Annexation, Again & Fitzy's Dilemma
Just when you thought it was safe to come out at night, that ugly word - annexation - rears it's head again! This afternoon the Orange County Register, in an article by Roxana Kopetman titled, "City services seen as lures to annexation", HERE, we are told that the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) has peeled the scab off this issue and formed a task force of members Peter Herzog, Charley Wilson and Costa Mesa's very own Supervisor John Moorlach to "develop guidelines and facilitate such transitions."
I UNDERSTAND THE RELUCTANCE OF RESIDENTS
This article raises old issues about the islands of county property, including the Santa Ana Country Club, that Costa Mesa has tried to annex for years. Problem is, the residents don't want to be part of Costa Mesa - they want to be part of Newport Beach. Well, duh! My house is one block from Newport Beach. If we lifted it up and moved it two blocks east the value would increase by around 20-25%. I understand the issue with those folks.
ANNEXATIONS WOULD BE GOOD FOR COSTA MESA
However, as a Costa Mesa resident I'd sure like to see those little islands of county property become part of our city - especially the Santa Ana Country Club. The property tax revenue alone makes this a very desirable potential acquisition. It's going to take a lot of PR on the part of Costa Mesa to make this happen. Maybe these new guidelines that will be conjured up by the task force will make for a smoother transition - which ever way it goes.
ROEDER - "NO HOSTILE TAKEOVER"
Soon-to-be-retired City Manager Allan Roeder, according to the article, is not interested in imposing his city on the adjacent communities. He's quoted as saying, "This would not be a hostile takeover. We have no interest in doing that whatsoever."
INTO BATTLE AGAIN WITH A SMALLER ARMY
So, here we go again - one more little project to occupy the leadership of our city, which is now working with significantly diminished staff resources with which to fight this battle.
A DILEMMA FOR SANCHO FITZPATRICK
With the next Planning Commission meeting scheduled for Monday, Costa Mesa Planning Commissioner and current Costa Mesa Sanitary District Board member Jim Fitzpatrick, is on the proverbial horns of a dilemma. Ever since he ran and was elected to his seat on the Sanitary District Board last fall the issue of whether he can properly occupy both that position AND the planning commission seat has been debated. Recently now-lame duck contract City Attorney Kim Barlow opined that there is a legal view that he might not be able to occupy both simultaneously. She told the council in response to a question by Wendy Leece that if he is sworn in again as a planning commissioner and his ability to hold both seats is subsequently successfully challenged, he would have to give up the previous seat. In that scenario, he would have to abandon the Sanitary District Board seat.
MONAHAN HELD TWO SEATS
Mayor Gary Monahan, who used a seat on the Sanitary District Board as a placeholder between tours on the City Council, strongly expressed his view that Fitzpatrick should be able to hold both seats. Monahan did for a couple years following his re-election. It's my understanding that there's some "fuzzy math" involved about the difference between the council and planning commission. IF Monahan legally held both seats it's tough to see how Fitzpatrick also couldn't, since the planning commission is subordinate to the city council.
COULD COST FITZY SOME BIG BUCKS
Now this could be a real problem for Fitzy, whom I referred to as "Sancho" above because he's been "Sancho Panza" to now-appointed councilman Steve Mensinger's "Don Quixote". We don't know if anyone is going to challenge his positions, but if he is forced to give up that Sanitary District seat it could cost him some serious money and benefits and other perks that go along with that seat. Of course, he could resign from the planning commission before he's re-sworn in for another tour and avoid that possible problem. I don't think he'll do that - I think he'll roll the dice and hope nobody challenges him. Should be interesting to watch.