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Costa Mesa Votes to Annex 350 Acres

The city excludes two neighborhoods after harsh criticism from residents of unincorporated areas along the Newport Beach border.

April 03, 2001|JASON SONG | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Costa Mesa City Council on Monday approved a plan to annex about 350 acres near the city's border with Newport Beach, despite the opposition of some residents of the affluent area.

The proposed annexation passed on a 5-0 vote.

However, after listening to hours of harsh criticism from residents, the council decided to exclude two neighborhoods from the plan--the Churchill area and Bay Knolls.

"I had a chance to buy a home in Costa Mesa and I didn't. I didn't want to be a part of their city so why would they want me to join now?" Dale Johnston of Bay Knolls told the council shortly before the vote.

Under the proposal, the city would absorb five "islands" of unincorporated land on the eastern edge of Costa Mesa. The islands are outside city limits but within Costa Mesa's official sphere of influence, a boundary which gives the city limited authority in the area.

For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 5, 2001 Orange County Edition Metro Part B Page 3 Metro Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Annexation--A story Tuesday on Costa Mesa's annexation of county land misstated Newport Beach's position on the proposed El Toro airport. The city supports an airport at the closed Marine base but opposes expansion of John Wayne Airport.

The application will be forwarded to the Local Agency Formation Commission, the state authority that decides annexation matters.

The council believes the proposed annexation would help eliminate service duplication. The area is served by the county, but Costa Mesa's Fire and Police departments also respond to calls for service. Furthermore, council members wanted the area to adhere to Costa Mesa's zoning codes, which are typically more stringent than the county's.

On Monday night, Councilman Gary Monahan proposed removing the two neighborhoods from the annexation, including Bay Knolls, because he feared residents would attempt to overturn the decision.

"It would simply be a waste of our time and money," he said Monday.

The county of Orange, Orange County League of California Cities and the agency formation commission have generally backed annexation of the county's almost 60 isolated pockets of unincorporated land.

"It's generally a good public policy from a service-delivery point to have islands annexed into a city," said Janet Huston, executive director of the Orange County League of California Cities.

But the annexation plans have not gone smoothly: Some of the nearly 1,750 residents in the area do not want to become part of Costa Mesa and would prefer to join Newport Beach, which has higher property values and stronger opposition to an El Toro airport.

"We don't dislike Costa Mesa, but it's a known fact that if you're in the area of an airport, you immediately lose value on your property," Ed Hall, chairman of the citizens' group Santa Ana Heights for Newport Beach, said before Monday's meeting.

Furthermore, a portion of Costa Mesa's annexation attempt might be thwarted by Newport Beach. Newport Beach submitted an annexation proposal to the agency formation commission on March 23, proposing to take over over 5,000 acres, including 55 acres in the neighborhood of Bay Knolls.

Although Bay Knolls residents unsuccessfully tried to join Newport Beach in 1996, the area is within Costa Mesa's sphere of influence and was included in the city's annexation request.

Agency formation commission officials will decide which city will annex Bay Knolls.

Newport Beach Assistant City Manager Dave Kiff does not see Costa Mesa's request as a "hostile move."

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