Letters to the editorAlamo isn't broken
There is no doubt the incorporation people are motivated and have raised over $800,000. It's a fact that several persons are seeking to be a part of the proposed city to advance their careers. Others want a higher personal profile and will spend your money to get it. If Alamo is incorporated be prepared to attend meetings or suffer the consequences. Alamo is already losing one of its financial cows with the closing of Yardbirds Home Depot. You can rest assured that there will be more businesses that cannot afford to open their doors with the economy in such a bad down trend.
I hope the people who are in favor of incorporation give it more thought before casting their vote for incorporation. With incorporation we will inherit some of the largest problems we have ever seen. If the other cities are a guide you will learn more about parcel taxes, bond issues, city sales taxes, etc. You might also have additional lighting, curbs, and cute things like Lafayette; some are nice to have but all cost money. Along with incorporation come more offices, rules, ordinances and fees to match.
Vallejo has already filed bankruptcy, Rio Vista is on the verge of bankruptcy. Moraga and Orinda are not in a great financial safety zone at this time. Keep Alamo the way it is; we have a great police department with quick response, we have the Highway Patrol.
Why give all of this up? You know what you have but with incorporation you don't know what to expect. Again if it's not broken, don't fix it. Vote No on Measure A - save Alamo the way it is.
Tony Carnemolla, Alamo
Danville not unscathed by economy
I cannot believe the arrogance and/or ignorance of Chris Hopkins, Realtor ("Sacramento can't touch school parcel tax money," Jan. 23). Congratulations to him that his business is doing well. However, is he not aware that in the comfortable community of Danville people are losing their jobs, people are watching their retirement funds dwindle away with the constant downward spiral of the stock market, people are having their hours at work slashed because business owners would rather have their employees work fewer hours than having to fire them outright?
Is he aware that some parents are actually risking their retirement and using their retirement savings for their kids college education, because they can no longer financially contribute to both?
Does Mr. Hopkins live in such an insular world that he's not aware that Danville is a part of the real world, and is, in fact, living the same recession as the rest of America?
Just ask anyone at any customer-based business in town. Ask the person who cuts your hair. You'll probably hear what my husband heard from his barber that more and more customers are cutting their own hair in order to save a few dollars. Some of these businesses, which have been in Danville for a long time, aren't sure they'll be able to survive this downward spiral.
Please remove your blinders, Mr. Hopkins, and realize that there is no way a $350 parcel tax will ever be approved. Though you seem unscathed, many residents here haven't been so lucky. Mr. Hopkins, I hope you have your continued success, but please don't assume all of Danville's residents are so blessed.
Lisa Appelbaum, Danville
County not the devil
An Alamo incorporation opponent says the devil we know is better than the devil we don't know. I don't see Contra Costa County, Alamo's local government, as the devil. My experience with local government shows me the five members of the County Board of Supervisors are smart, knowledgeable, respectable, hard-working officials. But they are wrestling with problems far beyond the scope of issues important to Alamo - a $1.7 billion unfunded liability for employee benefits, a 2008 $1.3 billion loss in pension investments they must compensate with taxpayer dollars, and falling housing assessed valuations in other parts of the county.
Their choices are to cut services, to increase revenue-generating development - for which they must mitigate traffic impacts in developed areas with road and intersection widening projects - and to try to raise taxes in unincorporated areas. They've already cut the Sheriff's budget three years running, and they've tried to widen Alamo's downtown intersection to accommodate overflow freeway traffic.
The county, not the devil, is big local government trying to meet its responsibilities to its own constituents and thousands of employees. Alamo needs to incorporate as a small local government, with minimal employees, to meet its responsibilities to its own property owners and taxpayers.
Grace Schmidt, Alamo
Alamo must preserve what's left of charm
Alamo incorporation opponents claim that Danville is not a good model for a city. We in Alamo use the Danville Library, a county branch subsidized by the town so it will be open everyday. The Town of Danville has a popular senior program, which allows Danville residents to register one day early for its activities so often Alamo seniors don't have a chance to enroll. The Danville Community Center serves the residents well with programs and with rooms for activities plus the lawn area for gatherings such as the one for Pilot "Sully," Danville's hero. Danville has preserved the look of a charming small town. Alamo has lost nearly all of its small town look.
