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Some Town Called Pleasanton

Original post made by jkgullo, Pleasanton Heights, on Sep 12, 2013

When I moved here with my family from the Midwest, I was filled with questions. How was I going to meet people? What was a smog check? Where were the farmer’s markets? How were my kids getting to school, since it seemed this area of the world considered school buses to be an impractical mode of transportation? When were the best times to drive the freeway? What was the BART schedule? Where were the closest hiking trails, beaches, or spots to take in the beauty of this new terrain? Who were the best doctors for my children? My questions were endless.

The purpose of my blog is to open a discussion, provide helpful tips for other newcomers and Tri-Valley transplants, and to make transitions less complicated. Feel free to comment or share this blog with others. The more, the merrier! Newbies: do not be shy. Ask your questions and I’ll help you in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. Or someone else will. Unkind and spiteful commenters will be routinely plagued by a sent video of myself singing (I cannot sing). My goals are to make our lovely, vibrant community easier to navigate.


I’d never stepped foot on Northern California soil before flying out with my husband to look for homes. Here is what I knew about Northern California:

1) It was sunny – a lot.
2) My husband’s job was in a city called Sunnyvale.
3) The cost of living vastly outweighed our small-town living in Cleveland. Not exactly a sunny thought.
4) We were going to be living on the other side of the country. According to my Italian mother, I might as well be living on the sun – because that’s how far away I’d be from her.

We scoured areas and communities within the vicinity of Sunnyvale – but to no avail. Seriously? I liked a good shag carpet – but not one that still had cigarette ashes mashed into its fibers from the Nixon era. I loved food, but didn’t want to be so close to another house that I could reach over and grab my neighbor’s fries off their plate from my kitchen window. Where would we find a place that wasn’t too urban, but not exactly located in the middle of cow pastures and tumbleweeds? Were our expectations raised too high to even believe that we had any options when buying in California? Our criteria was simple, to choose a house that was:

1) Near great schools.
2) Within a thriving community.
3) A place that was both a little bit country and a little bit… not.
4) A place with a decent (i.e., bearable) commute to Sunnyvale.

Did such a community exist? Would we just end up renting a condo? It was looking bleak. We’d have to expand our search to some town called, Pleasanton. Pleasanton, we were told, was a great city to look for potential homes.

We found our realtor, a great guy who knew the area better than most because he was a long-time Pleasanton resident. Bill Wells, of Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate/Tri Valley Realty, drove us around, describing each little nook and cranny of the town and each little nuance between ‘that’ neighborhood and ‘this’ neighborhood. For a good idea of the different neighborhoods within Pleasanton, The Gamache Team of realtors put together a useful site that describes each neighborhood in Pleasanton by color-coded districts. Click here for a view. As Bill described the rich history of P-Town and repeatedly told us how much people loved living in this city, I had to believe that there was more to this little town than was meeting my sheltered, Midwest girl’s eyes.

I waited for someone to tell me that P-town only looked perfect from the outside, and that there was in fact a seedy underbelly of P-town peeps raring to pop out as soon as we signed on the dotted line. I waited for someone to confess that in fact the schools were beefing up their spotless reviews and possibly forcing their students to pretend that they loved being a student at {insert Pleasanton school name here}. Every time I spoke with someone about Pleasanton (P-Town) – their eyes would light up and the gushing would begin. I’d try to instead talk about wineries, theatre, music… vacuuming – anything else to get these P-Town-obsessed people to stop their frenzied talk about their hometown and come clean. This was too surreal. They, the locals, were all in on the ploy to get us to move to this wonderfully perfect place, I surmised. This was all one big cover up, just like the movie: The Stepford Wives – a seemingly perfect society hiding a deep, dark secret. Paranoia was setting in. P-town could not really be as perfect as everyone said it was, could it?

We flew home. I was ready to stay put in Ohio and suffer blistering winters, gray skies year-round, the sinking economy, potholes at every turn, and bad sports teams (kidding!). We landed in a humid-thick thunderstorm and drove home. We slumped our luggage down. What next? We would have to decide to either stay in Ohio until we could find a place, or rent in California. Our phone rang. It was our friendly realtor, Bill Wells. "We have a house that just came on the market – and I think you are going to like it."

I flew out by myself. The plan was to meet with Bill and see the house. Everything was smooth sailing so far. Before we met, I walked around downtown for a little bit. People walking along the sidewalks were still smiling. How could they have known I was going to be visiting again? I walked past the Rose Hotel. John Madden, Pro Football Hall of Famer, was the proud owner of this little gem. I wondered why Mr. Madden would love this quiet town so much. Mr. Madden would not dare live in a town that was hiding a deep, dark secret, would he? My feet kept walking past restaurants, tree-lined streets, people-filled parks and lovingly maintained homes. The locals all smiled and waved everywhere I turned. They were not expecting me to be there, so they did not have time to properly prepare to fool me into thinking this was the perfect town. I tricked them. I came back. Unannounced. But things never changed. The daily happenings were still - happening. Kids playing soccer, swimming, biking, laughing. Adults strolling at a carefree pace. Life was very, very pleasant indeed.

