MARTINEZ -- The county agency that regulates local government boundary changes is scheduled next week to review Martinez's application to annex four subdivisions in the Alhambra Valley.

The City Council originally proposed annexing 139 parcels across nearly 400 acres in the valley, the semi-rural area south of Martinez. Facing a likely referendum, city leaders last month reduced the annexation area so it primarily includes properties bound by existing agreements to one day become part of Martinez.

Martinez has asked the Contra Costa Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, to amend its annexation application. The revised proposal includes 316 acres and 104 parcels in the Stonehurst, Alhambra Valley Ranch, Deer Creek and Valley Orchard subdivisions, according to Lou Ann Texeira, LAFCO's executive officer.

The LAFCO meeting is 1:30 p.m. Sept. 12 in the Contra Costa County board of supervisors chambers, 651 Pine St. in Martinez.

When Stonehurst and Alhambra Valley Ranch were built in the 1980s, the deeds included a stipulation that the houses would one day become part of Martinez. LAFCO encouraged Martinez to annex the developments because the city provides water service to the luxury homes in these gated communities. City leaders also believe they have deferred annexation agreements for the homes in the nearby Deer Creek and Valley Orchard subdivisions. Martinez claims to have 99 signed agreements, according to Texeira.

If 25 percent of the registered voters or landowners in the proposed annexation area file a written protest with LAFCO, Martinez must hold a mail-in ballot election. However, homeowners bound by deferred annexation agreements can't file a protest.

In some cases, the current property owners signed the deferred annexation agreement. In others, previous owners or the developer may have signed it. Regardless, the city says the agreements are legally binding.

Hal and Marie Olson, of the Alhambra Valley Improvement Association, say the city removed 22 of the 25 homeowners they represented from the proposed annexation area.

Opponents believe annexation will ruin the valley's rural character and lead to poorly maintained roads and slower police response times. Valley residents who are annexed also would have to help repay a $30 million parks bond Martinez voters passed in 2008.

Lisa P. White covers Martinez and Pleasant Hill. Contact her at 925-943-8011. Follow her at Twitter.com/lisa_p_white.

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