County 'Islands' Want No Part of Glendora

Times Staff Writer

Residents of the scattered islands of unincoporporated territory on this city's western fringe do without many of the services enjoyed by those who live within the city boundaries.

Their streets are patrolled by sheriff's deputies, not Glendora police, and land-use decisions affecting their neighborhoods are made by the county Board of Supervisors, not the City Council.

But many of them say they like it better that way.

County government is unobtrusive, some residents say, unlike those meddlesome bureaucrats who they believe lurk down at City Hall.

"The county has never hassled us about anything," said Joyce Jespersen, a resident of an unincorporated area the city wants to annex. "They just don't bother you unless someone complains."

But with Glendora engaged in an aggressive push to square off the jigsaw contours of its western boundary, it is becoming more and more difficult for county residents to stay out of town.

During the last year, the city has successfully annexed 12 western neighborhoods, including 1,162 homes, said City Clerk Culver Heaton. Assuming that there are 2.8 people per household, he said, these annexations have increased the city's population by 3,253.

While development has increased Glendora's population by about 2% a year, annexation has increased it by more than 7% in the last year, bringing the total to about 47,700, Heaton said.

The annexations have not occurred without controversy, however. Last fall, hundreds of residents complained that the city provided little or no notice that annexation proceedings were under way. Some said they returned home from vacation to find a note on their door, welcoming them to the city.

"It was the Big Brother syndrome: 'We think annexation is good for you, so you're annexed,' " said Les Schlosser, one of the residents who complained that his neighborhood was included in the city's boundaries without his knowledge or consent.

Angered by the annexations, Schlosser and other residents formed a group called CAUTION (Citizens Against Unfair Takeover Involving Our Neighborhoods). Although members of CAUTION were not able to remove their own neighborhoods from the city, they apparently succeeded in helping other county residents fight annexation.

"Personally, I think if you're going to annex, it's better to annex on a friendly basis," said CAUTION member Diane Vivian. "When (county residents) are ready to join the city, they can let (city officials) know."

In response to CAUTION's protests about inadequate notice, the City Council last year passed an ordinance to ensure that residents whose neighborhoods are slated for annexation are able to protest. CAUTION has provided sample protest letters, instructions and advice that may have helped scuttle two of Glendora's newest annexation attempts.

With CAUTION's assistance, residents in each of the two neighborhoods Glendora now wants to annex have submitted 100 or more letters of protest, representing the majority of registered voters in both areas.

Under state law, if more than 50% of the registered voters in an annexation district file written protest, the area will not be annexed. If more than 25% but less than 50% protest, the question of annexation is decided by a vote of the affected residents. If less than 25% protest, annexation may take place.

Residents in Western Annexation District No. 77, a 24-acre tract including 106 homes in the southwest corner of Glendora, have said they prefer the county's laissez-faire approach to code enforcement--particularly regarding its ordinance prohibiting overnight parking on the street--to city regulation they believe would be more stringent.

District No. 77 includes the unincorporated area south of Alosta Avenue, east of Barranca Avenue and north of Base Line Road.

Of the 144 registered voters who live in the area, about 100 have submitted protest petititions, although the county registrar-recorder's office has yet to validate whether the petitioners are registered to vote, Heaton said. If the number of valid protests is at least 50%, the City Council will terminate annexation proceedings for this area.

Meanwhile, those living in Western Annexation District No. 79, a neighborhood of 67 rambling ranch houses to the north, said they like the county's liberal regulations on keeping horses and livestock on their land. They worry that their property will lose value if it is no longer zoned for horses.

"Basically, the people who are in this area moved into this area because they wanted to be in the county," resident Dennis Verreault said. "You can have horses, you can have animals, and you don't have to have all these restrictions."

District No. 79 contains the unincorporated area west of Barranca Avenue, extending north from Leadora Avenue to Sierra Madre Avenue.

The city received 116 protest petitions from Western Annexation District No. 79, which has 158 registered voters. Ninety-five petitions were ruled valid by the registrar, reflecting opposition by 60% of the voters in the area, Heaton said.

In response to this opposition, Heaton submitted a resolution to the City Council this week that would have terminated the annexation proceedings for this area. The council, however, declined to do so.

Decision Delayed

By what was technically a 3-2 vote, the council approved a motion Tuesday night to continue the matter to its May 10 meeting. The motion was approved by council members Larry Glenn and Lois Shade and opposed by Councilman David S. Bodley and Mayor Pro Tem Leonard Martyns. Councilman Bob Kuhn abstained, but City Atty. Cheryl Kane said his abstention should be considered a vote not in opposition, so the measure passed.

Council members favoring the continuance noted that one resident who submitted a protest wants to rescind it. By delaying action on annexation, they said, the city will give other residents time to reconsider their opposition.

At least 16 more residents of District No. 79 would have to withdraw their opposition to force an annexation election. Kuhn said he would like to see such a vote, arguing that it would put the controversy to rest.

"Let's quit bickering about this," Kuhn said. "I think it's now time that we step out and let the people speak."

Bodley, however, said the people have had ample time to make their opinions known, citing three public hearings on the annexation and an informational meeting held by the city to dispel residents' trepidation about joining the city.

'People Deserve Answer'

"You've dragged it out and dragged it out," the newly elected Bodley told council incumbents at Tuesday's meeting. "I think these people deserve an answer, preferably tonight."

However, Shade said a vote on annexation would assure city officials that all affected residents have had a chance to voice their views on annexation.

"I would like to know for sure that we've got all heads and bodies accounted for," Shade said.

Frank Dutton, a resident of District No. 77, expressed displeasure with the council's decision not to kill its annexation efforts this week.

"I don't think the city of Glendora has acted in good faith through this whole annexation procedure," Dutton said. "I don't want to be annexed because I have very little confidence in the ethics of this city."

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