

* The Zone 7 Water Agency Board of Directors approves a rate increase for wholesale treated water, with a 3% increase for 2015 and again in 2016 to keep pace with inflation.

* Construction begins on a new center for Axis Community Health that will double capacity for primary and mental health care in the Tri-Valley, at 5925 W. Las Positas Blvd. in Pleasanton.

* Pleasanton resident Jason Anthony Landes, 21, pleads no contest to charges of assault with a firearm and use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and is sentenced to five years in state prison for his involvement in a shooting at Redcoats British Pub & Restaurant on St. Mary Street in January.

* Former Walnut Grove Elementary School principal Jon Vranesh files a lawsuit against the School District asking for "economic and non-economic damages ... reinstatement to his position with back pay, and punitive damages against the individual defendants."

* Officials mark the completion of the first phase of widening Highway 84 between the I-580 and I-680 freeways, making the Isabel Avenue segment of Highway 84 a four- and six-lane throughway from I-580 to Stanley Boulevard.

* Police and city of Pleasanton, along with the Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD), announce the opening of a new pharmaceutical disposal site in the lobby of the Pleasanton Police Department, 4833 Bernal Ave., to be open 24-7 for disposal of controlled and non-controlled prescription medications and over-the-counter medications.

* Incoming Amador Valley High School junior Jacob Baer's documentary is screened at the 2014 Varsity Brands All-American High School Film Festival at the AMC Empire Theaters at New York City's Times Square. The video, called "CODA Pride," is a documentary highlighting children of deaf adults.

* Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation raises $64,000 at its "Toasts and Tastes of Fall," which will be used to benefit its programs such as the Innovative Grant Programs and the 2015-16 Giving Fund.

November

* Fire Chief Jim Miguel retires as the head of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department, capping a 31-year career in fire services, including the last four in the top position here.

* Incumbent Joan Laursen and challenger Mark Miller are elected to the Pleasanton school board, with Laursen leading the race with 6,612 votes or 28.86% of the votes cast.

* Mayor Jerry Thorne is re-elected to another two-year term, defeating his challenger Matt Morrison by a whopping 67% of the votes cast. In the council race, Kathy Narum leads with 7,657 votes, or 34% of the votes cast. Former Planning Commissioner Arne Olson also wins a council seat, finishing second with 5,735 votes, or 25%.

* Republican Catharine Baker wins the election to represent the 16th State Assembly District over Dublin Mayor Tim Sbranti, 51.6% to 48.4%.

* Measure BB, the Alameda County transportation tax package, is approved by nearly 70% of voters, ending several years of controversy over the length of the tax and its need.

* A raging fire around 2 a.m. destroys two houses under construction in a new development just south of the Safeway Lifestyle supermarket and the Gateway Center on Valley Avenue near Bernal. The fire, visible from I-680, was in a fenced-off construction site adjacent to the shopping center and close to the new CVS Pharmacy.

* ValleyCare Health System's corporate membership overwhelmingly approves proposed bylaws and articles of incorporation changes enabling the affiliation process with Stanford Health Care to move forward. At the close of balloting, 566 corporate member votes were for approval, or 97% of the 583 total votes cast.

* The California Department of Water Resources announces that Zone 7 Water Agency will be awarded $3 million in grants for drought-relief projects and another $282,000 to increase its water conservation programs.

* The city of Pleasanton launches a newly designed website at cityofpleasantonca.gov to meet the needs of residents, businesses and visitors accessing information about the city.

December

* City Council approves the $16.5 million second phase of the Bernal Community Park, a 318-acre tract of city-owned land that was given to the city of Pleasanton in 2000 by Greenbriar Homes. Major youth sports teams sign on to what could be a $2 million commitment to help pay for new lighted sports fields at the park, with all-year synthetic turf.

* Police Department launches a new crime prevention campaign aimed at reducing the number of preventable property crimes in the city, including thefts from unlocked vehicles and burglaries in which items were left in plain view.

* Following through on their campaign pledges, newly elected and re-elected members of the Pleasanton City Council vote to approve a preliminary plan for development of roughly 400 acres of largely vacant land on the city's East Side.

* CourseCo, the San Francisco Bay Area-based golf management and development company that oversees Callippe Preserve Golf Course in Pleasanton, is awarded an Environmental Leader in Golf Award (ELGA) for superior environmental stewardship at two Bay Area golf courses, including Callippe.

* Ken Mano is named the Pleasanton Weekly's 2014 Man of the Year.

* City Council continues Stage 3 water shortage declaration, including 25% mandatory water-use cutback city-wide, through the winter months and into 2015.

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