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Pleasanton's State of the City

Mayor Brown spotlights city projects, business climate, community services in annual speech

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown, seen here at Alviso Adobe Community Park, delivered her second State of the City address last month. (Photo by Chuck Deckert)

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown commended the communal bonding and resilience of the residents of Pleasanton in the pandemic while highlighting a range of community accomplishments during her 2022 State of the City address last month.

Karla Brown is in her second year as mayor of Pleasanton. (File photo)

"The entire Pleasanton community came together in response to COVID. That sentiment remains as true today as it was then," Brown said in her speech.

The theme of "together" was prevalent throughout the mayor's speech, and she reiterated that it takes everyone to work together all in every way possible to create an award-winning "community of people who care about creating opportunities so that each of our businesses and our nearly 80,000 residents have what they need to proudly call Pleasanton their home."

Pleasanton businesses

The State of the City presentation, which was in-person for the first time during Brown's tenure as mayor, occurred as part of a luncheon event organized by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Pleasanton at The Club on March 29. The speech itself was prerecorded, as the mayor would be unavailable for family reasons.

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Brown said a "Business Needs City Survey" was conducted to understand the functioning of local businesses at this stage of the pandemic.

"An incredible 92% of businesses with 50 employees or less, which is a great majority of our commercial community, rated Pleasanton as an excellent or good place to do business," Brown said.

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown delivered her State of the City address via video on March 29. (Photo by Nina Pomeroy Photography)

According to the survey, Pleasanton is projected as a business-friendly city that enjoys support from both the government and the community. Furthermore, it is seen as a safe community and an ideal location for businesses with scenic and open spaces -- 41% of the respondents to the survey believe they will have more revenue in the next two years.

"I'm proud that, coming out of a pandemic, our businesses have confidence that in working together we're making Pleasanton a great place for business," the mayor said.

She expressed gratitude to all the multinational companies for investing in Pleasanton, thus creating jobs and revenue for the community.

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"Pleasanton is home to progressive technology, manufacturing and professional service businesses thanks to our infrastructure, our highly educated workforce, our schools and our outstanding quality of life," Brown said.

The constant response of the community with vital support during the pandemic, providing a vaccination site at fairgrounds, collaborating with the school district and the senior center, yielded the city with high vaccination rates against COVID-19, according to Brown.

The mayor noted that the Pleasanton senior lunch program, run by Open Heart Kitchen, served an incredible 42,000 meals to seniors while also operating the regional food distribution site that supported thousands of Tri-Valley residents with food insecurity.

She applauded the city's business support fund for providing nearly $1.5 million in city loans and matching Alameda County grants and fully funded the total "Housing PLUS Human Services and Community Grant" requests.

She also acknowledged the local nonprofits for providing in-person support to residents.

"Together, we have gotten through the thick of the crisis shoulder-to-shoulder, and I'm pleased to say we're finally moving toward the endemic stage of this worldwide virus. After two long years, I see a much brighter future ahead," Brown said.

Vista view of the city from Pleasanton Ridge. (Photo by Chuck Deckert)

Work plan projects

Next, the mayor highlighted the progress on the priorities documented in the City Council's work plan -- projects that reflect the interests of the changing and diverse demographic of the community.

"It is our responsibility to ensure every resident is heard, and every resident knows they are an integral part of our community," Brown said.

The all-abilities playground proposed for Ken Mercer Sports Park and its innovative and creatively designed play structure will offer a play experience for a wide variety of abilities and skill levels. The structure will accommodate children, adults and seniors in a universally designed, sensory-rich environment, she said.

Further she spoke about the potential expansion of the skate park at the Sports Park with new features suited to different levels of skaters and all-wheel users.

"Funding is critical for both amenities before we can begin construction, but I am truly looking forward to watching everyone enjoy these new features," Brown added.

Lastly in this section of the speech, she said the city is looking for sites across town to accommodate the growing demand for a cricket pitch and pickleball court from residents.

