Let Alamo run itself | February 27, 2009 | Danville Express | DanvilleSanRamon.com |


Danville Express

Perspective - February 27, 2009

Let Alamo run itself

Alamo, with a population of 16,700, offers sophisticated semi-rural living. Convenient to nearby cities and jobs, this desirable community has been built out to Las Trampas Wilderness and Walnut Creek on the west and north, and to dedicated open space on the east. The newest homes are sprouting on hillsides near I-680, and modern multi-storied mansions are replacing ranch houses on Alamo's country lanes.

Now residents are embroiled in an argument over the best government to keep Alamo the way it is, and to lead it through any inevitable changes in the future. This is what will be decided by the vote on Measure A. The anti-incorporation side focuses on whether Alamo is better off financially under the county; it also worries that an incorporated Alamo's fate would be in the hands of the five people elected to serve on the Town Council, who might prove unresponsive to the wishes of the majority.

Regarding the financial question, governance by Contra Costa County is not free. The county charges Alamo for the services it provides including manning its advisory committee meetings - both the time spent at the meetings and mileage for county employees to get to Alamo from Martinez. Members on the advisory committees are volunteers, but county personnel are not. An example of money not well spent is the recent no-right-turn-on-red sign placed on northbound Danville Boulevard at Stone Valley Road. Yes, the county responded when residents complained the sign did more harm than good but Alamo had to absorb the cost of making the sign, installing the sign and removing the sign.

Perhaps the Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis underestimated the cost for the town of Alamo, but it will be up to the first council members to plan the town according to its income. The county is in bad financial shape but Alamo's tax base is strong and it will be able to do things more cheaply than the county, which has a growing burden of employee retirement benefits. Alamo leaders can learn from the lessons of other small newly incorporated towns, keep it solvent, and write its General Plan accordingly.

To address the second point: The town of Alamo governance would not rest solely with the first five people elected to the council. The town would also have people on commissions, plus the residents - the voters - who could come to meetings and workshops and keep up a dialog on every issue. Its public meetings will inevitably attract watchdogs if the people arguing on both sides of the election stay involved. Advisory committees would not have to be disbanded, and Alamo Improvement Association has been looking out for Alamo's best interests since 1955. The smaller the democracy, the better it is; Alamo is a good size for this.

When Gandhi was fighting for India's independence from the British, Lord Mountbatten told him, "If we just leave, there will be chaos."

Gandhi replied, "Yes, but it will be our chaos."

We do not expect chaos but it is time for Alamo to govern itself as it works to resolve traffic issues, neighborhood planning and redevelopment, and policing. Alamo has the brainpower and the financial resources to run itself - and to run itself well.

First council members

Alamo has a fine field of qualified candidates running for its first Town Council. Fifteen are still in the race, although 16 will be on the ballot, and the five receiving the most votes will serve. After much deliberation, the Danville Weekly recommends the following candidates: Bob Connelly, Vicki Koc, Randy Nahas, Karen McPherson and Steve Mick.

There will be a steep learning curve in the first few years to transition from county rule to the Town of Alamo as well as hard work to write the General Plan and hire key administrators. The change will go more smoothly with people in office who understand Alamo and the workings of Contra Costa County, and these five candidates bring this background as well as considerable other talents to the table.


Posted by Rufous, a resident of Alamo
on Feb 27, 2009 at 9:26 pm

What's Karen doing on this endorsement list? she's the only independent thinker not controlled by AIM's strings. I would have thought AIM would have paid the press enough to avoid this kind of embarrassment

Posted by Mike, a resident of Alamo
on Feb 28, 2009 at 8:06 am

AIM sure must have a lot of money to pay off all of the press. Actually, I think they hired Bigfoot to muscle the press. Yeah, that's it!