Pleasanton Year in Review 2015

Brought development plans, sports victories, drought adjustments and more

As we plunge into 2016, it is fun and informative to look back at 2015, to follow news stories and to see trends in our city.

The year began with the City Council adopting a Housing Element update to become part of the Pleasanton General Plan. The year also started out with the school board going back to the traditional instructional calendar after endorsing a switch that shifted the first semester to end before winter break for 2015-16. Then the year ended with trustees agreeing to survey people on what they think of making changes to the calendar going forward.

Check out the end of this review to see that the city is ending on a high note: "A just-audited report of Pleasanton's municipal budget for fiscal year 2014-15 shows it was a banner year with prospects for even greater financial growth this year."

You can read the entire stories under "past issues" at


* After more than two years and hundreds of hours of public meetings, the Pleasanton City Council adopts a Housing Element update that includes the 70 acres rezoned last year for high-density residential homes and apartments and now becomes part of the city's legally binding General Plan.

* Pleasanton Unified School District hosts a Math Workshop and Instructional Materials Fair to display the materials being considered for adoption, as well as sessions to help parents understand Common Core.

* DECA club at Amador Valley High starts an organization called "Keeping the Balance" to help students manage money.

* Renowned concert pianist Tamriko Siprashvili returns to the Pleasanton stage after a seven-year absence with new pianist partner Temirzhan Yerzhanov in a concert to raise money to benefit arts in the schools through the Pleasanton Cultural Arts Council.

* Police arrest five men suspected of stealing thousands of dollars worth of metal, electrical cabling and wiring from the Clorox plant on Johnson Drive in late December.

* Parking fees jump to $3 a day at the two BART stations serving Pleasanton after an assessment shows that lots at both stations are usually filled to capacity.

* Alameda County Superior Court orders Pleasanton-based Safeway Inc. to pay $9.87 million for environmental violations including unlawful disposal of over-the-counter medications, pharmaceuticals, aerosol products, ignitable liquids, batteries, electronic devices and other toxic, ignitable and corrosive materials.

* Alviso Adobe Community Park checks out free "Exploration Backpacks" to young visitors with information about the native Ohlone Indians, the Spanish Californios and the Meadowlark Dairy.

* School board votes unanimously to revert back to the traditional calendar, reversing the decision last year to support a new schedule for 2015-16 that shifted the first semester to end before winter break. Trustees agree the process needs to include more input from parents, teachers and students.

* Steven Carlson receives 26 years to life in prison at an emotional sentencing following his conviction for fatally stabbing Tina Faelz, a 14-year-old Foothill High classmate, 44 times in 1984 when Carlson was 16.

* Eric Thiel, Amador Valley AP biology teacher and science department chair, is named 2014 Class Nobel Educator of the Year by the National Society of High School Scholars.

* The Pleasanton Weekly 2014 Holiday Fund nets $80,940 from nearly 350 contributors.

* Harvest Park Middle School eighth-grader Collin Travasos, 13, finishes fourth in his age group in the National Football League (NFL) Punt, Pass and Kick national finals in Washington state, representing the Oakland Raiders.

* City Council suspends the billing penalty component of the city's emergency drought mandate for a period of 90 days, to allow time to consider the condition of the reservoir levels and snowpack in the State Water Project.

* School district is ordered to immediately make more than 25 individuals available for depositions in the case regarding the dismissal of former Walnut Grove Elementary principal Jon Vranesh.

* School board hears a report from middle school principals about a proposal to expand the laptop program so all sixth-graders would have access to a laptop, regardless of their socioeconomic status.


* Ruben Torres, formerly the fire chief in San Jose, is sworn in as chief of the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department (LPFD), succeeding retiring chief Jim Miguel.

* City Council approves new 3-1/2-year contract with unionized firefighters in the Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department that provides 3% pay increases each year over the next four years.

* AB Acquisition LLC, the owner of Boise-based Albertsons, acquires Pleasanton-based Safeway, with shares of the former Safeway Inc. delisted at the same time by the New York Stock Exchange.

* Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O'Malley is named county Citizen of the Year and is one of five Californians presented with a 2015 James Irvine Foundation Leadership Award to recognize innovative leaders advancing breakthrough solutions to critical issues facing the state. Her award was for heading an office that leads the state in human-trafficking prosecutions.

* Amador Valley student Janel Lee is named a finalist in the Intel Science Talent Search (STS) 2015, which recognizes young innovators in the United States who are creating technologies that positively impact people's lives. Her research, "An Enhanced Method for HDR Imaging: Artifact-Free and Optimized for Mobile Devices," focuses on high dynamic range imaging.

* Former Pleasanton American Little League president Jeremy Lee Cardera, 35, is arrested after police allege he stole more than $20,000 from the league's accounts, using some of the money to pay for a family trip to Southern California.

* City Council unanimously approves a growth management ordinance that will slow down residential building by capping new housing units at 235 a year. The new ordinance is written to meet the state's ongoing Regional Housing Needs Allocation, yet keep the city's residential building floodgates reasonably closed.

* Pleasanton's own "American Idol" contestant Maddy Hudson visits Pleasanton Middle School to spread her message about anti-bullying, describing her own experiences as a victim of bullying in middle school in a different district.

* Pleasanton barbershop owner Cosmo Panetta, 70, celebrates more than 40 years in the business of making men, women and children look and feel good with his clippers and his kindness.

* Visit Tri-Valley hosts a panel discussion to look at how Pleasanton and the Tri-Valley communities can better attract overnight tourism and extended visitor stays.

* Two firefighting vehicles about to be retired from the LPFD fleet are donated to Pleasanton's sister city, Tulancingo, Mexico.

* The Bay Area Air Quality Management District's 2014-15 Winter Spare the Air season ends, after 23 alerts were issued. The district received 3,739 wood smoke complaints and issued 155 tickets.


* City Council approves construction of a multimillion-dollar, Asian-focused retail and office center in Staples Ranch that will serve as a gateway to the city's northeast side.

* Pleasanton Middle School cheer team brings home its first championship title in five years after competing at the United Spirit Association (USA) Jr. Nationals in Anaheim.

* Ruby Hill Golf Club assistant golf professional David Solomon takes home the title at the Northern California PGA Pro-Series 3 tournament in Daly City.

* Foothill High senior guard Emily Barrett finishes her final basketball season with nearly 1,200 career points after becoming the fourth female Falcon in the last 14 years to join the exclusive thousand-point club earlier in the season.

* The Golden Apple Learning Store, started 36 years ago as a pioneering parent teacher store, closes in Pleasanton, losing out to online retailers, according to its owner.

* Pleasanton native Jillian Corsie works to complete her documentary film, "Trichster," which spotlights trichotillomania, a condition in which sufferers have the compulsion to pull out their hair.

* City Council hears a report that the city's Amador Theater on the campus of Amador Valley High School is sinking, and major foundation and other restoration work will be needed in the next 5-10 years for it to continue as a performing arts facility. The council decides to wait for an analysis before moving forward on any repair work.

* The city looks for artists to paint traffic utility boxes downtown for Phase II of its "Project Paint Box," a public art beautification program.

* Pleasanton superintendent of water and sewer utilities tells the City Council that the city's drinking water supplies and conservation efforts are looking better than a year ago and that penalties in place for much of 2014 will remain suspended until at least April.

* With a midyear budget report showing municipal revenues up by almost $3 million over expectations, the City Council moves forward with its 11-point list of work-plan priorities after several years of fiscal restraint. The list includes capital improvements, employee salaries, hiring, equipment and vehicle purchases, and new buildings and services.

* The Rotary Club of Pleasanton celebrates 50 years, recalling its founding in 1965, when the city population was about 6,000.


* Township Square officially opens, a unique community of two- and three-story brownstone-styled homes between Interstate 680 and Valley Avenue just south of the Gateway Center and Safeway supermarket on Bernal Avenue.

* Gov. Jerry Brown announces an executive order to implement mandatory 25% reductions in water usage by California cities and towns through February 2016.

* California Attorney General Kamala Harris issues final approval for Stanford Health Care to proceed with its acquisition of ValleyCare Health System and its medical center in Pleasanton.

* City Council awards construction agreements to start a $16.5 million expansion of Bernal Community Park to include new sports fields and a "Grand Meadow" called Oak Woodland.

* Three new extreme sports attractions will be added to this year's Alameda County Fair activities, including monster trucks, a demolition derby and an extreme rodeo.

* High school seniors collect 1,907 pounds of fruit in their second annual "citrus harvest" from residents' yards to donate to Open Heart Kitchen, more than tripling their goal.

* Las Positas College celebrates its 40th anniversary.

* City Council reinstates stiff monetary penalties for businesses and residents who fail to reduce their water consumption by at least 25% starting May 15 and through most of the year, the recommendation of Pleasanton's water czar Daniel Smith.

* Las Positas College men and women take conference titles at the Northern California swimming and diving championships.

* Third annual Pleasanton Run for Education, a fundraiser for the Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation, attracts almost 3,000 participants and raises a record $96,000 to benefit the PPIE Giving Fund.

* A small three-quarter-acre park at the corner of Vervais Avenue and Main Street at the Main Street bridge over the Arroyo del Valle is renamed and dedicated as Rotary Park in honor of the organization's 50th anniversary.

* Testimony underway in former Walnut Grove principal Jon Vranesh's hearing to appeal his termination from the Pleasanton Unified School District. Vranesh was placed on administrative leave in October 2013 for allegedly creating a "hostile work environment." Under oath, he claims the district put him on leave in retaliation for him raising health and safety concerns at the school site.

* Pleasanton-based Shaklee Corp. opens a center with research and development teams assigned to create innovations in the field of nutritional science.

* Pleasanton native Navina Bernardi, 20, earns a fourth-place finish in the bocce world championships in Italy, surpassing even her own expectations in her first-ever appearance in the tournament that featured some of the best bocce players in the world.


* A team of four Amador Valley sophomores -- Connor Chen, Brian Cheng, Chris Chi and Eson Liu -- qualifies for the 2015 Team America Rocketry Challenge in The Plains, Va., when scoring the top 100 in the national finals.

* Mother's Day "Bras for the Cause" walk, sponsored by Tri-Valley SOCKs (Stepping Out for Cancer Kures), raises $43,000 to give to the ValleyCare Charitable Foundation to be used for its Cancer Navigation Program.

* Pleasanton native Sean Mannion, 23, a star quarterback at Foothill High and Oregon State University, is drafted in the third round of the NFL draft by the St. Louis Rams.

* Nearly 200 crowd into the council chamber to hear about proposed land-use plans for the city's East Side. Twenty-four speakers address the Planning Commission, including many who denounce a proposal by the East Pleasanton Specific Plan task force.

* City Council votes 3-1 to ignore choices being considered about East Side planning and instead ask voters to make the decision in a special advisory balloting Nov. 3 -- a move the council would later back away from.

* Stanford Health Care's acquisition of ValleyCare Health System is completed and signs identifying the new owner are put in place on the Pleasanton campus.

* Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation presents a check for $515,000 to the Pleasanton Unified School District, the culmination of its 2015-16 Giving Fund Campaign, which ended with its Run for Education in April.

* One of the largest crowds ever turns out for Pleasanton's annual Memorial Day ceremony held just outside the city's Senior Center on Sunol Boulevard.

* Pleasanton Unified School District superintendent Parvin Ahmadi announces she will resign to take the same position in Castro Valley starting July 1.


* City Council decides not to have a vote on East Side development due to the $500,000 cost of a special election.

* Pleasanton resident Michael Seal, 75, is killed when the plane he is piloting crashes around 9 p.m. in an open field north of Livermore.

* Amador Valley Dons varsity softball team wins its second straight sectional title with a 5-1 victory over Union City's James Logan High in the tournament final.

* In a move that may indicate the Pleasanton rental housing market is becoming saturated, SummerHill Housing Group cancels plans for 177 rental units on West Las Positas Boulevard, switching to a 94-unit ownership condominium.