Housing

Brown said the council is working on how to best assist families with housing difficulties, especially as housing prices continue to rise in Pleasanton.

Pleasanton Vice Mayor Valerie Arkin (left) and City Councilmember Kathy Narum pose together before the speech begins. (Photo by Nina Pomeroy Photography)

"Together we are engaging our landowners, builders and the public, with meetings and discussions on how best to address the range of housing needs across all income levels, spread throughout Pleasanton," she said.

The city is also working to account for its mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of nearly 6,000 new housing units under the upcoming update of the Housing Element, which is revised every eight years. The council is required to identify adequate sites through the General Plan and zoning process, and the planning for the same is in progress and projected to be ready for adoption by early 2023.

"We know our community is best served with a mix of different housing options, distributed throughout Pleasanton. Our goal is to find opportunities for workforce housing, senior housing, housing for individuals and housing for young families," Brown said.

Community services

Brown said the city is enhancing services to assist the needs of the community, with a focus on safety and alternative mental health options when responding to certain services. Brown noted that the council approved a pilot program starting this year to require a licensed clinician to accompany a police officer responding to calls involving individuals experiencing mental health crises.

Furthermore, she said, the city is working with the Pleasanton Unified School District to apply similar strategies to the school resource officers (SROs) who serve the community at the Pleasanton schools.

The State of the City event, organized by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, drew dozens of community and business leaders and a range of city officials and staff, including this delegation from the Pleasanton Police Department. (Photo by Nina Pomeroy Photography)

Pleasanton joined Dublin and Livermore as funding partners with Axis Community Health to support the creation of a mental health urgent care service. The service will provide rapid access to mental health care, it will address or minimize the escalation of symptoms, thus avoiding the need for acute care, according to the mayor.

The new program managed by Axis, Brown said, has been operating for a year with a goal of filling a mental health gap within the community and "working to ensure that our first responders provide the highest quality of care."

She implored other Tri-Valley mayors to advocate for Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare that has been serving the community for 60 years to be recognized as a Level 2 trauma center.

Continuing on the issue of public safety, Brown acknowledged the significant progress in the construction of the new fire station on Santa Rita Road and West Las Positas Boulevard.

"This is on the council's priority because the old fire department needed to be renovated to meet the needs of the present day," Brown said.

Preserving character and charm

"Together we're preserving our city's character and charm so that residents and visitors can share in our rich history and generous hospitality," Brown said.

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown, seen during photo-op with Weekly at Alviso Adobe Community Park. (Photo by Chuck Deckert)

Talking about retaining a few concepts that emerged during the pandemic, Brown said, the Weekend on Main Street program is returning downtown beginning the first full weekend of each month from May through December.

Another pandemic feature of the pop-up dining in parking lots is being reshaped into a new parklet program that will bring back the additional outdoor dining under a set of design and safety standards that keeps the downtown clean, according to Brown

She extended the city's support in recognizing local businesses and cheered for the new dining establishments that opened during the pandemic like Zachary's Chicago Pizza, Elia, Middle Eight and Locanda Amalfi.

Sustainability

The city's environmental policy in the updated Climate Action Plan (dubbed as CAP 2.0) aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a goal of 70% reduction below the 1990 levels by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality per capita by 2045, according to Brown. The CAP 2.0 is estimated to save $585,000 annually.

The community is transitioning to the use of local and renewable energy. This means more than 300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed annually will be generated by California-based wind and solar projects, electrifying over 20,000 homes and businesses, according to Brown.

The city is also working to implement California's Senate Bill 1383, which requires residents and businesses to keep compostable and recyclable materials out of California's landfills.

Pleasanton is working with Zone 7 Water Agency to ensure the clean and adequate supply of water by taking short- and long-term strategies, according to Brown.

She noted that in 2019, the use of water from the city's Well 8 was stopped when concerning amounts of PFAS chemicals were detected. The council is looking at $43 million for treatment and the rehabilitation of wells to resolve such issues.

