Oakhurst is a picturesque foothills community in eastern Madera County. But the landscape here has changed dramatically over the past 150 years.
Oakhurst is currently home to about 13 thousand people, several shopping centers, and a handful of fast food restaurants. Now the future of this southern gateway to Yosemite is in the hands of about four thousand voters who will decide whether to incorporate an area of 13.1 square miles. They will also choose five people to serve on the town council if Measure C succeeds. The candidates are Ron Bucheger, David Linn, Doug Macauley, Beverly Scott, Bryce Shears, and Dave Wolin.
"All through here this is going to change..."
Wolin says incorporation would keep tax dollars in Oakhurst and give the community local control.
Dave Wolin: "Right now we're run by the folks down in Madera and the Valley has different issues than the mountain areas."
Supporters say residents would still receive the same emergency services by contracting with the Madera County Sheriff's Office and Fire Department. They don't foresee a need for a tax increase.
Diane Jines, Oakhurst Resident: "Taxes have to be voted on and people won't vote on raising taxes, I'm sure."
Some residents are skeptical.
Doug Nelson, Oakhurst Resident: "If they're not going to increase taxes, there's going to be fees or fines for everything."
Other opponents say the public has not been well-informed or included in incorporation plans.
Bruce Triebold, Oakhurst Resident: "They talk about local control but I would like to know before I hand them the keys to the city what their goals are for the city, what their development plans are."
Both sides say they want to protect Oakhurst's rural appeal, but it will be up to voters to decide which road to take toward that goal.