Into the sunset with 2016 | December 30, 2016 | Pleasanton Weekly | PleasantonWeekly.com |

Pleasanton Weekly

Cover Story - December 30, 2016

Into the sunset with 2016

Local elections, new park amenities, conflict over development and PUSD turnover among top headlines of past year

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

As Pleasanton debated whether to allow new homes at Lund Ranch or pave the way for a Costco on Johnson Drive, everyone welcomed the continuing progress of Bernal Community Park and a special memorial for veterans at Pioneer Cemetery. Drought water restrictions were eased, a new dog park opened, leaders were re-elected and the school district hired -- and later suspended -- its new superintendent. What a year!

Following are many of the highlights. All of the stories are available under "past issues" at www.PleasantonWeekly.com.

January

* East Bay Athletic League honors Foothill Falcons coach Matt Sweeney as the Coach of the Year for leading the Falcons to the EBAL title and a spot in the North Coast Section championship game, where they lost to eventual state champions De La Salle.

* Drones are banned by East Bay Regional Park District, including at Shadow Cliffs in Pleasanton, as their increasing numbers become a safety hazard for helicopters and airplanes.

* Hacienda receives the Gold Award for "Best Workplaces for Commuters" from a program sponsored by the National Center for Transit Research, which encourages sustainable transportation innovation.

* After years of debate over building houses on Lund Ranch in the southeast hills of Pleasanton, the City Council approves, 3-1, the developer's plan for 43 upscale homes on the 194-acre site, with Greenbriar Homes Communities to donate 177 acres to the city as open space.

* Pleasanton Unified School District holds first of five open community forums to determine what the community would like to see in its new school superintendent.

* ValleyCare Charitable Foundation awards Michael Callahan, owner of Rubino and Ruby Hill Vineyards, with the foundation's inaugural "Follow Your Dream Award" for his support, including a wine called Philanthropy with a portion of its sales benefiting the foundation.

* Winter rains come to Pleasanton, and residents prepare for more predicted in the coming months.

* City Council amends municipal code to prohibit smoking at special events downtown, which follows a ban on smoking in Pleasanton parks, trails and in city parking lots that went into effect July 2014.

* Alameda County coroner's autopsy report of John Deming Jr. shows the 19-year-old did not have drugs in his system when he was shot and killed by a Pleasanton police officer in July 2015. The report confirms that he died from bullet wounds to his face and abdomen, as an investigation by the District Attorney's Office continues.

* City Council votes unanimously to allow developer Fireside Investors to convert an historic family residence at 377 St. Mary St. for a proposed business that could include a small restaurant, ice cream shop, coffeehouse and a bakery.

* School district officially opens the Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Math (STEAM) Preschool, welcoming eight young children

* Backers of a proposed referendum to overturn the City Council's approval of a housing development on Lund Ranch push to collect signatures from 10% of the voters by Feb. 5 deadline to get on the June ballot.

* The school board votes to survey parents, teachers, students and community members to gauge support for a bond measure for school funding.

* Foothill High's entrepreneur program, DECA, earns six first-place awards, four second-place awards and seven third-place awards at a career skills competition held at the Northern California Career Development Conference in San Ramon.

* School district opens a new donation closet, the Hangar, on the Village High campus for low-income residents to get free clothes, and where special-needs students can learn job skills in retail. At the same time, Village High opens its first media center, including a library and a dedicated area for students to do online research.

February

* The Pleasanton Downtown Association hosts a "Super Scavenger Hunt" on Feb. 6 in recognition of the next day's Super Bowl 50 being played at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara.

* Business consultant and tax adviser Matt DePretis is installed as this year's chairman of the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce during a sold-out luncheon at Ruby Hill Golf Club.

* Pleasanton Weekly publishes "Sacrificing for Success," a three-part series about low-income residents in Pleasanton who sacrifice to keep their children in the Pleasanton school district.

* Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory lectures for middle and high school students return with the focus on women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, highlighting cutting-edge science presented by leading lab researchers joined by high school science teachers.

* Pleasanton Seahawks take first place in the large team division at the Speedo Champions Series CA/NV Winter Sectionals, held at East Los Angeles College in Monterey Park, one of four sectionals held across the country.

* After more than two years of contentious community debate, the school board votes to shift the schedule for the coming school year to start classes Aug. 15, a week earlier than the district's traditional start date. This puts first semester finals before winter break.

* Proponents of placing a measure on the June ballot to overturn the City Council's approval of a 43-home development in Lund Ranch submit petitions to the city with 6,086 signatures, well above the 4,124 -- or 10% of the city's registered voters -- needed to force a referendum.

* Thirty protestors from a national organization called Mercy for Animals (MFA) line Stoneridge Mall Road in front of Safeway headquarters calling on the grocery chain to adopt a "cagefree" merchandising policy.

* Colin Lambert, 8, and his sister Taryn collect more than 3,900 toys at their schools, Walnut Grove Elementary and Harvest Park Middle, for children who visit Alameda County courthouses for custody hearings, hoping they will make them feel less sad and lonely.

* The DA's Office determines that Pleasanton Police Officer Daniel Kunkel acted in lawful self-defense when he shot and killed 19-year-old John Deming Jr. during an altercation in downtown Pleasanton last summer at Specialty Sales Classics car dealership on First Street.

* Hart Middle School principal Terry Conde to be reassigned due to unspecified personnel issue, school board says.

March

* City Council agrees to schedule a referendum for June 7 to let voters decide if its approval Jan. 5 of a 43-home development on Lund Ranch should be overturned after Alameda County Registrar of Voters' Office determines that petitioners opposed to the development obtained enough signatures from registered voters.

* Amador Valley High football coach Rick Sira announces he is stepping away after 30 years of coaching after already retiring as an administrator at the school.

* Pleasanton Weekly distributes checks totaling $73,307.76 to 12 Tri-Valley nonprofits that were the beneficiaries of its 2015 Holiday Fund.

* The Pleasanton Middle School cheer squad wins its second consecutive national title by finishing ahead of crosstown competitors from Hart Middle School in the finals of the United Spirit Association (USA) Jr. Spirit Nationals.

* Foothill cheerleaders make a clean sweep at the United Spirit Association (USA) Spirit Nationals in Anaheim with the varsity, stunt and junior varsity teams each winning a national championship.

April

* Heidi Murphy, library director for Los Gatos who is an Amador Valley High grad, is hired as Pleasanton's new director of library services, to succeed retiring Julie Farnsworth on April 4.

* The Pleasanton school board interviews candidates for superintendent. Search firm McPherson & Jacobson was hired to facilitate the hunt.

* Sarah Banholzer, a 14-year-old eighth-grader at Pleasanton Middle School, holds her third swimathon to benefit UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital Oakland, which she credits with saving her life after she was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

* Despite heavy rains, Pleasanton plans to continue its drinking water restrictions and resumes its excessive use penalties.

* The parents of John Deming Jr., 19, who was fatally shot July 5, 2015 by a Pleasanton police officer downtown, file a lawsuit in Alameda County Superior Court against the Pleasanton Police Department and the city for wrongful death, claiming action should have been taken to prevent the teen's death after police responded to a burglary report and found him inside a car dealership.

* Pleasanton selects Daniel Sodergren as its new city attorney, a post he held for the past 11 years in Tracy after serving as assistant city attorney for Livermore and as special counsel for Palo Alto and Oakland. He succeeds Jonathan Lowell, who retired in December.

* City Council and Planning Commission hold joint workshop meeting to discuss the potential Johnson Drive Economic Development Zone (EDZ) being considered for a 40-acre site along Johnson Drive, between Stoneridge Drive and Interstate 580. Rezoning would accommodate a proposed Costco and two hotels.

