LAFCO – 1
Many residents have never heard of LAFCO (Local Agency Formation Commission) and have no idea the level of control and power this organization has over local government. Plumas County Board of Supervisors and Portola City Council will be presented with an argument to change the way Plumas LAFCO has been funded potentially shifting a larger share of the cost to the County and away from the City of Portola. Before those discussions and decisions take place seems like a good time to explain a little of who and what LAFCO is.
WHAT IS LAFCO? LAFCO is an intra-local agency that was created by state legislation to ensure that changes in governmental organization occur in a manner that provides efficient and quality services and preserves open space land resources.
LAFCO was created as a legislative response to actions of local jurisdictions in the 1940’s and 50’s. At the time local governments incorporated/annexed large, irregular portion of land that resulted in irrational urban boundaries with isolated populations and without efficient services or no services at all. In 1963 the Legislature established a LAFCO in each county and gave them regulatory authority over local agency boundary changes.
Over a period of years the Legislature has added to and refined the authority of the LAFCOs. 1985 saw the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act which consolidated all statutes relative to local government changes of organization under Government Code 56000, et.seq. The Legislature formed a Commission on Local Governance in the 21st Century which came up recommendations which were based on the following presumptions: (1) The future will be marked by continued phenomenal growth, (2) California lacks a plan to accommodate growth, (3) local government is plagued by fiscal insecurity, and (4) the public is not engaged.
With the passage of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000, effective in 2001, LAFCO powers were consolidated. They now have specific authority to review, approve or disapprove:
Annexations to or detachments from cities or special districts
Formation or dissolution of special districts
Incorporation or Disincorporation of cities
Consolidation, merger or reorganizations of cities or special districts
Development of, amendments to Spheres of Influence
Extensions of service beyond an agency’s (district’s) jurisdiction
Provision of new or different services by special districts
Conduct Municipal Service Reviews of services, update Spheres of Influence and Sphere Horizons at least once every five years.
As you can see LAFCO has tremendous authority as well as direct and profound impact on land use, provision of services and the overall quality of life in Plumas County. In my next blog I will discuss Plumas LAFCO in more detail and talk about some of the issues that will be in the news very soon regarding LAFCO and its funding base.