By Roz Rogoff
Apron StringsUploaded: Mar 7, 2013
Alameda County Supervisors Scott Haggerty and Nate Miley sort of agreed to separate the Zone 7 Water agency from Alameda County Flood Control District, but not without strings attached. Supervisor Miley said it must be done appropriately. "This is an opportunity to open up the discussion, not a decision for separation." Haggerty seemed ready to move forward. "This is a huge step," Haggerty said. Miley said it is important to move forward in Contra Costa County.
The Supervisors want to retain some control over the agency or the split or the functions before granting independence from Alameda County.
The separation was started last year by State Senator Mark DeSaulnier in SB1337. The bill would have made Zone 7 an independent District instead of a branch of the Alameda County Flood Control and Water Conservation District. Supervisors Haggerty and Miley objected to DeSaulnier's Bill in a letter to Zone 7 last June.
"We also strongly feel that a matter such as the proposed separation should include local citizen input which the LAFCo process provides. To bypass the LAFCo process in favor of special legislation takes the matter out of the hands of the local community and makes the decision a state-wide matter." As a result of their opposition to SB1337, Senator DeSaulnier put SB1337on hold.
LAFCO's (Local Agency Formation Commissions) are organized by County, so there is a Contra Costa County LAFCO and an Alameda County LAFCO.
Surprise! Haggerty and Miley are both on the Alameda County LAFCO, along with Supervisor Wilma Chan as an alternate; so essentially Haggerty and Miley want to continue their input into the separation process via their roles on the Alameda County LAFCO.
The Contra Costa County LAFCO is composed of Supervisor Federal Glover, who represents Northern Contra Costa County, and Mary Piepho, our previous County Supervisor. Candace Andersen, our current County Supervisor, is the Alternate. This should make for some interesting cross-County positions on the separation.
The tug of war is over flood control. Zone 7 wants to keep doing it, but Supervisors Haggerty and Miley want Alameda County to keep it. I've been told there's money in flood control. According to the Zone 7 website, flood control is paid for out of property taxes with development fees going to a flood control expansion fund. In addition, Zone 7 reclaims some of the water from flood control to recharge ground water.
In a reply to my blog on [Zone 7 Needs You, Bill Williams (a resident of Dublin) wrote, "Splitting these duties between two entities would only muttle (sic) things and raise the cost, while lowering the quality of services." I don't know who Bill Williams is, but this supported what was presented at the meeting last August. This meeting was to assure employees that the separation would not affect their employment. A small group of eight or ten employees opposed the separation, but they were in the minority.
At the end of the Supervisor's Committee meeting on Tuesday night, Supervisor Haggerty made a cryptic reference to a group of people he was expecting who did not show up. He said the meeting was promoted well and "I waited to hear from the people affected and they are not here. They did not show up."
It appeared he was expecting some opposition, which didn't materialize. Haggerty claimed his office received a call saying that the Zone 7 employees had been discouraged from coming to this public meeting. He asked how many people in the audience work at Zone 7 and quite a few stood up. Two employees said they supported the separation. One said he was not discouraged from attending the meeting.
If this meeting was promoted well to a specific group, it wasn't to the general public. I was tipped off to it by a friend at DSRSD and she hardly knew any of the details. I had to dig for the location and time the meeting started. I was originally told it would be at Zone 7 at 7 pm, but it was at 6 pm at the Alameda County Public Works building in Dublin, which I never even knew existed.
I was surprised by the size of the audience. I counted 20 before the start of the meeting and more arrived later. Dolores Ciardelli wrote a detailed story on the home page about who was there and what was said.
The issue they all agreed on was making sure residents of Dougherty Valley are able to vote in Zone 7 elections. "We need to make sure San Ramon gets a seat on the board." That sounds like the Supervisors want Directors elected by District rather than at large. This would assure that San Ramon gets at least one seat on the Board. It took ten years for San Ramon to win a seat back on DSRSD, so I would certainly support dividing up the Zone 7 board by district for true "Local Control."