Danville Express

Perspective - November 2, 2007

Guest opinion: Why Alamo should NOT become a city.

by Phil Erickson

I was taught that every issue has two sides, and that to listen and be influenced by only one of them often leads to mistakes and errors.

From my perspective, this is currently the case with the Alamo cityhood issue, as very little is being published or presented against incorporation.

First of all, it appears that the pro-cityhood movement is being driven by a few residents who were on the losing side of the YMCA and Monte Vista High School parking expansion issues. It should be noted that many Alamo residents believe a YMCA is an asset to the community and that the parking expansion was long overdue.

But, putting the motivation issue aside, cityhood for Alamo is a bad idea!

Alamo is too small a community to financially support the move, especially given that we have a very, very small commercial tax base. We are a landlocked community with no opportunity for commercial expansion. This means that as costs increase, the tax burden will fall disproportionately upon the homeowner.

To foster the idea that an additional level of government can be added without additional cost is either naive or misleading. Street and road maintenance, which becomes the city's responsibility, alone will eventually create the need for more funds.

One only has to look to some of the smaller cities around us (all larger than Alamo) like Lafayette, Moraga and Orinda to see the problems they are having funding their deteriorating roads and streets. Each has tried to float bond issues and they are repeatedly defeated. Meanwhile their roadways continue to decline.

So we must ask the question ... what is the value of cityhood?

When I asked this question at the first organizational meeting of the pro cityhood group, the answer I got was, "control." And when I asked, "control what?" there was no response.

We are community that is over 90 percent built out, so it certainly isn't growth, and control for control's sake is a very questionable benefit.

Watch what you wish for and consider the consequences!

Phil Erickson is a 27-year resident of Alamo and past president of the Bryan Ranch Homeowners Association.

Comments

Posted by Lisa Wright, a resident of another community
on Nov 2, 2007 at 8:27 am

Dear Phil,

Your review and commentary are appreciated by supporters and opponents of incorporation because there has not been effective justification illustrated for incorporation or disclosure of the structure and operations of such a government to the benefit of the residents of Alamo.

In an in-depth review of the Alamo Incorporation Movement (AIM) Preliminary Study, the total budget for the first year of cityhood, in 2009, is understated by $3.9 million. Through research, interviews with service providers and review of general law prescribed in AIM's Petition, Incorporation Proposal, the increased cost of services and prescribed positions in the government were omitted. Proponents have admitted in published articles that our community will face increases in service fees to support the increasing costs of county government. Those fees are paid by cities and unincorporated communities, but must be part of the accounting for any city of Alamo.

Also, Phil, 87% of Alamo residents opposed the SRV YMCA and MVHS parking lot. The primary supporter of the SRV YMCA approval is a member of the Alamo Incorporation Movement (AIM) committee. Among other AIM committee members are strong supporters of MVHS and its expansion. Most telling of the linkage between the county and proponents in creating the city of Alamo is AIM committee members as declared supporters of Mary Nejedly Piepho's re-election as District 3 Supervisor. Ms. Piepho has repeatedly published her distain for Alamo and has acted against community and neighborhoods advisory.

More questions, in detail, must be asked now and Contra Costa County LAFCo, Ms. Lou Ann Texeira, ltexe@lafco.cccounty.us, needs to hear the concerns of proponents and opponents of incorporation from throughout the Alamo Region.

Lisa Wright (esq)
Alamo neighborhoods forum

Posted as a courtesy


Posted by T.C. Goh, a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2007 at 9:03 am

There is a better, more immediate answer for Alamo planning available than five autonomous city council members that will decide Alamo's future. Alamo neighborhoods, through counsel, are preparing to consolidate all Alamo advisory committees into one Alamo Region Planning Commission with sub-committees for land use, infrastructure and services. That planning commission will have the wealth of the community and the strenght of community counsel to effect compliance within governments and districts with the needs, interests and will of our community. This citizen-led commission, and its committees, will more broadly represent Alamo's majority in our regions' neighborhoods without the unneeded expense of a city government.

Simply, Alamo neighborhoods are pursuing the consolidation of SRV Regional Planning Commission (for Alamo), AIA code and variance planning, R-7A, Zone 36, Magee Ranch JPOC, and more county agency committees. The result will be a citizens' commission with the viewpoint of overall Alamo Region planning and committees for each function of planning of land use, infrastructure and services. Supported by an independent community counsel committee funded by neighborhoods, the Alamo Region Planning Commission will have the formal ability to effect political and legal opportunities for planning control.

Sissy
Alamo property owner


Posted by Alamo neighborhoods forum, a resident of another community
on Nov 3, 2007 at 2:37 pm

Posted as a courtesy:

"Alamo residents opposing incorporation will meet Thursday, November 8, at 7PM, Alamo Women's Club, to review an informal petition to oppose incorporation and support the formation of a Municipal Advisory Committee to replace the Alamo Improvement Association. Residents opposing incorporation are invited to attend and add their name to our message to Contra Costa County LAFCo, District 3 and the Board of Supervisors"

Notice: Alamo Neighborhoods' Forum is providing this information as a courtesy. Our forum supports the establishment of an Alamo Region Planning Commission and committees, as a SuperMAC, prior to any consideration of incorporation. The proposed Alamo Region Planning Commission and committees would consolidate SRV Regional Planning Commission activities for Alamo, county agencies such as R-7A and the AIA planning functions with neighborhoods' community counsel for formal planning advisory and compliance actions.

