The last four months of 2016 were highlighted by the November election. New city councilmembers were elected in both Dublin and Livermore. All three mayors and two Pleasanton councilmembers were re-elected. Pleasanton voters strongly favored a Costco. The Tri-Valley Learning Corporation, which operates two charter schools in Livermore, continued to have issues that led to notice of violations. The election of Donald Trump to be the next president, raised concerns among the scientific community regarding climate change research.

SEPTEMBER 2016

The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board of Trustees sent a notice of violations to the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC), along with proposed remedies for the violations. The school district oversees TVLC, which manages the K-8 Livermore Valley Charter School and the Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory. Among the concerns listed were fiscal, operational and legal issues, including fiscal mismanagement, audit irregularities, widespread delinquency in paying debts, and the action taken by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges to withhold the prep school’s accreditation. Among the remedies proposed by the district were disassociating the two schools from TVLC; creating a new independent governing body; and hiring a new permanent CEO . Julie Lassig, director of development for TVLC, said the notices were incomplete and premature.

Dawn Argula was selected to be the Livermore Valley Chamber of Commerce chief executive officer and president. Argula most recently served 16 years in the office of Alameda County Supervisor Scott Haggerty who represents District 1 as chief of staff of operations. Argula served as lead policy staff for infrastructure including transportation, water supply, and flood control as well as policies related to air quality and economic development.

Pleasanton Partners in Education, a non-profit organization that helps to raise money for school district programs, introduced its new director, Steve McCoy-Thompson.

Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory moved into its new quarters at 3090 Independence Drive. The move came three years after an initial announcement that the school would move to new quarters. There were delays with financing, and a requirement that a parking lot be paved and traffic improvements installed before Livermore would issue a certificate of occupancy.

Horse racing would be expanded in Pleasanton as the Alameda County Fairgrounds announced a new, six-day race meet and festival that would take place over two weekends in September and October.

"Flygirl" by Sherri L. Smith was announced as the featured book for the Livermore Public Library's 11th Livermore Reads Together, the library’s annual community reading program. This was the first time the library had selected a young adult (YA) novel for Livermore Reads Together, with the idea that it would appeal to readers of all ages.

The debt on the books for Livermore's two charter schools amounted to $3.5 million. It was to be pared down in part with teacher layoffs. The Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District saw a larger influx of students, with 477 enrolling in August. The increase was largely the result of uncertainty felt by parents over the future viability of the two charter schools operated by the Tri-Valley Learning Center in Livermore.

The endangered wildflower Mount Diablo Buckwheat was found thriving at Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve in Antioch. A team of botanists was contracted by the East Bay Regional Park District to survey wildland vegetation in Eastern Contra Costa County. The discovery site was kept secret to protect the species.

In an open letter drafted by a Livermore researcher, leading scientists from around the world warned of the dangers of a warming climate for future generations. They urged continuing adherence to the provisions of the Paris Agreement reached last December. The letter was signed by 375 members of the National Academy of Sciences, including 30 Nobel Laureates. The letter stated that the scientific evidence is clear: the world is warming and humans are the reason. The letter was motivated by statements made first by prospective Republican presidential candidates during the primary campaign season and then by the actual Republican candidate, Donald Trump. Ben Santer, the climate scientist from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, denied that the letter was part of any campaign but instead was about valid scientific findings that the world is headed in a very dangerous direction.

The Altamont Landfill Open Space Advisory Committee voted to establish priority areas that could be purchased. The committee also voted to send a letter to the state noting that funds were available to buy land, including property designated for use as an off-road vehicle park (Tesla/Corral Hollow). The top priorities in the Livermore area are Doolan Canyon area, Springtown Alkali Sink, Tesla/Corral Hollow, Cedar Mountain, Brushy Peak and I-580 wildlife corridor. Pleasanton/Dublin areas include the Arroyo Mocho, Pleasanton Ridge and Dublin Ridgelands.

RRM Design Group was selected as the consultant for the Springtown Open Space Master Plan. The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District board approved the selection by a 4 to 0 vote. Director Beth Wilson, who lives in the area of the former golf course, was recused. The city is providing the budget to pay the master plan consultant.

Tri-Valley Learning Corporation recognized its teachers' efforts to form a chapter of the California Teachers Association.

The Livermore Cultural Arts Council announced that it planned to celebrate its 50th anniversary in October with a dinner at the Robert Livermore Community Center.