Additionally, to encourage eco-friendly modes of transportation the city has added a network of bicycle lanes to provide a safe path of travel with dedicated bicycle parking on St. Mary and West Angela streets and look to add more additional parking in the downtown area, according to the mayor.

City finances

"Maintaining fiscal stability will always be a core value for Pleasanton, and because of that I can confidently tell you that our city is financially solid," Brown said.

She expressed satisfaction in adopting Section 115 Trust Fund, which aims to ensure adequate fund availability for pension contributions, without having to reduce city services during difficult economic times.

The last fiscal year saw a revenue surplus of $7.5 million due to a combination of higher-than-expected revenues and reduced expenditures. Property taxes and special assessments generated $78 million, which accounted for 54% of the city's revenues and sales taxes yielded $22 million accounting for 14% of the revenues, according to Brown.

This marked the final State of the City event serving as emcee for Steve Van Dorn, who is soon retiring as chamber CEO. (Photo by Nina Pomeroy Photography)

The surplus was allocated to the COVID fund reserve, the repair and replacement, and capital improvement program reserve funds.

According to the midyear budget for the current fiscal the sales tax and business license receipts resulted in a $5 million surplus and was allocated to the capital improvement program reserve fund.

Community satisfaction survey

According to Brown, as per the city's most recent community satisfaction survey that was conducted six months ago in the middle of COVID's restrictions, 94% of the respondents rated Pleasanton as an excellent or good place to live in, a rating as high as any place in the Bay Area.

Niche.com that conducted the survey showed that out of the top 25 family-friendly neighborhoods in Alameda County, 96% of the respondents indicated they feel safe in Pleasanton. 89% of the respondents rated Pleasanton as an excellent or good place to raise children. The survey ranked the mental health crisis response team as the most important city program, followed by the all-abilities playground.

Brown concluded her address by thanking everyone involved in the working of the city including residents.

"Residents of Pleasanton and (I) both agree, we live and do work in an excellent city," Brown said. "I am honored to serve as your mayor, because together we are making Pleasanton a premier city to live, work and raise a family."

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Pleasanton's State of the City

Mayor Brown spotlights city projects, business climate, community services in annual speech

by Shiri Marwaha / Pleasanton Weekly

Uploaded: Thu, Apr 14, 2022, 11:29 pm

Pleasanton Mayor Karla Brown commended the communal bonding and resilience of the residents of Pleasanton in the pandemic while highlighting a range of community accomplishments during her 2022 State of the City address last month.

"The entire Pleasanton community came together in response to COVID. That sentiment remains as true today as it was then," Brown said in her speech.

The theme of "together" was prevalent throughout the mayor's speech, and she reiterated that it takes everyone to work together all in every way possible to create an award-winning "community of people who care about creating opportunities so that each of our businesses and our nearly 80,000 residents have what they need to proudly call Pleasanton their home."

Pleasanton businesses

The State of the City presentation, which was in-person for the first time during Brown's tenure as mayor, occurred as part of a luncheon event organized by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, Pleasanton at The Club on March 29. The speech itself was prerecorded, as the mayor would be unavailable for family reasons.

Brown said a "Business Needs City Survey" was conducted to understand the functioning of local businesses at this stage of the pandemic.

"An incredible 92% of businesses with 50 employees or less, which is a great majority of our commercial community, rated Pleasanton as an excellent or good place to do business," Brown said.

According to the survey, Pleasanton is projected as a business-friendly city that enjoys support from both the government and the community. Furthermore, it is seen as a safe community and an ideal location for businesses with scenic and open spaces -- 41% of the respondents to the survey believe they will have more revenue in the next two years.

"I'm proud that, coming out of a pandemic, our businesses have confidence that in working together we're making Pleasanton a great place for business," the mayor said.

She expressed gratitude to all the multinational companies for investing in Pleasanton, thus creating jobs and revenue for the community.

"Pleasanton is home to progressive technology, manufacturing and professional service businesses thanks to our infrastructure, our highly educated workforce, our schools and our outstanding quality of life," Brown said.

The constant response of the community with vital support during the pandemic, providing a vaccination site at fairgrounds, collaborating with the school district and the senior center, yielded the city with high vaccination rates against COVID-19, according to Brown.

The mayor noted that the Pleasanton senior lunch program, run by Open Heart Kitchen, served an incredible 42,000 meals to seniors while also operating the regional food distribution site that supported thousands of Tri-Valley residents with food insecurity.

She applauded the city's business support fund for providing nearly $1.5 million in city loans and matching Alameda County grants and fully funded the total "Housing PLUS Human Services and Community Grant" requests.

She also acknowledged the local nonprofits for providing in-person support to residents.

"Together, we have gotten through the thick of the crisis shoulder-to-shoulder, and I'm pleased to say we're finally moving toward the endemic stage of this worldwide virus. After two long years, I see a much brighter future ahead," Brown said.

Work plan projects

Next, the mayor highlighted the progress on the priorities documented in the City Council's work plan -- projects that reflect the interests of the changing and diverse demographic of the community.

"It is our responsibility to ensure every resident is heard, and every resident knows they are an integral part of our community," Brown said.

The all-abilities playground proposed for Ken Mercer Sports Park and its innovative and creatively designed play structure will offer a play experience for a wide variety of abilities and skill levels. The structure will accommodate children, adults and seniors in a universally designed, sensory-rich environment, she said.

Further she spoke about the potential expansion of the skate park at the Sports Park with new features suited to different levels of skaters and all-wheel users.

"Funding is critical for both amenities before we can begin construction, but I am truly looking forward to watching everyone enjoy these new features," Brown added.

Lastly in this section of the speech, she said the city is looking for sites across town to accommodate the growing demand for a cricket pitch and pickleball court from residents.

Housing

Brown said the council is working on how to best assist families with housing difficulties, especially as housing prices continue to rise in Pleasanton.

"Together we are engaging our landowners, builders and the public, with meetings and discussions on how best to address the range of housing needs across all income levels, spread throughout Pleasanton," she said.

The city is also working to account for its mandated Regional Housing Needs Allocation (RHNA) of nearly 6,000 new housing units under the upcoming update of the Housing Element, which is revised every eight years. The council is required to identify adequate sites through the General Plan and zoning process, and the planning for the same is in progress and projected to be ready for adoption by early 2023.

"We know our community is best served with a mix of different housing options, distributed throughout Pleasanton. Our goal is to find opportunities for workforce housing, senior housing, housing for individuals and housing for young families," Brown said.

Community services

Brown said the city is enhancing services to assist the needs of the community, with a focus on safety and alternative mental health options when responding to certain services. Brown noted that the council approved a pilot program starting this year to require a licensed clinician to accompany a police officer responding to calls involving individuals experiencing mental health crises.

Furthermore, she said, the city is working with the Pleasanton Unified School District to apply similar strategies to the school resource officers (SROs) who serve the community at the Pleasanton schools.

Pleasanton joined Dublin and Livermore as funding partners with Axis Community Health to support the creation of a mental health urgent care service. The service will provide rapid access to mental health care, it will address or minimize the escalation of symptoms, thus avoiding the need for acute care, according to the mayor.

The new program managed by Axis, Brown said, has been operating for a year with a goal of filling a mental health gap within the community and "working to ensure that our first responders provide the highest quality of care."

She implored other Tri-Valley mayors to advocate for Stanford Health Care-ValleyCare that has been serving the community for 60 years to be recognized as a Level 2 trauma center.

Continuing on the issue of public safety, Brown acknowledged the significant progress in the construction of the new fire station on Santa Rita Road and West Las Positas Boulevard.

"This is on the council's priority because the old fire department needed to be renovated to meet the needs of the present day," Brown said.

Preserving character and charm

"Together we're preserving our city's character and charm so that residents and visitors can share in our rich history and generous hospitality," Brown said.

Talking about retaining a few concepts that emerged during the pandemic, Brown said, the Weekend on Main Street program is returning downtown beginning the first full weekend of each month from May through December.

Another pandemic feature of the pop-up dining in parking lots is being reshaped into a new parklet program that will bring back the additional outdoor dining under a set of design and safety standards that keeps the downtown clean, according to Brown

She extended the city's support in recognizing local businesses and cheered for the new dining establishments that opened during the pandemic like Zachary's Chicago Pizza, Elia, Middle Eight and Locanda Amalfi.

Sustainability

The city's environmental policy in the updated Climate Action Plan (dubbed as CAP 2.0) aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with a goal of 70% reduction below the 1990 levels by 2030, and achieve carbon neutrality per capita by 2045, according to Brown. The CAP 2.0 is estimated to save $585,000 annually.

The community is transitioning to the use of local and renewable energy. This means more than 300 million kilowatt-hours of electricity consumed annually will be generated by California-based wind and solar projects, electrifying over 20,000 homes and businesses, according to Brown.

The city is also working to implement California's Senate Bill 1383, which requires residents and businesses to keep compostable and recyclable materials out of California's landfills.

Pleasanton is working with Zone 7 Water Agency to ensure the clean and adequate supply of water by taking short- and long-term strategies, according to Brown.

She noted that in 2019, the use of water from the city's Well 8 was stopped when concerning amounts of PFAS chemicals were detected. The council is looking at $43 million for treatment and the rehabilitation of wells to resolve such issues.

Additionally, to encourage eco-friendly modes of transportation the city has added a network of bicycle lanes to provide a safe path of travel with dedicated bicycle parking on St. Mary and West Angela streets and look to add more additional parking in the downtown area, according to the mayor.

City finances

"Maintaining fiscal stability will always be a core value for Pleasanton, and because of that I can confidently tell you that our city is financially solid," Brown said.

She expressed satisfaction in adopting Section 115 Trust Fund, which aims to ensure adequate fund availability for pension contributions, without having to reduce city services during difficult economic times.

The last fiscal year saw a revenue surplus of $7.5 million due to a combination of higher-than-expected revenues and reduced expenditures. Property taxes and special assessments generated $78 million, which accounted for 54% of the city's revenues and sales taxes yielded $22 million accounting for 14% of the revenues, according to Brown.

The surplus was allocated to the COVID fund reserve, the repair and replacement, and capital improvement program reserve funds.

According to the midyear budget for the current fiscal the sales tax and business license receipts resulted in a $5 million surplus and was allocated to the capital improvement program reserve fund.

Community satisfaction survey

According to Brown, as per the city's most recent community satisfaction survey that was conducted six months ago in the middle of COVID's restrictions, 94% of the respondents rated Pleasanton as an excellent or good place to live in, a rating as high as any place in the Bay Area.

Niche.com that conducted the survey showed that out of the top 25 family-friendly neighborhoods in Alameda County, 96% of the respondents indicated they feel safe in Pleasanton. 89% of the respondents rated Pleasanton as an excellent or good place to raise children. The survey ranked the mental health crisis response team as the most important city program, followed by the all-abilities playground.

Brown concluded her address by thanking everyone involved in the working of the city including residents.

"Residents of Pleasanton and (I) both agree, we live and do work in an excellent city," Brown said. "I am honored to serve as your mayor, because together we are making Pleasanton a premier city to live, work and raise a family."

Comments

Joe Public
Registered user
Amador Valley High School
on Apr 15, 2022 at 1:24 pm
Joe Public, Amador Valley High School
Registered user
on Apr 15, 2022 at 1:24 pm

Thank you, Karla Brown, for providing strong leadership for our City as Mayor and on the City Council for over your 9 + years in office. It was sad to learn of the reason you could not give the State of the City address in person but I’m glad it was delivered in a taped video and the Weekly could put your address in print. These have been challenging times for many of us but especially for you and your family with the years of struggles with your daughter’s breast cancer. Our sincere condolences to you and your family for the loss of your daughter, Stephanie.


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