* School board appoints former Amador Valley principal Jim Hansen as the interim superintendent for the 2015-16 school year.

* Jill M. Hruby is named the next president and director of Sandia National Laboratories, the first woman to lead a national security laboratory.

* REACH, a Tri-Valley nonprofit that provides housing and other services for developmentally disabled adults, dedicates one of its homes to Norm Guest for his many years of service to the organization as he steps down from the board after serving for 22 years.

* Alameda County Fair's annual "Feed the Need" Food Drive brings in more than 11 tons of food, which would provide roughly 18,700 individual meals.

* A Pleasanton family returns to its Castlewood home from vacation to find it has been used for a party, with the liquor cabinet raided, some personal items totaling $2,000-$3,000 stolen and five pounds of bacon eaten. The partiers posted images of the bacon-and-liquor party on social media, sheriff's deputies found.


* Pleasanton mourns Kate Steinle, 32, an Amador Valley grad, after she is shot and killed while enjoying Pier 14 in San Francisco with her father and a friend. An undocumented immigrant with past criminal convictions is arrested in connection with Steinle's slaying, enraging regional and national debates on immigration policy, firearms and so-called "sanctuary cities."

* Pleasanton police officer Daniel Kunkel fatally shoots John Patrick Deming Jr., 19, outside Specialty Sales Classics on First Street, around 2 a.m. on a Sunday. Police say the officer acted in self-defense during a struggle with Deming while the teen's family argues the shooting was not justified.

* Longtime Pleasanton resident Rafael Herrera tosses the opening pitch as the San Francisco Giants celebrated Donate Life Day -- almost five years to the day since he received a successful transplant amid his battle with kidney failure.

* Megan Goodman, a 2014 Foothill grad, is part of the U.S. rowing team that competes in the Under 23 World Championships in Bulgaria. She is a standout for the University of San Diego rowing team, which swept the West Coast Conference and earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament last season.

* St. Jude Medical Inc. is set to acquire Pleasanton-based Thoratec Corp., the maker of HeartMate, in a transaction valued at approximately $3.4 billion or $63.50 per share. The transaction is expected to be completed in this year's fourth quarter.

* The Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) co-hosts a "Defeat the Drought Water Expo" in Dublin, with community discussions on free water-saving devices, rebate information and information on how to transform thirsty lawns into water-efficient gardens.

* Triple-digit temperatures prompt agencies to remind everyone to continue to be diligent about conserving water and energy, suggesting spending time in public places that have air conditioning, such as the library and the Senior Center, and swimming at the city's aquatic center.

* Wildfire season is in full force, and at least three brush fires threaten homes in Pleasanton and Sunol this month, plus a 250-acre vegetation fire burns at Camp Parks Reserve Forces Training Area in Dublin.

* Deputy fire chief Joe Rodondi retires after more than 30 years as a firefighter and manager, including the last 18 years with the LPFD. He and wife Debra are community contributors, with Debra helping to organize the annual Hometown Holiday Parade for the last 20 years.

* The DSRSD free recycled water program for residential landscaping during the drought proves so popular that the district limits it to residents from Pleasanton, San Ramon and Dublin -- a temporary limitation the agency would later ease.


* Safeway discontinues its eScrip after 16 years, saying individual stores will decide best how to help the communities they serve. The Pleasanton-based grocery chain announced in February it had contributed more than $300 million to schools through eScrip since 1999.

* Zone 7 Water Agency says cracks in walls and foundations of at least two dozen homes in the neighborhood southeast of Sutter Gate Park are not caused by its wells but rather natural soil water loss due to the drought.

* The city announces it will install 10 miles of purple pipes to distribute recycled water, which is hoped will save 450 million gallons of drinking water. Construction is expected to last a year.

* Starbucks Evening and McKay's Taphouse & Beer Garden open in downtown Pleasanton.

* Maintenance crews begin work on minor upgrades to seven Pleasanton bridges, with the projects expected to last about three months. The improvements are designed to extend the life of the bridges, at a cost of $630,000.