Posted as a courtesy




Posted by A non-esq neighbor, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 4, 2007 at 8:25 am

Dear Lisa Wright (esq),

Have you interviewed each and every person associated with the AIM cause? I believe you are extremely misinformed, made a biased statement, and to emphatically claim what you did is a travisty, and demonstrates those who oppose incorporation will stoop to writing false claims because their truth is not founded in fact. You should know that from what I've found out, the committee is a diverse group, with diverse backgrounds, diverse strenghts, and diverse beliefs. There probably is one who supports the YMCA effort, there is likely another who opposes it, one who supports Piepho, another who does not - the team is balanced, objective without using any alligiances to further the incorporation cause - it's incorporation that is the focus - no other agendas exist.

A Town Council will be elected by our community so it is WE who will listen to the focus of the candidates and vote what WE believe in! Isn't the democratic process great?

The claim that you make about budget is also false - the ONLY way that "our community will face increases in service fees to support the increasing costs of county government" is to STAY unincorporated! The County is facing a 2.6 BILLION dollar deficit in underfunding of its pension plan - who's going to pay for that? Certainly NOT by a vote of tax increase by Contra Costa residents!!! It WILL be borne by unincorporated areas who have NO voice in how Alamo tax dollars are spent and services WILL be cut. When streets deteriorate, landscaping dies, sheriff services are cut, etc., then if Alamo does not incorporate, it will be too late to take control of Alamo funds. We need to ALL become well informed, read everything we can get our hands on, and when it comes to a vote in March, 2009, make a decision that is BEST for everyone AND Alamo's future.


Posted by Alamo neighborhoods forum, a resident of another community
on Nov 4, 2007 at 10:00 am

Many thanks to AIM for posting their response:

#1 - As illustrated, AIM PR is arrogant and angry in its disregard for the knowledge and position of the majority of residents in Alamo. AIM PR has repeated a single approach, filled with omissions, misstatements and misrepresentations of neighborhoods' interests and AIM participants' special interests in autonomous city government.

#2 - As illustrated, AIM is supporting an autonomous city council that will have four years to determine the future of Alamo without citizens' oversight.

#3 - As omitted by AIM, the increase in service fees for county contracted services will be paid by any city of Alamo and must be included in the projected city budgers. A county study illustrates that service fees will increase in Alamo for current services by at least $60 per residence per month.

We thank AIM for this important dialog,

Christine Jenkins
Alamo neighborhoods forum

Posted as a courtesy


Posted by Judy Gilchrist, a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2007 at 12:33 pm

Posted as a courtesy

How quickly AIM was to announce the success of the neighborhoods in delivering 2,197 of >3,100 signatures gathered on the AIM petition. Well, actually that wasn't acknowledged because neighbors did not disclose their individual reasons for signing the petition. As the majority of signatures, neighbors now have the opportunity to lead LAFCo to a incorporation proposal that suits the diversity of Alamo residents. Opposition can be lead away from their position by planned advantages of incorporation defined in structural and operational planning and citizen-led commissions and committees.

Incorporation should be a process that engages all the diversity in Alamo. Starting with the Alamo Region Planning Commmission, our community can come together and support a well-defined City of Alamo and its luxury, urban lifestyle.

Judy

Posted as a courtesy of the Alamo neighborhoods forum




Posted by Frank, posted as a courtesy, a resident of Alamo
on Nov 7, 2007 at 7:29 am

Posted as a courtesy

It is a good thing that Alamo has a few good leaders that can keep their eye on the ball and not be distracted by the ignorance of the "nameless neighborhoods." All this wringing of hands by residents that do not wish to participate in our town is now meaningless. Leadership has their petition signatures and now can move forward with incorporation without neighborhood interference.

Soon we will all see why our leadership was right when the feasibility study is published. Ignorance will no longer be an excuse and a YES vote on incorporation will be the only option.

Get over yourselves, Neighborhoods!

Frank

Alamo neighborhoods forum thanks Frank for his response


Posted by Vince Kreigher, a resident of another community
on Nov 15, 2007 at 8:40 am

Posted as a courtesy

Amongst the humor of Alamo neighborhoods e-chains, a discovery was made that explains the current incorporation conflicts. AIM participants and supporters are not really part of Alamo's culture and are deeply engaged in Danville's very foreign culture. Thus, the answer is simple. AIM should incorporate Alamo, but locate that town in Danville, possibly within the Wal-Mart next to the McDonalds.

There is always an easy solution,

Lisa Wright, laughingly,
Diablo Vista California 94507

Posted as a courtesy by Vince Kreigher


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