The house our realtor found for us was quite cozy. And quite perfect. My husband and kids wanted to know what I thought. I stood at the window and looked outside. “I love the house. I love it here.” I realized then that my eyes probably took on the same glow as those I’d recently accused of being P-Town obsessed. But, they were right. This town had heart. This town was perfect. This town was a place we would easily be able to call ‘home.’

Stay tuned for the next blog in Kelly’s series of New Beginnings blogs! You can also connect with Kelly by email: [Web Link] or Twitter: @jkgullo.

Comments (10)

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Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 12, 2013 at 11:54 am

I hope you don't use this blog to promote your favorite realtors.

Are you capable of being honest? Time will tell...

Like this comment
Posted by Kim
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

I'm from Cleveland too! I like Pleasanton because, unlike in Cleveland and other big cities, like Oakland, when I walk the downtown sidewalks I only see people who look like me. I'm sure you all know what I mean! And don't get me started on San Francisco. We've lived hear eleven years and I can proudly say that we've never taken our kids into that den of inequity. Hooyas all around for Pleasanton!

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 12, 2013 at 12:16 pm

Thanks for the comment Cholo.

The sole purpose of this blog is to recommend services, locations, tips and information that pertain to helping those who are in process of moving to/ or recently moved to the Tri Valley area. As with this posting, my future blogs will not concentrate on one specific topic (i.e., realtors). I'm going to have open, honest discussions about all aspects that make the Tri Valley a great place to live.

Feel free to give quality feedback as well. Any recommended landscapers, painters, ice cream shops, beaches, etc.? Think of this as YELP with a bit of Ask Annie for Tri Valley newbies.

Thanks! Kelly

Like this comment
Posted by jkgullo
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Hi Kim -

Nice to hear of fellow Clevelanders in the area. I love Northern California and all aspects of this awesome, ethnically diverse region. San Francisco is a great place. Love it there!! Wish I knew enough about the city to write about it as well. :)


Like this comment
Posted by Michigangirl
a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Sep 12, 2013 at 1:10 pm

Great Article! I have never been to Cali, but would love to travel to Pleasanton.

Like this comment
Posted by Kim
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2013 at 3:52 pm

Yes, Kelly, yucky Oakland and San Frisco are ethnically diverse, but thank God Pleasanton is the iland of civilization that it is. when we chose Pleasanton we looked at the demograph data. That told us a lot!! We can live here without the liberal loons from Berkeley or the protesters in Oakland yelling, just yelling in our face. As for San Francisco, we stay away and keep with our own here in Pleasanton.

Like this comment
Posted by Cholo
a resident of Livermore
on Sep 12, 2013 at 4:03 pm remind me of seed that lives inside a pumpkin...jus sayin...

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Posted by Steve
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2013 at 4:26 pm

Kelly, your efforts, while laudable, will likely be more well-received in another venue. Responses to your posts will devolve quickly into political sniping, baseless accusations, and useless attempts at humor. Bottom line - don't waste your energy here, as you'll likely be sorely disappointed at the response. Too bad, actually, since you sound well-meaning and sincere; hence my caution about creating angst for yourself.

Like this comment
Posted by Hmmmm
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Sep 12, 2013 at 11:55 pm

Many of us have similar stories. Thirty years ago, fter corporate relocations in 5 other states, I used a Homebuyer's Guide, and looked for characteristics I liked in previous relocations, and also found in Pleasanton. First being location at intersection of freeways in all directions, & just hours from Tahoe, Yosemite, San Francisco, Carmel,a perfect location. Also, population around 40-50,000, just for starters, plus quiet charm.
I'm just wondering about this site. I've enjoyed it for several years, with interesting 'issues' being discussed and debated, and happenings in town, both school and civic. I hope it continues with issues and community happenings.
Recent professional advertising and family histories are starting to concern me. But, I guess anything is OK, short-term.

Like this comment
Posted by Steve Mattos
a resident of Castlewood
on Oct 8, 2013 at 11:25 am

Thanks Kelly, Really enjoyed the article. We have been here since 1977. It is truly the best place to live anywhere. The people are friendly, the town is wonderful and the golf is great. That goes for the whole Pleasanton, Livermore Valley. We are truly blessed to live here. Keep up the good work and to bad about the few negative people.

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

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