Friday, September 19, 2008

Here's the Opposition

Just found, a rallying point for those opposed.

The archives there seem to suggest concern over work at 76 St. Andrews Ln. in 2003 and 2004.

The collected comments are few, and mixed. One says, emphatically, "IF ALAMO IS INCORPORATED BE PREPARED TO ATTEND MEETINGS OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES. " OK -- what is wrong with that? How is that different than at the county level?

The proposed "talking points" are:
  • bad financial estimates;
  • "SPECIAL SERVICES, SUCH AS THE ROUND HILL P5, will become regular sheriff services, EVEN THOUGH HIGHER TAXES WILL BE PAID FOR THOSE SERVICES.", which seems like a misrepresentation. As I understand it, the City would have the same obligations.
  • What is the purpose of Incorporation? The answer seems to be to secure local control of the planning process.
  • "interference with PRIVATE PROPERTY RIGHTS, with substantial legal expense to the property owners and the City."
Which seems to get to the heart of the matter -- do the people of the town want to assume the possible additional expenses of its own city administration to secure local, representative control of planning?

There's a Q and A that presents a different slant than those of proponents.
  • Claim there will probably be less policing for the same tax investment;
  • Local planning may require dreaded "low income housing". This seems to be a major misrepresentation, as there are existing obligations under the County General plan. It's an issue already present, just not very visible.
  • Will there really be a surplus? Comparing to LaMorinda, which have had problems because the people chose to make capitol improvements
  • It admits raising taxes would require voter approval, but notes likely demand for services and improvements.
  • A claim that "It is fundamentally true that nothing is 'broke'", which is, of course, a matter of opinion, not demonstrable fact. Your view is likely to depend on what your level of civic involvement may be, and what experience you've had with those interactions.
  • The LaMorinda model is apparent, and you don't want that.
The status quo assumes benign neglect on the part of the County, a laissez faire that doesn't actively promote any significant development, or change, and allows individuals to do what they want with their property.

Further, there is an underlying message that Alamo doesn't want planning, or a way to do planning, because that would enable capitol improvement projects the County would never do. Not having a Town short circuits that by denying the coherency to decide anything locally.

This doesn't pay much credence to the precedent set by some developments that seem unwanted by many people, and the inevitable redevelopment of Alamo Hay and Grain and the Shoe Repair.

Is it realistic to think under the status quo, nothing will change against the wishes of the residents of the town?

Is it realistic to think that under the status quo, if the county has financial problems, they will not result in reduced service to the town?

Would Alamo be better off incorporated or unincorporated if the county went bankrupt?

If the town finances were to suffer some kind of meltdown, why would those of the county be in any better shape?

It seems like the underlying message is that the residents aren't, in the long term, capable of running the town in a way that meets the desires of most people who don't want major change or growth -- That the status-quo is safer and less likely to result in undesirable change than incorporating and taking local control.

LAFCO Passed It, now to the Supes

I'll have a more detailed report later. Feeling the pressure of the calendar, and not feeling that anything new would become available before they would need to decide, LAFCO passed the measure on to the Supervisors to put on the March ballot last night, 4-1.

The informed opposition that emerged seemed focused on these arguments:
  • The economy is tanking, let's wait.
  • The expense projections are significantly understated.
  • Policing expenses, the largest line item, are particularly optimistic, and people will demand more.
  • The AIA has been harder to deal with than the County for building permits.
  • We're happy with the way things are, and like the county government-at-a-distance.
  • Government is waste, and this will add another layer with no added value.
47 people spoke a the public hearing, I'd say split slightly pro, but not by much. There were about 200 attendees at the start, and maybe 100 left at the time of the vote, pushing 9:00.

Media report from here.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

LAFCO Hearing 18-Sep, 4:30

ACF says,

Contra Costa LAFCO is having a public hearing at the Creekside Church (1350 Danville Blvd.) on Thursday, September 18 at 4:30.

The most important topic on the agenda is to determine if Alamo will be allowed to vote on incorporation next March. The commission will consider all public input at this meeting, so we'd encourage you to attend, even if you can only stop by for a little while.