| The feeling in the air was "rah-rah sis-boom-bah!" for enthusiastic supporters of Alamo's cityhood last week, as the Alamo Incorporation Movement kicked off its petition launch.
Signature collectors - who set up a booth at the Alamo Wine and Music Festival on Saturday - will now need to gather 2,500 John Hancocks in the next six months. And leaders of the grassroots movement say they plan to do it largely through neighborhood groups.
"It's like throwing a stone at a pool; the ripples move outward," said Chris Kenber, spokesman for the Alamo incorporation committee.
Along with the petition circulating at casual neighborhood get-togethers, volunteers plan to leave them at public locations, such as Richard's Arts and Crafts and Mark Kahn Jewelers. Door-to-door petitioning, along with appearances at the Danville farmers market and in front of Alamo Safeway are also part of the plan.
The group needs to get 2,500 signatures - 25 percent of Alamo voters - but this does not OK cityhood. It is necessary for the Local Agency Formation Commission to conduct a study to determine if Alamo would stand up to the financial tests of running its own government. The Contra Costa LAFCO is a state regulatory commission to prevent small districts and non-viable cities from being created.
At a spirited meeting last week, which was essentially a pep rally for around 80 cityhood supporters, the committee found volunteers and worked on how to convey a consistent message while out in the field.
The meeting was a form of training for volunteers, Kenber said. Energy levels were high, donations were collected, and the message echoed that Alamo should have more representation.
"It's time for us to manage ourselves," said Vicki Koc, former Alamo Parks and Recreation committee member.
But while incorporation advocates are causing a ripple effect, some vocal opponents of incorporation are making waves as well. The problem, they say, is that the plan for how incorporated Alamo would be set up raises too many questions.
For example, the idea of an Alamo town council has been the object of criticism. Some say it will bring about too many rules and others worry that the movement's leaders have their own agendas.
Kenber, a former San Ramon Valley Unified School board member, says city councils have worked fine for Danville and Walnut Creek and they would work for Alamo.
"(A city council) is not exactly an 'out-there' thing to do," he said.
"People don't like government. My argument is, then don't you want it closer to you so can see it?" he added.
Still others have said vital parts of running a city - including taxes and road repairs - have been overlooked in the plan.
These are factors LAFCO will take into account in the study, should the petition pass.
The incorporation committee's goal is to complete the petition by Thanksgiving. From there, the LAFCO process will likely take more than a year and voting wouldn't be until spring 2009.
If the process gets that far, the vote would be the first on the incorporation of Alamo by itself. Efforts to make Alamo a city with Danville or with the entire San Ramon Valley failed in the 1960s and '70s. In total, six efforts to incorporate have occurred since the first was initiated by the Alamo Improvement Association in 1956.
In order for the 2009 vote to pass, more than 50 percent of Alamo voters would have to support cityhood.
Alamo makes up 5.8 percent of District 3, a statistic cityhood advocates use to note that the area is under-represented by county officials in Martinez. Currently Alamo's planning, parks, roads and police are all handled through the county.
"Alamo is going to change whether we like it or not. The question is: Do we want to manage it?" Kenber said.
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