A chance to get it right

Council members make the right call by reconsidering annexation

Back in November, we lamented the decision of the then-liberal-majority Chico City Council refusing annexation of Chapmantown and the Mulberry district—two islands of unincorporated county lands in the middle of the city.

It was a poor move for a number of reasons, including that annexation would allow both of those neighborhoods to join the city in one fell swoop. This would spare individual property owners the burden—and additional expense—of doing it on their own. The city and the Butte County Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCo, also would be spared the expense of holding individual hearings to annex the properties in a piecemeal process.

Oh, and then there’s the lawsuit. LAFCo threatened the city with one, since staff had allowed 62 properties to hook up to the city sewer illegally. That is, the city didn’t receive authorization from LAFCo, did not require the properties to be annexed, and did not pay LAFCo’s fees. City staff has acknowledged that this was, in fact, illegal.

The four liberal members of the panel voted down annexation anyway, all but guaranteeing LAFCo would move forward with the lawsuit. But change is afoot and we’re glad to see it.

Councilman Randall Stone has brought the topic back for reconsideration. The rub is that he wants the city to hold a special meeting for residents of both Chapmantown and the Mulberry district, so that they know exactly what to expect post-annexation; why it’s necessary and how it will or will not affect their lives and properties. This is something that should have happened several years ago, when LAFCo started pressing the city on annexation. But, as the saying goes, better late than never.

In the meantime, we urge LAFCo to hold off on filing a lawsuit until the city has had a chance to hold this meeting and come back to the council level for further discussion. It’s clear to us things are moving in the right direction.