The Dublin City Council approved plans by Kaiser Permanente to build a major medical center in Dublin. The first phase includes a 220,000 square-foot "hub" medical office building with an urgent care clinic, medical office space, and a radiation/oncology center. Also planned were commercial uses, such as retail, office, ancillary health-related facilities and a business park. Phase 2 would include a 400,000 square foot high-acuity medical services building that could involve a hospital. Phase 3, called for a second medical office building. It may or may not include a hospital.

A candidate forum entitled “Tri-Valley @ a Crossroads” was hosted by PleasantonVoters.com, Friends of Livermore, and Dubliners for Change. KPIX TV news anchor and reporter Juliette Goodrich served as moderator.

The Pleasanton Chamber’s Business and Community Political Action Committee endorsed Mayor Jerry Thorne, Councilmember Jerry Pentin and Planning Commissioner Herb Ritter. For school board, BACPAC endorsed Steve Maher and Kathleen Ruegsegger.

The Livermore City Council agreed to consider placing a moratorium on housing development within the Downtown Specific Plan area. The moratorium, proposed by Councilmember Stewart Gary, would be for 45 days. During that time period, staff would gather information and come back to the council with a work plan. The plan would define the timeline, the physical area, and uses not impacted by a moratorium. The council could then cancel the moratorium or extend it for another 10.5 months.

The Innovation Tri-Valley Leadership Group held its annual Dreammakers and Risktakers Award Luncheon at the Shannon Community Center in Dublin. 2016 Dreammakers and Risktakers Winners honored were Las Positas College – Ashley Kim: "Ashley Kim; Danielle Leedeman; Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District – Sam DeCosta, Meenakshi Singhal, and Shannon Yan; Pleasanton Unified School District – Alisha Shaik & Anushka Sikdar; and, Dublin Unified School District – Madeline Williamson.

OCTOBER 2016

The Metropolitan Transportation Commission voted to approve $1.6 million in AB 1171 bridge-toll funds to complete environmental work for the BART extension to Isabel Avenue in Livermore. The MTC also approved $660,000 from Regional Measure 1 bridge-toll funds to hire an executive consultant to lead the Altamont Regional Rail Working Group in identifying solutions for a BART connection to the Altamont Corridor Express (ACE). The funds were on top of the $111 million in bridge tolls previously allocated to the project. The Working Group, comprised of local elected officials and business representatives across the East Bay and San Joaquin Valley, was created for the purpose of exploring ways to expedite the BART to ACE connection.

Information obtained under California Public Records Request, showed that negotiations were underway for many months between Pleasanton city staff, Costco, and the developer Nearon concerning city subsidies to offset the costs of transportation infrastructure as part of the Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone.

Members of the Dublin Unified School District Board of Trustees and the Dublin City Council marked the groundbreaking of the E-5 K-8 School and Park on a 10-acre site located in the Jordan Ranch Development.

The proposed moratorium on development in Downtown Livermore failed to gain the four votes needed to put it into effect. Steven Spedowfski and Laureen Turner were opposed to the idea. In opposing the moratorium, Turner and Spedowfski said they could not make the findings that anticipated housing developments constituted the need for an urgency measure. Spedowfski noted that council cannot approve more units than 1400 without a vote of the council to raise the allowed Downtown Specific Plan units.

The Pleasanton City Council finalized the Downtown Specific Plan Task Force. The group will look at issues related to land use, transportation, parking, historic preservation, design and beautification, and economic vitality. The 10-member Task Force (plus alternates) included Mayor Jerry Thorne, Vice Mayor Kathy Narum, Councilmember Jerry Pentin (alternate); planning commissioners Herb Ritter, Nancy Allen, Justin Brown (alternate); Pleasanton Downtown Association Laura Olson, Dirk Christiansen, Janet Yarbrough (alternate); Economic Vitality Committee Olivia Sanwong, Steve Baker (alternate); and at large representatives Teri Pohl, Jim Merryman, Jan Batcheller.

A Livermore First, Housing First concept to help deal with homelessness in Livermore was endorsed by the city council. The city will hire a homeless prevention specialist for a limited time duration. The Housing First model would move a homeless person into permanent housing as soon as possible and provide the necessary services to enable participants to maintain housing indefinitely. Rather than focus on all of the homeless, the city will target three priority groups: veterans, families with children, and chronically homeless persons with disabilities.

Livermore Forward, a new political action committee, urged the re-election of Livermore City Councilmembers Laureen Turner and Stewart Gary.

The grand opening of the Bernal Community Park (Phase II) included a dedication ceremony. The newly opened areas included an Oak Woodland with native plants and meandering walking trails and state-of-the-art, synthetic multi-purpose sports fields.

