Opinion: After annexation, Sunset Beach issues remain

Mike Van Voorhis

Sunset Beach is alive and well. The annexation issue, which brought out the passion in our residents, is behind us. Last August the Superior Court Judge ruled against the Citizens Association of Sunset Beach’s legitimate legal question concerning the imposition of an existing Utility Tax on newly annexed areas.

Huntington Beach has annexed Sunset Beach and it will remain that way regardless of the ultimate taxation ruling. The majority of Sunset Beach residents have accepted the annexation. We have elected a Board of Directors to our Sunset Beach Community Association that wants to move forward with Huntington Beach but also keep our unique charm and traditions in place.

 Huntington Beach has been very accommodating to our wishes so far, but it would be naive to think there will not be some differences of opinion in the future.

One example is that Huntington Beach is most likely going to allow for the sale and discharge of legal fireworks to celebrate the Fourth of July. We are asking that Sunset Beach be exempt from the proposed ordinance. Our experience is that some people take the opportunity of using legal fireworks to mask their discharging of illegal fireworks.

Most cities ban fireworks and we would be the only beach city between Ventura and the Mexican border to allow them. We worry that our fire prone, closely bunched neighborhood would be at too great a risk if fireworks were legalized.

Approval of our Local Coastal Plan by the California Coastal Commission is an important unresolved issue. Because of the annexation, Huntington Beach will be in charge of our land use and that requires a new LCP. Our current LCP was approved in 1982 and revised in 1990. Sunset Beach has worked with Huntington Beach to update our LCP and keep it generally like it is currently. Recent statements by the California Coastal Commission indicate that they may want to make changes to our proposed LCP. It will take a united effort with Huntington Beach to protect the issues important to Sunset Beach.

 The remodeling of our Community Center Building is the other big issue of 2012. Last year, Sunset Beach residents raised the money to purchase our old Volunteer Fire Station where we have always held Community functions. But the 60-year-old building needs some TLC. We now have the building permit and the remodel is starting. Look for it to be completed before our annual Art Festival on Mother’s Day weekend.

Sunset Beach has plenty of other goals on the table. We want Southern California Edison to start their long promised undergrounding of utility wires along Pacific Coast Highway and possibly Bayview Drive and Park Avenue.

We are asking for “Welcome to Sunset Beach” signs to be installed as you enter our town. We request that the Warner Ave turnaround be landscaped. Our Children’s Playground is locked up because the equipment needs to be replaced. Time Warner needs to broadcast Huntington Beach City Council meetings to our cable subscribers. A new water line will be installed along North and South Pacific this year and our asphalt paving work has to be completed.

 These events and issues are in addition to our yearly traditions of the Art Festival, Pancake Breakfast, Disaster Preparedness, Rock Concert, Chili Cook-Off, Children’s Halloween Party, Firehouse Ball and “Yot” Parade. It will be a busy year and we are heading in the right direction.

Mike Van Voorhis is the president of the Sunset Beach Community Association.