Andrew Edwards, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/17/2010 08:56:21 PM PST

SAN BERNARDINO – The government panel empowered to decide when cities can annex new land voted Wednesday to uphold last year’s decision to incorporate six areas into this city.

The Local Agency Formation Commission for San Bernardino County, also known as Lafco, made the decisions. The panel acted in the face of opposition from frustrated residents who do not want to join San Bernardino.

Opponents cited multiple reasons, but above all was their objection to government annexing their neighborhoods to San Bernardino without a public vote.

Lafco officials maintained that merging the neighborhoods into San Bernardino is a way of improving government services by making city boundaries more logical.

Annexation opponents grew increasingly frustrated at a Wednesday morning public hearing when panel members cast a series of unanimous votes denying a resident’s bids to block the annexations.

“I honestly thought you guys were going to listen to me and you were going to consider what I am saying,” said Susan Hulse, a resident who filed papers in an attempt change Lafco member’s minds. Lafco followed an interpretation of a 2005 state law that allows cities, under certain conditions, to annex new land without a public vote.

The law and the new annexations, commission Chairman Mark Nuami said, are intended to make local government more efficient by smoothing out jigsaw-like boundaries between city and county territory.

“I think they’re doing it because it is good government,” said Nuami, who is also mayor of Fontana.

The law that Nuami and Lafco Executive Director Kathleen Rollings- McDonald cited as authority for the annexations denies public votes when cities want to absorb county islands that are less than 150 acres in area.

Hulse lives in a 130-acre area that is contiguous with a 61-acre area. To her, this shows that Lafco made an end run around state law.

Nuami said at Wednesday’s hearing, however, that Fontana annexed islands that were adjacent to each other when that city absorbed 32 county pockets.

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