A MAC is an advisory committee that reports to the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors. Under county statutes, the MAC would be made up of seven members and would have the ability to create subcommittees to address specific issues.
Piepho's Chief of Staff Tomi Van de Brooke led the discussion at the ACC meeting. Residents were given a draft copy of the board motion to create the MAC. The resolution explained the basics behind the formation of the advisory body. Those included:
* Boundaries for the MAC
* Membership is set at seven
* Term of office is the same as the District 3 Supervisor
* Duties and Powers
* Staff support will be provided by Piepho's office
Unlike the recent attempt at incorporation in Alamo, there is no vote on the creation of a MAC at the public level. If Piepho decides a MAC would be beneficial to the area, she presents a board motion and the county Board of Supervisors votes on whether to approve it. If approved, Piepho would then name the MAC members.
This led to the first questions from residents. One resident asked why the county can simply declare a MAC, instead of allowing for a vote.
Van de Brooke said they had decided not to seek an election on the issue as it is not mandatory. California state code does allow for elections, but Van de Brooke said the county had chosen to opt out at least in part due to monetary considerations.
"It cost around $100,000 to put the incorporation question on the ballot. I'm not sure there's $100,000 around to put another question on the ballot," she stated.
Conversation on the proposed MAC became more animated as residents brought up two main concerns. The first is that while the MAC can create subcommittees, they must be comprised of current members of the MAC, not other residents. The second is that the MAC is limited in how it can interact with other agencies. County codes prohibit MAC members from representing Alamo to non-county agencies or groups.
ACC member Steve Mick, a supporter of the MAC, said that second proviso is one he can't stand by.
"That's a stopper. That's a big stopper for me," he said. "California code allows that for MACs, but it's up to the counties to set up the rules for their MACs. And the county's rules are stricter than the state's."
Community advocate Grace Schmidt said she does not think that the MAC should be going to other agencies in a representative capacity, but she did question whether the rules against communicating with other entities would preclude them from getting information they need to discuss issues and come up with opinions.
"Information needs to come as directly as possible. The MAC has got to have full access to the information because you can't give advice if you don't know the score," she said.
Van de Brooke disagreed with the assertion that information would be unavailable to MAC members.
"I don't understand the concern because anybody can ask for information. The concern I heard was that by becoming a MAC member you're giving up certain rights as individuals. That's not the intent," she explained.
She added that there are ways for the members of a MAC to provide representation to other agencies. They can address the agency involved as an individual, or they can contact the supervisor and either request that the supervisor send a letter addressing a specific concern or request permission to allow the MAC members to address an entity on an issue.
Afterward, Van de Brooke said she was pleased with the turnout and by the level of discussion.
"I think those who attended asked a lot of good questions," she said.
Van de Brooke will be back before the ACC at its next meeting to continue the dialogue on establishing a MAC. She said that at this time there is no timeline as to when a MAC formation will take place, but she did say that it will occur before the end of 2009.