Plans to expand off-road vehicle recreation into the Tesla site in eastern Alameda County were approved unanimously by the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Commission. Following the vote, leaders of a Livermore-based group, Friends of Tesla Park, vowed to fight the expansion in court. Although multiple hearings over several years generated many hours of critical oral testimony and hundreds of pages of written documentation of anticipated damage to the site, according to Nancy Rodrigue of Friends of Tesla Park, the commission acted last week as if there were no significant obstacles to expansion. Objections have included the likelihood of motor vehicle damage to rare and endangered plants and animals, substantial air and water pollution, increased incidence of Valley Fever and opposition by neighboring ranchers and other residents concerned about noise, dust and traffic.

The California Department of Food and Agriculture awarded $209,270 in funding to the non-profit Livermore Valley Winegrowers Association as part of the USDA’s 2016 Specialty Crop Block Grant Program. The funds will be used over a three-year period to enhance the marketability and long-term competitiveness of Livermore Valley wine grapes.

The Zone 7 Water Agency approved a rate increase. As a result, consumers would pay $5 per month more next year, if retailers pass the cost on directly to their customers. By plan, this increase was the second part of a three-year series, all at the same 13 percent rise per year. Part of the increase includes a drought surcharge.

The Livermore City Council directed staff to move forward with zoning that would allow for a medical cannabis dispensary to locate in Livermore. Selected were 386 acres in the industrial area on the eastside of the city. The area is 1000 feet away from homes, schools, churches and places of worship, parks, commercial recreational uses that attract children and day care centers. The zoning in place would accommodate the use.

The Mount Diablo Rose Society observed its 30th Anniversary. Cofounders were David Lowell and Mark Mintz. Lowell also served as its first president.

NOVEMBER 2016

The Third District Court of Appeal ruled against an appeal from the California Building Industry Association, which if successful would have blocked the ability to charge Level III developer fees on Dublin development. The Dublin Unified School District lobbied the State Allocations Board (SAB) for the ability to charge Level III fees. The SAB had agreed developers could be charged Level III fees because of the shortfall of state bond money. The Building Industry then appealed the decision.

Challengers Bob Coomber and Bob Carling were elected to serve on the Livermore City Council, replacing incumbents Laureen Turner and Stewart Gary. Mayor John Marchand was unopposed. Livermore voters supported Measure FF that would retain the former Springtown Golf Course as permanent open space. Incumbents Mayor Jerry Thorne and Councilmembers Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin were returned to office in Pleasanton. Pleasanton voters defeated Measure MM, dubbed the Costco initiative. Dublin Mayor David Haubert was re-elected. Newcomers Arun Goel and Melissa Hernandez Strah were elected to the Dublin City Council. Livermore Area Recreation and Park District saw incumbent Beth Wilson and Jan Palajac elected. Incumbent Republican Catharine Baker defeated challenger Democrat Cheryl Cook-Kallio in the race for the State Assembly, 16th District seat. In the State Senate, 7th District, incumbent Democrat Steve Glazer defeated Republican challenger Joseph Rubay. Democratic Congressman Eric Swalwell was re-elected, defeating Republican Danny Turner. On the Dublin school board three were elected to fill four year terms, Joe Giannini, Amy Miller and Dan Cunningham. In the race for the two-year term, Dan Cherrier was chosen. The three seats on the Pleasanton school were filled by Steve Maher, and incumbents Valerie Arkin, and Jamie Hintzke. Authorization for selling up to $270 million worth of revenue bonds to improve Pleasanton school buildings, equipment, and build a new school if needed, was approved. A $3.5 billion BART bond issue was approved. In the Chabot-Las Positas College District Area 7 race, challenger Edralin Maduli replaced incumbent William Macedo. Incumbent BART director John McPartland was reelected. Measure A1, the countywide affordable housing measure bond for $580 million, received the two-thirds needed to pass.

Two Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District (LVJUSD) schools unveiled new “smarter” lunchrooms. Based on a grant from the Team Nutrition Smarter Lunchrooms Movement (SLM) of California Program, Marylin Avenue and Junction K-8 School added some enhancements to the lunchrooms designed to encourage students to select and enjoy nutritious foods.

It was announced that Livermore would host the Little League Intermediate World Series July 30 to August 6, 2017 at Max Baer Park. It would be the fifth year Livermore hosted the World Series.

Ground was broken for a Kaiser-Permanente medical facility scheduled to open in Dublin in the summer of 2019. The facility will provide primary care and 24-urgent care as well as specialty medicine in fields such as head and neck surgery, urology and radiation therapy. It will be located between I-580 and Dublin Boulevard just west of the Fallon Gateway center.