* Construction begins to bring toll express lanes to Interstate 680 through the San Ramon Valley, with completion estimated by late next year. The aim is to convert existing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV) lanes between Alcosta Boulevard and Rudgear Road into express lanes that charge tolls for access during peak commute times.

* Bankruptcy court rules that claims totaling $3.2 million against the leaders of the now defunct Tri-Valley Community Foundation (TVCF) are to be settled for $1.75 million paid by leftover funds and an insurance policy that covered the organization's directors.

* School board approves Amador Valley vice principal Sebastian Bull as principal of Donlon Elementary and Ann Jayne as Vintage Hills Elementary's new principal.

* Fundraiser is held at Barone's Restaurant for Dillon Patrick O'Leary, 11, who is slowly recovering in Children's Hospital Oakland after he became violently ill and collapsed May 6 at the start of a Pleasanton Foothill Little League game.

* City Council appoints a task force of 17 city and civic leaders to explore expanding or rebuilding the Pleasanton Civic Center/City Hall and the public library, which is called "woefully inadequate."

* The Commission on Professional Competence concludes, in a decision released by the Office of Administrative Hearings (OAH), that the Pleasanton Unified School District was justified in dismissing former Walnut Grove principal Jon Vranesh.

* Pleasanton resident Yoshihiro Ohhashi, 57, dies while diving for abalone off the coast near Van Damme State Park in Mendocino County.

* Walgreens, which has a district office in Pleasanton and pharmacies in Pleasanton and Livermore, agrees to pay $502,200 over the failure of its pharmacists to properly counsel prescription customers.

* Planning Commission approves a bid by Greenbriar Homes to build 50 homes on the now-vacant 195-acre Lund Ranch II site in the hills south of Sunol Boulevard. The decision next goes to the City Council for another public hearing on the upscale home development.

* A group of Tri-Valley baseball all-stars finish the summer as the nation's best, winning the Babe Ruth 13-year-old World Series in Jamestown, N.Y.

* The family of 19-year-old John Deming Jr., who was fatally shot by a Pleasanton police officer in July, files a wrongful death claim against the Pleasanton Police Department and requests that the case be handed over to the U.S. Department of Justice for investigation.

* Las Positas College and Tri-Valley Regional Occupational Program (ROP) launch a dual-enrollment program to help students earn college credits and learn about college life while completing high school.


* The family of Pleasanton native Kate Steinle, who was fatally shot by an undocumented immigrant on San Francisco's waterfront in July, files wrongful death claims against San Francisco and federal officials.

* City Councilwoman Karla Brown wants to ban smoking in downtown Pleasanton and in all multifamily apartment and condominium complexes. She asks city staff to work with the Pleasanton Downtown Association (PDA) to determine where and how extensive a smoking ban could be imposed downtown.

* Organizations and municipalities across the Tri-Valley hold Sept. 11 memorial events to honor the 14th anniversary of the 2001 terrorist attacks.

* Joshua Suchon, who was a student at Donlon Elementary in April 1984 when Tina Faelz, 14, was stabbed to death on her way home from Foothill High School, writes a book about the murder, which was unsolved until classmate Steve Carlson was arrested in 2011 after DNA techniques improved.

* School board decides to hire a firm to conduct a search for its next superintendent rather than conducting the search process in-house.

* John Sensiba, managing partner of the Sensiba San Filippo accounting firm in Pleasanton and a well-known city and civic leader, is presented with the prestigious Mayor's Award for 2015.

* Katheryn "Kathy" Baker, 49, an executive at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, is killed at 6:26 a.m. when an SUV crashes into a Livermore gym where she is working out. Police said an 80-year-old Livermore woman was attempting to park her Mercedes SUV when she confused the gas and brake pedals and sent her vehicle crashing forward into the gym.

* Barbara F. Mertes, 85, the driving force to establish Las Positas College in Livermore, dies and a memorial service is held in the campus building named in her honor.

* Pleasanton native Tiffany Rich, 26, reflects on her experience meeting music superstar Taylor Swift after her successful "Help Rich meet Swift" social media campaign. Rich is awaiting a lung transplant amid her battle with cystic fibrosis.

