The leaders of the five communities comprising the greater Tri-Valley showed continued unity last week as they agreed to work together on pressing water conservation, transportation and affordable- and workforce-housing issues.
At a Tri-Valley Mayors Forum hosted by the Pleasanton Chamber of Commerce, the emphasis was on addressing regional needs together.
State Assemblywoman Catharine Baker (R-San Ramon) chaired the forum, which attracted 296 luncheon guests at the Casa Real at Ruby Hill Winery in Pleasanton.
The city leaders were Mayors Bill Clarkson, San Ramon; David Haubert, Dublin; John Marchand, Livermore, and Jerry Thorne, Pleasanton. Danville was represented by Karen Stepper, the town's vice mayor.
California's drought led off the discussion, with Baker praising the five cities for their efforts to reduce the use of potable (drinking) water.
"The Tri-Valley deserves great accolades for conservation," Baker said.
Thorne agreed, pointing out that Pleasanton led the way two years ago with mandatory conservation and expects to achieve an overall reduction in consumption of nearly 40% by year's end over the base year of 2013. He said the city's water department staff also boosted its on-site visits to help homeowners find ways to curb water use.
Marchand said Livermore has achieved a 50% savings in water consumption, relying heavily on recycled water for parks and street median irrigation.
"We're now considering using recycled water as a drinking water resource, an idea that was rejected in the 1990s," Marchand said. "That conversation has started up again."
Stepper said 100 acres of parks are now irrigated with recycled water and that the town has reduced its costs for new underground water pipes by 40-60% using plant-based pipes.
Clarkson said San Ramon now has the second-lowest water consumption rates in the region. He cautioned, however, that some vegetation, particularly redwood trees, is threatened by an overuse of recycled water, so the city may have to pipe treated potable water to those trees.
Dublin's Haubert, whose city now irrigates 85% of all public areas with water from its nearby recycling plant, also acknowledged that the city recently opened its new water park, using half a million gallons of potable water to fill the main pool.
Stepper and the mayors agreed that new toll lanes in operation or planned for freeways running through their communities will help alleviate rush hour congestion and make it easier for commuters -- and shoppers -- to reach their workplaces and retail centers.
They also said they support extending BART rail to Livermore.
"We've made more progress in the past four months than in the last 40 years in bringing BART to Livermore," Marchand said.
Thorne said that the five cities' mayors, by speaking in unity about transportation needs, are making more progress and have been more effective than "the alphabet soup of agencies that run our transportation system."
"The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, for one, is run by the state with no accountability to local governments," he said.
The mayors also agreed that more workforce housing that is affordable to employees in their cities could help reduce the volume of commute traffic that snarls freeways.
"We need a mix of housing that provides for our workforces," Marchand said. "We need a wider range of housing."
Construction projects dominated the region this year and could be larger in 2016.
Clarkson said major renovations are underway in Bishop Ranch with a new city hall and new library scheduled to open in May.
A new civic center and library are also under consideration in Pleasanton, with a task force now studying possible locations.
In Livermore, Marchand said the opening of the Bankhead Theater marked the successful end of 17 years of effort. He's hoping to see a hotel built in the downtown district.
With a new aquatic center and sports park, Haubert said 2016 will be "a Dublin year."
Danville, Stepper said, is considering plans for more housing units to be built over retail stores.