Sunset annexation hearing postponed

The pending annexation of Sunset Beach has taken another step back, as a court hearing scheduled for Wednesday was postponed.

Attorneys for Huntington Beach, the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission and the Citizen's Assn. of Sunset Beach had planned to meet at 1:30 p.m. in Orange County Superior Court for a hearing after a judge temporarily halted the annexation of the beachside community in January.

According to Daniel Roberts, an attorney for the county commission, the hearing had been intended to address the city and county's response to the association's lawsuit and to set a future hearing date. The association, though, filed an amended petition in February that negated some of the points in the response.

The parties now plan to meet at 8:30 a.m. March 15 for a case management conference to determine when the case will go to trial, court clerk Margie Marquez said.

Association President Jack Markovitz said even with the lawsuit amended, he expected to eventually thwart the annexation.

"You know, there's six ways to skin a cat," he said. "The fact is there's a conflict in law."

The association's original petition, filed in December, asked the court to direct the commission to reject the city's annexation application or require that the city hold an election to determine whether Sunset residents were willing to pay new taxes as citizens of Huntington.

The opposing side argued that the court did not have the power to influence legislative decisions, and the association removed this section from its amended petition. The new version, however, still asks the court to keep the injunction in place.

Markovitz said if an election were held and the majority of Sunset residents approved of paying new taxes, he would accept those results. However, he doubted that would be the case in light of the support he said his group has received from the Sunset community.

"We got a lot of recognition for getting this far, and that's coming in the form of continued donations and added membership," Markovitz said. "We seem be on the right path and doing something the community really wants."

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