Atherton mayor Jim Janz is serious about exploring the possibility of annexing unincorporated neighborhoods between the town and Redwood City.
Mr. Janz made his pitch for the potential benefits of expanding Atherton's borders at the annual meeting of the Atherton Civic Interest League on May 15. Annexation could bring the town two things it needs, according to Mr. Janz -- sales tax revenues and multi-family housing.
Atherton is under pressure from the state to plan for new housing affordable to a variety of income levels, he said. Town officials are also looking for a steady source of revenue that might replace the town's parcel tax, which expires in June 2010. Atherton has no commercially zoned property, so it can't rely on sales tax revenue to fund town services.
"We're going to have to have multi-family housing, and we don't want to subdivide our lots," Mr. Janz said. "Multi-family housing and commercial (properties) are there already in the surrounding areas."
In particular, Mr. Janz said he was looking at the area along Middlefield Road, up to 5th Avenue, east of El Camino Real. The area is controlled by San Mateo County and is considered to be part of Redwood City's sphere of influence. Mr. Janz said Redwood City council members are "quite interested" in the idea, and that the two county supervisors he spoken with told him that annexation is worth pursuing.
"I came up with the idea 10 or 15 years ago, but I never thought it would get any traction," Mr. Janz said.
There are several potential pitfalls to the annexation idea. In the first place, it usually costs more to serve an annexed area than a town could expect to receive in increased revenues, Mr. Janz said. Atherton first would need to do a cost-benefit study, and if the numbers work out, get political buy-in from the residents of Atherton and the unincorporated area.
Annexation would also require approval by the Board of Supervisors and Redwood City's City Council, as well as the Local Agency Formation Committee, he said.