* Police say alcohol may have contributed to a solo-vehicle crash on Vineyard Avenue near Machado Place that put two women in intensive care and left hundreds of residents without power.

* Sport Chalet on Rosewood Drive closes, one of 40 in California to do so.

* School board appoints Rick Rubino, superintendent of Gridley Unified School District in Butte County for the past four years, as superintendent of the Pleasanton school district.

* Amador Valley vice principal Michael Williams named as interim principal, effective immediately while previous principal Tom Drescher takes a leave of absence for unknown reasons until his resignation becomes effective June 30. Williams is later hired as the permanent principal.

* Pleasanton's comprehensive high schools receive top rankings in U.S. News and World Report's annual list of best American high schools, with Amador Valley ranking No. 315 in the United States and No. 47 in California, and Foothill coming in at No. 489 nationwide and No. 79 statewide.

* Pleasanton Partnerships in Education (PPIE) Foundation calculates its Run for Education in April raised $85,000, with 3,068 runners and 300 volunteers, helping to fund some school positions that were fueled by onetime state funds that were not renewed.

* Pleasanton Middle School symphonic band, jazz band and advanced orchestra place first in their AA divisions and take home trophies for overall best band/orchestra from the Music in the Parks Festival at Milpitas High.

May

* City Council agrees to spend $600,000 for a 1.5-acre dog park between the Bernal Avenue bridge and the I-680 off-ramp, with separate areas for large and small dogs, little drinking fountains and, in the large dog area, agility structures including a seesaw and hoops.

* City Council unanimously approves 3% raises for Pleasanton city workers to be given immediately and again in April 2017 and April 2018.

* Planning Commission considers a plan to rezone a 15-acre commercial site on Stanley Boulevard at First Street for a 95-home development and an adjoining site to accommodate housing for people with special needs.

* Three-day Livermore Valley Film Festival, with the theme "Where Science Meets Art," focuses on how science and technology are portrayed in films, with dozens of independent feature films from around the world.

* The Foothill boys golf team finishes the EBAL season undefeated at 14-0.

* The Foothill boys tennis team captures the EBAL title for the first time in school history, with an overall record of 17-5 and ending the season by winning 10 matches in a row.

* City Council approves 19 new homes on Rose Avenue across from the Alameda County Fairgrounds and two more on a 3-acre lot on Dublin Canyon Road.

* Foothill High's Sophia Brown, who has starred on the Falcons' basketball and lacrosse teams, is honored as the state's female Scholar-Athlete of the Year for 2016.

* City Council gives a green light to Workday, a fast-growing software company, to start construction of its new six-story corporate headquarters building off I-580.

* Pleasanton task force recommends building a multimillion-dollar Civic Center and public library on a 27-acre site in the Bernal Community Park between Bernal and Valley avenues and alongside the Union Pacific Railroad tracks.

* City and county leaders break ground on Kottinger Gardens, a 185-unit affordable senior housing project set for completion in late 2017. It is the redevelopment of two distinct senior housing properties, Kottinger Place and Pleasanton Gardens, built in the 1960s and 1970s across the street from one another.

* Pleasanton resident Sandhya Ramireddi, 56, is indicted with three others on federal charges for allegedly submitting more than 100 fraudulent H-1B visa applications for specialty worker visas.

* A team of seventh-grade Hart Middle School students takes first place in Destination Imagination arts and science competition in Knoxville, Tenn. Team members are Sydney Cohen, Aly Lam, Holden Meyer, Aryan Sethi, Vincent Hsu and Chiemeka Kalu.

* Pleasanton native Kaitlin Gallagher, then 20, reflects on being cleared as cancer-free and her work for donations to find a cure and help patients.

June

* The family of Kate Steinle, a Pleasanton native who was shot and killed on San Francisco's Pier 14 in July 2015, files a lawsuit against San Francisco and federal officials alleging that their policy failures and negligent acts led to an undocumented immigrant with a history of drug offenses to go free and obtain the gun that killed her.

