Seven of eight county islands have been incorporated into the City of Hanford following a vote, but one is still pending due to zoning issues.
At their most recent meeting, the Hanford City Council voted 3-1 to approve of the annexation, with City Councilmember Amanda Saltray abstaining. However, Annexation No. 4 was excluded from the vote. According to City Manager Mario Cifuentez, the exclusion of the county island came down to zoning issues in relation to the Hanford Municipal Airport and its departure path.
“Each county has an airport land use condition and they have to come up with a plan — an airspace and a zoning plan — for the areas surrounding the airport," Cifuentez said. "And so when it was zoned during the general plan, it was zoned incompatible with the airport’s landing plan and is actually much more restricted than it should be. And so we’ve agreed that we need to go back and make that change at a staff level.”
Plans to incorporate the county islands into the city began in 2019, but were put off temporarily by the COVID-19 pandemic. In order for the annexation to go through, residents needed to be able to address the City and voice any concerns, but public meetings were benched by social distancing guidelines.
In September, the Hanford Planning Commission met to amend a proposal to annex one of the eight islands. In their previous meeting on Sep. 14, the Commission reviewed seven of the county islands and found that they were consistent with the general plan, but a typo in the notice for Area 7 meant it had to be redone before going to City Council. However, there were not enough people present to hold quorum and advance any items on the agenda for Sep. 28.
The incorporation of the eight islands will increase the population of Hanford by 1,293 people. These new residents will fall under the city for public services, but not everything will change overnight. Fire services will remain the same, as the Kings County Fire Department and Hanford Fire Department maintain a mutual aid agreement. Meanwhile, law enforcement in these areas will remain under the jurisdiction of the Kings County Sheriff's Office until 2023.
Cifuentez said that he expects the final island to be annexed early next year.