Guest OpinionRural lifestyle shouldn't be denied to those who enjoy it
By Phyllis Couper
Your editorial regarding Happy Valley has a few items that need addressing ("Happy Valley: Joining Pleasanton lot by lot," Dec. 4, page 10).
The residents did not view annexation as a "missed one time opportunity," but as their choice to preserve their rural life style. The city, developers, and Happy Valley residents all agreed on golf course construction which included a bypass road. It was not an "insistence;" it was a three-way agreement. The article states taxpayers would bear the cost of the bypass road. Not so. The cost was to be borne by golf course fees, fees from the developers, and land transfer agreements. Because the city ignored the agreement, homeowners sued to enforce it. The judge agreed and ruled that the city must put in the road, but gave an out by not requiring a completion date. A bypass road was the agreement, but as the article points out, no action in 17 years.
Regarding the cost of water and sewer hookups, the $41,000 hookup agreement "to the lot line only" does not include removing the existing septic tank, the installation of backflow valves, valves at the stubs in the street, trenching and installation of pipes from the street to the residence, water meters and monthly city utility fees. The all-inclusive costs in 2002 would have been at least $50,000 for most properties. The cost in 2002 was as substantial then as it is today, and many residents chose then as they do now not to participate. Since all properties are 1 acre and larger and many with large amounts of vegetation, water costs to maintain would be prohibitive, to the detriment of the Valley.
The comment that septic tanks and wells are aging, implying non-maintenance -- also not correct. Residents who use such systems are very attentive with maintenance knowing no city repair service will be coming to the rescue. Longtime residents that use the septic/well systems have done so without ill effects. In 2008, Alameda County requested well water tests. There were no negative test results. Chance of ground water contamination is more of an issue from chemicals used at the golf course, and new residents using pesticides, weed sprays, commercial spray companies and animal poisons. People say they love the country and want to live here, but soon after moving in, want to change it. Those moving into a rural area should be willing to adopt that lifestyle or choose a standard neighborhood. As far as referring to estranged neighborhood relations -- irrelevant; it is a rare neighborhood that does not have strained relationships.
Phyllis Couper has lived in Happy Valley for 37 years.