When the Stonehurst and Alhambra Valley Ranch luxury communities were developed in the 1980s, Hal and Marie Olson were leading the charge against what they saw as the city's certain attempt to try and expand its borders and bring the valley into the city.
This week, the Olsons' worst fears are coming true.
The agency charged with determining local boundaries will consider on Wednesday the city's request to bring a large chunk of the valley from the county's jurisdiction to the city.
It is a fight that has simmered even before the two housing developments were constructed. City officials have eyed the valley and its upscale homes for many years, and valley residents have for just as long resisted the city's wishes.
Mayor Rob Schroder told the Contra Costa Times that it's a question of unity, that the valley is really part of the city anyway, since residents use Martinez parks and schools. The same argument was put forth by councilman Mike Menesini, who has privately expressed frustration that the valley is taking advantage of city services without being willing to pay for them.
To get around certain defeat should valley residents get a chance to vote on the question, the city hired a consulting firm to study how much the city would receive in taxes versus how much it would cost to provide services for the new residents. According to the Martinez News Gazette , when the first study concluded it would cost more in services than it would gain in revenue, the city hired another consulting firm and got the results it was looking for.
At that point, city staff carefully drew boundaries for annexation to increase the chances that fewer than 25 percent of valley residents could vote in an annexation election.They could do that because residents of Stonehurst and Alhambra Valley Ranch, in addition to other homeowners, signed agreements stating that they would agree to be annexed in exhange for the city providing them water service. These so-called deferred annexation agreements are being contested by a number of homeowners, who say they never signed any such agreement, and challenge the city to provide proof of their existence.
Schroder is a member of the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) and will cast a vote on the issue when the group meets on Wednesday.
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