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Huntington votes to annex Sunset

Residents against the move yelled out "no" to council during meeting. Councilman says it would be a disservice to not annex the unincorporated area.

August 04, 2010|By Britney Barnes, britney.barnes@latimes.com

Emotions ran high as the Huntington Beach City Council voted late Monday to annex neighboring Sunset Beach over the cries of residents who tried to block the decision in hopes of keeping the funky, unincorporated beach town independent.

The council voted 5 to 2 to direct city administrators to complete an application with the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to acquire Sunset Beach, the city's northern neighbor along Pacific Coast Highway. Mayor Cathy Green and Mayor Pro Tem Jill Hardy dissented.

Sunset could become part of Huntington as early as January.

"We know," Councilman Joe Carchio told the Sunset Beach residents who had gathered in Surf City's council chambers. "We see the handwriting on the wall. I think that we would do a great disservice to you guys if we didn't annex you to Huntington. We would have you guys wasting $130,000."

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Sunset residents shouted down "no!" as Carchio spoke, stating they wanted the chance to try to form what would be Orange County's smallest city by population.

"I know you don't want to hear it and no matter what we say, it's not going to change your mind because you're so emotional about it," Carchio said.

The 85-acre unincorporated area of about 1,300 residents was placed under Huntington's sphere of influence about a year ago by LAFCO, which oversees the process of municipal boundary changes, in an effort to decrease the number of Orange County "islands," the generally small, unincorporated areas that were hard to serve.

Sunset Beach's hopes of incorporation are not financially feasible and to allow them to continue on the difficult process and spend $100,000 on top of the $30,000 or so already spent toward trying to become its own city would be irresponsible, the council said.

"We know at the end of the day, it means annexation either way," said Councilman Don Hansen.

A peer-commissioned review showed a 10% utility-users tax and installing parking meters — Sunset is one of a small number of beach towns to offer free parking — would be necessary to make Sunset incorporation feasible for a few years but would not work over time.

Sunset resident Diana Dodson said those numbers were based on a preliminary study and LAFCO, not the Huntington Beach City Council, should have been allowed to make the final decision.

"It's shocking that they would just determine the future and predict the future," Dodson said. "That's LAFCO's place to determine the feasibility."

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