Chico City Council To Debate Annexation Of Chapman-Mulberry

Feb 17, 2015

About 1,700 more people may soon be living in Chico, and none of them will have to hire a moving truck or pack up a single keepsake. North State Public Radio’s Marc Albert has more.

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It won’t take hand trucks, packing peanuts or a suspension of the laws of physics—just a few strokes of the pen to make small, but potentially important changes for those affected.

The long stalled and hotly debated annexation of the working class enclaves known as Chapman-Mulberry, will likely take an important step forward as the city council considers a pact with the county ending a lengthy dispute.

Despite being surrounded on all sides by city administered property, neighborhood residents call the county for law enforcement and just about every other public service. Residents of the largely low income districts are also barred from voting in city elections.

A bureaucratic squabble between city and county officials intensified after Chico connected some 62 properties to its municipal sewer without gaining permission or paying fees to the appropriate county department. That body, the Local Area Formation Committee, or LAFCo has been locking horns with the city ever since.

Chico, under orders from Sacramento to reduce water pollution from failing septic systems, hopes to connect more homes to its sewer system. Meanwhile, according to an official report prepared for the meeting, county officials fear that if the city provides sewer service, it will never annex the areas---leaving the county on the hook for law enforcement and other services.

Opinion in the community is divided, some optimistically hoping for improved services, while others fear higher taxes and more scrutiny of an area officials typically approach with a light touch.

Whether residents will get to weigh in on the matter is an open question. State law allows the city to move ahead unilaterally because Chapmantown and Mulberry are less than 150 acres in size. The proposal before the council, if approved and accepted by LAFCo--would start a five year countdown to formal annexation.

Ironically, if the council rejects the agreement, annexation could come even sooner. LAFCo may force the city to annex in as little as a year.

For North State Public Radio News, I’m Marc Albert in Chico.