Is The Kingdom Of Miley Crumbling?

ALAMEDA COUNTY | CASTRO VALLEY | Alameda County’s unincorporated areas make up nearly a tenth of its population, yet they enjoy fewer avenues for direct representation than the rest of the county. Most of these residents rely on Alameda County Supervisors Nate Miley and Wilma Chan for governance. But, while an opportunity to shape the unincorporated areas future for the next five years is presented this weekend, an inconsistent and piecemeal approach to the region, primarily in Castro Valley, is again raising the question of self-determination.

This Saturday, unincorporated residents and business owners in Castro Valley, San Lorenzo, Fairview, Cherryland and Ashland, will be asked to choose five overreaching goals for the next Eden Area Livability Initiative (EALI). The charrette, the final phase of EALI’s collaborative planning effort, will cover areas of interest including agriculture and environment; economic development; education and public safety. However, it is the area of governance that sparked a bitter feud last month between some Castro Valley residents defending themselves against others from their smaller, somewhat less affluent unincorporated neighbors.

During an earlier EALI group meeting, a last-minute effort to include a controversial proposal allowing representation for San Lorenzo, Fairview, Cherryland and Ashland residents on Castro Valley’s seven-member Municipal Advisory Council (MAC) was met with derision. The Castro Valley MAC, however, is entirely appointed by Supervisor Miley and serve at his pleasure. The council acts as Castro Valley’s de facto local government, yet contains no real power other than to advise its county supervisor.

Nonetheless, talk of including other unincorporated areas to the MAC and further diluting its scant authority comes on the heels of an admittedly small, but vocal group of Castro Valley residents again raising the question of cityhood. In the meantime, Castro Valley resident Michael Kusiak and others have been applying pressure on Miley to make the MAC an elected council. Opposition to the idea from current MAC members reason, among other things, campaign costs would make running for office difficult. In addition, the MAC already has difficulty attracting volunteers willing to serve.

Kusiak says, with the current model of governance, the unincorporated areas are plagued by a large maze of local county bureaucracies that leave residents in the dark over whom to reach for help. However, he also realize the time for incorporation is not now with a foundering local economy and the absence of vehicle license fees and hotel taxes to act as an initial flow of revenue for the potential nascent city. Previous attempted to incorporate, most recently in 2002, have failed.

Yet, just as Castro Valley, the largest unincorporated municipality in the state with a population of over 61,000, searches for greater representation, neighboring residents mocked it for the perception, among some, it revels in a higher standard of living over places, such as Ashland and Cherryland. The hyperbole at the EALI meeting last month, in fact, often times resorted to describing the divide as analogous to dismal class and race relations. “We don’t want to bring you down, we want to join you,” said Keith Barros, the San Lorenzo resident who first broached the idea, without discussion, in September for integrating Castro Valley’s MAC. Barros, though, later said Castro Valley residents were treating its unincorporated brethren as “second-class citizens.”

David Ashton, a native of Castro Valley, called Barros’ move “underhanded,” and charged him with “hijacking the meeting” near its end last September. “This is the worst kind of chicanery,” he told Barros at the subsequent meeting in October. “Really despicable.” Barros, in fact, was given nearly a dozen opportunities by Miley to speak during the contentious hour-long discussion. When Barros wasn’t stating his case he could be seen–in the middle of the debate–chatting with Miley outside the meeting room at the Castro Valley Library.

A revote eventually nullified the attempt to get the reformed MAC proposal on Saturday’s ballot, but nonetheless revealed two camps of marginalized communities fighting over the crumbs of little tangible power and representation.

In the past, Miley has publicly described a willingness to be flexible to the demands of residents in what has become a virtual fiefdom outside of his supervisorial stronghold in Oakland. His passivity was seen last month when a resident sincerely asked for his opinion over the practicality of the MAC proposal. “As far as I’m concerned, we can live with the reality, either way.”

