Editor’s note: The following is a letter to the residents of Sunset Beach from the Citizens Association of Sunset Beach, which is waging a legal battle in opposition of the county “island” from being annexed by Huntington Beach.
Dear Friends and Neighbors: When we wrote to you in August, we expressed our disappointment with the Superior Court’s decision that went against us.
The Superior Court’s decision to lift the injunction against the annexation and to rule that Proposition 218 does not apply to annexations is a decision of first impression, and is not directly supported by any established legal precedent. This case will make new law, and we hope to convince the Court of Appeal that the Superior Court’s decision is misguided.
Annexations are generally done with the vote of the people in the affected community. Island annexations are done without the vote of the affected residents. Because our community is less than 150 acres, Huntington Beach was allowed to file an island annexation application. This eliminated our right to a vote or to hold a protest hearing.
We were told by the OC Local Agency Formation Commission and by the Huntington Beach City Council that we should not be concerned because Huntington Beach was not going to apply certain of its taxes to residents of Sunset Beach. When our attorney advised the city of Huntington Beach that the law required them to tax Sunset Beach residents the same as the other residents in Huntington Beach, the Huntington Beach City Attorney notified our community association that the city planned to apply all taxes to the residents of Sunset Beach when the annexation occurred. Despite this complete change of position on taxes, the Huntington Beach City Council moved forward with its island annexation.
Our August 2011 letter shared that there is nothing in the Superior Court’s decision that changes our opinion of the strength of our case. We also stated we are committed to getting this decision reversed on appeal. We are happy to announce that we have been joined by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association in our resolve to continue this battle for our community.
What is the role of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association?
After Proposition 13 was approved on June 6, 1978, Howard Jarvis knew that taxpayers’ gains would be temporary without a permanent citizens’ organization to protect Proposition 13. To make sure that Proposition 13 provided permanent protections, he founded the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (originally called the California Tax Reduction Movement), starting with a handful of Tax Revolt grassroots activists. Today, the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association has the support of more than 200,000 taxpayers. HJTA has kept Proposition 13 and the California Tax Revolt alive for more than 30 years now, and during that time, Proposition 13 has saved Californians billions of dollars – over $528 billion according to conservative estimates – almost $10,000 for every man, woman and child in the State of California!
Since 1978, HJTA has also added about $135 billion to Californians’ tax savings with court actions and more statewide initiatives. Among ballot propositions sponsored or strongly backed by HJTA is Proposition 218—the Right to Vote on Taxes Act (1996). This plugged a long-standing loophole in Proposition 13 by requiring localities to get a popular vote, or in some cases, permission from property owners, for fees, assessments, and other levies that operated as taxes but weren’t technically called taxes.
This initiative now saves California taxpayers about $100 million a year. As mentioned above, Proposition 218, is the central argument to our case, that we should have a right to vote to approve any new taxes before they can be applied and therefore, the island annexation is not valid without a vote first of the residents in Sunset Beach.
As Superior Court Judge Frederick Horn stated in his remarks on the day of our hearing in his courtroom” this is a case that will probably be decided ultimately by the court of appeals” Our appeal of his decision has been filed with the 4th District California Court of Appeals in Santa Ana.
We appreciate your continued support of the effort to fight this illegal imposition of taxes and island annexation. Together we can make a difference and keep Sunset Beach a better place to live.
For more information, see www.SaveSunsetBeach.com.
Jack Markovitz, president
Diana Dodson, vice president
Citizens Association of Sunset Beach