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[whitespace] Residents of county pockets appear hostile to annexation

Los Gatos--County and town officials heading up a drive to incorporate three county pockets into the town put on the first community meetings last week, and many of the residents who turned out didn't make any secret of their feelings about being annexed by the town--they want to be left alone.

Principal county planner Don Weden, along with Los Gatos Planning Director Lee Bowman, started out with a presentation on annexation and spent the rest of the meeting fielding questions for an upcoming Annexation Answer Book the county planning department will send out to residents mid-month.

Residents were unabashed about questioning the wisdom of annexation.

"Most of us are here because we don't want to be annexed," one resident said. "Once you're annexed, you're dead."

The county started the urban pockets program two years ago to try and pare off the different unincorporated islands of county territory floating around inside the limits of some cities. There are about 36,000 residents scattered around the valley in various pockets that the county must serve.

Weden did his best to put an end to the misinformation that usually surrounds annexation drives by telling the residents that their property taxes aren't going to change, they'll still be part of the same school district and they won't be forced to install curbs and sidewalks if they become residents of the town.

Residents tossed out a wide variety of questions, everything from "what about my septic tank?" to "where do I get my concealed-gun permit?" to "what kind of livestock rules does the town have?" They also asked about assessment districts, police and fire protection, zoning laws, building regulations, town versus county services, home businesses and how to defeat any annexation plan.

Weden said that the county and town would drop the annexation effort for one of the three pockets in the town if neighbors gather signatures opposing it from more than 50 percent of registered voters in that pocket. If they gather less than that, but more than 25 percent, residents of that pocket will get to go to the polls to decide. If it's less than 25 percent, the Town Council will be able to annex those areas by itself. The county board of supervisors has no role in the process.

True to form, Bowman, at the end of his last official day on the job after 25 years as planning director, hung around for 45 minutes after the meeting, patiently fielding questions from residents.
Jeff Kearns

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Web extra to the July 8-14, 1999 issue of Metro.

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