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Our History

The idea for California (un)Incorporated originated in 2015 at a public meeting in unincorporated Arden Arcade when a guest speaker advised the group they could not make progress by themselves. He said a statewide group would be needed. That same year the citizens of Incorporate Olympic Valley (IOV) pulled their cityhood request from the Placer County LAFCO (the process had been clouded by political games being played by an out-of-state corporation and a resistant county - maybe we'll write about that eventually). Still, because of their experience, IOV had become a de facto leader among unincorporated communities interested in cityhood. IOV networked the Arden Arcade people with counterparts in Salida, who were connected with San Joaquin County's team assigned to unincorporated Mountain House.  Eventually, people from Arden Arcade and Salida met with people from the Castro Valley Matters group in the East Bay. That core group set forth to implement the recommendation to form a statewide group.  By 2016 unincorporated areas around the state had partnered on a common agenda for statewide action. 

The original communities in the California (un)Incorporated coalition were Arden Arcade, Castro Valley, Isla Vista, Mountain House and Salida. In the summer of 2017 representatives of those communities visited the state Legislature and spoke with the staffs of their communities' elected Assembly members and State Senators. Those visits were coordinated by the League of California Cities.

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Group photo from the original 5-community visit to the Capital

Guided by the League's Legislative Affairs Office, the coalition was successful at having legislation proposed to allow new cities to be able to access the Vehicle License Fee (VLF) property tax revenue stream, a funding source made available to every one of existing cities in California but disallowed for any new city. In the 2017-2018 and again in the 2019-2020 legislative session, the Assembly Local Government Committee enthusiastically approved legislation to adjust VLF amounts, only to have the bills rejected without debate or comment by the Assembly Appropriations Commiittee. Links to those VLF bills are available in our Library.

The Covid-19 emergency interferred with the group's efforts.  Both of the VLF bills were introduced pre-Covid; the second rejection was arguably a victim of the stress Covid brought to the state legislative processs.  The coalition, which by then had added many more communities, took its concerns to the Governor's Office of Planning and Research in the summer of 2019 (a copy of our presentation is posoted in our Library) and received a response the following November that the issues should be taken up with the Legislature without engagement by the Administration. A specific legislative request for consideration in the State Senate was then presented in January 2020. Covid put that proposed bill on hold. A copy of the proposal is also available in our Library.

By the time the Covid emergency had ended, the group had revamped its website and strengthened its resolve. As of 2023, the coalition had grown to 19 communities across 13 counties.

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