The first annexation to Agoura Hills in the six years since the community became a city was approved Wednesday by the Local Agency Formation Commission.
The commission voted 4 to 0 to allow Agoura Hills to include about 60 homes in the Liberty Canyon area within the city’s boundaries.
Residents there had asked to have the area annexed because they believed that city government would be more responsive than Los Angeles County government. To help cover costs of the added services, 6.6% of the property taxes that property owners pay will now go to the city.
“This is the first time we’ve gone to them and not come back empty-handed,” Agoura Hills City Councilman Jack W. Koenig said of LAFCO’s approval of the annexation.
City Filed Suit
In 1985, the city filed a lawsuit against LAFCO after the agency denied Agoura Hills officials’ request to expand their city’s sphere of influence. The city lost the case on appeal. Koenig said Wednesday’s approval of the annexation was an important step toward improving relations between the two agencies.
LAFCO limited the annexation to about half of the 120 acres that the city had asked for, excluding land where owners opposed annexation. LAFCO also denied the city’s request to expand its sphere of influence but did so “without prejudice,” meaning that the city can apply again without having to wait a year.
A city’s sphere of influence is an area that, while not part of a city, is considered a place where the city is the most logical provider of public services. Cities cannot annex land outside their spheres of influence.
Cities have no legal authority over areas within their spheres. But “it would have given more credibility to our comments” about various development proposals there, Councilwoman Fran Pavley said.
The city had wanted its sphere to reach south of Mulholland Drive, east of Las Virgenes Road and north to the Ventura County line. LAFCO Executive Officer Ruth Bennell recommended a smaller sphere that excluded the county’s Calabasas Landfill and conformed roughly to Mulholland Drive and Las Virgenes Road.
But about 12 people showed up at the hearing Wednesday to oppose that recommendation, prompting LAFCO to balk.
Other landowners in the proposed sphere wrote letters to LAFCO, including developer Brian Heller, who plans to build 150 homes in the Paramount Ranch area. Heller noted that spheres of influence are subject to annexation and that “residents did not want to be part of, or have imposed on us, the constant, petty bickering and politically oriented activism for which the city of Agoura Hills has become known.”
Koenig acknowledged that the city must win over some opponents before trying to expand its sphere again.
“It’s our job to go and sell our virtues as a city,” he said.