PLEASANTON — In 2005, Pleasanton saw the highest median household income in the country for its size, according to a report released Tuesday by the Census Bureau.

The city topped the category for cities with a population between

65,000 and 249,999 people. Other California cities toward top of the list were Livermore, Newport Beach and Chino Hills. The survey determined Pleasanton's median household income to be $101,022. Mayor Jennifer Hosterman attributed the news to the city's amenities, including a strong school system and the Hacienda Business Park.

"We enjoy a very high quality of life in the Tri-Valley," she said. "Those who can afford to live here apparently come to Pleasanton. We provide quality city services, quality parks, schools and educational facilities. The whole package speaks very well as to why people would want to live here."

But Hosterman said there is a second aspect, that it is indicative of a need for more diverse housing.

"The flip side is that — and it's another concern of mine — is the idea that we are becoming an exclusive community," she said. "It makes it that much more difficult to provide diverse housing types for people of different incomes."

Amid a region where living expenses are in the stratosphere, Pleasanton's reputation sticks out among affordable housing advocates. The city's housing element was decertified by the state and it continues to receive poor markings in housing affordability from the Association of Bay Area Governments.

Maurine Behrend, executive director of the Tri-Valley Interfaith Poverty Forum, said the Census Bureau's finding illuminates local housing issues. She said that because the city is approaching its housing cap of 29,000 units, the remaining housing projects should focus on low-income families.

"I hope the citizens of Pleasanton that have higher incomes and don't have to worry about their rent and a place to live have compassion for people who do," she said. "Because Pleasanton has unmet housing needs from previous years and because of the housing cap, they will need to focus on low to lower income workers."

Councilman Steve Brozosky said Pleasanton's ranking has more to do with the city's services and amenities than affordable housing availability.

"We've done a lot with workforce housing and senior housing, and there's more to do," he said. "I don't really think that's related. This goes back to the fact that Pleasanton is a desirable place to live. I wouldn't call this a negative. It's a positive."

Dave Bouchard, president of Pleasanton's Chamber of Commerce, said a lack of workforce housing is the "negative side of the equation." But he also cited Pleasanton's location as a reason for residents' high income.

"Pleasanton is in a position to attract some of the best and brightest employees and workers," he said. "We are near major metropolitan areas, which allows people to commute not too far to high paying jobs. Crime, safety is top notch. Schools are next to none."

Christine Salidivar, executive director of Pleasanton Downtown Association, said the downtown and parks add a small-town element to the region.

"When people come to Pleasanton and see it, they love the sense of community and the sense of a small town atmosphere," she said. "The Bay Area in general is an expensive place to live."

We have a community here that has invested."

Staff writer Brian Foley can be reached at (925) 416-4818 and bfoley@trivalleyherald.com.