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Community Commentary: Sky didn't fall with annexation

October 05, 2011|By John Moorlach

Sunset Beach recently became a part of Huntington Beach.

As supervisor for the 2nd District, which includes Sunset Beach, and as chairman of the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), which governs the annexation of territory to cities, I have long supported annexation. I knew that in the long-term, the county would not be able to afford to provide the level of municipal services Sunset Beach residents enjoy.

This process was controversial.

Sunset Beach residents have a long history of independence and a passionate desire to protect the charm and character of their coastal community of nearly 1,000. The fear of being a part of Huntington Beach, with a population of almost 200,000 residents, caused many Sunset residents to oppose annexation. Some residents started an effort to incorporate Sunset Beach as its own city, but it was quickly apparent that the city would not be economically self-sufficient without high utility users' taxes.

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As Huntington Beach moved forward with its annexation proposal and worked closely with Sunset Beach residents, many began to support annexation. LAFCO approved Huntington's annexation application, and at 8:10 a.m. Aug. 22, Sunset Beach became a part of Huntington Beach.

And the sky didn't fall.

Throughout the annexation process, my office, LAFCO, the county, the city of Huntington Beach and many Sunset Beach residents worked tirelessly to ensure that Sunset Beach will retain the community's unique identity and character that has charmed residents and visitors for 100 years. This was achieved through terms and conditions and other agreements which addressed each of Sunset Beach's 20 concerns. These agreements ensure, among other things, that the city of Huntington Beach:

Continues to recognize Sunset Beach as a distinct community through signage, mapping and all public documents.

Maintains the community's greenbelt as a community park.

Keeps in place the current Orange County parking permit policy for Sunset Beach residents.

On Thursday, Huntington Beach Mayor Joe Carchio will lead a ribbon-cutting ceremony officially welcoming Sunset Beach to Huntington Beach. The journey was not an easy one. Change is difficult.

I believe that for Sunset Beach, annexation was the best option to ensure quality services for residents over the long-term. I also believe that the safeguards we incorporated into the annexation process will protect the quality of life that Sunset Beach residents have enjoyed for generations. I'd call that a "win-win."

JOHN MOORLACH, a Costa Mesa resident, is the 2nd District supervisor for Orange County and Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission chairman.

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