Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 11/23/2009 06:12:16 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – Unless something changes, Susan Hulse will soon become a city resident.

And she’s not happy about it.

Hulse lives in one of six unincorporated county islands that are slated to be absorbed into San Bernardino’s territory.

Local officials who recently decided in favor of the annexations say bringing the unincorporated land within city limits will make government services more efficient. Officials point to state law designed to accelerate annexations as the source of their authority to decide that Hulse and her neighbors should become San Bernardino residents.

But Hulse believes that authorities have made an end run around the process that would allow her and her neighbors a right to protest the annexation, a process that could lead to a vote on whether or not they join San Bernardino.

“They took away my right to vote,” Hulse said during an interview Monday. “If they can take that from me, and 1,800 other residents in my pocket (of land), what can they take from me next?”

She also spoke against the annexations at the Nov. 18 meeting of the Local Agency Formation Commission. The commission approved the annexations during that meeting.

The commission, also called Lafco, has authority to decide when new cities can become incorporated and when existing cities can increase their boundaries.

Hulse’s objection rests on her interpretation of the complicated rules that govern annexations in California.

A 2004 law allows cities to take incorporate new chunks of land – and gives residents of those areas no ability to protest – if certain conditions are met.

One of the key conditions is the requirement that the area to be annexed is less than 150 acres in area. Hulse lives in a 130-acre zone to the northeast of Del Rosa Drive and Pacific Avenue.

The land is adjacent to a 61-acre area to the west. In Hulse’s view, the fact that the areas are contiguous means that the annexation should be considered as a single zone of about 190 acres.

If considered as a single area, Hulse and her neighbors would be able to formally protest the annexations. If 25 to 50 percent of registered voters and landowners protest, the objections would force a vote. If a majority were to protest, their actions would kill the annexations.

Lafco’s executive director, Kathleen Rollings-McDonald, said the annexations conform to the law. The 2004 law allows reorganization containing a “number of individual unincorporated islands” if the land is substantially surrounded by other cities.

Rollings-McDonald said the islands will be officially annexed by 2010. There is technically a reconsideration period in which Hulse or other opponents could ask the Lafco’s board to change their minds. An opponent’s other option would be to file a lawsuit to reverse a Lafco decision.

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