A survey sent to unincorporated Alameda County residents to determine interest for an Eden Area Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) misrepresents the California law that allows counties to create MACs as either elected or appointed councils. The survey also understates community support for governance reform efforts that were conveyed in resolutions at a March 2016 Eden Area Livability Initiative (EALI) Governance meeting and again at an April 2016 Unincorporated Community Services meeting.
The survey, sent by the Community Development Agency to over 40,000 households in unincorporated San Lorenzo, Ashland, Cherryland, and Hayward Acres, states that “a MAC is sanctioned by the State and its members are appointed, not elected, by the County Supervisor.”
Under California Government Code Section 31010, a MAC may be either elected or appointed. The fact that a MAC can be elected has been the basis for Castro Valley Matters’ advocacy for an elected Castro Valley MAC, which has been appointed by the Board of Supervisors since its creation in 1981.
The board of supervisors of any county may by resolution
establish and provide funds for the operation of a municipal advisory
council for any unincorporated area in the county to advise the
board on such matters which relate to that area as may be designated
by the board concerning services which are or may be provided to the
area by the county or other local governmental agencies, including
but not limited to advice on matters of public health, safety,
welfare, public works, and planning. Unless the board of supervisors
specifically provides to the contrary, a municipal advisory council
may represent the community to any state, county, city, special
district or school district, agency or commission, or any other
organization on any matter concerning the community. The board may
pay from available funds such actual and necessary expenses of
travel, lodging, and meals for the members of the council while on
such official business as may be approved by the board.
Further in section 31010, the essential elements of the resolution creating a MAC are defined, including whether a MAC will be elected or appointed:
The resolution establishing any such municipal advisory council shall provide for the following:
(a) The name of the municipal advisory council.
(b) The qualifications, number, and method of selection of its members, whether by election or appointment.
(c) Its designated powers and duties.
(d) The unincorporated area or areas for which the municipal advisory council is established.
(e) Whether the establishment of the council should be submitted to the voters and the method for such submission; provided that if an election is required pursuant to subdivision (b), such election shall be held at the same time as an election held pursuant to this subdivision.
(f) Such other rules, regulations and procedures as may be necessary in connection with the establishment and operation of the municipal advisory council.
EALI Governance group passed resolutions with governance reform ideas
The survey also states that the EALI Governance group “considered whether there was a need” for a MAC.
In fact, the EALI Goverance group passed two resolutions in March 2016, one that supported allowing residents of areas covered by the Eden Area General Plan (San Lorenzo, Cherryland, Ashland, and Hayward Acres) and Fairview to create their own MACs, and another resolution stating that the people of Castro Valley should be given the opportunity to vote on whether the MAC should be elected.
Supervisor Chan has previously articulated her desire to see a community survey at an April 2016 Unincorporated Services Committee.
At last month’s Unincorporated Services Committee, a committee consisting of Supervisors Nate Miley and Wilma Chan, despite previous consensus among EALI Governance participants that the residents of Castro Valley should vote on whether the MAC should be elected and not rely on a community survey, Chan referred the issue of the elected MAC back to the Governance group and suggested a survey of each unincorporated community.
In her comments, Chan said that putting the question of whether the MAC should be elected on a ballot is limiting since you only hear from voters, not from other members of the community who might not vote. In terms of finding resolution to the EALI process, Chan said that the multi-year EALI process, now in its “implementation phase,” should “go back to the original rules.”
Residents of San Lorenzo, Ashland, Cherryland, and Hayward Acres received the survey to determine community support for a MAC that would cover their four communities, all of which generally fall under the same General Plan area.
Participants at the EALI Governance meeting on February 2, 2017 supported this survey, and asked that any survey be brought back to that group and the Eden MAC Formation Committee for review:
Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan will be sending out a survey to various households in the areas of Ashland, Cherryland and San Lorenzo February 2017 approximately. The Eden Area MAC Formation Committee is anticipating in running a campaign to educate people on what type of survey will be coming to their households. The group is creating videos, postcards and brochures to be able to help spread the word and to inform them about where they live in the unincorporated area. The EALI Governance Working Group affirms the efforts of the Eden MAC Formation Committee to be involved in the drafting of the survey of Ashland, Cherryland, and San Lorenzo residents regarding the formation of an Eden MAC. The talking mater was moved by Peter Rosen and seconded by Linda Tangren.
At the April 6, 2017 EALI Governance meeting, participants provided feedback of the survey that had been prepared by Supervisor Wilma Chan’s staff with input from staff from Supervisor Nate Miley’s staff. Minutes from the meeting indicate that public input on the survey content was largely dismissed.
Fellow Castro Valley Matters member Peter Rosen and I noted that the survey language was incorrect in stating that a MAC can only be appointed, and we asked that it be revised.
Despite repeated inquiries by EALI Governance and Eden MAC Formation members, neither Supervisor Chan or her staff have indicated what type of a response rate to the survey would be considered successful.
The following six questions are included in the final survey that was sent out to residents late last week:
The survey was published in English, Spanish, and Chinese. Here is the full survey: