Company: Incorporation possible

Daily Pilot

Sunset Beach's prospects of becoming a city look more encouraging after a report from a financial consultant, the president of the seaside neighborhood's de facto governing board said.

Greg Griffin, the president of the Sunset Beach Community Assn., said he has seen a preliminary version of the report by Willdan Financial Services, hired in November to determine the feasibility of Sunset Beach incorporating.

"The whole report is that Sunset has the financial horsepower to become its own city," he said.

The association met at 7 p.m. Thursday at the community lot at 12th Street and North Pacific Avenue.

According to Griffin, Willdan will present three scenarios for incorporating: one in which the entire neighborhood incorporates, one in which the beach remains under county control, and one in which the beach and "green belt" — a strip of lawn between North and South Pacific avenues — remain with the county.

Incorporating the beach and greenbelt, Griffin said, could prove costly due to maintenance and lifeguards.

"It costs money to maintain the green belt, and it takes money to maintain the beach, the beach being about five times more expensive to maintain than the green belt," he said.

The association's board plans to vote at its next meeting whether to go to the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission and submit an application to incorporate, board member Timothy McCormack said.

Carolyn Emery, the commission's assistant executive officer who is overseeing Sunset Beach, said she planned to meet today with representatives from Willdan and the community.

If Sunset Beach files to incorporate, the commission will do its own analysis and put the issue on an upcoming general election ballot.

"With everything running smoothly, if Sunset Beach filed in the next couple months, we'd likely be looking at next year some time or even the following year," Emery said.

She added that the commission had not taken a position on whether Sunset Beach should incorporate.

The commission put Sunset Beach under Huntington Beach's sphere of influence in July, citing the area's geographical proximity, the fact that Huntington provides water services to Sunset and the number of Sunset Beach children who attend Huntington schools.

Soon after, Griffin's association filed a notice of intent to petition for incorporation with the commission.

Griffin and others began circulating petitions among residents earlier this year, needing at least 25% of Sunset's landowners or registered voters to support incorporation.

So far, Griffin said, nearly 50% of residents have supported the effort.

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