Sunday, September 9, 2007

Both sides, critically

If you found this blog, you're probably already aware of an effort to incorporate Alamo CA -- there's an official website devoted to this task at

This isn't that site.

We have no connection with the incorporation effort, or any active opposition.

We're 14 year Alamo residents, and unredeemable bloggers who like to inflict our opinion and commentary on the public. Our intent is to cast a skeptical eye on both sides of the debate.

As far as we can tell, the reasons to incorporated include:
  1. Folks don't like remodels and construction they've seen in Alamo.
  2. Lack of representation in Martinez.
  3. Lack of services.
  4. Dislike of Mary N. Piepho, the relevant elected official.
  5. Traffic.
  6. More control of tax revenue.
  7. Civic boosterism
  8. Envy of recently incorporated neighbors Danville and San Ramon.
Reasons to oppose incorporation include:
  1. Freedom to do construction/remodelling with lax county supervision.
  2. Concern about tax increases.
  3. Fear of civic construction (see #2 above).
  4. Preservation of diffuse/rural country atmosphere
  5. Whatever it is, I'm against it.
  6. I'm still pro-Prop-13.

The official pro- website makes a lot of arguments in favor, but doesn't seem to link to any opposition. They make a plausible sounding case that incorporation would be "revenue neutral", which translates to, "no new taxes."

In honesty, Alamo ought to be good on the revenue font. It has a tremendous property tax base, and enough business for significant sales-tax revenue. What concern there would rightly be ought to be on the size of the municipal service infrastructure that will need to be created and funded on an ongoing basis.

We're inclined to think the big factor in the debate is control over construction and development. The county lets almost anything be built, and this seems to irk a lot of people. Having local control would mean creating a master plan with some control over zoning, all of which would slow down the process of continued development. We don't know if the modest level of town staff discussed in the current proposal is realistic, or if we will end up at the end with sizable planning and inspection departments who are tasked with making life difficult for people who want to do something, or something different.

The problem with local control, is, of course, that people don't like to be controlled -- they want to control what others do. Our earlier experiences living in places with "associations" is that the people who like associations are people who want everything "just so." They don't appreciate vitality, or variation, or expression of personality very much. They tend to have too much time on their hands, and are often seen wandering around the neighborhood looking for violations. We call them "the clipboard crowd," and they were among the reasons we moved to Alamo in the first place.

Where do we stand on incorporation? Well, we don't much like Mary Piepho, but we're not sure we want to pay for building another library either. On the matter of controlling development, we're not sure how much of a problem there really is, maybe because no one is doing a tear-down McMansion build next to us.

Which leaves us undecided. We'll probably sign the petition to allow more debate to develop, and make comments sometimes when we're so moved.

Enjoy the lovely autumn!


No comments: