Sunset Fire Station future imperiled

Sunset Beach Fire Station 3

Sunset Beach’s Fire Station 3 is a historical landmark to many residents of the community.

Some residents want the station to be part of Sunset Beach’s future. A meeting was scheduled on Wednesday, Oct. 6 between a representative of the Sunset Beach Community Association and various county officials to discuss the possible sale of the fire station to the community group. The results of that meeting were not available when the Sun Newspapers went to press.

As previously reported in the Sun, the sale of the fire station was on the agenda of the Sept. 23 meeting of the Orange County Fire Authority Board of Directors. The staff report recommended the board receive and file the report, which said staff intended to hire a real estate agent to sell the property.

The Fire Authority no longer needs the building, as it has voted to disband the Sunset Beach volunteer firefighters and is transferring emergency services to the city of Huntington Beach.

The staff report said the sale of Fire Station 3 could generate $1 million for the Fire Authority.

The news came as a surprise to some Sunset Beach residents.

Rick Francis, chief of staff of Orange County Supervisor John Moorlach’s office, said that apparently someone in the Orange County Fire Authority told the community association that the OCFA was willing to sell the fire station back to the community at the property’s estimated value when the Fire Authority was formed.

“They (the OCFA) purchased it for $200,000,” Francis said.

Unfortunately, the reported offer was not put in writing.

Francis said he, the executive director of LAFCO, the chief of the Fire Authority and possibly a representative of Huntington Beach would be at the Wednesday, Oct. 6 meeting to discuss the future of Fire Station 3.

The Huntington Beach City Council has voted to annex Sunset Beach.

“The community is certainly interested in maintaining that property,” Francis said.

He also said Moorlach’s office was not opposed to the Community Association buying the property.

Francis said his office had the Fire Authority put off any action on the fire station. “We kind of know intuitively, what they want to do,” Francis said.

“We just wanted to buy some time with the chief,” he said.

He also said LAFCO, the agency which placed Sunset Beach under Huntington Beach’s “sphere of influence,” set up the meeting to discuss the fire station.

Mike Vanvoorhis, of the Sunset Beach Community Association, expressed reluctance to discuss the matter with the press.

“My goal is to save the station for Sunset Beach,” he said.

Vanvoorhis was concerned that if the station becomes a public issue it could backfire on Sunset Beach.

Greg Griffin, president of the Sunset Beach Community Association, said the county originally built the fire station on land donated to Orange County by the association. In the 1990s, the county gave the land to the Fire Authority and now the association feels the land should revert back to the community.

He said the sewer district could buy back the property and move its base of operations to the station.