However, many county observers over the years say the relative autonomy Miley enjoys in Castro Valley and the rest of the unincorporated areas would be hard to pry away. In fact, the spoils of the last EALI in 2008 led to dramatic streetscape improvements to Castro Valley Boulevard and Lewelling Boulevard. It also led to the gleaming Ashland Youth Center, which opened this year. A long-time former Alameda County public official recently told EBCitizen the center is Miley’s legacy monument and predicted, “How much you want to bet his name is on that building before he dies?”


Eden Area Livability Initiative (EALI) Phase II Community Charrette, Eden United Church of Christ, 21455 Birch St., Hayward, Sat., Nov. 16, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. (voting begins at 11:10 a.m.). Unincorporated residents, property and business owners, 16-years-old and older are eligible to vote. For more information:

Categories: Alameda County Board, Ashland, Castro Valley, Castro Valley Blvd, charrette, EALI, Lewelling Blvd, Municipal Advisory Council, Nate Miley, unincorporated, Wilma Chan

10 replies

  1. A complex and very interesting political problem which deserves competent description and analysis. Sadly the poor writing skill, of the author, and no doubt his ability to understand matters, is what stands out here.

    What the heck is the following sentence supposed to mean?

    “The hyperbole at EALI meeting last month, in fact, often times resorted to describing the divide as analogous to dismal class and race relations.”

    And so on.


  2. I appreciate your article on this topic and agree with your synopsis. But, I do not know who is the source of your reporting on this article. I attended the meeting and did not see you there. If you are using a source then you need to say “Sources indicate….”.

    Also, Castro Valley is not the largest unincorporated place in California. According to the Census, it is 5th in the State.


  3. First commenter: sure, it's hard to understand if you take it out of context as you are doing.

    Second: I'm everywhere.


  4. Thank you! The reason CV is not incorporated is because of disinformation over the years telling you it's better for you to get far less from the county than you're putting in.


  5. The sentence itself is incomprehensible, despite the context. You may not understand this point because your writing skills are so primitive.


  6. Castro Valley has had many opportunities to become a City and on each occasion the residents have turned this effort down. Also, after becoming Mayor, a Contingent from San Leandro visited my office and requested we work together in annexing them .Nothing came of it. In the late fifties, I understand Hayward/San Leandro attempted to have two mega cities in middle of Alameda County and it failed at the ballot box. There have been other attempts to incorporate and all ended up in the heap box. I presume discussions will continue and all remain as is-too bad. Tony Santos


  7. Stop being scared. Tell us why this story threatens you. What do you have to lose? I've done this four years and your line of attack is what is primitive.


  8. It all boils down to, these meetings were just standard community meetings that happen all over the country and there was some heated controversy. That’s about it. What’s new?


  9. By MW:

    For years Nate “The Dictator and Despot” Miley has been getting away with virtually anything and everything, and probably at least largely due to the fact that virtually no one wants to challenge him at public meetings, and therefore become the object and victim of his ranting and raving and yelling and screaming and sadistic tirades.

    However, what is he going to do if the next time he starts ranting and raving and yelling and screaming like a madman and/or trying to feed us his mentally retarded lies, garbage, and nonsense, if someone then says to him, and loudly enough for everyone in the room to hear it, “Nate, are you on drugs?”

    NOTE: When dealing with law school graduates, and as Nate Miley is, some of the most important things to remember are: one. law school students are taught to lie, to practice fraud, deceit, and deception, and to be con men and scumbags; two, when a lawyer's position is absurd and based on neither facts nor law nor logic, he then tries to intimidate people by yelling and screaming extra loud; three, lawyers have far and away the highest rates of alcoholism and drug abuse of any major profession; and four, many lawyers become alcoholics and/or drug addicts while still in law school.

    So keep the above in mind anytime you get in a debate or a discussion with a lawyer if the lawyer then tries to feed you some lies, garbage, and nonsense.


  10. When you incorporate, you start creating more administrative positions which means taxpayers are padding the pockets of many agencies that are already covered by the county. This means you have to create a police and fire dept., along with a mayor, city council and a lot of other fat pigs who sit in chair and collect a fat salary and pension. I say NO!


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