The "I" Word: Incorporation, for Good or for Evil

How incorporation could affect Castro Valley, for good or evil.

Little known historical nugget: I once ran for Castro Valley City Council.

I know, shocking, especially considering we don’t have a City Council. However the last time incorporation came up for a vote, there was also a provisional vote to see who would help lead our fair city into the future. I was on that ballot.

The incorporation didn’t pass, and if it had I wouldn’t have made it onto the council. Unless of course every other candidate died the night of the voting. I came in last place. I think I literally only got 72 votes. So, assuming that my wife voted for me (which is kind of a stretch), and knowing I voted for myself, 70 of your neighbors have really, really poor decision-making skills.

I hung up my political hat after that. I realized a few things: firstly, you actually need to campaign; secondly, hosting a haunted house with one sign painted in simulated blood as the guests leave is not campaigning. To be fair, my extensive political background as sergeant-at-arms in Strobridge Elementary didn’t really prepare me for office. I’m a much better rabble rouser and social critic than politician. I can’t even have a civil discussion with my children; how am I going to learn Robert’s Rules of Order? 

My political dreams were dashed, but the hope that someday Castro Valley would become a real city remained.

This week on CVLegends I brought up a couple of questions regarding incorporation.

The first was, “What are the benefits to you for living in an unincorporated town?” Following are a few of the responses:

“Having grown up in Castro Valley and then moved over the hill to San Leandro (which is incorporated), I feel qualified to compare. Castro Valley does have its charms, but I have been very impressed with the services that my city offers me - our libraries, our recreation programs, and especially San Leandro's finest, our PD. The services leave CV in the dust.” -Susan Criswell

“Nothing!!” -William Baptista

“I love CV and don't plan to ever move from here, but I see NO benefits to being unincorporated. I'm ready for CV to become a city and I'm willing to pay more taxes for it. There, I've said it. I'm ready for the wrath from the folks who want great services but don't want to pay for them.” -Elisabeth Hawkins

“Less tax less bureaucracy!” -Scott MacDonald

“@ Scott - We pay taxes. They go to the County of Alameda, and its bureaucracy (much of it based in Hayward). There might be some scale to the services it provides, but I suspect we might have a more responsive bureaucracy connected to CV's need if we had more control over our affairs. Note: I like the notion of incorporation if there were a plan that laid out what type of services a City of CV would provide (there is nothing stopping an incorporated CV from getting services like police and fire from the County), but I am open to a different model so long as I get to vote for my municipal representatives and some of the services my town needs are based in CV.” -Michael Joseph Kusiak

The following day I posted, “So, opposite question from yesterday, why do you think Castro Valley should incorporate?” 

“I believe if Castro Valley incorporates the town will be more appealing for businesses (esp. restaurants) to come in to. It will also give us more control over what our tax dollars are being used for.” -Brian Dobbie

“To fuel the egos of a few political wannabes.....” -Debbie Vargas

“Because when everyone complains about lack of road services, public services and the joke that is zoning laws in an unincorporated area... They should only blame themselves, incorporation would keep CVs taxes in CV, allow for CVPD and CVFD and allow us that govern ourselves... Why is it a good thing to be the largest unincorporated area west of the mississippi? There's a reason for that...” -Michael Kentris

“No just look at well it has done for Dublin, Pleasanton and Livermore ...We are the largest unincorporated community in California and if you don't think Hayward has their ''annexing eyes' on Castro Valley then wake up. We almost lost the money to finish our half completed CV Blvd. project...there is no one in charge of Castro Valley who is actually elected by and from Castro Valley... People are complaining about the vacant Tonys Market Store, the vacant Daughtreys Building and having two Safeways in CV.... Go complain to our Mayor and Business Development Manager..Oh wait! ...We don't have one...Just wait until Rite-Aid finds a smaller building... Castro Valley is no longer the 'Quaint Sleepy Community' of Alameda County ...now... we are the sad 'Forgotten Step Child' of Alameda County....Wake up Castro Valley and let's choose our own destiny for a change!...All of our services will still be provided by the same agencies that we now have..Alameda County Fire, Alameda County Sheriff, Highway Patrol etc. ...We should have done this years ago and bitten the bullet then ...Now, walk through the Castro Village. The Village looks nearly a third empty and the whole Blvd project has to be killing those who are still open....Who is out there promoting Castro Valley to prospective retailers, grocers and restaurants ...No One ....Blockbuster will soon be empty and there is a chance a Salvation Army Store will be going in that spot ... I call that 'Poetic Justice' because soon, that is the only place Castro Valley residence will be able to shop....Heck Yes Incorporate...” -Carl Ricker

Granted, CVLegends may be a site that draws people who are really passionate about Castro Valley. Granted, these passionate residents may have different opinions than the population at large.

There is a large kernel of our town that hates the idea of change. Look at the opposition to the Castro Valley canoe sign (sunk) or even the vitriol that some residents feel over the improvement project going on in the Village or on the Boulevard.

But clearly there is also a core group of us who see the benefit and the potential that incorporation could herald. The thought of change is often scary, but the grim reality is that public funds are scarce. If we are not incorporated, we don’t have control over our tax dollars and our destiny.

To read all of the responses to these topics or to leave your own, please join the discussion at www.facebook.com/CVLegends 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Thomas Clarke August 12, 2011 at 03:19 AM
Observer, great article, appreciate your history lesson.
Ken Martin August 12, 2011 at 03:24 AM
And what was the conclusion?
Observer August 12, 2011 at 05:51 PM
2002 Castro Valley Final Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) (with appendix) This Report presents a Final Comprehensive Fiscal Analysis (CFA) of the incorporation of Castro Valley as proposed in May 2001 by the Alameda County Community Development Agency on behalf of Alameda County. The CFA provides a financial evaluation of Cityhood feasibility and potential impacts on the County, summarizes the ―revenue neutrality‖ agreement, and responds to extensive public review and comment. The Final CFA reflects the boundaries adopted by the Alameda Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) at the Public Hearing on May 9, 2002. http://castrovalley.patch.com/blog_posts/the-i-word#pdf-7350740
Observer August 12, 2011 at 06:23 PM
FEASIBILITY OF INCORPORATION 1. Castro Valley can be financially feasible as a City, contingent on implementation of a transient occupancy tax (TOT) and an ongoing utility users tax (UUT). The conclusion that a City of Castro Valley can be financially feasible is based upon the results of the Municipal Budget Model and forecast completed as a part of this analysis. In all cases, the new City is able to accrue sufficient revenues to cover the cost of providing services, assuming a TOT and an ongoing UUT. P.S. Alameda County is currently receiving the TOT (Hotels pay a 10% tax) which passed on the same ballot as incorporation in 2002. CV residents currently pay the UUT which voters renewed.
Observer August 12, 2011 at 10:50 PM
The City of Castro Valley would have been encompassing a total of 6,083-acre area with a population of approximately 58,300 with first year projections of $2,410,537 in sales tax revenue. Which translates into sales tax revenue of $41.35 per capita per year. Dublin and Pleasanton are higher.


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