* Sports clubs launch a "Play Bernal" campaign to raise funds to help offset the costs of new state-of-the-art synthetic, multipurpose fields at Bernal Community Park, because they share a mission of helping kids cultivate active lifestyles away from their computers and smartphones.

* Pleasanton planners move a step closer to creating the city's first Economic Development Zone along I-680's Johnson Drive frontage road that could offer up to 35 acres of space suitable for a new hotel or, possibly, a new Costco.

* A detailed survey of 201 older homes in Pleasanton's downtown district shows that 88 may qualify for inclusion in the prestigious California Register of Historical Resources. Owners of such homes can display a "Historical Home" plaque, making them "show homes" for architectural tours but also restricting what changes they can make to the home.


* Pleasanton native Annie Cai is honored in New York after being named one of 10 National Young Women of Distinction, the highest recognition bestowed by the Girl Scouts of the USA, for her "Imaginarium" project, a career development conference for young students.

* City Council votes 4-1 to approve a zoning change for Centerpointe Presbyterian Church's 6-acre site at Valley Avenue and Busch Road to allow construction of 25 new homes, which will be built over a three-year period.

* School board decides to pursue a state waiver to forgive student absences during a fake bomb threat last month, which could have cost the district hundreds of thousands of dollars.

* The governor signs into law a bipartisan bill co-authored by local Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) that requires the State Department of Education to establish guidelines and best practices for child-abuse prevention in schools and school programs.

* Leadership council students at Pleasanton Middle School approach cars in their parking lot and ask drivers to turn off their engines, informing them how letting a car idle in a parking lot can lead to poor air quality around a school.

* City Council creates an implementation plan to deal with lack of parking downtown as it enjoys an economic expansion with new shops, coffee houses and restaurants. Strategies could include a downtown parking structure and completion of the $7.5 million railroad corridor.

* Hart, Harvest Park and Pleasanton middle schools and Vintage Hills Elementary participate in the Google Expeditions program, which uses smartphones and a hand-held viewfinder called Google Cardboard, to show children places, people and cultures that they are learning about in their classrooms.

* A survey of business attitudes toward operating in Pleasanton shows that more than 90% of those queried find the city an excellent or good place to do business, citing "the city's positive environment, convenient and central location in the region, and friendly people, including customers."

* The leaders at a Tri-Valley Mayors Forum show continued unity as they agree to work together on pressing water conservation, transportation and affordable- and workforce-housing issues.

* Zone 7 board votes to raise treated wholesale water rates about 28% for 2016 and at least 10% for 2017 and 2018 for its retailers, which are currently the cities of Pleasanton and Livermore, DSRSD and Cal Water.

* Screenwriter/director Neel Upadhye, a 2004 Foothill High grad, celebrates wrapping up his new feature film, "Dating Daisy," a non-traditional romantic comedy that follows two passionate exes who secretly decide to give it one last shot.


* City Council votes unanimously to spend up to $28,000 for the design of a Veterans' Memorial to be located at Pioneer Cemetery on Sunol Boulevard. The memorial is part of an estimated $4.5 million upgrade planned for the cemetery.

* School board chooses Nebraska-based firm McPherson & Jacobson LLC to handle the recruitment, application and interview process of selecting a new superintendent after it puts in a bid of $28,000 for the search.

* Planning Commission approves a Starbucks standalone kiosk in the Rose Pavilion at the northeast side of town. The driveup/walkup facility in front of 99 Ranch Market will have no indoor or outdoor seats for customers.

* Planning Commission OKs a bid by Genius Kids (GK) to open a preschool and daycare facility in the Vintage Hills Shopping Center, which will be the school's second location in the city and the second preschool in the shopping center.

* City Council amends the Pleasanton Municipal Code to limit the review of historic homes to exterior modifications only and mainly to any proposed changes that would affect the architectural style of the home.

* Anders Pederson, 28, dies a week after surgery to donate a kidney to his sister Kelly. Anders Pederson, a software developer and creator of his own Napa Valley spiced wine, lapsed into a coma a day after the successful transplant operation and never awoke.

