Undemocratic Alameda County
The East Bay Express published an article yesterday, “The Disenfranchised Rebels of Castro Valley”, about how hard it is for an unincorporated area to achieve local control. While the article features Castro Valley and mentions other unincorporated communities in Alameda County (Ashland, Cherryland, Fairview, San Lorenzo), it could have been talking about our community or any of the myriad other urbanized unincorporated areas that are home to some 6 million Californians. These are places where one County Supervisor reigns as though by fiat, where municipal services are underwhelming, and where the ruling power elite (typically politicians, the media, civic boosters of adjacent cities, developers, major landlords) confuse and mislead residents about local governmental service delivery and costs. It is common that citizens in these areas who seek to improve their local services, upgrade their communities and implement a more democratic form of governance are belittled, even vilified. And, whether intended or not, the state Legislature and, on occasion, the Governor, have been involved in structuring the task of municipal incorporation to be nearly impossible. Every now and then a maverick media piece like the East Bay Express article slips into public view and exposes the situation. It’s a good read.
"It must be remembered that there is nothing more difficult to plan, more doubtful of success, nor more dangerous to manage, than the creation of a new system. For the initiator has the enmity of all who would profit by the preservation of the old institutions and merely lukewarm defenders in those who would gain by the new ones."Niccolò Machiavelli, The Prince, Chapter 6