Amador Theater sinking

Repairs must be made in 5-10 years

The Amador Theater on the campus of Amador Valley High School is sinking and major foundation and other restoration work will be needed within the next five-to-10 years for it to continue as a performing arts facility in Pleasanton.

Kathy Yurchak, the city's assistant director of Operations Services, told the City Council Tuesday that construction work that expanded the 80-year-old theater building in the late 1980s apparently was flawed. In recent years, the newer part of the theater building has started settling.

"The front facade is sinking, requiring us to rework doors so that they close and to make other repairs," she said. "Right now, the facility is in operating condition, but if we want to continue using it over the long term, we will have to make major repairs."

Her remarks came during a special meeting of the council to consider budget and operating priorities during the next two fiscal years. The council had moved to line item "Amador Theater Improvements" on p. 9 of 15 pages of priorities when Yurchak stressed the importance of structural needs at the theater.

She also pointed out that the repairs needed could be costly, possibly in the millions of dollars, because the building, although owned by the city, sits on the school district's property. As a result, any repairs would trigger compliance to the same current statewide standards affecting school construction, which would likely mean a complete seismic retrofitting of the main theater building as well as the newer lobby and front end.

The Amador Theater served as Pleasanton's principal performing arts facility since it was constructed in the late 1930's until the city's Firehouse Arts Center was opened in 2012. Even now, with its seating capacity about double what the Firehouse can hold, the Amador Theater continues to host numerous concerts, musicals, recitals and school plays.

The structural problem apparently dates back to its expansion and renovation that was completed in 1989 when the city of Pleasanton took ownership of the building, but not the land it sits on, from the Pleasanton School District. In 1989, a major renovation of the theater was completed.

The Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council at that time spearheaded a fundraising drive, raising $800,000 in cash and in-kind materials, with the city government paying the rest of the $1.2 million needed in total funding. As part of its agreement in taking ownership, the city allots 60 days a year for school performances and other uses.

At Tuesday's meeting, City Manager Nelson Fialho said the Amador Theater is still used frequently and is still needed despite the availability of the Firehouse theater. At one time, he said, the thought was to move everything over to the Firehouse, but cultural arts planners soon realized that many of their most cherished productions -- and fundraisers -- required the 600-seat capacity that the Amador Theater offers, compared to the 220 seats at the Firehouse.

Council members agreed Tuesday to hold off on prioritizing repair work to the Amador Theater until an analysis can be completed as to what upgrades would be needed and at what cost.

We can't do it without you.
Support local journalism.


5 people like this
Posted by George Withers
a resident of Jensen Tract
on Mar 12, 2015 at 8:37 am

It is possible that the problems with the Amador Theater, are being caused by Soil Subsidence. Groundwater-related subsidence is the subsidence (or the sinking) of land resulting from groundwater extraction, and/or reduction of Ground-water due to the on-going drought. We have seen similar problems in other areas of the city.

Like this comment
Posted by Sirena
a resident of Valley Trails
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:16 am

George you are right! Homes in Val Vista and Valley Trails have the same problem. Cement on one end of my swimming pool has slipped away from the coping this year. Cement in the driveway has a half inch crack.

4 people like this
Posted by Beth
a resident of Happy Valley
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:36 am

Valley Trails and Val Vista have been having this same problem since the day they were built. There have always been issues in those two tracts.

Like this comment
Posted by Judy
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:41 am

When is this city e ever going to build a building does not have problems the city needs to get good engineering.

2 people like this
Posted by Lynn Dunn
a resident of Willow West
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:41 am

Many, many houses in my neighborhood have experienced significant sinking (cracking walls, doors not closing, etc) since the new well/pumping station at Santa Rita Rd and Stonebridge Dr was constructed. I live in the "Gates" which is adjacent to Willow West and Birdland. Unfortunately, that well which is just four houses down the block has resulted in me and at least five neighbors to have expensive foundation work -- and the sinking continues.

2 people like this
Posted by Don
a resident of Ironwood
on Mar 12, 2015 at 9:50 am

As a theater person most of my life and having been involved with productions at Amador Theater when Pleasanton Playhouse (Tri Valley Rep) used to perform there, I can name some negative things about that building. My children used to perform in that theater as drama students at Amador as well. While the improvements made were noticeable, the fact that there is no orchestra pit, and a lack of good dressing room space a real problem. Yes, sitting in the front rows trying to watch a musical with the orchestra so close to the audience makes for a bad experience. The plus thing about the theater is the fact that it has fly space to be able to hoist scenery up, which the Firehouse Theater does not have. Often times theater people are not contacted as to the needs of construction or remodeling and important things are missed in many areas. I will be watching for further comments on this subject.

8 people like this
Posted by Mabel
a resident of Downtown
on Mar 12, 2015 at 3:16 pm

My house is sinking too but it might have something to do with the age of the house 120 years old. Everything sink when you get old.

Like this comment
Posted by Citizen
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Mar 12, 2015 at 3:18 pm

LOL the twitchy tree huggers are at it! Soil subsidence, NOT!
Why do you think it's called "Hopyard Road"!!?
Proper soil engineering like core samples would have indicated clay lenses that require special footings!

2 people like this
Posted by Cracked
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 12, 2015 at 3:33 pm

We bought our house almost two years ago in Birdland. It didn't take long for the cracks in the ceiling and walls to appear. I guess when one is flipping a house, one simply candy coats the flaws. They could've, at least, used flexible tape. *Sigh* Hopefully, our "forever house" will not sink into a pit anytime soon.

Like this comment
Posted by Michael Austin
a resident of Pleasanton Meadows
on Mar 12, 2015 at 4:00 pm

Michael Austin is a registered user.

Settling, "sinking" cracks in sheet rock, plaster walls, doors and windows do not open and close properly, cracks appearing in the foundation.

Homes, structures, built on clay soil engulfed in a drought will exhibit all of these conditions.

Google 'what is the drought impact on homes built on clay soil'. There is all kinds of info on this, some experts recommend watering the foundation to slow down or prevent the above problems.

3 people like this
Posted by Steven
a resident of Stoneridge
on Mar 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm

Steven is a registered user.

I wonder if there's a structural engineer who is at fault on this. They generally sign off on this sort of construction don't they?

Also, it almost sounds like the original construction cost far less than the fix. It's probably just inflation, but I wonder if tearing it down and rebuilding would be less expensive.

Like this comment
Posted by JRF
a resident of Livermore
on Mar 13, 2015 at 7:35 am

I am a former Pleasanton Livermore area resident - love the area but now live in Texas. The ground in the area we currently live is subject to expansion and contraction due to the composition of the soil. Knowing this engineers design foundations capable of tolerating such conditions. If the city leadership is considering contracting a firm to evaluate and offer remediation suggestions - a firm with experience building in areas such as Texas might not be a bad idea. Hope you all get rain soon!

3 people like this
Posted by George
a resident of Birdland
on Mar 13, 2015 at 6:20 pm

@Citizen--don't know how long you have lived in Pleasanton, but Hopyard Road is named for all the hop fields that were there even thru the early 1980's.

Like this comment
Posted by Pleasanton YT
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Mar 14, 2015 at 2:32 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff as irrelevant to this thread.)

Like this comment
Posted by tim
a resident of Vintage Hills
on Mar 15, 2015 at 8:36 am

quick, we need a parcel tax "s" 150.00 per parcel per year to save the school district buildings. it's for the children!

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Be the first to know

Get the latest headlines sent straight to your inbox every day.

Talking sports and life with Tommy Dyer
By Tim Hunt | 1 comment | 1,430 views