Over 300 students in T-K through 5th grade started school at the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District’s (LVJUSD) satellite elementary campus at the former Portola Elementary School. The majority of the students enrolled in the satellite campus previously attended the Livermore Valley Charter School.

The Dublin City Council agreed to support the expansion of an Alameda County ban on one-time-use flimsy plastic bags. No formal vote was taken. Councilmember Abe Gupta objected to the expansion, questioning whether enough restaurant owners were polled to gauge their support.

Livermore-Amador Symphony opened its fifty-fourth season with a concert themed, “A Heavenly Life.”

The Alameda County Superintendent of Schools gave the green light for an AB139 Extraordinary Audit of the Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC). The audit would look into allegations of "fraud, misappropriation of funds, or other illegal fiscal practices." TVLC manages the Livermore Valley Charter School and Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory. In other news concerning TVLC, the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board voted unanimously to issue a new notice of violation listing twelve issues. A letter from acting TVLC CEO Lynn Lysco sent to the Livermore School suggested that financial issues would be resolved through Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization. Concerns for the district included fiscal mismanagement, unpaid debt, deficiencies in budgets, bankruptcy filings, misrepresentations in the LVCS charter renewal petition and lack of candor regarding the bankruptcy filing. The district said it had found deficiencies in education programs, site safety violations, lack of due diligence in hiring previous site principals, violation of admissions preferences, and violations of promises made in the charter petitions. In addition, the prep school had lost its accreditation, pending a site visit.

The Pleasanton City Council voted to accept a proposed master plan to expand the library and add a community center on the Bernal property. The approval included the understanding that a vote of the people will be required for the ultimate approval of a new library.

Erie Mills, former Metropolitan Opera soprano, was appointed as Artistic Director by Livermore Valley Opera. She joined the artistic team with Alexander Katsman, Music Director and Conductor for the company.

Freshman students at Amador Valley High School (AVHS) participated in Mix It Up at Lunch Day to identify, question, and cross social boundaries. The event was coordinated by Nicole Zhang, a junior at AVHS, and was led and facilitated by Mix It Up Leaders. Mix It Up at Lunch Day encouraged students to move out of their comfort zones and connect with someone new over lunch.

DECEMBER 2016

Three lawsuits were filed aimed at preventing a unit of the California Department of Parks and Recreation from expanding off-highway motor sports into the Tesla site at the eastern boundary of Alameda County. The proposed expansion would enlarge the existing Carnegie State Vehicular Recreation Park. Both sites are owned by the State. Carnegie now has 1,575 acres for off-highway motor sports; expansion into Tesla would add 3,100 acres more. Filing suits were Alameda County; a partnership consisting of Friends of Tesla Park, Center for Biological Diversity and Alameda Creek Alliance; and a northern California environmental defense organization called SPRAWLDEF, which stands for Sustainability Parks Recycling and Wildlife Legal Defense Fund.

Alameda County District Attorney Nancy E. O’Malley created new resources to respond to the recent increase in hate related criminal activity and hate rhetoric reported in communities around the county. They included a hotline number available for the reporting of hate-related crimes: 510-208-4824 with outgoing messages in English, Spanish, Farsi, Mandarin, Cantonese and Tagalog.

Both the Dublin and Livermore City Councils voted to participate in the Alameda County Community Choice Aggregation (CCA) energy program. Pleasanton did not vote on whether to become a member. A decision to participate was required by Dec. 31, 2016. CCA enables local jurisdictions to procure electricity on behalf of customers within its borders. Goals of the program are to promote renewable energy, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and provide energy at a lower rate. PG&E will continue to distribute the electricity and will bill customers.

For the 35th year, Deacon Dave Rezendes' home in Livermore unveiled a Christmas display. This year's included more than a half million lights.

Sunflower Hill development plans in Livermore and Pleasanton were moving through the approval process with both expected to go before city councils in 2017. The Livermore Planning Commission endorsed the proposal from the developer MidPen to build Sunflower Hill, a residential community for 44 individuals with special needs. Planned are a mix of 1 bedroom and studio apartments. In Pleasanton, Sunflower Hill is working with Concentric Development on Irby Ranch – a residential project envisioned at the intersection of First and Nevada Streets, just north of downtown. Sunflower Hill is set to receive 1.3 acres of the 14 acre site from developer Mike Serpa as part of the developer’s inclusionary housing requirement.

The Vine Cinema celebrated its 60th anniversary with special activities, including showing the first film screened at the Vine, “You Can’t Run Away From It.” Originally a one screen theatre with a tiny lobby, the Vine Cinema was California’s most modern theatre for its time featuring Cinemascope, Vista-Vision, Superscope and “Directional Sound.” In 2012 the Vine Cinema went digital.

