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Being a city leads to a project that makes the community better

Lafayette, California, is a city in central Contra Costa County. Until it incorporated in 1968, Lafayette was just another post-WWII suburban nowhere-land like Arden Arcade. The County was responsible for municipal services and out-of-area developers and property owners called the shots. Being in the clutches of outsiders meant residents and businesses pretty much had to fend for themselves. Next door was Walnut Creek, which, being a city, was the king-of-the-hill on the warm side of the Caldecott Tunnel. As the  dominant player, Walnut Creek captured all the opportunities away from its unincorporated neighbors. Things began to change once Lafayette gained local control by becaming a city: Caltrans was forced to build a new off-ramp/on ramp from the freeway to the middle of town, the 4-mile commercial strip was upgraded aesthetically as the spine of an attractive, mixed-use community, and the BART station was remodeled as a core element of the urban center,

There are now 26,000 people in Lafayette - about 1/4 of what we have here. Unlike our unincorporated nothingness, though, the civic fabric in Lafayette is strong. A recent example is how sidewalk utility boxes on the main drag were "wrapped" as an art project focused on local history. As stated on the Chamber of Commerce's Facebook page:

May contain: advertisement, car, vehicle, and transportation
A utility box in downtown Lafayette

"In total, seven new utility box wraps will be displayed along Mt. Diablo Blvd. The series will feature a collage of historical images from the early pioneer and farming days, Lafayette’s early recreation and social clubs (including Town Hall Theatre and the legendary 1930s horse show that drew thousands from far and wide), the growth of the downtown, and the birth of what Lafayette is today.

Each wrap has a QR code that will take you directly to more information on the Lafayette Historical Society's website. The box at the Bank of the West displays information on the Saklan People,

Learn more about the year long celebration on the City's website, Love Lafayette, at

Huge shout to Lafayette Chamber member Sequoia Signs & Graphics, Inc. for printing and installing the wraps!

#lafayetteca #lafayettecalifornia #lovelafayetteca"

This is the kind of project that can happen in a city. The project connects the dots between the local government, businessses and local non-profits for the betterment of the entire community. Such a thing can never happen when a County is in charge, because a County cannot focus at a small level of detail. But is it precisely this kind of detail that makes a community special - that makes it livable and cherished by its residents and businesses. Am project like this can happen here, too, but not unless our municipal governance system is shifted to emphasize what's best for the residents and businesses of our community. Right now we don't have a Mayor and a City Council to focus on local priorities. We are at the mercy of a host of others who do not have a stake in our civic outcome. If you want things to get better around here, that situation has to change. Are you willing to help make something different happen?

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