MOORLACH UPDATE — Bolsa Chica — April 9, 2015

As a County Supervisor, I was able to move a considerable amount of unincorporated land into cities. One of the unfinished projects was to have the city of Huntington Beach annex the Bolsa Chica wetlands, as I believe the City would be a much more conscientious governing body over this glorious ecological reserve. The Bolsa Chica Conservancy is observing Earth Day this Saturday and you can find more information at

I was not present for the City’s study session, but I would say that the maintenance of Harriett Wieder Park is not a high cost obligation. The funding that I was able to garner would have been more than satisfactory. And the liability exposure concern is not reflected in past history, as I have no recollection of a guest of the County’s Regional Park suing over a slip and fall or any other mishap.

Getting unincorporated areas nested into cities improves governance for those areas. Currently, the County has to send Deputy Sheriffs all the way to the coast to monitor this area, which is not an efficient public safety response or a wise expenditure of public funds. But, the Sheriff’s union is always opposed to losing territory, so there may be a portion of this story that has not been told.

BONUS: Today I reluctantly voted for Senate Joint Resolution 2, which "urges the Congress and the President to work together to create a comprehensive and workable approach to reform the nation’s broken immigration system." Had I voted to oppose, I would have been the only "no" vote, again.

I’m trying to get my sea legs up here in Sacramento. I don’t particularly believe that one elected body should be telling another elected body what to do. I appreciate "lobbying," but Congress is fully aware that we have an immigration problem.

This request has been presented in the past in various forms, and it was actually an issue brought up in my Senate campaign. But, unlike past versions, this issue was not focused on pressuring or embarrassing Congressional Republicans. Instead, this resolution was targeted to President Obama, and is a clear request that his administration work with the Congress, rather than act unilaterally.

In the State Senate, a Senator cannot abstain. Senators can only vote "yes" or "no," or leave the room and be reported as not present. In the first roll call, I declined to vote. After it was clear that every one of my colleagues voted in the affirmative, I followed suit.

I came to Sacramento to get things done. Passing resolutions with platitudes is not my idea of getting something done. I’d prefer to vote on real solutions. But, I also want to work with my colleagues to be a team player. That’s where I fell on this lengthily debated resolution. The awkward legislation that will be introduced soon, to show that California is leading the way, does not provide solutions that I’m in favor of. But, that’s what happens when Congress doesn’t fill the vacuum that it has jurisdiction over, thus also not providing real solutions.

HB Independent

Huntington won’t annex Bolsa Chica wetlands, council decides

By Anthony Clark Carpio

After about six years of discussions among city officials, the Huntington Beach City Council decided Monday to forgo further talk of annexing the Bolsa Chica wetlands, though members are still interested in operating a county park.

A majority of the council members said during a study session that they are concerned about added liability the city would take on by annexing the 1,200-acre Bolsa Chica Ecological Reserve, which is in an unincorporated area off Pacific Coast Highway between Warner Avenue and Seapoint Street.

"We’re a big target as a city," Councilman Dave Sullivan said. "If somebody falls off the bridge going into the wetlands, they’re going to come and sue us."

Mayor Jill Hardy, who favored annexing the land, asked Fire Chief Patrick McIntosh which agency typically would get to Bolsa Chica first during a fire. McIntosh said city firefighters are the first responders for the area, but they can ask for help from the Orange County Fire Authority.

McIntosh added that if the county were to render aid, it would be at the county’s expense. If the city annexed Bolsa Chica, the county probably would bill the city for such services, he said.

Though the idea of annexing the wetlands appears to be dead, many council members were interested in continuing talks with Orange County officials regarding the city operating the 144-acre Harriett M. Wieder Regional Park, on the southeast border of the Bolsa Chica reserve along Seapoint.

"As a city of our size, we should have a county park," Sullivan said.

State Sen. John Moorlach (R-Costa Mesa), who formerly represented Huntington Beach on the Orange County Board of Supervisors, had proposed alloting $1.25 million from the county to the city, of which $1 million would go toward improving the park and the remainder for maintenance.

However, several council members said the allotment for park upkeep would be too low. City Manager Fred Wilson said maintenance costs for the park could be as high as $75,000 a year. Under that scenario, a $250,000 maintenance allotment would cover about three years.

Councilwoman Barbara Delgleize said she would like city staff to work with Moorlach’s successor, Supervisor Michelle Steel, to negotiate better funding.

"It’s an excellent opportunity for our new supervisor to do something for a community that’s part of her voting area," Sullivan said.



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