PLEASANTON -- Close to a decade after a handshake deal fell apart for a prime piece of downtown real estate, the cities of Pleasanton and San Francisco have restarted talks over the land.

Pleasanton city leaders and the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, a department of the city and county of San Francisco, began negotiations Jan. 15 over a 3.3-acre parcel of land on Old Bernal Avenue, just west of the Pleasanton Public Library.

Negotiations have been in closed sessions and city officials have said little about the discussion, but Mayor Jerry Thorne confirmed talks involve the land directly across the street from the library. The land, next to Pleasanton's Civic Center, ¿yet belonging to San Francisco, is a vital piece to Pleasanton's desire for an expanded Civic Center and library that has been in the works for at least the past 15 years.

"We have the master plan for the library and it involves the land, so at some point we would like to own it," Thorne said. "I can't say there has been one driving force on why talks began now, but we have always wanted to expand the Civic Center."

In October 2009, the city and the Library Commission began considering an expansion of the Civic Center and library at a cost of $71 million. The plan would more than double the library's 30,000-square-foot facility to 72,000 square feet, and it would also increase the size of the Civic Center from 48,000 square feet to 56,000 square feet.

Talks focusing on the purchase of the land come nearly 10 years after a court ruled in favor of San Francisco and said it did not have to honor a promise by Willie Brown, the outgoing San Francisco mayor at the time, who agreed to sell the land at a reduced price.

Pleasanton sued San Francisco in the summer of 2003, claiming San Francisco had reneged on its promise to sell the 3.3 acres for $500,000 as part of the larger $126 million property on the south side of Bernal Avenue.

"There are stories about a handshake agreement with Willie Brown and one of our former mayors," Thorne said. "When we went to buy the land, the price went up, and there was no written agreement."

The assessed value of the land a year before the verbal agreement was struck was more than $3 million. Current tax records show that Alameda County had assessed just the land at a little more than $31,000.

The City Council is scheduled to discuss the land again in closed session at 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday.