Wednesday, 08 February 2023

Lakeport takes up annexation effort again

LAKEPORT – Nearly a year after its attempt to annex an area along Parallel Drive into the city limits failed, the City of Lakeport is preparing to reapproach the issue.


City officials say they indeed to file another annexation application which will likely be heard this spring.


Last July 19, the Local Area Formation Committee (LAFCO) turned down the city's application to add 157 acres to the city's boundaries, as Lake County News has reported.


In a 5-2 vote, LAFCO turned down the annexation request the commissioners didn't believe the city had enough sewer capacity to serve the annexation area.


The proposed annexation area runs along the west side of Parallel Drive, extending from the current city limits – which is the southern boundary of a vacant orchard property to the south of KFC – down to the Highway 175/Parallel Drive intersection. It includes about 50 residents and 24 dwellings.


Sewer capacity became an issue last year after the city was issued a cease and desist order from the state in January 2007. The previous spring, wet weather caused the city's sewer ponds to fill up. Officials tried to dispose of some of the treated wastewater through irrigation, but the saturated ground didn't absorb the water, which ran off the city's sewer facility property.


That landed the city in trouble with the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board, who also hit the city with a hookup ban that was later lifted.


The annexation has commonly been referred to as the “Adamson Annex” for Tom Adamson, the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based developer who approached the city in 2005 about having the area added to the city boundaries, according to Lakeport Community Development Director Richard Knoll.


Adamson, who owns a 31-acre parcel at 2565 Parallel Drive that he originally proposed to build a 130-unit subdivision on, took the project to the city, said Knoll.


The city's general plan called for annexing the area. “We took that on as a project,” Knoll told City Council members in a Tuesday evening workshop.


Although the proposed annexation area originally was much larger, Knoll said the area was narrowed to 157 acres following public meetings and surveys, which he said included a “mixed response.”


The annexation was first submitted to LAFCO in 2006, said Knoll.


Adamson agreed to pay the city for the costs of the annexation application, said Knoll.


By May of last year Adamson had paid the city, up front, just under $57,000, according to city records.


Knoll said the money helped pay for a consulting firm to assist in the process, Knoll said. The city also conducted a fiscal analysis of the annexation.


When the proposal went before LAFCO last summer, key issues included conversion of agricultural lands – which Knoll said was resolved.


The main issue, however, was the city's ability to provide services to the area, said Knoll. “It kind of boiled down to a question of sewer capacity.”


The city believed they had that capacity, Knoll said, based on estimates originally done by staff.


“Since that time, Mr. Adamson has continued to want to see the city pursue annexation,” said Knoll. “We've been working on doing just that.”


While Adamson originally had his sights set on building a subdivision on his 31-acre property, the land also has piqued the interest of other interests, including Mendocino College.


A $67.5 million bond voters approved in November 2006 sets aside $15 million to purchase land, make improvements and begin building a new Lake County center, which College President Kathy Lehner has said the college would like to see at that spot.


Said Knoll, “That's been driving the annexation to some degree.”


Lehner could not be reached for comment on Wednesday about the Adamson property.


However, the project appears to be ongoing. According to the agenda for the Mendocino College Board of Trustees' Wednesday evening meeting, a closed session discussion to look at price and terms of payment for the land was scheduled.


Knoll said city staff has been working with an attorney with the firm McDonough, Holland and Allen to create strategies for moving forward.


“At this point in time we are putting together an application to go back to LAFCO,” said Knoll.


The city also is working on environmental documents, said Knoll.


Knoll said the city plans to submit an application to LAFCO April 18, which will be circulated to LAFCO staff and commissioners in order to be on the commission's May 21 meeting agenda.


“That's our goal at this point,” Knoll said, adding the city may take the issue to LAFCO for an informal discussion April 16.


Councilman Bob Rumfelt, who also sits on LAFCO and was one of two votes against the July 19 decision, said he didn't believe some of the newer commissioners understood LAFCO's role by insisting that the city should be able to fully serve the entire annexation area.


Knoll said it was city staff's interpretation that Lakeport had to have a plan in place to eventually provide services to the entire area, but didn't need to necessarily have those measures in place for the annexation to be approved.


While sewer capacity will again be an issue, Knoll said he expects the city will be able to prove its ability to service a new area, especially in light of a recently completed $2 million sewer system expansion project which added about 200 new residential sewer hookups.


City Utilities Superintendent Mark Brannigan said the city has done everything the state has asked it to do in order to resolve the issues related to the cease and desist order.


The city also adopted a new sewer ordinance Tuesday night, updating its sewer operations.


E-mail Elizabeth Larson at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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