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Paving the way to annexation(s)

August 25, 2002

For years, there has been discussion that the unincorporated Santa

Ana Heights area would be annexed by either Costa Mesa or Newport

Beach. During talks, the area has been split: Newport Beach has dibs

on the east while Costa Mesa wants the west. The county, which now

oversees the area, wants someone to take the area and doesn't really

care who. But residents of the overall area tend to prefer Newport

Beach.

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On Sept. 16, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) in

charge of deciding how such an annexation happens will determine who

goes where. But a few technicalities still exist that would allow

residents to veto the commission's decision.

On Friday, City Editor James Meier sat down with Roger Summers,

chair of the Project Advisory Committee for the redevelopment of

Santa Ana Heights, to discuss the history and future of the area and

proposed annexation and split of the "island," as the county dubs

unincorporated areas. Meier met Summers at his Santa Ana Heights

office.

How confident are you that east Santa Ana Heights will be annexed

to Newport Beach by July 1?

I believe the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) will

approve the application, which Newport has submitted for the area of

east Santa Ana Heights. There's a silent majority up here, as there

is anywhere. And a lot of the silent majority are longtime members of

the community, and I'm not totally sure how convinced they are

Newport is the best thing for them. But my overall impression is that

it will finally take. This is the fourth or fifth attempt. This has

one has certainly gone the furthest of those attempts.

What makes you think so?

Part of it is human nature. A lot of times when people who are the

silent majority -- when you sit with them in their living room, they

may express a feeling one way or another, whether that feeling will

prompt action. Because in order to protest after the LAFCO commission

has their hearing, they will approve a protest period. It can be

anywhere between 21 and 60 days. My reaction to that is it'll

probably be somewhere in the 30-to 45-day class, which they will

approve as part of their commission hearing on Sept. 16.

The protest has to be in writing, addressed and sent to the LAFCO

commission. It can't be by phone call, it can't be by e-mail. It must

be in writing.

Therein lies the question of human nature and that is, what you

and I discuss in my living room, whether that actually becomes enough

for them to sit down and write that letter and put it in an envelope

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