Chino On The Verge Of Annexing More Than 144 Unincorporated County Acres

The City of Chino is going to move forward with the annexation of .22625 of a square mile at the periphery of its current city limits on its northwestern end. The total land area of the subject territory is 144.8 acres best described as lying east of Norton Avenue, north and south of Francis Avenue, north and south of Philadelphia Street, and east and west of Yorba Avenue.
The subject territory is a mix of residential properties, some residential properties with agricultural uses on them, one religious facility, that being the Chino-Baitul Hameed Mosque at 11941 Ramona Avenue and one small market. The current dwelling units within area are classified as single-family residential, multi-family duplexes, four-plexes or apartments of no more than ten units.
According to Chino Principal Planner Michael Hitz, who signed the application for the annexation with the San Bernardino County Local Agency Formation Commission, the proposed land uses of the property after annexation will not deviate significantly from the current ones. He said the land after annexation will be zoned for and include residential, agricultural, continual use of religious facility, small market and potential parkland or other public use on the land designated as public. Further according to Hitz, “Approximately 13 acres of the area being annexed into the city is proposed to be developed with 45 single family homes as approved by the County of San Bernardino Board of Supervisors. The development of those is not expected to have a negative impact on the regional transportation plan.”
Hizz maintained that the land included in the proposal will not require public services from any agency or district which is currently operating at or near capacity, including sewer, water, police, fire, or schools. In addition, he asserted, “The project complies with all City, County, and State requirements and basic principles of environmental justice as it does not expose minority or disadvantaged populations within the proposed annexation area to proportionally greater risk or impacts compared with those borne by other individuals.”
According to Hitz, there are “approximately 394 persons” living within the area to be annexed. . Despite the routine and relatively quiet approach being taken toward effectuating the annexation, there is some pottential controversy. In the annexation application, Hitz acknowledged that Chino has not obtained 100 percent written consent to the annexaton of the landowners in the subject territory. This implies there is some objection to the annexation.
The property, it appears, is being annexed as an “island,” that is, property entirely surrounded by an existing city. In fact, while the southern portion of the property to be annexed is surrounded by land withing the Chino City Limits, property at the top of the subject 144.8 acres is surrounded by unincorporated San Bernardino County, although that unincorporated area lies within Chino’s sphere of influence.
A provision of state law allows cities to annex without a vote unincorporated island areas of 150 acres or less that are substantially or totally surrounded by the annexing city. It appears that Chino is relying upon that presumed authority to gobble up the full 144.8 acres.
In the application, Hitz wrote, “A study was conducted by the City of Chino to determine how best to annex the unincorporated areas of the city’s sphere of influence. It was determined the best practice was to begin with the annexation of the unincorporated islands. The City of Chino has initiated he annexation of this Island known as the Ramona and Francis Annexation.”
It thus appears that the city is attempting to use that loophole in the law to force the annexation without letting those whose properties are being annexed to have a say in the matter.
Nevertheless, the consideration that the property is not entirely surrounded by Chino gives anyone with standing who seeks to contest the annexation, legal cause to do so. It remains to be seen whether residents of the are a will emerge to contest the annexation.
The San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors is scheduled to approve the annexation next Tuesday, May 21.
-Mark Gutglueck

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