The governing body of Sunset Beach has voted to return the community donations collected in the hopes of becoming its own city.
The Sunset Beach Community Assn. voted Aug. 5 to return more than $115,000 in community donations after Huntington Beach voted Aug. 2 to move forward with annexing the community.
"It's too late — that's what I believe," said Gretchen Hoad, the association's secretary. "I think it's futile to go on with the [incorporation] process."
Residents have spent the last 13 months trying to take control of their own futures after the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) put them under Huntington's sphere of influence, the precursor to annexation, in a move to get rid of county "islands."
Since then, the eclectic community has been trying to maintain its identify and figure out a way not to become part of Huntington — a city that they say is too big and too focused on development for the majority of the small beach-side community of 1,300.
The community has completed a preliminary fiscal analysis that was favorable and raised more than $150,000 toward the incorporation process.
Sunset was set to turn in the final $100,000 to begin the comprehensive fiscal analysis before Huntington Beach's meeting Aug. 2, but internal fighting left the community without a check in LAFCO's hands.
"You people that wanted to stall it, you were successful, and now we're in the hands of Huntington Beach," Hoad said.
Whether or not having turned in the deposit would have made a difference was a source of division at the Aug. 5 meeting, but residents agreed afterward that it's too late now.
"That very well might have made that difference," Bill Sebring said. "We'll never know now."
While some residents weren't ready to quit fighting and wanted to send a check to LAFCO anyway, the board ultimately decided to return the money.
With Huntington Beach now set on the path to annex Sunset Beach, officials said the final annexation could happen as soon as January.