Mont Calabasas annexation issue peaking – Calabasas Homes

Mont Calabasas annexation issue peaking

2011-04-28 / Community
City wants control of 110 homes
By Sylvie Belmond

Residents in unincorporated Mont Calabasas have one more month to voice their opinions about a plan to annex their development into the city.

The city intends to take control of 110 homes and a vacant 5.2- acre commercially zoned lot at the northwest corner of Las Virgenes Road and Thousand Oaks Boulevard in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

The Mont Calabasas Homeowners Association made the annexation request about three years ago. The residential development comprises some 400 acres, including open space.

The Los Angeles County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) approved the boundary change on April 13. It will conduct a protest hearing on Wed., June 8 to allow opponents to voice their opinions and determine whether the annexation should be finalized.

If less than a quarter of the 176 registered voters in the unincorporated community are in opposition, the annexation will become official. If more than 25 percent but less than 50 percent of voters oppose, the matter will be determined by a special election in Mont Calabasas. If more than half of voters object, LAFCO will terminate the annexation effort.

Mont Calabasas resident Pamela Lundquist said her community has been discussing the annexation since 2002.

Residents would benefit from the switch, said Lundquist, a former Mont Calabasas board member, because they could become involved in city politics and volunteer on city committees and commissions to help decide future planning in the area surrounding their homes.

“I join many of my neighbors in the hope that annexation will be approved so, in the future, our collective voice will be heard where it matters most: our local government,” Lundquist said.

She said another benefit of joining the city is that property taxes collected in Mont Calabasas would be spent closer to home.

If the annexation goes through, the city would receive $90,000 in annual county property taxes to pay for services such as lighting and street maintenance in the annexation area.

The 4.7 percent property tax transfer would begin in July if the annexation is approved June 8. The city would also receive about $33,000 in utility user taxes. The city and county have already approved the transaction.

According to the city, money collected in Mont Calabasas would be spent locally to pay for city, police and fire services, road maintenance, and community programs.

But not all Mont Calabasas residents support the proposed change.

“Fundamentally, annexation is always motivated by a city’s desire to increase its tax base and influence,” Thomas Shuck said.

He added that he doesn’t want to trade the tranquility and independence of his community for the “heavy-handed” and “seesaw” politics of the city.

Calabasas brings too many regulations, Shuck said. New building codes in the city promoted “ harsh” treatment of septic system users. In addition, lighting assessments would increase from $5 to $28 per house if the city takes over, he said.

Although the city’s new mayor and council are trying to soften the regulations, the rules could easily be reinstated when the next regime takes over in two years, Shuck said.

“Whatever you think of his politics, our county supervisor, Mr. Yaroslavsky, is very attuned, conscientious, and his staff is responsive,” said Shuck, an attorney who has worked on landuse issues with the supervisor in the past.

Concerns that the city will increase taxes to cover deficits caused by overregulation and overcompensation of city regulatory staff also exist, he said.

Shuck said the perks offered by the city are really nothing new for the Mont Calabasas residents.

The city is only offering “trinkets,” such as a city library card, “a cut in line” to join the swim and tennis club, and a discount on a school bus that no one uses, he said.

Simeon Peroff, a real estate broker and Mont Calabasas resident, said annexation should be initiated by residents, not the association.

“It should be up to the majority. Initially, only five out of 110 homeowners pushed us into the city. They gave us information we wanted to hear, all positive about the city. But the information is misleading, and now the anti-annexation movement is starting to kick in,” Peroff said.

Plans to annex Mountain View Estates, a 385-home gated community just north of the 101 Freeway, are also underway. But a number of steps are required before that annexation can be considered by the formation commission, said Michael Hafken, spokesperson for Calabasas.

What is your opinion about the annexation of Mont Calabasas into the City of Calabasas. While some are concerned about the politics of Calabasas and the tighter regulations, others see it as an opportunity for greater involvement in and for their voices to be heard in local Calabasas government.

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