Fountain Valley wants more police for island

Fountain Valley is in talks with county officials about annexing a nearly 21-acre unincorporated area into its boundaries, but City Manager Ray Kromer said the county would have to agree to pay for an extra police officer before the city took over the neighborhood.

The area contains about 1,100 residents and 813 housing units, according to the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission's website. Earlier this month, the commission, or LAFCO, appointed a task force to work with city officials to annex unincorporated islands or connect them with nearby city services.

Kromer said the island by Harbor Boulevard and Edinger Avenue, which contains mostly residential units, may run into some minor difficulties with city zoning laws if annexed. The larger issue, though, is that the city would have to add a police officer to cover the area, which would cost about $250,000 a year for salary, equipment and other expenses.

If the county agreed to foot those costs, Kromer said, he would be happy to add the island to Fountain Valley.

"The bottom line to us is, we're certainly not going to dilute our existing force to take over a new territory," he said.

The island is among those on LAFCO's Group A list, which consists of 13 islands that the county has identified as priorities for the current fiscal year. The Group B list, which includes the Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve by Huntington Beach, lists areas that the county plans to address later. Carolyn Emery, LAFCO's assistant executive officer, said the county hopes eventually to transition all unincorporated areas to adjacent cities, although she acknowledged that could be a long process.

Over the last year, the county has faced opposition to at least one annexation plan, as Sunset Beach residents have taken legal action against the plan to make them pay new taxes under Huntington. Emery said she had heard of no opposition to annexing the Fountain Valley island.

"We've not had any outreach to the residents in that island, so I'm not sure," she said.

Several business owners in the neighborhood said Wednesday that they hadn't heard of the annexation plan and had no opinion about it.

The island is at the eastern boundary of Fountain Valley, with the Santa Ana River separating it from Centennial Regional Park in Santa Ana. The city already covers the island's water and fire services, Kromer said.

Neither Emery nor Kromer knew why the area had not originally been made part of Fountain Valley.

"When you look at it, you just say, 'Why?'" Kromer said.

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