It's official! Orange County has approved the Huntington Beach City Council's decision to swallow Sunset Beach into its giant coastal sprawl.
Sunset Beach: quaint 84-acre OC surf stop, population one-thousand-something (they haven't measured since 2007 or whatever), living in the shadow of the Seal Beach Naval Weapons Station that looms next door.
BIG, MEAN Huntington Beach: fattest beach town in Orange County, population 202,566, sitting atop a natural oil fount (drill, baby, DRILL) and terrorizing other, smaller beach towns into joining its ranks like it's freaking World War III. But way chiller.
Sunset Beach heads will be faced with a new Huntington Beach tax because of the merge: the Utility Users Tax, a 5 percent city cut on utilities like electricity, gas and phone.
The Citizens Association of Sunset Beach is not taking that crap sitting down. They claim to have raised $70,000 for a lawsuit against the city/county. Their war cry of a website, www.savesunsetbeach.com, declares:
"Huntington Beach has applied to annex Sunset Beach under the "Island Annexation" rules, which provides that a community which is less than 150 acres in land size can be annexed without a vote of the residents if there are no new taxes assessed. However, California State law, under Proposition 218, requires approval by the registered voters in a community before any new taxes can be imposed."
The feisty little org that could has also tried to convince Huntington Beach urbanites (well, in comparison) that they should care, claiming the annexation will push their taxes up, too, via posters and bumper stickers.
Huntington Beach Deputy City Administrator Paul Emery is all business about the merging of the communities -- he says it's a simple matter of providing cost-efficient services. You know: Huntington Beach police officers (the kind that receive six-figure forgivable loans from the city), firefighters, mail carriers, street cleaners, etc., as opposed to Orange County ones.
A November 16 article in the OC Register predicted the annexation will bring "about $820,000 into city coffers." It quoted Huntington Beach City Councilmember Keith Bohr as saying:
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"I think we were all very much in good faith when we started pursing the annexation process," he said. "We thought the law was you couldn't collect the UUT and that there was no switch and bait on purpose... but as it played out, here we are."
Emery says the angry org has not yet filed a lawsuit, to his knowledge, but that City Attorney Jennifer McGrath does not interpret the annexation to be illegal in any way. (We're still waiting to hear it from the woman herself.)
The lawsuit, though, could take a more ideological angle: The Citizens Association has said that no matter what, the city and county didn't fully study the annexation's impact.
Can a defenseless little seal pup defeat a sea lion? Guess we'll see! Until then, guys -- all one-thousand-something of you -- props for caring.