Perhaps if Alamo had been a town, the Alamo Elementary School, where Danville Boulevard and Stone Valley Road met, would not have been razed to provide office buildings. Perhaps the three large, beautiful redwood trees would not have been chopped down to provide room for those office buildings. That school and those trees might have become Alamo's town center and Alamo's signature. If Alamo had been a town, perhaps the pioneer home across the street would not have been razed to become medical offices but would have been preserved as a showplace along with the adjacent Indian burial ground.
Alamo lost much of its past due to development, approved by the county. All that is left of Alamo's history in the center of Alamo are the Quonset hut and the horse on top of Alamo Hay and Grain. I'll fight for those! After 42 years in Alamo, I would like Alamo residents to have control over changes, keep what we have and provide what will serve our residents.
Margaret Elliott, Alamo
Correcting flier 'facts'
Assertions in a Vote No on Measure A flier have no basis in fact. Opponents claim that declines in market values will result in a decline in Alamo property tax revenue. Property taxes are not based upon market value but on ASSESSED value. A detailed 2008 analysis shows that 75 percent of the sales resulted in an increase in ASSESSED value of $600,000 on average. Alamo property tax revenues are continuing to increase despite the economy because our ASSESSED values (valuation for taxes) are so much lower than market values. The low turnover in Alamo homes will ensure that property tax revenue continues to grow in a bad economy, even without allowing for the 2 percent per year increase built into Proposition 13.
For newly incorporated cities, Vehicle License Fee (VLF) revenues are completely unaffected by poor automobile sales and are driven by a formula set by state law (California Revenue & Taxation Code Section 11005). Menifee, a city in Southern California that just incorporated, recently received its first vehicle license fee check in January, exceeding the consultant's CFA estimate by over $1 million at a time when auto sales are falling through the floor. For the first five years of incorporation Alamo will receive more than 100 percent of its VLF allocation to aid in transition.
Opponents claim there is no provision for road maintenance. As noted in the fiscal analysis, the county will transfer close to $2 million in road funds to Alamo post-incorporation. Alamo road maintenance is funded through a combination of road taxes yielding about $1 million/year and Alamo will spend it to maintain its roads, as the county does now.
Yes, you can disincorporate. The procedure is laid out in state law (California Government Code Section 57400). Three California cities have disincorporated, the most recent in 1972.
We should debate the merits of Alamo incorporation based on facts, not on poorly researched analysis that can so easily be disproved. Visit www.alamoinc.org.
Campaign Co-Chair, Alamo Incorporation Movement
A Facebook fan
Just to give you a perspective from an over-40 that's been on Facebook for over a year, in response to your Diablo Views column Jan. 23. It is a great way to reconnect with your past. Since I'm originally from Canada, I have lost touch with lots of my friends over the years. Now I have a whole community of high school and even grade school friends.
Facebook applications make it really easy to keep track of your friends and family. I don't use it for friending strangers but I suppose some do. I like this social network far better than MySpace and Classmates. Apparently Facebook is the fastest growing IT social network for over 40s. Enjoy!
Heather Marchman, Danville
Grace for council
I support Grace Schmidt for Alamo Town Council because she has proven she understands how to get things done in the governmental system at hand. I witnessed her hard work in seeing that people in Alamo got the information about government they needed in order to keep the kind of community they want.
I worked with Grace last spring when she did research and discovered regional plans to expand Alamo's downtown intersection at Danville Boulevard and Stone Valley Road. She spent long hours explaining to me, my concerned neighbors and friends how the various government agencies work together to move projects like the "Ultimate Configuration" forward. We were able to take her information and get it out to Alamo residents, who strongly opposed the expansion. The result was that we were successful in getting the Ultimate Configuration off the list of projects eligible for funding by the Tri-Valley Transportation Council.
Grace is the type of person we need in our small town to serve the interests of the community.
Lorrie Tovani, Alamo