* Alameda County Sheriff's Office deputies move a herd of 28 goats found unattended and munching away on an empty lot east of the Dublin Ranch Golf Course. They were taken to an empty patch of land near Santa Rita Jail while the officers looked for the owners.

* Alameda County Fair receives 228 entries into its annual wine competitions and gives out 170 medals, 25 of them gold.

* PPIE announces it will donate another $52,649 to the school district (in addition to about $570,000 it gave for next school year) for grants for student-focused projects, school clubs, for school academic teams to attend state and national competitions and for math-and-science programs.

* City Council votes to spend $7 million to install automated water meters for all residential and commercial users. Two community outreach meetings are planned to demonstrate the new water meters.

* Voters approve Measure K, a referendum to allow Greenbriar Homes Communities to build 43 homes on Lund Ranch in southeast Pleasanton, by a narrow but decisive margin of 625 votes.

* The Chabot-Las Positas Community College District passes a $950 million facilities bond measure, which will pay for new classrooms at the Hayward and Livermore campuses, along with three new lecture halls, new health science classrooms, new facilities for the welding department and horticulture, and new offices for faculty.

* Four-term incumbent Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley wins bid to continue representing Pleasanton and the rest of District 4 on the Board of Supervisors.

* The English Rose Tea Room & Gifts, a family-run business that has been downtown for more than 11 years, is recognized as Small Business of the Year in the 16th Assembly District.

* Livermore-Pleasanton Fire Department extinguishes a 1-acre brush fire on a steep hill in east Pleasanton within 20 minutes, keeping it away from nearby homes in Ruby Hill.

* Opponents of a possible bid by Costco to build a new store on Johnson Drive file a petition with the City Clerk's Office to place an initiative on the Nov. 8 ballot, Measure MM, that would ban such large stores from being built at that location.

* Museum on Main kicks off its Family Days series with "Life on the Ranch," which aims to help people learn what it was like to live in an adobe structure during the Californio and Rancho periods of California's history.

* Pleasanton school board restores librarian jobs that were scheduled to be cut, by reducing budget items such as furniture expenditures and food purchases for meetings.

* BART Board of Directors votes unanimously to place a $3.5 billion bond on the November ballot to fund rebuilding the agency's aging infrastructure.

* Stanley Boulevard between First and Main streets -- "Old" Stanley -- closes to all traffic for six weeks of reconstruction.

* City Council votes unanimously to spend up to $390,000 for a Veterans Memorial at the top of the renamed Pioneer Cemetery to pay tribute to the more than 500 veterans buried there, including 21 who were killed in action. Fundraising efforts have raised $240,000 as of that time.

* City Council OKs a record-high $105 million budget for fiscal year 2016-17 that includes a 46% increase in estimated capital improvement expenditures.

* Zone 7 Water Agency and Dublin San Ramon Services District (DSRSD) boards vote to lift mandatory limits on water use for consumers, asking residents to adhere to a 10% voluntary conservation rate.

* Donations of $625,000 by Patelco Credit Union in Pleasanton and $250,000 by Lucile Packard Children's Hospital in Palo Alto give them naming rights for the new sports complex at Bernal Community Park set to open in October.

* Planning commissioner Herb Ritter launches his campaign to run for City Council. Council members Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin, whose first four-year terms expire this year, are both seeking re-election.

* Alameda County Board of Supervisors votes unanimously to spend $117 million to make capital improvements, as well as improvements in mental health services, at Santa Rita Jail in Dublin. The action was opposed by activists who said it will take resources from programs that keep people afloat during the economic crisis.

* PPIE board declines to renew contract of longtime executive director Susan Hayes for reasons not publicly released. An outside hire, experienced nonprofit leader and Pleasanton resident Steve McCoy-Thompson, is later appointed as PPIE's executive director.

