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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on November 26th, 2019, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 20, Issue 39 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 20, Issue 39

Lompoc changes tactics on Bailey Avenue annexation

By Zac Ezzone

As Lompoc enters the final stretch of an application process to expand its boundaries for the first time since 1999, City Council has tasked its city attorney with taking a leading role.

The city’s inability to expand its boundaries for the last two decades has stifled the number of new homes built in the city and left Lompoc with a severe housing shortage. During a Nov. 19 council meeting, City Manager Jim Throop said a couple of years ago the city had a housing deficit: One new home was built, while two were torn down.

Given the importance of this annexation, and the amount of opposition the city experienced during previous annexation attempts, Lompoc Mayor Jenelle Osborne said City Attorney Jeff Malawy could help the city’s chances.

“I believe the recommendation to engage the city attorney into the process is to become a stronger advocate for us as the local agency to reflect on the local conditions and circumstances that we have here,” Osborne said.

In July 2018, at the council’s request, city staff submitted an application to the Santa Barbara County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to annex two parcels of land totaling 148 acres on the west side of the city along Bailey Avenue. LAFCOs are state-created commissions that exist in each county and are made up of staff members and overseen by a group of city and county elected officials.

Lompoc’s application process was delayed for almost nine months as the county’s LAFCO considered policy changes that would have made it more difficult for local jurisdictions to annex land, Osborne said at the November meeting. A staff report from LAFCO’s meeting in October 2018 cites Lompoc’s attempt to annex these two parcels of land as the reason for considering these modifications, which were eventually changed to a less consequential amendment during LAFCO’s July 11 meeting. 

The city, Santa Barbara County, and LAFCO held a meeting required by state law at the end of October to discuss Lompoc’s annexation proposal. Throop said he left that meeting unnerved after a LAFCO staff member said he doesn’t believe the commission will agree with the city’s proposal.

Councilmember Dirk Starbuck questioned why Lompoc has had a hard time annexing property, when other county jurisdictions haven’t in recent years.

“Why can’t we annex less than 200 acres?” Starbuck said. “[Santa Maria] can take the whole Enos Ranch and annex it and do it in a few months.”

Osborne urged council members to not become combative during this process. Instead, she said, it’s up to the city to explain why expanding the city’s boundary wouldn’t only benefit the city, but the county as well.

Councilmember Jim Mosby quickly disregarded this advice. After discussing how much revenue the city could raise through the potential development of this annexed land, he cited examples of what he sees as a double standard that’s allowed cities in South County to expand, while stopping Lompoc from doing the same.

“I keep thinking back to the movie Independence Day when the alien comes over and wraps around the guy’s neck and they’re asking, ‘What do you want us to do?’ And he says, ‘Die.’ That’s what I keep seeing South County wants us to do,” Mosby said. 




Weekly Poll
Guadalupe is in the midst of new development, but is that a good thing?

No. The new homes will expand the town too much and run the small-town vibe.
No. Commercial development will follow and destroy all the local businesses.
Yes. The town can't survive another economic downturn without more business and residents in town.
Yes, but the town has to steer development toward tourism and the hospitality industry.

| Poll Results