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County Agency Backs Cityhood Election for Hacienda Heights : Government: Panel finds that proposed city of 68,292 could generate enough taxes to support itself.

December 15, 1991|IRENE CHANG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Los Angeles County agency has found that Hacienda Heights could support itself and recommended a cityhood election, possibly in the spring, for the unincorporated community between the City of Industry and La Habra Heights.

The county Local Agency Formation Commission last week agreed with an October report by its staff that the 12-square-mile area would yield $2.2 million a year more in sales and property taxes and fees than it would need to spend on services. The proposed city would have an estimated population of 68,292.

Although the commission recommended a cityhood election, members excised half a mile of undeveloped hillside from the proposed southern boundary. That hillside area borders on Whittier and should become part of Whittier if it is ever annexed, officials said.

The commission decision came one day after the Whittier City Council requested the change. Whittier council members said they want the hillsides to remain in their sphere of influence so that Whittier would have more say in developments planned for that area.

Part of the land in question is owned by Chevron USA, which has informally proposed building more than 1,300 homes across 970 acres of hillside and canyon north of town. The other major landowners affected are Rose Hills Mortuary and Unocal Land & Development Co.

Spokeswomen for Unocal and Chevron said that incorporation might complicate their plans to build homes in their former oil fields.

The proposal for an incorporation election now goes to the County Board of Supervisors, but no date has been set for a vote. Opponents can submit written protests until the hearing date. If more than 50% of the 22,764 registered voters in the proposed incorporation area submit written protests, the board must deny a cityhood election.

An election could be scheduled as early as April 14, said Michi Takahashi, executive assistant to the commission.

The commission also removed 600 vacant acres east of the Puente Hills Landfill from the proposed city's boundaries. The Los Angeles County Sanitation Districts, which owns the landfill and the adjacent property, wants to expand the dump into the property.

Area residents want to block the expansion and believe they would have a better chance of doing so if the land were in a city.

"We're delighted we're going to be a city but disappointed about the landfill, of course," said cityhood proponent Carol Mauceri.

Leaders of the incorporation drive said that even without the landfill they are pleased that they are one step closer to a goal that has eluded them for almost 10 years.

In 1982, shortly before an incorporation election was to be scheduled, an anti-cityhood group discovered that some signatures on a cityhood petition had been forged. Three years later, a fledgling incorporation drive fell apart in the midst of disagreements among cityhood leaders.

Unlike the situation nine years ago, there is no organized group opposing cityhood this time. But Charlie Gray, who led the 1982 anti-cityhood movement, said he and others are gearing up to educate residents on possible problems with incorporation.

NEXT STEP

The proposal for an incorporation election now goes before the County Board of Supervisors. No date has been set for a vote. Opponents can submit written protests before the hearing. If more than 50% of registered voters in the proposed incorporation area submit written protests, supervisors must deny a cityhood election. If the measure goes to a public vote, a simple majority is required for passage.

Times Staff Writer Howard Blume contributed to this story.

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