* Jorge Barraza, a 17-year-old Amador Valley High junior, dies after being hit by a car on First and Abbie streets on a Sunday evening. Police deem the crash accidental.

* Pleasanton American Little League and Pleasanton National Little League combine to create a new joint Pleasanton Little League starting in the upcoming season.

* Zone 7 officially adopts a new county rule that gives it authority over permitting for new well drilling and maintenance.

* Donlon Elementary students come up with the name in a Foster Farms competition for the two turkeys that received a presidential pardon this Thanksgiving in a 68-year White House tradition -- "Honest" and "Abe."


* Construction of the $16.5 million expansion of Bernal Community Park proceeds on schedule, with plans to open the new sports fields and a "Grand Meadow" called Oak Woodland next May. The project includes three lighted multipurpose all-weather synthetic sports fields, small grass areas, group picnic areas, an area for children's play equipment and drinking fountains.

* School board agrees to move forward with a survey to see what the community thinks about changing the school year calendar, adding measures to avoid people taking the survey multiple times. The survey begins to be sent out to students in grades 8-12, teachers, staff members, parents and other stakeholders.

* Former Pleasanton City Councilwoman Cheryl Cook-Kallio, who was termed out in 2014, announces she will enter the race for the 16th State Assembly seat in the June 7 primary. Cook-Kallio, a Democrat, aims to unseat first-term Republican Assemblywoman Catharine Baker.

* Penalties imposed on excessive water users in Pleasanton since last May are lifted for the winter months after citywide metering shows reductions far exceeding the mandatory 25% cutbacks.

* Hope Hospice celebrates its 35th anniversary, and names Pleasanton resident Bob Boehm as the permanent CEO.

* The Pleasanton Community Concert Band gives its annual Holiday Show and also celebrates its 40th anniversary. It was started in 1975 by the Pleasanton Bicentennial Festival Committee.

* The East Bay Regional Park District closes Lake Del Valle in Livermore to swimmers due to a bloom of toxic blue-green algae.

* Pleasanton city attorney Jonathan Lowell and librarian Julie Farnsworth retire, after six and 13 years with the city, respectively.

* City Council, bowing to threats of lawsuits or an expensive and time-consuming voter referendum, votes to adjourn a final public hearing on a proposed development on Lund Ranch II to Jan. 5.

* Tully's Coffee in downtown Pleasanton announces it is closing next month, a move that surprised some longtime patrons. It opened on the corner of Main Street and West Angela in 2000.

* John Muir Health and San Ramon Regional Medical Center open their new jointly operated Pleasanton Outpatient Center at 5860 Owens Drive.

* Amador Valley senior Sidharth Bommakanti takes one of the top honors at the final round of the national Siemens Competition in Math, Science and Technology, winning a $30,000 scholarship prize to be used for college expenses.

* Apparel & Co. at 647 Main St. wins the inaugural Holiday Storefront Decorating Contest, competing against 16 other shops.

* School board appoints Patrick Gannon as district's communications and community engagement coordinator, capping a run of upper management replacements for PUSD because of vacancies created for various reasons. Other new appointments in 2015-16 included Micaela Ochoa as deputy superintendent of business services, Dianne Howell as interim assistant superintendent of human resources, Aileen Parsons as director of HR and Amy Nichols as technology director.

* City Council agrees to an across-the-board "adjustment" of 3.87% to meet rising costs being incurred by Pleasanton Garbage Services, the company that has an exclusive refuse collection and recycling franchise agreement.

* A just-audited report of Pleasanton's municipal budget for fiscal year 2014-15 shows it was a banner year with prospects for even greater financial growth this year.

* James Tong, owner of Charter Properties and a longtime contributor to political and land issue campaigns in Pleasanton, pleads no contest to one count of submitting fraudulent documentation related to protecting at-risk animal species. His plea deal with the state's Attorney General's Office calls for him to serve a year of probation, pay $650,000 and preserve 107 acres in Contra Costa County.

* Planning Commission endorses developer's plan to build a three-story commercial center and apartment complex at 273 Spring St. despite opposition from the PDA that wants only retail businesses on the site. The project heads to the council for consideration next month.

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