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Borderline Identity

Midbury Area in L.A. County Gets Brea Services, May Join O.C.


Nestled among hills and canyons, the Midbury Street neighborhood wears an Orange County Zip Code and uses Brea emergency and utility services.

The residents shop and dine in North Orange County, and their children are students in the Fullerton Joint Union High School and La Habra City School districts.

Officially, however, the 42-home neighborhood sits in an unincorporated section of Los Angeles County, which has claimed the upscale area since its first houses were built in 1968.

After many years of confusion, change may be on the way for the neighborhood known as the Midbury community.

Orange County's Board of Supervisors recently took the first step toward annexing the neighborhood to Brea, initiating negotiations between local and Los Angeles County leaders.

Changing boundary lines to become Brea's newest neighborhood would make sense, say some Midbury residents. But they are hesitant to give the annexation plan their full approval just yet.

"Right now, we think this is a lovely area and we like it the way it is, but we're really mixed up," said Norine Williams, a 28-year Midbury dweller.

"There would be pros and cons on this whole thing," added Bob Kreeger, who has lived in the neighborhood for 24 years. "I think the pros could probably outweigh the cons, but we don't know. What we're waiting for here is a meeting between us and representatives of Orange County and the city of Brea."

The sentiments of Kreeger and Williams were echoed during a recent informal neighborhood gathering.

A more formal meeting is being planned in March by Orange County Supervisor Todd Spitzer and Brea Mayor Lynn Daucher.

Residents already are preparing questions for the meeting. Would a Brea address increase or lower their property taxes? What about trash and water rates? How would Brea municipal codes, including an overnight street parking ban, affect their daily lives?

The shift would mean some changes, although details and dollar figures have yet to be determined, Brea City Manager Frank Benest said.

Whatever the outcome of the annexation proposal, the emergency services provided to the neighborhood by Brea's Police and Fire departments will continue--for now.

The uncertainty over whether the services will be provided in the future may be the deciding factor for Midbury inhabitants to join Orange County.

Residents said they still remember the day more than 20 years ago when a neighbor died of a heart attack on his front lawn; they blamed slow response by Los Angeles County paramedics. Soon after, Brea took over the emergency service under a $2,000-a-year contract.

More recently, outraged residents battled a Los Angeles County plan to have its sheriff's deputies in Walnut handle emergency calls. Residents succeeded in keeping Brea police services, at least for this year.

Annexation would mean "guaranteed Brea police and fire protection forever," Benest said. "We think that's a plus. We also think our water and trash and other services are first rate, but, in any case, that's for the residents to assess.

"It makes sense for them to be in Brea because they already are part of the Brea community," he added. "We consider them Breans. . . . If they'd like us to proceed, wonderful. If they don't want us to proceed, that's OK too."

The issue could be decided within six months.

Should residents endorse the annexation, Orange County officials would need to gather signatures on a petition from a neighborhood majority. Supervisors in both counties would make a final decision after holding public hearings on the matter.

NEIGHBORHOODS / Midbury Community

Bounded by: Brea on the south, Los Angeles County on the north, east and west

Population: 42 homes

Hot topic: Annexation by Orange County

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