MOORLACH UPDATE — Venezia Column

This week’s theme is “Super City,” starting on Sunday with Professor Fred Smoller’s OC Register submission (see MOORLACH UPDATE — Jefferson County — August 8, 2011) and ending with Barbara Venezia’s OC Register Saturday column.  Newport-Mesa?  Now there’s a great topic for a fun debate.

Could Costa Mesa, Newport become ‘super city’?


The political troubles in Costa Mesa have dominated my columns since city leaders handed layoff notices to almost half their work force in March.

As you can imagine, I’ve heard from many residents weighing in on the subject. The majority are unhappy with the direction their city is taking.


Some suggested a recall of the council as a solution, but recalls are time-consuming and expensive.

Others are concerned council decisions are literally dismantling their city. And if that is the case, why not have Newport just annex Costa Mesa?

I worked closely on the annexation of East and West Santa Ana Heights for years as the Santa Ana Heights Redevelopment Project Advisory chairman. And that’s where I became acquainted with Orange County LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission).

For annexation to occur, a city or residents initiate a petition to LAFCO to change their sphere of influence.

In this case, Costa Mesa would have to agree to let the land go – and Newport would accept it, a highly unlikely scenario.

But LAFCO offers other options for residents seeking radical change in their city government.

According to The Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000: disincorporation, detachment of a territory and city consolidation.

Section 56765 says, "A petition for the disincorporation of a city shall be signed by not less than 25 percent of the registered voters residing in the city proposed to be disincorporated as shown on the county register of voters."

Another alternative, Section 56768, "A petition for detachment of territory from a city shall be signed by either of the following:

"Not less than 25 percent of the registered voters residing within the territory proposed to be detached. Or not less than 25 percent of the number of owners of land within the territory proposed to be detached who also own 25 percent of the assessed value of land within the territory, as shown on the last equalized assessment roll."

Here, like in annexation, the city would have to agree to let the land go.

But Section 56766 is really interesting. It says, "A petition for the consolidation of two or more cities shall be signed by not less than 5 percent of the registered voters of each affected city as shown on the county register of voters."

Cities like Newport, Huntington Beach and Costa Mesa are already studying ways they can share several municipal services.

On July 30, the OC Register’s Teri Sforza wrote "seven cities serve half the county’s population (1.5 million people), and 27 cities serve the other half (1.5 million people)."

Is it time to merge cities to create "super cities"? Supervisor John Moorlach has been talking about a super city idea for Rossmoor, Los Alamitos and Seal Beach for several years now.

So let’s play what if. … What if Costa Mesa dissolved into Newport?

Costa Mesa’s local government would cease to exist.

Newport would then have the best shopping in O.C. with South Coast Plaza and Fashion Island. The OC Fairgrounds and the Boulevard of Cars would be in Newport, as would the revenue stream from all of these.

Homeowners in the former Costa Mesa could see property values go up with a Newport Beach address.

But there are other cities bordering Costa Mesa that might like the Super City idea if Newport doesn’t. Costa Mesa could splinter off to several neighbors.

There are options to initiate change; it would just take a little organization by residents to petition LAFCO. Catch my columns online at

Disclaimer:  You have been added to my MOORLACH UPDATE communication e-mail tree.  In lieu of a weekly newsletter, you will receive occasional media updates, some with commentary to explain the situation, whenever I appear in the media (unless it is a duplication of a previous story). 

I have two thoughts for you to consider:  (1) my office does not usually issue press releases to get into the newspapers (only in rare cases); and (2) I do not write the articles, opinions or letters to the editor. 

This message should appear at the bottom of every e-mail you receive.  If these e-mails should stop arriving in your mail box, it will be because your address has changed and you did not provide a new one.  If you do not wish to receive these e-mails, then please e-mail back and request to unsubscribe.