Supervisors approve Alamo MAC | August 14, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - August 14, 2009

Supervisors approve Alamo MAC

Advisory council to replace existing committees

by Geoff Gillette

The ongoing debate over whether a Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) was coming to Alamo reached its end Tuesday as members of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors approved a board order creating the advisory body.

The resolution before the Supervisors came from District 3 Supervisor Mary N. Piepho. Piepho said that having the advisory council would put the wide variety of services in Alamo under the auspices of one group, allowing a greater degree of communication and accountability.

"A Municipal Advisory Committee creates an identity for Alamo, and a centralized voice to provide input and feedback to the district supervisor, the Board of Supervisors and county staff," Piepho stated.

Around a dozen Alamo residents attended the Aug. 11 meeting and many spoke to the board regarding the institution of a MAC. Testimony was a mixed bag of support and opposition, with those against it offering concerns of how the council will maintain current service levels, and those in favor exhibiting excitement about centralizing services in Alamo.

Long-time resident Bob Myrhe explained to the board how a MAC was first attempted in the 1970s but failed because Alamo was part of an incorporation effort with Danville. Myhre said earlier this year he opposed incorporation for Alamo, but he is strongly in favor of bringing in a MAC.

"It's time, it's way past time for a MAC," Myhre stated. "If we'd approved it back in the 1970s, we'd have the best one in the county right now."

Nancy Dommes agreed that having a MAC would be good for Alamo as it would allow residents to have one authority to address their concerns.

"I'm excited about the possibility of a MAC in Alamo," she enthused. "I can go to just one meeting and find out what's going on in my community."

Another supporter, Cecily Barclay, said she believed the MAC was a good thing because it provided much of the oversight of a local government without having to pay to hold an election every two years. She added that she is a firm believer in the Brown Act and having a body like the advisory council provides transparency while giving residents a means of having their voices heard.

"I am very confident that Supervisor Piepho will pick a diverse group of people for the advisory council," she said.

Others in attendance were doubtful that the seven-member board would have the time or the energy to take on the workload currently being shared by groups like P2B, R7A, Zone 36 and the Alamo Improvement Association (AIA).

"I don't believe that an appointed MAC can meet our needs as well as the groups that have been doing it already," said Sandra Fink. She pointed to the efforts of the AIA, a watchdog group whose membership is open to anyone in Alamo, over the past 50 years to serve the Alamo community, saying that it is not easily replaceable.

Mike Gibson, a member of AIA, agreed that it would be difficult for a MAC to duplicate the hours of work put in by the various groups. He also expressed concern over the fact that the MAC would not be able to divide that workload by creating sub-committees.

"Current MAC policy prohibits formation of sub-committees that don't have MAC members on them," he said. He called on the Board of Supervisors to adopt language to allow for the council to have sub-committees before approving the resolution.

Another AIA member, Roger Smith, cautioned that taking away those committees and putting their responsibilities under the MAC could have a detrimental affect on the community.

"The community has grown accustomed to a high level of service and access," Smith stated. "It is not possible for a limited number of people to do all the work of these sub-committees."

Supervisors debated the issue for several minutes. Supervisor John Goia addressed the opponents of the MAC. "Change is never easy, but I agree with Supervisor Piepho that the MAC is a positive step," he offered.

Goia said that the work being done by the AIA could be a complement to that done by the MAC.

The board gave its unanimous approval to the MAC. As part of the same discussion, the board approved two subsidiary resolutions that would take the duties of the Zone 36 Lighting and Landscaping Committee and the R-7A Parks and Recreation Committee and fold them into the new MAC.

After the approval, Mike Gibson said that he continues to have reservations about the incoming MAC, but he intends to move forward as the new council is appointed.

"We've got to make it work," he said. "I don't know how this is all going to fall out. Over time we'll see how things evolve."

With the MAC approved, the application process for the seven member board will begin immediately. Supervisor Piepho's Chief of Staff Tomi Van de Brooke said applications can be found online or in Piepho's Danville office. Van de Brooke also provided applications at the Aug. 13 meeting of the Alamo Community Council. Piepho's office confirmed that they have already received some completed applications.

Applicants will have until Sept. 15. Then Supervisor Piepho will compile a list of nominations that must be approved by the Board of Supervisors. Van de Brooke said that she is expecting that the members of the MAC could be approved by the end of September with the new council holding its first meeting in early October.


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