Sunset annexed; group plans appeal

Sunset Beach is now officially part of Huntington Beach, a spokesman for a county commission said Monday.

Benjamin Legbandt, a policy analyst for the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, said his group had filed paperwork with the county earlier in the day. The state will have to approve the paperwork as well, but Legbandt called that an administrative formality and said the annexation can be considered complete.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Frederick P. Horn ruled Thursday against the petition by the Citizen’s Assn. of Sunset Beach to block the annexation until Sunset residents could vote on paying the same taxes as the rest of Huntington.

Horn declared that Sunset met the criteria for an island annexation and that the taxes Sunset residents would pay after the move did not count as new levies because they were already established in the city they are joining.

Association President Jack Markovitz said his group plans to file an appeal. They also met with Horn at a hearing Wednesday morning in hopes of staying the annexation. The hearing was continued to Sept. 14 and the judge did not grant a temporary stay, Markovitz said.

“It’s definitely not over,” he said. “We’re still hoping to have the appeals court look at the matter and hopefully grant a favorable decision, however long that takes.”

Mike Van Voorhis, president of the Sunset Beach Community Assn., said his group took a neutral stance on annexation. He said his main hope was for the matter to be resolved quickly so residents would know whether the city or county was providing their services.

“We’re still going to be Sunset Beach either way,” Van Voorhis said. “We still have the great, compassionate, active residents that we’ve always had, and frankly, I don’t think there’s going to be much of a change either way. Rather than make it neighbor against neighbor, we’re going to wait until the court makes the decision.”