July

* Rick Rubino, 63, a Walnut Creek resident, starts position of superintendent for the Pleasanton Unified School District.

* Five Pleasanton Seahawks swimmers compete at the U.S. Olympic swim trials in Omaha, Neb., with Seahawks star Maxime Rooney advancing to the semifinals, where he took ninth in the 200 freestyle and 11th in the 100 free.

* More than 25 Bay Area faith organizations partner with the American Red Cross in Pleasanton for the largest single blood collection effort for the Northern California Blood Services Region.

* Foothill grad TJ Friedl, who attends University of Nevada at Reno, is named to the final 24-player roster for the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team to compete in three international friendly series this summer.

* Assemblywoman Catharine Baker honors Pleasanton U.S. Air Force veteran Eugene Cota, whose service included Japan, Korea, Germany, Vietnam, California and Georgia, as Veteran of the Year for the 16th Assembly District in a ceremony at the Museum on Main.

* City Council agrees to sign a memorandum of understanding with the East Bay Regional Park District to add a new trail to the Pleasanton Ridge, using the Alviso Adobe Community Park as its primary staging area. The MOU also proposes new parking, a restroom and a water fountain.

* Registrar of Voters' Office certifies that a 7,000-signature petition to ban stores over 50,000 square feet on a Johnson Drive site qualifies for a Nov. 8 voter referendum.

* Oracle in Pleasanton is recognized with a 2016 StopWaste Business Efficiency Award for Excellence in recycling and composting.

* A father and son from Hayward -- Juan Estrada Espinoza, 59, and Juan Estrada Estrada, 33 -- die in Shadow Cliffs Lake after they fall from a raft during a family outing.

* Despite several days of temperatures in the upper 90s, the Alameda County Fair closes July 4 with a standing-room-only crowd for its annual fireworks spectacular. Overall fair attendance totals 450,806, well over last year's 444,923, with 51,376 attending Independence Day festivities.

* Tri-Valley YMCA expands services in Pleasanton, relocating its administrative offices from Dublin and opening a new Family Wellness Center.

* Mayor Jerry Thorne orders halt to construction of two new tennis courts at the Pleasanton Tennis and Community Park after neighborhood protesters block construction trucks from entering the site, saying they had no notice of the project, which is part of a master plan approved years ago.

* Two dozen Pleasanton residents representing seven countries gather at the library to be sworn in as new United States citizens, the first naturalization ceremony ever held in Pleasanton.

* Two new traffic lights are turned on in front of Amador Valley High's main student parking lot to improve safety for motorists entering and leaving the school.

* School board unanimously approves placing a $270 million general obligation bond, Measure I1, on the ballot for the November election to fund improvements.

August

* Orchard Supply Hardware announces plans to open 40,000-square-foot store in the Metro 580 shopping center at 4555 Rosewood Drive later this year.

* City Council calls a special meeting to look again at plans to build two additional lighted tennis courts at the Pleasanton Tennis and Community Park, after a group of residents from nearby homes protested the removal of grass and four trees to accommodate them.

* Foothill grad TJ Friedl and his family fly to Cincinnati where TJ signs a contract with the Cincinnati Reds.

* City Council votes unanimously to cancel a construction contract to build two new tennis courts near the Pleasanton Tennis complex, after meeting with an overflow crowd of more than 200, of which 30 speakers mostly objected to the planned placement of the courts.

* Julie Testa, a former member of the Human Services Commission and a longtime advocate of measures to reduce school overcrowding, announces she will seek election Nov. 8 as mayor.

* Retired Hart Middle School principal Steve Maher and former Pleasanton school board member Kathleen Ruegsegger join the race for election to the school board on Nov. 8 where they will compete with two incumbents for three seats open on the board. Board member Chris Grant plans to step down after 9-1/2 years on the board.

* Former Pleasanton Mayor Jennifer Hosterman seeks election to the BART Board of Directors for District 5 on Nov. 8 against incumbent John McPartland.

