Antioch will be shielded from any liability surrounding annexation of an 108-acre tract of large lots and isolated properties off Viera Avenue.
As Antioch and Contra Costa County officials negotiate a complex annexation package for about 680 acres to the city's northeast, city leaders recently raised concerns about moving forward without giving the area's roughly 200 residents a chance to weigh in, even though a hearing is not required.
The county's Local Agency Formation Commission, which oversees boundary changes, has the authority under state law to approve annexation without the say of property owners or registered voters on "land islands," or pieces of unincorporated land surrounded by a city and no larger than 150 acres.
That process has been used "hundreds" of times in California counties but not recently in Contra Costa, said Lou Ann Texeira, the agency's executive director.
Staff members and legal counsels from the city, county and LAFCO met last month and came up with an approach that would indemnify Antioch for the area, said Victor Carniglia, a city-hired consultant.
"Under the proposal, if there is some sort of legal challenge and the court determines LAFCO is negligent, we wouldn't hold the city liable," Texeira said. "I think it gives the city some comfort."
The LAFCO board would consider the proposal as part of the annexation application for the neighborhood, which the city hopes to bring forward later
Antioch would still have some responsibility for any legal challenges to the other two areas of the annexation package, including the large swath of industrial land off Wilbur Avenue that would bring GenOn Energy's 760-megawatt power plant within the city.
Many residents in the area, which drew international attention in 2009 because of the Jaycee Dugard kidnapping case, have expressed a desire to keep their hands-off way of life.
Antioch officials say Viera residents should have the right to protest.
"If this is done (without protest), and from (LAFCO's) interpretation it appears they may lean that way, then I think we're doing these residents a disservice," Antioch councilman Gary Agopian said.
The city and county are working out the final kinks of an agreement on how to split property taxes for the power plants, Carnligia said. He says it "largely mirrors" a typical property tax split set by a 1980s master tax agreement, which would be about 62 percent for the county and 38 percent for Antioch.
"We just have to nail down the exact numbers; it's not like we're at an impasse," Carnligia said.
A second agreement is being considered to cover the estimated $3 million infrastructure improvements in the Viera area. Those improvements were being considered in the property tax split, but lumping it all together is proving to be too complicated, Carniglia said.
Antioch expects to complete a revamped version of its environmental and zoning documents later this month, he said. The public would have 30 days to comment.
GenOn has offered an incentive to the city and county of $1 million apiece to complete the annexation as soon as possible.
"We should be getting very close on settling this," Agopian said.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.
some of the details in the tax transfer agreement with county
presenting on Feb. 13, be presenting what that looks like, need to have LAFCO staff as part of discussion
agreed to dollars and cents, largely mirrors with master agreement ... how they all work together, one agreement that includes also infra agreement
felt complicating things, purely focuse on how you're going to split up dollars and cents