Coastside Fire Protection District recall succeeds; incumbents are out

San Mateo County Times
April 10, 2013

HALF MOON BAY — Cal Fire is in, and the incumbents are out.

Three members of the Coastside Fire Protection District board of directors were swept out of office by a roughly 2-to-1 margin in Tuesday’s recall election, according to a final tally released Wednesday morning by the San Mateo County Elections Office.

The candidates who were chosen to replace them — Karen K. Anderson, J.B. Cockrell and Harvey Rarback — plan to sign a new contract with Cal Fire. That process will formally begin once the new board members are seated, which must wait until the election results are certified sometime in the next 28 days.

Mike Alifano, Douglas Mackintosh and Gary Riddell were recalled over their push to sever ties with Cal Fire, which has provided fire services for Half Moon Bay and the surrounding area since 2008. Their opponents, and apparently most voters, felt the state agency deserved to stay.

Scott Jalbert, Cal Fire’s chief for the Coastside district, said he appreciated the support his team received. This year Cal Fire is charging the district roughly $5.8 million.

“If the board does want us to stay,” Jalbert said, “we are excited to continue services out here on the coast.”

The recalled board members had chosen to budget roughly $2.2 million in the 2012-13 fiscal year toward the transition to a new stand-alone department. Board member Gary Burke, who supports Cal Fire and endorsed the recall, estimated that about $250,000 has been spent. The new board will decide what to do with the rest.

The citizens behind the recall had argued that the board majority was looking for any justification to get rid of Cal Fire, saying it was providing a better service than the district’s old stand-alone department — and at a cheaper cost.

A 2011 study by an independent consultant and a 2012 report by the San Mateo County civil grand jury both determined Cal Fire was doing a good job and recommended that the district maintain its relationship with the state agency.