their only local elected representative, or at the very least, a
member of his staff, should have been at the perchlorate meeting
held recently at San Martin/Gwinn Elementary School. We
’re sure he won’t repeat that mistake. Some vocal San Martin
residents are dissatisfied with Gage’s representation of them, and
they’re not shy about voicing their disapproval on opinion pages
and in other public forums.
San Martin residents are correct: County Supervisor Don Gage, their only local elected representative, or at the very least, a member of his staff, should have been at the perchlorate meeting held recently at San Martin/Gwinn Elementary School. We’re sure he won’t repeat that mistake. Some vocal San Martin residents are dissatisfied with Gage’s representation of them, and they’re not shy about voicing their disapproval on opinion pages and in other public forums.
Given that some San Martin residents feel they have inadequate representation, we think it’s time they seriously consider turning their little community into a city – that’s right, perhaps it’s time for San Martin to incorporate. This is not a new idea – it’s come up at least twice in the last five years – but given the numerous issues, from airport and transfer station expansion to perchlorate water pollution, perhaps incorporation’s time has finally come.
What are the advantages? First and perhaps foremost, San Martin residents would elect a council and mayor – at minimum of five people –who would work as their advocates. They wouldn’t have to rely on one local elected official – the District 1 County Supervisor, who has more than 325,000 other constituents besides the approximately 4,230 residents of San Martin to represent. The size of Gage’s district – which includes approximately 70 percent of the land mass of Santa Clara County and stretches from the Almaden Valley and Santa Teresa neighborhoods in south San Jose to the Santa Cruz Mountains in the west to the Mt. Hamilton Range in the east to south of Gilroy – means that San Martin’s only local representative has thousands of other constituents and dozens of other issues demanding his time and attention.
However, if San Martin residents approved forming a city, they’d have several representatives working solely on their behalf, and who could be the focus of residents’ kudos and brickbats. According to the League of California Cities, there are other advantages to incorporation as a city:
• A city preserves a community’s unique identity and character.
• A city provides better services.
• A city can control future development.
• A city controls its own spending and taxes.
Of course, there is a downside – and that’s money. Rachael Gibson of Gage’s office estimated that it would cost between $250,000 to $500,000 to incorporate. Creating a new city requires a fiscal analysis to ensure the proposed city could generate enough revenue to sustain itself, the OK of the county’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), negotiation of a tax-sharing agreement with the county, and finally, an election, in which voters within the proposed city’s boundaries must approve the formation of the city.
After that, there is the overhead associated with running a city – the cost of providing services the county was formerly responsible for, including police, fire and road maintenance, to name just a few, and paying the city employees needed to perform those services. It’s likely that San Martin residents will face increased taxes to pay for those services.
Despite the costs, if San Martin residents really want local control of land usage, want to preserve San Martin’s rural character and want to have more elected officials to represent them, it’s time they put their money where their mouths are and incorporate.