Some Town Called Pleasanton | New Beginnings | Kelly Gullo | |

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By Kelly Gullo

Some Town Called Pleasanton

Uploaded: 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: or Twitter: @jkgullo.