San Lorenzo Express News

City of San Lorenzo Is Proposed

SEPTEMBER 19, 2004 (Updated Jan. 10, 2005)

A new City of San Lorenzo could be a reality in late 2006 if voters in the proposed city approve.

A Notice of Intent to Circulate a Petition to put the issue to local voters was filed September 7. The notice was submitted to Alameda County's Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which oversees changes in boundaries and formation of cities and special districts.

The new city would encompass seven square miles, all of the unincorporated area in the urban Eden Township except Castro Valley (see city boundaries). Castro Valley voters rejected formation of a city in that community in November 2002.

The goal of city government is supported by most Eden Area civic leaders, said Richard Hancocks, the incorporation project coordinator. The effort to form a city is a grassroots effort, said Hancocks, as reflected in the fact that city proponents are using a popular petition, rather than the county board of supervisors, to put the issue on the ballot. The Castro Valley incorporation measure was placed on the ballot by a resolution of the board of supervisors.

Community leaders are intensely frustrated in dealing with county government, Hancocks said, because counties are not organized to effectively govern densely populated urban unincorporated areas.

The City of San Lorenzo would have a population of about 75,000. It is among the top five most densely populated areas in the Bay Area according to a recent study.

The proposed city's area is the same as the area covered by the Eden Area General Plan, which local residents are presently revising in cooperation with county officials. The area also covers most of the San Lorenzo Unified School District. The school district includes a portion of the City of San Leandro, Washington Manor, that is not within the boundaries of the proposed City of San Lorenzo.

Hancocks said that the incorporation petition drive, led by a steering committee of five residents, should begin in October. The group must obtain 25 percent of the registered voters in the area of the new city, which number about 22,600. To provide a safety margin against invalid petition signatures, the group is aiming to collect 6,500 signatures. The signature gathering is expected to take four months.

The petition will be submitted to LAFCO along with an application for incorporation as a city. LAFCO will have to determine whether the application is consistent with state laws. The application must also show that the new city can maintain the existing level of government services with existing revenues.

For that reason the incorporation steering committee is conducting extensive research into the finances and organization of a new city as well as county spending in the unincorporated Eden Area. Hancocks said his group's decision to go ahead with the petition drive is based on their research so far and their belief that the new city is financially feasible.

If all goes well and LAFCO approves the application without delay, Hancocks said, incorporation could be put to voters on the fall 2006 ballot.

Property taxes in the new city would continue to be controlled by Proposition 13. Formation of the city would not create exceptions from Proposition 13 caps on taxes. New taxes would have to be approved by the voters of the new city, just as in other cities.

The Committee to Incorporate the City of San Lorenzo can be reached at P.O. Box 516, San Lorenzo 94580, or by telephone at (510) 278-7842.

See other stories:

San Jose Mercury News, Jan. 10, 2005

Daily Review, Jan. 2, 2005