It's known among government types as the Santa Ana/Colleen Island, but to most passersby, it looks like another one of the tidy and tony neighborhoods scattered about Costa Mesa's Eastside or Newport Beach's Back Bay.
But technically speaking, it's neither.
The nearly 14-acre parcel — composed of 51 single-family homes and about 150 residents, most on Colleen Place and Vista Baya — is an unincorporated parcel of Orange County bordered by Costa Mesa and Newport.
Though for most practical purposes, it's Costa Mesa.
Santa Ana/Colleen Island falls within the Mesa Water and Costa Mesa Sanitary districts for water, trash and sewer services. It also officially falls under Costa Mesa's sphere of influence. The city provides emergency-response services, such as police and firefighters.
Because the area is smaller than 150 acres — the threshold for the Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission's (LAFCO) unincorporated island annexation procedure — its residents won't have a direct say in the coming months over which city they get folded into, said Rick Francis, Costa Mesa's assistant city CEO.
"The fact is, they already have a Costa Mesa ZIP code," he said. "And we don't expect there to be any change to their property values" whether the area is annexed by Costa Mesa or Newport.
Francis said Newport officials don't want to incorporate the parcel. Now, after City Council direction late last year, Costa Mesa is moving to annex the area.
The ultimate decision will be up to LAFCO.
"It just doesn't make sense anymore to have these disparate parcels scattered about," Francis said. "The county is not well-suited to provide municipal government services like this. They're supposed to be more of a regional provider, and these are the sorts of things they're interested in trying to get out of doing."
Within the past several months, the city has held two community meetings about the annexation.
Councilwoman Sandy Genis, who attended one of the meetings last week, said residents were concerned about new development standards, such as minimum lot sizes and setback spaces.
Santa Ana/Colleen Island contains an undeveloped 2.11-acre parcel — among the largest in an area known for its valuable real estate — that will probably be zoned for single-family homes, said Peter Naghavi, a retired Costa Mesa administrator who's working with the land's developer, Newport Beach-based Meadows Asset Management.
"It's really an asset to the community and to the city," Naghavi said. "These are really nice homes."
It's unclear how many houses would go on the land, which has an odd shape similar to an L, he added. The homes are likely to be built on the standard 6,000-square-foot lots and be compatible with existing developments, he said.
Naghavi, who worked for Costa Mesa for more than 20 years, said the parcel has been largely vacant for at least the past 15 years.