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Does Alamo Anti-Incorporation Vote Foretell CV Results?

Carmel Pine Cone – March 6, 2009

WEBMASTER NOTE: Proponents of cityhood always accuse the opposition of being developers. They like to confuse business men and women who do not want to increase their tax burden with developers who build strip malls and hotels. Actually, most developers flock around city hall, politicians and redevelopment agencies.


VOTERS SOUNDLY defeated a ballot measure this
week that would have incorporated the East Bay community
of Alamo.

The election was closely watched by supporters and opponents
of the drive to incorporate Carmel Valley.

According to the Contra Costa County elections division,
4,074 voters — or 66 percent of those who voted — opposed
the incorporation of Alamo, while only 2,099 supported it.
A relatively affluent community, Alamo is home to about
16,000 residents. The proposal aimed to incorporate about 10
square miles.

Although this week’s election marks the first time Alamo
residents have voted on the issue, debate in the community
about incorporation — like that in Carmel Valley — dates
back to the early 1960s.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the Alamo and
Carmel Valley incorporation proposals is how quickly the
former made it to the ballot box. Alamo town supporters only
submitted a petition and an incorporation application in
November 2007, while their Carmel Valley counterparts
began their drive in 2002. The Carmel Valley effort, though,
has been repeatedly bogged down by legal action, much of it
pertaining to whether an environmental impact report should
be required. The Alamo proposal did not require an EIR.

Going into the March 3 election, Alamo’s incorporation
supporters were optimistic they would win. They received a
boost when three local newspapers — The Contra Costa
Times, the Danville Weekly and Alamo Today — all came
out in favor of incorporation. Understandably, it came as
quite a shock when the proposal was badly defeated.
“It’s sad day in Alamo,” said Alisa Corstorphine, the editor
and publisher of Alamo Today. “It was shocking how the
vote went.”

According to Corstorphine, the incorporation issue created
a significant rift in the community — and in the days leading
up to the election, things turned ugly.

“Hundreds of campaign signs were stolen or vandalized,”
she reported. “It was insane.”

Corstorphine believes developers played a key role in
helping to defeat incorporation. Carmel Valley incorporation
supporters have also made charges that developers are behind
the opposition to their campaign.

“There was a large influx of money from developers and
land use attorneys,” she said.

But ultimately, Corstorphine blamed the election loss not
on developers, but on residents’ inability to educate themselves
on the issues facing the community. She said talking
to some “was like talking to a brick wall.”

Alamo incorporation supporters argued they could provide
better and more efficient services than Contra Costa
County, which is experiencing considerable fiscal challenges.

Curiously, like their Carmel Valley counterparts, supporters
and opponents of Alamo’s incorporation insisted their
view would better preserve the “rural qualities” of their community.

Now that incorporation has been defeated in Alamo,
what’s next for those who would like to see it become a town?
Corstorphine believes it could be quite some time before the
issue is raised again.

“We’d have to start all over again, and I don’t see that happening,”
she added.

Glenn Robinson, a supporter of incorporating Carmel
Valley, was understandably disappointed with the results but
thankful Alamo residents received the opportunity to vote.

“I am pleased to see that the residents of Alamo got the
chance to vote on their community’s future, and had the
opportunity to do so without undue delay and interference,”
Robinson said. “Most of all, I congratulate Alamo for its
open and healthy debate, and opportunity to cast a democratic
ballot on its future, free of intimidation tactics and lawsuits
seeking to prevent a vote.”

Robinson questioned why Carmel Valley’s incorporation
proposal has taken so long to make it to the ballot box.
“I was especially pleased to hear that Alamo’s incorporation
process took just over two years, from the gathering of
the first petition signature to an election,” he offered. “This
is a reasonable time line, much in contrast to the seven years
it has been since Carmel Valley’s successful petition drive
began — with no election yet scheduled.”

Robinson believes the global economic crisis played a significant
role in the defeat of the proposal.

“I understand that voters in Alamo were uncertain and
unsure in these troubled economic times, and I respect that,”
he added.

Meanwhile, Mel Steckler, an opponent of incorporating
Carmel Valley, said he wasn’t surprised by the Alamo election

“The vote in Alamo suggests the voters had the good
sense to observe the state of our economy,” Steckler said.
“This is not the time — even if it’s a good idea — to create a
new city.”

Last Updated: Mar 06, 09

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