Looking ahead to 2011

Life in Huntington Beach is never dull, and anything can become an issue with the city's flock of community activists, vocal neighbors and concerned parents. This year promises to stay just as interesting. Here is a list of items sure to keep making news in 2011:

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Community Garden

With the T's crossed and the I's dotted, it's just a matter of time before Huntington Beach residents are growing their own fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers.

The City Council approved a five-year lease agreement with Southern California Edison to create the Huntington Beach Community Garden on an almost 2.5-acre piece of land southeast of Atlanta Avenue and Brookhurst Street and adjacent to the Santa Ana River. With the community garden on the way, Councilman Devin Dwyer hinted a second garden could be in the works. In the meantime, residents are expected to be able to start cultivating their plots as early as late February.

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Poseidon

A $350-million project that would create 100 million gallons of fresh water a day for Orange County made strides last year, but whether it can keep the momentum and jump over a hurdle will be something to look out for this year.

The Poseidon Seawater Desalination Plant project is only one approval away after receiving the blessing of the Huntington Beach City Council and the State Lands Commission last year. The project needs a Coastal Development Permit from the California Coastal Commission, but an appeal of the city's approvals of the project was filed with the commission and was determined to have merit. The commission will hold a public hearing on the issue.

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James Roberts

A former Huntington Beach police officer accused of 20 felony charges, including rape and sodomy, is expected to begin trial this year.

James Roberts III, 34, is expected to start trial Feb. 14 for charges of rape, sodomy, false imprisonment by violence or deceit, criminal threats, domestic battery, aggravated assault, dissuading a witness and vandalism at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Before the trial starts, Roberts will go to pretrial Jan. 14. Roberts faces a maximum sentence of nearly 24 years in prison if convicted of all charges against his wife and alleged mistress.

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Sunset Beach

After 106 years of independence and more than a year in the lurch, Sunset Beach was expected to officially become part of Huntington this month, but a lawsuit puts the date in the air.

A group of Sunset residents has filed a lawsuit against Huntington and the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission to ax the annexation or give the community a vote in new taxes they will have to pay under Huntington. Officials said the annexation won't happen before Jan. 19, when the appeal is expected to go to court.

If the annexation goes through, what it will mean for the small beachside community, where residents pick up their mail at the post office and everyone introduces themselves at meetings by name and address, remains to be seen. Some say residents won't even know they've become Huntington, but annexation opponents aren't convinced.

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Ascon

The interim cleanup of Huntington Beach's defunct landfill is expected to come to a close February.

The state Department of Toxic Substances Control has been removing toxic sludge from three pits in the interior of the Ascon Landfill to determine how best to go about the final cleanup of the site. Officials have removed more than 63,000 tons of waste from the 38-acre landfill since the interim measure began last year.

Officials will need to prepare an environmental impact report, which will go before the public before the final removal can begin. Officials aren't proposing completely cleaning up the site, but removing the majority of the oily sludge and capping off the site.

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Dane Williams

Philong Huynh, 40, the man charged with the sexual assault and killing of Huntington Beach resident Dane Williams, will go to trial Jan. 11. Huynh is also accused of sexually assaulting another man, who survived.

Huynh faces a maximum sentence of 25 years to life in prison, if convicted on all charges.

Williams was in San Diego for a convention when he went missing after leaving a nightclub in the Gaslamp district Jan. 26, 2008. Police found his body three days later in a neighborhood alley.

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Cell towers

Huntington Beach residents voted down a measure to allow two cell towers in two parks, but what will happen is up to a judge.

The city is in the midst of a court battle with T-Mobile over two cell towers originally slated for Harbour View and Bolsa View parks. The city yanked its approval when it found out the project's construction costs weren't accurate.

Voters rejected Measure Q in November, which asked them if they want the towers, but the ballot measure was only an advisory tool. Residents will have to wait to find out their parks' fate.

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