Thursday, April 17, 2008

Oh yeah

There's been a little progress, mainly a meeting on April 8th that I missed by the pro's. I've still not seen or found anything like a credible opposition, which doesn't mean there isn't one lurking.

I presume the meeting on the 8th went over some of the things discussed in the front-page article at that might be linked to here on their web-site, being a reprint of something that got run in Alamo Today, by Dave Dolter. Since links there are flakey, here it is in totality:

What Are the Governance Requirements for the Town of Alamo?

Alamo Today -- April 2008
Dave Dolter, Alamo Incorporation Movement

The requirements for organizing a city (or town) are found in the California State Constitution and in state statutes, particularly the Government Code. Unlike counties, which are legal subdivisions of the state, California cities are municipal corporations. There are three types of cities:

  • General law cities – organized under state law, which describes their powers and specifies their structure.
  • Charter cities – are organized under a specific charter describing the powers and organization the city will adopt, approved by a vote of the citizens of the city
  • Combined City and County – San Francisco, the only one, is a charter city/county.

State law requires Alamo to incorporate as a general law city, and the law provides wide leeway in how general law cities organize themselves. Many small and medium sized general law cities are contract cities and these cities contract for a wide variety of municipal services. Alamo will be a contract city initially and likely for many years following incorporation.

The government of a general law city is vested in:
  • A city council of at least five members
  • A city clerk
  • A city treasurer
  • A chief of police
  • Any other subordinate officers or employees provided by law

The Alamo Incorporation Movement application to LAFCO (the Local Agency Formation Commission responsible under state law for incorporations) requested that Alamo have five council members elected at-large, i.e., elected by all registered Alamo voters. To comply with the requirements for other officers, the Town Council will need to adopt an ordinance providing for the Council-Manager form of government where the Council appoints a professionally trained city manager to manage the daily affairs of the Town. The city manager would also appoint any other of the above officers designated by the Town Council, typically the city clerk. Since the provision of police services will initially be provided by contract, the police chief will be the contract police officer in charge. Likewise, the city treasurer may be appointed by the city manager and in small communities, the finance director may fill this role as well. The city manager would also select and appoint other department heads and employees, such as his or her assistant, the planning/community development director, city engineer/ director of public works, etc.

In many general law cities, the positions of city clerk and/or city treasurer are elected officials. The Council could also choose to appoint them instead of the city manager Post-incorporation, these positions could be made elective if voters approve a ballot measure to do so.

Every city has a city attorney although state law does not require one. A city attorney is typically the other direct appointee of the Town Council (in addition to the city manager). Typically a small community would contract for these legal services with law firms that specialize in municipal law.

One of the compelling reasons for incorporation is for Alamo citizens to influence land use planning and development directly. State law dictates that there must be a planning agency for these purposes. State law also requires the council to adopt an ordinance assigning the functions of this planning agency to a planning department, one or more planning commissions, administrative bodies or hearing officers, the council itself, or any combination it deems appropriate and necessary.

To assure community involvement, cities typically provide for a planning commission of five to seven members to advise the council on such matters. Indeed, the council cannot act on many planning matters until it receives a recommendation from the planning commission. For example, in many cities, the planning commission has final approval of subdivision maps (unless appealed to the council).

In Alamo, this commission will have important initial duties including crafting and recommending a new general plan (required by law), a new zoning ordinance to implement the new general plan (also required by law) a new subdivision ordinance (required by state law) and other duties as referred to it by the council.

No other commissions are required by law. However, active citizen participation in local government is vital. To this end, councils typically create advisory committees and commissions to help with city governance. Members serve without compensation except for reimbursement of approved business expenses. Where appropriate, youth representatives may also be appointed.

In Alamo's case, the creation of these advisory bodies will be at the discretion of the elected Alamo Town Council. However, the council will be receptive to the desires of Alamo residents. Merely as a guideline, the following is a list of the committees and commissions established by our neighboring communities. Note that these entities were created over a period of many years - Alamo would need to start small and assess our local needs over time.

Arts Commission
Parks and Leisure Services Commission
Heritage Resource Commission
Planning Commission
Design Review Board

San Ramon:
Architectural Review Board
Arts Advisory Committee
Building Inspection Board of Appeals
Community Cable TV - Board of Directors
Economic Development Advisory Committee
Finance Committee
Housing Advisory Committee
Library Advisory Committee
Open Space & Conservation Advisory Committee
Parks & Community Services Commission
Planning Commission
Policy Committee of the City Council
Redevelopment Agency
San Ramon Valley Regional Planning Commission
Senior Citizen Advisory Committee
Teen Council
Transportation Advisory Committee
Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Advisory Committee
Tri-Valley Transportation Council (TVTC)

Walnut Creek:
Arts Commission
Design Review Commission
Park, Recreation & Open Space
Planning Commission
Transportation Commission
Zoning Administrator
Bedford Gallery Advisory Council
Bicycle Advisory Committee
Civic Arts Education Advisory Council
Golf Course Advisory Committee

Crime Prevention
Design Review
Emergency Preparation
Parks, Trails & Recreation
Planning Commission
Senior Services
Youth Services
Committees & Task Forces

I think we've been over most of this other posts here. In particular, this seems to stick a fork in the idea that there is some kind of "contracted services municipality" that is not described by the term "General City".

In one semi-amusing note, I got hate mail from Google complaining that my ads for this site used a forbidden trademark term: "alamo". I presume this is the rental car company. After I asked if this was a DMCA takedown notice (which they did not say), and I volunteered to file a counter-notice, the issue was considered "resolved". They never admitted they made a mistake.

No comments: