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Dave Bossert: Annexation is not being held ‘ransom’

SCV Voices

Posted: May 16, 2009 2:43 p.m.
Updated: May 17, 2009 4:55 a.m.
 
Several weeks ago The Signal published an opinion piece by Brian Roney titled “Annexation held for ransom.” It was an amazingly uninformed piece on the annexation process.

Roney complains that the Los Angles County Local Area Formation Commission, commonly referred to as “LAFCO,” has placed two “unprecedented” conditions on the annexation of Hasley Hills, North Bluff and the Live Oaks area.

The first is a revenue-sharing agreement that would have to be negotiated between Los Angeles County and the city of Santa Clarita.

Roney wrote that he believes: “This unprecedented action demands a ransom for the annexation approval, as LAFCO will not process the application in the absence of a tax-transfer agreement.”

A revenue-sharing agreement is not a “ransom” at all; rather, it is a part of the complex annexation procedure laid out in the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000.

The agreement is for “any change of organization or reorganization” — exactly what an annexation is.

The Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act clearly provides for: “The payment of a fixed or determinable amount of money, either as a lump sum or in installments, for the acquisition, transfer, use or right of use of all or any part of the existing property, real or personal, of any city, county or district.”

Hasley Hills, North Bluff and the Live Oaks areas are part of the unincorporated Westside communities of the Santa Clarita Valley, an area that generates substantially more revenue than the cost of services to the same area. Therefore, the area must be handled differently than previous annexations in the Santa Clarita Valley.

The other 28 annexations into the city of Santa Clarita were “net” negative annexations, meaning that it cost more to provide
services to those areas (expenses) than what was generated in tax revenues (income).

LAFCO is a neutral entity that is following the state of California mandated procedure for any annexation. It is not deviating, and cannot deviate, from the state law that dictates the process in governance changes to communities.
The second accusation that Roney made was related to the transfers of three county parks from previous annexations that the city of Santa Clarita has yet to accept.

The deed requirements for those parks would prohibit the city from charging nonresident fees and providing priority registration, which have been standard conditions for county park transfers.

That was a required part of all the county parks that were transferred into the city when it first incorporated in 1987.

The fairness and equity of the process is being applied with an equal and even hand by LAFCO and by Los Angeles County. That is the way it should be handled.

Supervisor Antonovich has been a man of his word. When asked by Westside residents for revenue information, he stepped up and funded the independent Initial Feasibility Analysis, which will answer a number of questions for the entire community.

That report will be presented during several open, public meetings in June as part of the process of providing as much factual information as possible to the community and will educate all interested residents of the Castaic and West Ranch communities on the options available.

Hasley Hills, North Bluff and Live Oaks are neighborhoods that are part of the greater community of Castaic.

Is it fair for that one small area to attempt annexation at the detriment of another?

Is it equitable to have the city cherry-pick one area, which would have an adverse effect on the future of the rest of the Castaic community?

Our unincorporated communities are getting terrific support in offering residents as much information as possible so they can make an intelligent decision at the ballot box in November.

Supervisor Antonovich has done the right thing by supporting and listening to all his constituents in the unincorporated Santa Clarita Valley areas.

The November advisory vote will allow him to understand what changes, if any, the entire community is interested in for the future.

Finally, I would like to ask that in the future,  Roney might want to give full disclosure of his former employment with the county of Los Angeles so readers can decide for themselves whether he has a bone to pick with the county or he is truly writing in the best interests of his community.

Dave Bossert is a community volunteer and publishes regularly on www.westranchbeacon.com. His commentaries represent his own opinions and not necessarily the views of any organization he may be affiliated with or those of The Signal.

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