* Alameda County sheriff's deputies arrest 10 people after a long investigation into an illegal 200-acre outdoor marijuana cultivation operation in rural Livermore.

* Tri-Valley teen baseball all-stars, from Pleasanton, Danville and San Ramon, are crowned 14-year-old Babe Ruth World Series champions after a six-run, sixth-inning rally catapults them to victory in the title game in Massachusetts.

September

* Alameda County Fairgrounds hosts its first two-week Fall Meet in addition to its full horse-racing schedule held during the Fair.

* Court denies Pleasanton mayoral candidate Julie Testa's request to compel Pleasanton City Clerk Karen Diaz to file Testa's candidate statement for inclusion in the sample ballot after dispute over whether Testa submitted the statement on time.

* East Bay Regional Park District begins a $7.5 million energy efficiency project that primarily consists of installing a 70,000-square-foot solar panel carport system, split among three parking lots, to provide shade plus generate 1.2 megawatts of energy annually.

* City Council OKs mixed-use housing and retail development at Old Bernal Avenue and Augustine Street that will require tearing down a small home built in 1895 and ripping out one of three heritage trees on the site.

* Pleasanton resident Yarenit Liliana Malihan is arrested on suspicion of DUI and gross vehicular manslaughter after CHP alleges she crashed into a sedan stopped on I-680 shoulder in San Ramon, killing a toddler inside the parked car. Malihan is identified as the wife of a county sheriff's deputy.

* Two adult English as a second language classes offered by the Pleasanton Unified School District change their meeting place to St. Augustine Catholic Church, relocated from Lydiksen Elementary following parent concerns.

* City launches a website with two interactive online tools designed to make the permitting and zoning process easier to navigate.

* Less than three months into his tenure, new Harvest Park Middle School principal Ethan Cheever abruptly resigns to take a job closer to his home. Robin Munsell, an assistant principal in San Ramon and an earlier candidate for the Harvest Park head position, is later named the replacement principal.

* Axis Community Health opens new $12 million health center, a 24,000-square-foot complex on West Las Positas Boulevard that doubles service capacity for the more than 14,000 Tri-Valley low-income, uninsured and under-insured individuals it serves each year.

* City Council imposes new regulations on Pleasanton Masons after complaints from Valley Trails neighbors of excessive noise and outdoor partying at their lodge on Hopyard Road. The Masons are selling their building to Chabad of the Tri-Valley, which will require a new permit to use the building.

* City Council votes to update the city's bicycle master plan to provide funding and strategies for making streets and pathways safer for cycling, after the death in June of cyclist Gail Turner, 72, after being struck by a vehicle as she crossed Stanley Boulevard at its intersection with Valley and Bernal avenues.

* Don Lewis of Pleasanton, a music artist and synthesizer innovator, wins the prestigious 2016 Alameda County Arts Leadership award.

* Inklings Coffee and Tea opens at 530 Main St.

* Mayor Jerry Thorne presents the annual Mayor's Award to Tanya Ludden, a longtime leader in the parent-teacher association who has also served on boards of large community organizations including the Northern California Alzheimer's Association and ValleyCare Health Foundation.

* Shadow Cliffs Regional Recreation Area begins visually inspecting all boats, canoes, kayaks, inflatable crafts, paddle boards and float tubes for quagga mussels before they can be placed into the lake, to keep out the invasive species. Inspection fees range from $3 to $7.

* Police Department opens an "exchange zone" for people who want to do transactions in a safe spot. The area is in the police station's front parking lot, which is well lit and under 24-hour video surveillance.

* REACH -- Resources Education Activities Community and Housing for Special Adults of the Tri-Valley -- holds a gala to celebrate 25 years of providing local housing for adults with developmental disabilities.

October

* Tri-Valley water agencies kick off a nearly $1 million study to examine the feasibility of advanced water recycling for human consumption.

