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Sunset Beach annexation vote tentatively scheduled for Monday

The ongoing debate for the 85-acre community faces a Huntington Beach City Council vote.

July 29, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com

Editor's note: This corrects the name of the agency that placed Sunset Beach under Huntington Beach's sphere of influence.

The Huntington Beach City Council plans to decide Monday whether to annex Sunset Beach, even though the small beach community along Pacific Coast Highway is trying to become its own city.

Huntington Beach could decide to absorb the 85-acre unincorporated area of about 1,300 placed under its sphere of influence a year ago by the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) in an effort to decrease the number of county "islands" — the generally small, unincorporated areas that were hard to serve, such as Sunset and nearby Rossmoor.

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Absorbing Sunset is expected to bring in about $624,000 annually from various sources including property, sales and transient occupancy taxes, according to the city's own preliminary study.

The meeting agenda was not been released as of press time, but city spokeswoman Laurie Payne said the council would be taking up the Sunset Beach annexation issue.

While Sunset has raised about $150,000, and has already begun the incorporation process, if Huntington decides to absorb it, the LAFCO could not deny the move. It could only amend Huntington's application, said Carolyn Emery, an assistant executive officer with LAFCO overseeing Sunset Beach.

Legally, LAFCO has to look at other options before it considers the complex process of forming a new city, she said.

"We don't get a vote, the people of Huntington Beach don't get a vote, but the City Council gets a vote," said Greg Griffin, president of the Sunset Beach Community Assn.

Griffin said they could consider challenging the legality of automatically allowing Huntington to annex.

But until Huntington makes its decision, LAFCO is proceeding with both Huntington and Sunset, both of which have filed incomplete applications, Emery said.

"We're not going to let one hold up the other," Emery said.

The association had asked the Huntington Beach City Council to wait until Sunset either completes the incorporation process or gets denied, but the council has decided to put the issue on the agenda.

That doesn't mean the council won't let Sunset finish the process, though, said Councilman Joe Carchio.

"I don't think that anybody has really made up their minds," he said.

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