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What's it take to form a new county?

Original post made by thinking about representation, Menlo Park: other, on Apr 8, 2009

As Palo Alto deals with its obvious lack of representation from south Santa Clara County representatives, and Menlo Park and neighboring cities have the same issues with north San Mateo County officials who seem to care less about them, why wouldn't Palo Alto, Menlo Park, Atherton, East Palo Alto, Portola Valley, Woodside (and Los Altos for that matter) pull together and form a new county?

I know it would cause all sorts of panic in Santa Clara and San Mateo, but let's be honest, they only care about our property taxes.

What does it take? Anyone know? And I know there have been some failed attempts in the past, but we are talking about some seriously strong economies in this group.

Anyone curious?

Comments (18)

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Posted by a good idea
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:39 pm

I don't know how this can be done, but I sure like how this is sounding. for sure here in South San Mateo county, we are getting vitrually nothing we need from the county; our current supervisor, Gibson has been not helpful to our needs.

How can this be started?


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Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 8, 2009 at 1:46 pm

While this is interesting, I'd want no part of it. I'm happy with Santa Clara County being saddled with the presence among its number of the city of Palo Alto.

This town with its nose in the air, it's bad enough that it's in such close proximity to Menlo Park. The last thing I'd want is to share a county with it. Ugh!


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Posted by interesting idea
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 8, 2009 at 3:44 pm

What this points out is that the county government is really not working well on behalf of all constituents. This is true in many areas, but particularly related to transportation, from buses to trains. After decades of paying for BART, what do we have? Nothing!
There are other ways to solve this issue than to create a new county, and I hope these are explored.


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Posted by Another idea
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 11, 2009 at 3:53 pm

Before going down this road, San Mateo County needs to change the way in which its supervisors are elected.

Our County is only one of 2 counties in the State of California that keeps open district elections. We need district elections.

For Example 5 Districts: the coast-side and unincorporated area, the very north county Daly City, SSSF, Brisbane, the north central Hillsborough, Foster City, San Mateo Burlingame, San Bruno, South Central Belmont, Woodside, San Carlos, Redwood City the very south county Menlo Park, East PA Palo Alto Portola Valley, Atherton. We have district supervisors now but the more dense populations in the north can vote for a supervisor from Atherton.

With District elections, each district would have candidates who live in their district and only residents in that district could vote for them. This would make running less costly and each candidate could tailor their campaigns and their issues for their district. As it is now, the north county controls the Board of Supervisors and all the appointments to county wide transit boards and commissions.


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Posted by interesting idea
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 12, 2009 at 1:47 pm

I like this idea of creating districts so that different parts of the county are better represented. How?


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Posted by Wally
a resident of Menlo Park: Fair Oaks
on Apr 13, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Boy, the grass always looks greener on the other side, doesn't it? There are serious problems with the district elections, too. It promotes selfish parochialism, with every supe only concerned about bringing goodies to his/her own district and not looking at the big picture. It tends to pit district against district instead of promoting working together. Of course either system could work well in the hands of quality leaders, and either system can fail if filled with selfish and short-sighted ones.


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Posted by hilarious
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Apr 14, 2009 at 5:27 pm

That has to be...hands down...the dumbest idea EVER!!!!!


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Posted by Free your head
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 14, 2009 at 9:24 pm

"Hilarious", The words of Einstein come to mind when I read your assessment of the idea originally posed in this thread. Einstein said:

"Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds."

I don't know whether "thinking about representation" is on the right track -- if his is a "great spirit" -- but he/she is at least recognizing a problem, and thinking about a possible solution. What's your agenda? If this is the "dumbest idea EVER," what makes it so, and what is your solution to the problem posed? Or are you content with merely (lazily) registering your opposition in the form of vacuous ridicule?


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Posted by Todd
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2009 at 12:34 pm

For anyone who was serious, here is the answer to the question regarding what it takes to form a new county.

Web Link

Good luck!


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Posted by Hank Lawrence
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Apr 15, 2009 at 3:01 pm

We should have a new County and it should be called Thomas County in honor of Norman Matton Thomas.

Please indulge an interesting quote from Norman Matton Thomas (November 20, 1884 - December 19, 1968) a leading American socialist, pacifist, and six-time presidential candidate for the Socialist Party of America. He was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1911. As a candidate for President of the U. S., Norman Thomas said, in a 1944 epoch speech:

"The American people will never knowingly adopt socialism. But, under the name of "liberalism", they will adopt every fragment of the socialist program, until one day America will be a socialist nation, without knowing how it happened." He went on to say: "I no longer need to run as a Presidential Candidate for the Socialist Party. The Democratic Party has adopted our platform."


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Posted by Informed
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2009 at 3:15 pm

Broomfield Colorado went through new county formation in 2001 ... in response to representation issues plus growth that spread a town over four different counties.

Web Link


For a terrific historical view of changing county lines in California (last change was 1907)

Web Link


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Posted by At Home in Menlo
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Socialism!!! The great scare word of the 21st century!!! I always want to ask those who trot out this word exactly what they mean by it. Unemployment insurance? Welfare? Perhaps bank regulation??? Wally's words above apply, I think, though he meant them much differently: "Of course either system could work well in the hands of quality leaders, and either system can fail if filled with selfish and short-sighted ones."

This is way off topic, I know...


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Posted by the rules
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2009 at 8:22 pm

Looking at the rules, I'll bet it would be very very hard to get around the rule that a new county line, could not pass though an incorporated city, at least here in the Bay Area.


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Posted by Joanna
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 15, 2009 at 10:07 pm

[Off-topic comment removed]


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Posted by BillyBob
a resident of Menlo Park: Stanford Hills
on Apr 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm

I hear the state of Texas is looking to secede, maybe you should ask them how they plan to do it.


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Posted by Homer Winslow
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 17, 2009 at 8:26 pm

YES! Stanford County! Should have been done back in the 1880s or 1890s!

As you allknow, SM county was part of SF county, until the bootleggers and whoremongers split it off from the vigilante mentality in Frisco.


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Posted by Homer Winslow
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 17, 2009 at 8:29 pm

"Posted by BillyBob, a resident of the Menlo Park: Stanford Hills neighborhood, on Apr 16, 2009 at 3:28 pm-- I hear the state of Texas is looking to secede, maybe you should ask them how they plan to do it."

Well, billybob, that is utterly irrelevant. A WAR (hello? history? grade school? remember?) was fought about state secession. County formation is governed by state law, and would be that way now!

BTW, bilbobobo, what are you DRINKING? TEAbags? And hooch?


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Posted by the one-eyed king
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 17, 2009 at 9:38 pm

Why stop at a county? I think we should start our own country, called Mentotona (rhymes, sort of, with 'nirvana'). We would no longer have to deal with HSR (instead of NIMBYs, we'd become NIMNs - 'not in my nation') or any regional issues. We could take turns being ambassadors to various countries (dibs on Italy) and otherwise would save money on vacations, as traveling to Mountain View would constitute a trip to another country. We could even have our own currency -- who needs the Fed! Great idea, don't you think?!?


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