September 11, 2010

Disincorporation: It’s Not Just For SoCal Anymore

Thanks to burbed reader Herve for sending in this cheery news!  Wow, cleared for takeoff!

The end of Half Moon Bay?

By Julia Scott, San Mateo County Times

Posted: 08/27/2010 11:00:00 PM PDT
Updated: 08/28/2010 01:55:27 PM PDT

HALF MOON BAY — Between budget losses and lawsuit payments, Half Moon Bay’s financials have become so dire that if a local sales tax measure doesn’t pass this November, officials say they may have to disincorporate.

City leaders have been using the "D" word for a few weeks now as they try to persuade voters to pass Measure K, a one-cent sales tax increase that would help the city balance its budget with an extra infusion of $1.4 million per year for the next seven years.

Dissolving Half Moon Bay — handing the city’s budget, operations and services to San Mateo County — would be an absolute last resort, but the city may not have many other options left, City Councilman John Muller said.

"The council has done everything in its power to keep the city whole," Muller said. "If it doesn’t pass, we could seriously not be in business much longer."

Half Moon Bay was never part of the Real Bay Area, what with the pumpkins and the fog and being on the other end of Highway 92.  But now they’re talking about quitting as a municipal entity and turning over the keys to San Mateo County.  There’s nothing left to pay the bills.

City Manager Michael Dolder admits disincorporation is one of the options on the table now. The City Council already cut $900,000 from the current budget — including half its employees — and imposed furloughs on those who remain. Some of the cuts were needed to pay for the Beachwood lawsuit settlement, a $15 million burden the city will shoulder in bond payments for the next 20 years.

bellIt’s not clear this would bail the residents out of their woes.  If San Mateo County steps in, they get the property taxes, the hotel taxes, the sales taxes.  But the county doesn’t assume any liabilities.  HMB has those bonds outstanding, and the debt would transfer to every city real estate owner, via liens placed on their properties.  Another joy of homeownership!  Bet you never thought of that one!

"The costs don’t go away just because the cities go away. You still need to provide the services. You still have the same problems out there," explained Bob Adler, Assistant Controller for the county.

Plenty of cities have been cutting services and letting workers go.  But there are other cities considering the same thing, most of them nowhere near the RBA.  We hope.  But Half Moon Bay can’t be the only one, or why would unions be pushing for new legislation preventing cities from disincorporating without explaining why to a commission?

What kind of shape are your city’s services in?  What’s been cut?

Comments (16) -- Posted by: madhaus @ 5:01 am

16 Responses to “Disincorporation: It’s Not Just For SoCal Anymore”

  1. Mot Says:

    > the debt would transfer to every city real estate owner, via liens placed on their properties.

    Couldn’t happen to nicer bunch of people. The libs in that town have a stick so far up their a** it tickles their tonsils.

  2. SEA Says:

    If cities need to raise cash, maybe all the residents should simply sell their homes to each other. We know that in the RBA hundreds of thousands would be instantly realized by each owner, plus the tax basis would be adjusted upward. Everyone wins!

  3. Petsmart groomer Says:

    SEA, if cities need to raise cash they only have to start taxing renters. Real™ Estater is a big proponent of such “renters tax”.

  4. Alex Says:


    ya, the libs shouldn’t bitch about paying more taxes. They’re into that tree-hugging, weed-smoking, birkenstock-wearing communist sh*t.

    They deserve the broom up their collective ass.

  5. nomadic Says:

    What kind of shape are your city’s services in? What’s been cut?

    LG is apparently all right. I haven’t heard of any cuts. I think stimulus money must have trickled in because they’ve been replacing concrete along neighborhood streets and they’re supposed to resurface the streets in my neighborhood soon.

  6. DreamT Says:

    I think that if Santa Clara could have gotten away with resurfacing every single street twice, they would have done it. For sure it’s easier than shrinking roads and planting trees along the sidewalks.

  7. Real Estater Says:

    Life outside the RBA: horrific.

    Good thing Palo Alto does not use PG&E.

  8. Pralay Says:

    Life of a Palo Alto resident is horrofic due to lack of privacy. It’s good that other cities don’t have such incompetent city officials.

  9. nomadic Says:

    RE, just when I think you couldn’t go any lower, you surprise me. Seven people died and six are still missing and you make tasteless remarks. Have a little respect.

  10. SEA Says:

    nomadic- note: he got that post in on 9/11…

  11. Pralay Says:

    RE, just when I think you couldn’t go any lower, you surprise me.

    Surprised? You got to be kidding! Actually I was expecting him to go even lower and say:

    “Guys. There are more than 38 less properties in Bay Area and bunch homeless families will start overbidding for their new homes. Don’t wait for that frenzy. It’s a great time to buy home.”

  12. SEA Says:

    …buy your RBA home before their insurance checks arrive…

  13. bob Says:

    Alameda had its own tax increase plan on the books a few months ago. Basically it was supposed to put an increase on all homes and businesses. The math worked out to be something like $600 a year extra. There were exceptions in the law which would exempt certain residents over the age of 60-something ( I don’t recall the exact amount). There seemed to be a lot of support for the measure but it still managed to be defeated. Now there are plans to create another similar measure.

    I guess what amazed me was that such plans have a tendency to expose the huge economic disparity in this city. A lot of the older residents who’ve lived here for 50+ years likely worked at working class, lower middle class type jobs. Now a lot of the newer families make lots of money… who in turn buy crappy houses from the old folks for $500-$600k, thus I don’t exactly feel that sorry for the older folks, but at the same time whenever such plans come about the older folks balk because they claim they can’t afford it, even if we’re talking $200 extra a year. Thus you have lots of cash poor, house rich older folks who can’t afford the small tax increases their cash rich and house poor ( or is it the other way around?) counterparts.

    Basically the story here is the same as many other BA cities: Lots of people wanting only “the best” for their kids… perfect schools, etc etc yet the school system is in financial trouble. Its sort of sad in a way. In fact, I was thinking about this awhile back. Local and national government is trying to get the economy going again. To me it would seem pouring money into the school system would be a sure-fire bet. What sells houses? Good schools. People will spend a fortune on a so-so house just to have good schools nearby. In places like the BA such schools are seen as precious and rare. It would make sense if efforts were concentrated on creating an overall better school system because the effects would create money on down the line: neighborhoods could be transformed from undesirable to desirable. People buy more houses in those areas. Home values go up. Contractors, plumbers, salespeople, gardeners, and local shops all benefit.

    Then again I suppose that sounds too obvious. Oh well…

  14. bob Says:

    … sorry, I meant to say:
    Basically it was supposed to put a TAX increase on all homes

  15. Petsmart groomer Says:

    > Then again I suppose that sounds too obvious. Oh well…

    Schools are bad here because all the exams are biased against students who don’t give a sh*t.

  16. Dewane Says:

    The hours were cut at the main library in Santa Clara. It’s only open until 8 tonight. I like going there when it’s ungodly hot in my apartment. I thought that SC was doing pretty well but it’s the libraries and schools that seem to get it first.

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