Danville Express

Newsfront - February 2, 2007

Talking turkey in Blackhawk

Supervisor reiterates: Diablo MAC should be appointed, not elected

by Natalie O'Neill

Blackhawk and Diablo residents met with County Supervisor Mary N. Piepho last week at the Blackhawk Museum to get updates on the unincorporated areas and give feedback to county staff.

After county updates, residents told Public Works representatives that the high wild turkey population in the area is presenting a safety issue. And some questioned the new structure of the Diablo Municipal Advisory Council.

Howard Adler, vice chairman of the Blackhawk Police Advisory Committee told the Public Works staff that turkeys in the hills of Blackhawk and Diablo are likely to cause car wrecks if they are not relocated. Mount Diablo and surrounding areas have a large wild turkey population, he said.

"They're all over our roads and they are presenting a traffic safety problem. They are small but they could cause a serious accident," he said.

Adult wild turkeys usually range from 20-30 pounds and are protected by California State Department of Fish and Wildlife. A permit can be obtained to hunt and relocate birds that are causing health or safety issues, even if it is not hunting season.

Blackhawk Community Manager Mark Goldberg recognized the need for wild turkey relocation and said efforts are in the works to move many of the birds. An estimated 200,000 wild turkeys inhabit California, with Northern California having the highest population.

Aside from safety issues, another resident asked about the recent decision on the part of the Board of Supervisors to change the Diablo Municipal Advisory Council to be an appointed body, as opposed to continuing elected. Supervisors will now choose who will be on the MACs in the county.

"What was the rational behind that?" one resident inquired.

Piepho responded, saying that when an advisory body is elected it causes conflict. These bodies have no decision-making authority, their job is to advise the county supervisors, and being elected gives the groups a false sense of power, Piepho said.

"It creates confusion because of the power that comes with being elected," she said.

She added that the MACs are a vital bridge between the community and the Board of Supervisors and that appointed MACs are more efficient.

"Maybe if you were in my shoes, you would see it differently," she said.

In September, Diablo MAC members spoke out against the effort to standardize all MACs, stating that the community is capable of deciding who should represent the area. And some members of the previously elected MAC said that out of principal they would not apply to be on an appointed council.

This summer, Piepho told members of the Alamo community that it is important for the county's MAC structures to be consistent because it "is just good government."

And last week Piepho said she understands each unincorporated area is unique, but that the structure of the councils should be the same.

"I understand the sensitivities, believe me. (But) I have researched this - it's very important to me," she said.

At the meetings, updates from other Blackhawk and Diablo community organizations were given, including the Police Advisory Services, the Blackhawk Home Owners Association and the Diablo Community Services District.

Piepho also announced she will travel to Washington, D.C., this week to lobby for the quality of life in Contra Costa County. In addition, she said she and her staff are working with Caltrans in an effort to lay rubberized asphalt on I-680 to reduce freeway noise.

"We are putting pressure on Caltrans and they have been very responsive," Piepho said.

County staff members said they encourage input from unincorporated areas. South County staff can be contacted at 820-8683.

Contact Natalie O'Neill at noneill@danvilleweekly.com

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