Terms like “Enemies List” and “McCarthyism” were being spoken locally as news spread that the Donald Trump transition team appeared to be trying to learn the names of researchers who attended international climate science meetings and otherwise contributed to the advance of climate science. The news articles cited 74 questions from a questionnaire sent to federal agencies like the U.S. Department of Energy, which funds defense and non-defense research at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, as well as at Sandia National Laboratories. Scientists said that the effort to try to get the names of federally funded climate scientists, is a “witch hunt.” They called for the U.S. to join the rest of the world in upholding the provisions of the Paris Climate Agreement, which was reached late last year after international negotiations, and which President-elect Trump has vowed to remove the United States from the agreement.

Twenty-six Members of Congress sent President-elect Donald Trump their vow to defend the scientific freedom of employees at the Department of Energy’s 17 National Laboratories, following reports that Trump’s transition team sought personal information regarding department employees’ work on climate change. The letter invited Trump to visit the DOE labs. Rep. Eric Swalwell, whose district includes Lawrence Livermore and Sandia National Laboratories, led the effort.

The National Nuclear Security Administration announced that the new manager of Sandia National Laboratories, starting next Spring, will be a wholly owned subsidiary of Honeywell International supported by the aerospace giant Northrop Grumman and Universities Research Association. The Honeywell subsidiary, the National Technology & Engineering Solutions of Sandia, was chosen over more than a dozen other companies and partnerships that competed for the $2.6-billion-per-year operating contract. The selection brought to a close some 24 years of management by Lockheed Martin.

The request for early renewal of the charters for two schools in Livermore was rejected by a unanimous vote of the Livermore Valley Joint Unified School District Board. The Tri-Valley Learning Corporation (TVLC) had submitted the petitions for renewals for the Livermore Valley Charter School and the Livermore Valley Charter Preparatory. A letter from TVLC raised issues regarding district staff findings in its recommendation that the renewal request be denied. Neither school will close because of denial of the request. The current LVCS charter runs through June 30, 2018, the Prep School charter through June 30, 2020. TVLC can now submit the petitions to the Alameda County Board of Education. The County Board must complete its review and render a decision on the petition within 60 days of receipt. If the County Board denies the petitions requesting early renewal, they can be submitted to the State Board of Education.

The Pleasanton City Council approved moving forward with the purchase of the Old Bernal Parcel, a 3.18 acre parcel across from the city's library. Pleasanton had been trying to acquire the land since 2000 when it would have come to the city as part of Greenbriar Homes purchase of the 510 acres known today as the Bernal Property. The Old Bernal site belongs to the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which began accepting bids for purchase of the land in October. A bid for the appraised value of $4.2 million was submitted for the land, located close to Pleasanton's Civic Center and the ACE train station. Pleasanton's bid was deemed the highest most responsive. The purchase will be finalized sometime in 2017.

The Livermore Area Recreation and Park District (LARPD) board opted to appoint a successor to Bob Coomber rather than hold a special election. In November, Coomber was elected to serve on the Livermore City Council, leaving a vacancy on the LARPD board.

The Alameda County Board of Supervisors officially created a regional energy authority. The board also finalized a Joint Powers Agreement to allow East Bay municipalities to work together to procure energy for customers. A feasibility study concluded that the program could potentially bring benefits to Alameda County. These include more local control to plan and work to procure higher levels of renewable energy, and to reduce the amount of greenhouse gases associated with local energy consumption. In addition, the cost of energy was predicted to be lower.

Pleasanton Unified School District Superintendent Rick Rubino was placed on administrative leave by consensus of the school board in a closed session held Dec. 19. The board met again in closed session on Dec. 27 for a noticed discussion of “public employee discipline/dismissal/release.” No reportable action was taken at the Dec. 27 meeting.

A group of Pleasanton residents voiced their opposition to Zone 7 Water Agency rate hikes taking effect Jan. 1, 2017. During a public forum, they told the board that a 19 percent rate increase is too steep. The residents had already had success at the Pleasanton City Council, which voted to forego a portion of its own rate hike by eliminating a scheduled Consumer Price Index automatic annual increase for next year on the city’s water and sewer bill. It will cost the city $600,000.

Ben Santer, the well known climate scientist at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, wrote an open letter to Donald Trump, urging the President-elect to recognize climate change as a physical reality from which the U.S. cannot isolate itself. The letter, published on the CNBC website, restated some of the scientific points that Santer has made in the past, along the lines of those highlighted in the letter that he drafted and signed along with 375 other members of the National Academy of Sciences in September.