California Cities: D Is for Disincorporate

Hamed Saber via Flickr

City officials in Half Moon Bay say the municipal budget is such a mess that it may make sense to disincorporate and turn the place over to San Mateo County.

I'm not sure if disincorporation is right for Half Moon Bay. But it may be the answer for many California cities struggling with too many spending commitments and not enough money. Digging out of budget holes may be harder than simply shutting things down.

Consider Los Angeles County which has 88 cities, many of which it clearly does not need. Several of the smaller cities seem to exist as personal playgrounds for families or particular businesses. Those municipalities -- the now famous Bell just one of them -- have extensive histories of municipal corruption. If such cities were to go away, would they be missed?

A side note: unions have revived legislation in Sacramento that seeks to prevent cash-strapped cities from declaring bankruptcy (Municipalities would have to get permission from a labor-dominated commission first). The consequence of that legislation, were it to pass, might well be to promote more disincorporations -- that is, the shutting down of cities -- since bankruptcy would be all but off the table.

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