Opinion: Sunset Beach lawsuit is not about taxes

Supervisor John Moorlach believes one city would be more financially efficient than three small towns.

Editor’s Note: The following was taken from one of  Supervisor John Moorlach’s e-mail Updates to his constituents. Moorlach does not issue a newsletter.

For nearly five years I have held the unofficial position of the mayor of Sunset Beach.

Thursday evening, Oct. 6, Sunset Beach celebrated its new mayor, Joe Carchio of Huntington Beach, along with its new City Council.

Unfortunately, enjoying a rather heavy calendar, I was out of town for the California State Association Committee Executive Committee annual retreat and missed the ceremony.  My chief of staff was present.

There is still one little fly in the ointment.  The effort to have unincorporated areas annexed into Orange County cities has been historically opposed by the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs.

This long held sheriff’s union tradition precedes my being a supervisor and continues to this day, especially with recent efforts focused on Rossmoor.

It was AOCDS that funded the anti-incorporation efforts during the 2008 cityhood campaign.  AOCDS recently underwrote a survey on recent activities impacting Rossmoor and its Community Services District.  AOCDS was also active in opposing the annexation of Sunset Beach by Huntington Beach.

It was the Sacramento-based legal counsel for AOCDS that filed a law suit against the city of Huntington Beach demanding that Sunset Beach residents be able to vote to approve the utility users tax that Huntington Beach residents pay.

This lawsuit recently failed in the Superior Court, stating that Proposition 218 was not applicable in this case, thus allowing the consummation of the annexation. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, the organization that headed the Proposition 218 campaign, is now willing to underwrite an appeal of the Sunset Beach Superior Court loss to the Appellate Court.

Proposition 218 requires a vote for tax increases.  It is a rare day when you see my long-time friend Jon Coupal and the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association doing a public employee union’s bidding and attempting to disrupt good government.

Some people fight causes over a principle.

The request is to allow the residents of Sunset Beach to vote to approve a 5 percent utility tax, when many of them were happy to accept an 11 percent UUT if they were annexed by the city of Seal Beach.

The issue is not the UUT, it’s the annexation, and the union’s perception that jobs will be lost by its members when unincorporated areas are lost to cities.  AOCDS should keep that in mind due to the economy,

Sacramento’s nearly $50 million VLF absconding, and the ever increasing pension costs, that certain cuts need to be made anyway.

All the same, we’ll have to wait for the outcome of this legal effort.

The other 57 county Local Agency Formation Commissions are hoping that this case goes to the Appellate Court and that a result similar to the Superior Court’s conclusion is achieved.

This would allow the rest of the state to rely on the Appellate Court’s opinion in pursuing the annexation of a large volume of unincorporated areas that face a similar set of facts.

John Moorlach represents district 2  on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, which includes the Sun Region, and chairman of the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission, the agency that oversees annexations.