* City Council finalizes selection for three at-large representatives to serve on the Downtown Specific Plan Task Force, to take a fresh look at the Downtown Specific Plan adopted in 2002.

* Zone 7 Water Agency approves extending surcharge of $0.57 per 100 cubic feet of water fee for another year to make up for lost revenue due to lower water use as a result of mandatory conservation during the drought.

* School board approves new curriculum for students with dyslexia and other reading difficulties.

* The latest Bernal Community Park expansion, a 54-acre, $16.5 million project that adds new lighted sports fields and a grand meadow and Oak Woodland, opens with a public ceremony.

* Pleasanton Weekly and DanvilleSanRamon.com honor seven area residents with 2016 Tri-Valley Heroes awards.

November

* Veterans Memorial is dedicated at the top of Pioneer Cemetery on Sunol Boulevard, marking the completion of a two-year project that has been a partnership between Pleasanton and its two veterans organizations, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6298 and American Legion Post 237.

* Pleasanton's new $300,000 Cubby's Dog Park opens at the staging area of the Marilyn Murphy Kane Trail on Lagoon Road and Bernal Avenue. It is the city's second off-leash dog park. Cubby was the Pleasanton Police Department's first K-9 officer.

* Incumbents Mayor Jerry Thorne and City Council members Karla Brown and Jerry Pentin are re-elected. Measure MM, the so-called anti-Costco measure, is defeated.

* Steve Maher is elected to the school board, and incumbents Valerie Arkin and Jamie Hintzke are re-elected.

* Three bond measures supporting improved school facilities, transit infrastructure and affordable housing pass easily, including the Pleasanton school district's $270 million Measure I1.

* Foothill varsity football team beats cross-town rivals Amador Valley, 15-0, to close out its regular season and move on to the North Coast Section Division I playoffs.

* City Council approves a draft master plan for a new civic center complex in Bernal Community Park that could go on the ballot in November 2018 for voter approval. The complex would include a new city hall, library, police headquarters and community center on a 27-acre site between Bernal and Valley avenues, with an estimated cost of up to $200 million.

* City Council proclaims Saturday after Thanksgiving as "Small Business Saturday," as a counterpart to Black Friday and Cyber Monday, both which feature big-box retail and e-commerce.

* Amber Huk becomes the first Foothill or EBAL girl to win the North Coast Section tennis championships, winning four straight matches.

December

* Alameda County Agricultural Fair Association closes its horse training operation for the first time for the winter, sending horses to Golden Gate Field in Berkeley. Officials anticipate stables and track will reopen in May.

* City Council suspends the city's portion of the automatic consumer price index (CPI) increase on water and sewer rates for 2017 after residents say their bills had increased by 30% or more despite cutting their water usage.

* City Council votes to build two new courts at the Pleasanton Tennis Park at an estimated cost of $600,000, rejecting a recommendation by its Parks and Recreation Commission for a $1 million project.

* A state regulatory agency seeks to revoke the license of a Pleasanton contractor that oversaw construction of the Berkeley apartment balcony that collapsed last year, killing six students and injuring seven more.

* City Council adopts 2015-16 fiscal year operating budget that shows a $4.4 million surplus after General Fund revenues are greater than expected and expenditures are less.

* Work set to begin next month on $18.2 million DSRSD project to enhance and expand the water recycling plant on Johnson Drive to meet the growing demand for recycled water. DSRSD board later votes to close the free recycled water fill station during estimated 18-month construction.

* Pleasanton Weekly names Doug Miller, an Army veteran and helicopter pilot in Vietnam, its 2016 Man of the Year.

* Pleasanton school district Superintendent Rick Rubino is placed on paid administrative leave, less than six months into his tenure, pending the outcome of an investigation into an unspecified personnel matter.

* City Council agrees to spend $4.2 million to acquire a 3-acre vacant property that has been owned by the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission since 1930.

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