Bishop is seeking to annex a 15-acre property known as the Hanby Parcel into its City limits within the next year. The item was discussed at its Nov. 15 City Council meeting.
Bishop has been considering the future of the Hanby Parcel, which sits next to Hanby Street, since 2005. The land is currently the property of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), and therefore Bishop assumed it was a part of the Inyo-LA Long-Term Water Agreement (LTWA) list of possible land divestments. According to the LTWA, Inyo may request the LADWP release up to 75 acres of land for sale at auction. A series of LTWA maps for Bishop, Laws, Lone Pine, Independence, and Big Pine, note possible divestment areas.
Inyo County District 2 Supervisor Susan Cash was present at the meeting to clarify that the Hanby Parcel is in fact not a part of the original LTWA list of possible land divestments. Its release to Bishop would follow a different process than areas designated by LTWA for release.
“The Hanby Parcel isn’t scheduled for release,” Supervisor Cash explained, “but it has been added by the County to the list of possible divestitures. The LADWP and the County put the land divestment on hold with the understanding that, at some point prior to the land actually [being released and] going to auction, the City would need to annex the property.”
This was news to the Council, which had indicated in the Hanby Parcel agenda item that this would be a discussion about “property owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and scheduled for release under the Long-Term Water Agreement.” Instead, the Council found itself contemplating annexation without a guarantee of release.
Simply annexing the Hanby Parcel would bring the property into Bishop City limits, but the City would be unable to sell or lease the land, as it would still belong to the LADWP.
“Why spend the money to annex a piece of property that can’t be developed?” wondered Council member Jeff Griffiths. The cost of annexation isn’t cheap: the application with LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission), which is comprised of Inyo County Supervisors, Bishop City Council Members, and Public representatives, would be approximately $9,300 for fees, deposits, and consultation. Interim City Administrator Keith Caldwell explained that with additional fees, that number may rise to somewhere between $13,000 and $14,000.
Supervisor Cash noted at least one benefit of annexation without assurance of release: “a good portion of property owners on the south side of East Yaney [perpendicular to Hanby Street] have their backyards in the Hanby Parcel, which puts their houses in the City and their backyards in the County. This has been an impediment for them, so that would be cleared up.”
Caldwell also pointed out that making a profit isn’t part of Bishop’s intention in seeking annexation and release. “The City’s goal is to see what the community wants to do with the land,” he said after the meeting. If the LADWP did release the land for auction, Caldwell explained that the City could then potentially work as a redevelopment agency, allowing developers to purchase the property. “We could use that land as open space or parkland,” Caldwell said, “or develop low-income housing. None of this would happen without public input.”
“The City won’t own the property at any point,” Caldwell added. “This won’t bring any money to the City.”
In light of the information provided by Supervisor Cash, the Council now plans to send a letter to the Board of Supervisors requesting that it consider the Hanby Parcel the next time there is a land release. Supervisor Cash said that “the Board expects to review how much land still needs to be released, review what land is available through the LTWA, and identify those parcels the County would like LADWP to release as part of the Phase III [third] auction” in the next couple of months. The LADWP has already held two auctions and successfully sold a few parcels chosen by community groups.
Bishop intends to move ahead with the annexation process while awaiting the County and LADWP’s. The annexation process will begin in January and may finish by the end of next year.