GHAD faces dissolution, one more time

With a new state law granting it the power, at long last, to dissolve the Las Tunas Geological Hazardous Abatement District (GHAD), the City Council Monday denied a request from the district to postpone the dissolution while the district works on a plan for preventing beach erosion.

The council’s action came despite a request for delaying the dissolution from Assembly Speaker Pro Tem Sheila Kuehl, who, acting on the city’s behalf, sponsored the legislation granting the city its new dissolution powers.

The city, in 1994, attempted to dissolve the district after it produced a plan for preventing erosion on Las Tunas Beach that the city deemed unacceptable. The district, challenging the city’s right to dissolve it, sued the city in 1994. The trial court ruled in the city’s favor, but a court of appeal said the state law on GHADs did not permit the city to undertake the dissolution.

With its hands tied, the city turned to the legislature to grant it the dissolution power. Kuehl, working at the city’s request, successfully sponsored the bill amending the law on GHADs. The bill, which will take effect in January, was signed by Gov. Pete Wilson last week.

At Monday’s meeting, the district requested that the council postpone a dissolution proceeding until March. By that time, the district had hoped to have a plan for controlling erosion on Las Tunas Beach to submit for the city’s review. Kuehl sent a representative from her office and a letter encouraging the council to grant the district additional time. In her letter, Kuehl said she supported GHADs as a tool for focusing on

special environmental problems. But most council members were so exasperated by the past behavior of the district, they were in no mood to extend its life.

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“The GHAD has opposed us every step of the way, and now they’re asking us for favors,” said Councilman Walt Keller.

Council members Carolyn Van Horn and Tom Hasse said they would entertain an extension if, before the end of January, the district had made progress on its plan for controlling sand erosion.

“I think this is an organization that needs a carrot-and-stick approach,” said Hasse.

Councilman Harry Barovsky and Mayor Joan House expressed concern that the city was ignoring Kuehl’s request to grant the extension.

“This bill would not have happened without her assistance,” said Barovsky. “For us not to honor her request would be foolhardy at best.”

But the other council members said they would rather wait to see if an extension was merited, based on any work the district does before the end of January.

The council voted 4-1 to deny the request for the delay. Councilwoman Joan House opposed the motion.

If the district is dissolved, the legislation provides that the district’s remaining funds shall be distributed on a pro rata basis to the property owners in the district.

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