|LAFCO OKs Fontana land grab|
|Some residents opposed to annexation|
|By Leonor Vivanco, Staff Writer|
Inland Valley Daily Bulletin
|Article Launched:08/17/2006 12:00:00 AM PDT|
|FONTANA - Welcome to Fontana. |
That's the message city officials will be sending to its 11,840 new residents.
The Local Agency Formation Commission on Wednesday approved Fontana's application to annex 2,507 acres of county land, but not without a handful of residents voicing their opposition to becoming a part of Fontana and not having a say in the process.
"This is our land. We should be able to do what we want," said property owner Victor Vollhardt, who joined others in arguing that residents should be allowed to vote on whether to be annexed.
But state law allows cities to annex islands of county land without the consent of property owners if each island is less than 150 acres. That law is scheduled to end Dec. 31.
Now, the city is preparing to roll out its welcome mat by mailing informational packets to its new residents. The annexation is expected to take place in 30 days.
The additional residents would push Fontana past Rancho Cucamonga and Ontario to be the second-most populous city in San Bernardino County behind San Bernardino with a population of roughly 180,000.
"What we're able to do is keep Fontana's revenues in Fontana," Mayor Mark Nuaimi said, noting local revenue that goes into county coffers can be spent elsewhere in the county.
The city is expecting $4.2 million in new annual revenue from various sources, including property and sales taxes.
The mayor recused himself from voting on the proposal as did county Supervisors Josie Gonzales and Dennis Hansberger in an effort to avoid a conflict of interest due to campaign contributions. Supervisor Paul Biane was absent because he was on vacation.
A decision on annexing an additional 289 acres into Fontana was postponed until November because of efforts to incorporate Bloomington.
LAFCO executive officer Kathleen Rollings-McDonald said property taxes will not increase due to annexation.
The city's 5 percent utility tax on commercial properties will not be placed on property in the newly annexed areas, she said.
Property owners will not be forced to hook into the city's sewer system if they have operating septic tanks. Residents who use the city's system will have their rates reduced to in-city charges. There will be no change in water service.
Also, Nuaimi said parks and recreation fees will be lower, and road improvements are being planned for the annexed areas.
Police protection will be transferred to the city from the county Sheriff's Department. But fire and emergency responses will remain the same because the city relies on the county department.
The cost of providing city services to the annexed areas is pegged at $4 million.
Late last year, the city set aside $3 million for its annexation efforts to pay for additional staff, including police officers.
Even though city leaders tout Fontana's preparedness for the annexation, residents insist city officials are not ready to be responsible for the additional land.
"They can't maintain their current infrastructure. They don't have a good policeman-per-thousand-residents ratio now. It'll be even less," Vollhardt said.
Although the city will now assume responsibility for the area, the county is not scaling back any of its efforts for the remaining unincorporated areas.
In theory, the county will be able to give greater attention to those areas, most notably the area around California Speedway, which is the largest chunk of unincorporated land in Fontana's sphere of influence, the area set aside for possible future annexation by the city.
The county plans to maintain its staffing levels at the sheriff's station, serving the area around Fontana with a total of 34 positions. Also, a newly opened code enforcement office in Fontana will remain with four code enforcement officers.
But residents are still concerned about land use and zoning issues.
"I still think it's driven by developers and not their efforts to make better services," Vollhardt said.
He fears land uses and zoning changes upon annexation.
Carl Atkinson is concerned the city's code enforcement will clamp down hard on him now.
"I'm the first on their list," he said.
The used tire dealer said county officials told him 22 years ago that his business was an appropriate use when he bought the property. However, he has since been informed it is an illegal, non-conforming use.
If it is illegal in the county, it will be illegal in the city.
The city has adopted a phased-in approach to code enforcement for the newly annexed areas. The first year will be an educational process, informing landowners what they need to do to come into compliance on land use. Then the city will begin processing issues. But current county enforcement cases will not receive a grace period.
City officials said there will be an opportunity after annexation to discuss zoning changes.
However, the city pre-zoned its sphere of influence in 2004 and those designations are required to be maintained for two years after annexation unless the City Council makes certain findings at a public hearing to change zoning.
BS Ranch Perspective:
Say Good Bye!! So long if you will to the area's that have been fighting so hard to call themselves their own city, their own city of Bloomington, Say goodbye to this, Because what was left of Bloomington in the areas that touch the Southern end of Fontana, and line up with I am assuming Linden Ave. or Further East to Cactus Ave. I am not sure in the Southern portion of the City. I just know that they will fight over the area. Rialto City Annexed a large Acreage of land in the Very Southern end and they will build a Fire Station Five/Police Annex Combination down in the Southern end to serve the New houses that are being built on the property that had been annexed and is going to be built on. They could not win the city of Bloomington as the people that currently live down in the Southern area of Bloomington Wanted to do all because they could not build any new property on any new land without being connected to a Sewage Reclaim system or a some kind of Sewage System, and the only sewage system that is down there that could be used is owned by the City of Rialto. The City of Rialto would not allow any new properties to be added to their sewage system without it being in the city. that way they can be assured that their bills are paid by adding the unpaid bills onto the property taxes or they will take the property, from the property owner and sell it via auction.
Now, they will more then likely annex the rest of Bloomington that has not been annexed slowly but surly as properties are torn down, as no more properties can be added onto a Septic Sewage System, so the rest of the County is sunk unless the County is on their own regarding sewage systems. This is one of the reasons that the Sheriff's Department is going on about getting Law Enforcement Agencies hooked onto the Sheriff's Department for Contracted Duties of Law Enforcement. This forces a City to almost be stuck with the Sheriff to be their Law Enforcement Agency.
So, the Sheriff of the County will push on almost literally!!