What is LAFCo?
LAFCo is an acronym for Local Agency Formation Commission. It is a regulatory agency with countywide jurisdiction, established by state law (Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000) to discourage urban sprawl and to encourage orderly and efficient provision of services, such as water, sewer, fire protection, etc. by review of local agency boundaries, formations and dissolutions.
Is LAFCo a county department?
No. LAFCo is a state mandated agency.
What does LAFCo do?
LAFCo is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed jurisdictional boundary changes, including annexations and detachments of territory to and/or from cities and special districts, incorporations of new cities, formations of new special districts, and consolidations, mergers, and dissolution of existing districts. In addition, LAFCo must review and approve contractual service agreements, determine spheres of influence for each city and district, and may initiate proposals involving district consolidation, dissolution, establishment of subsidiary districts, mergers, and reorganizations (combinations of these jurisdictional changes).
With the passage of new legislation in 200, LAFCos also were charges with the responsibility to conduct municipal service reviews. A Municipal Service Review (MSR) is a study designed to determin the adequacy of governmental services being provided to the region or sub-region. Developing service reviews for each city and special district within the county may be used by LAFCo, other governmental agencies, and the public to better understand and improve service conditions
Who are the members of LAFCo?
Mendocino LAFCo is composed of seven regular Commissioners: two members from the County Board of Supervisors; two members who represent the cities in Mendocino County; two members who represent independent special districts in Mendocino County; and one who represents the public as a whole. There are four alternate Commissioners; one from each of the above-membership categories. Mendocino LAFCo utilizes contract staff to support the Commission.
When and where does the Commission meet?
Regular LAFCo meetings are scheduled at 9:00 a.m., typically, on the 1st Monday of each month, except in September where it is held on the 2nd Monday, Meetings are held at the following location:
Mendocino County Administrative Offices
Board of Supervisors Chambers
501 Low Gap Road, Ukiah, CA 95482
Is LAFCo required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
Yes. LAFCo must comply with CEQA.
What is a Sphere of Influence (SOI)?
A sphere of influence is a planning tool adopted and used by LAFCo to designate the future boundary and service area for a city or special district.
Can a sphere of influence be changed?
Yes. LAFCo may amend and update spheres of influence. However, in many cases amending a sphere of influence requires a Municipal Service Review.
What is a Municipal Service Review?
A municipal service review is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCo, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services.
Does LAFCo charge a fee to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals?
State law authorizes LAFCo to charge the estimated reasonable cost to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Processing fees vary depending on the type of proposal (i.e., district formation, merger, reorganization, etc.), depends on actual costs to process. Please refer to LAFCos fee schedule located on-line at this web site or contact the LAFCo office at (707) 463-4470 for fee calculation information.
Is the public notified about LAFCo actions?
State law requires that LAFCo notify affected agencies and the public regarding most jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Notification of a pending proposal is made to County departments, interested individuals, petitioners, and local governmental agencies. In addition, comments are solicited from community groups as well as agencies that may potentially be affected by a LAFCo project. LAFCo must also wait until information is returned from the County Assessor, Auditor, and various state agencies before a proposal may be scheduled for a public hearing.
How long will it take to process my proposal?
If your proposal is considered routine and is non-controversial, processing time is approximately 4 to 6 months after a complete set of application materials have been submitted to the LAFCo office. More complex proposals may take additional time to process.
What are special districts, and why are they so "special"?
Special Districts are local government agencies that provide important municipal services throughout the state. If you live in the unincorporated area, you probably receive a number of vital services such as fire protection, water service, wastewater treatment and sewer, park and recreation, landscaping and lighting and other services from districts established to provide those services. Districts are either dependent (governed by the County Board of Supervisors) or independent (governed by a locally-elected board of directors). They are special because they provide service to areas that require special services above and beyond the regional services provided by the county.
Are school districts considered special districts?
School districts are not considered special districts and they fall under their own section of California law. LAFCo does receive and review proposals for new school sites that will require the extension of municipal services to unincorporated areas.
Is LAFCo subject to the Brown Act and the Political Reform Act?
Although state legislators are exempt from the Brown Act, the members of quasi-legislative bodies are not. Commissioners are subject to the same laws and restrictions that apply to all locally elected officials, including the filing of Statements of Economic Interest under the Political Reform Act.
Can I appeal a LAFCo decision?
There is no appeal process to a Commission decision. Persons who oppose a Commission action may request the Commission to reconsider its decision, but if the Commission upholds its decision, the only recourse would be to file a lawsuit for judicial review of the matter.
For inhabited areas (areas containing twelve or more registered voters), state law indicates that if written protest is filed by 25% to 50% of the registered voters, or any amount greater than 25% of the landowners, then an election is called, and the annexation would be scheduled for a vote. If the protest is less than 25% of the voters or landowners, then the annexation is approved without an election; if the protest is greater than 50% of the total registered voters, then the annexation is denied without an election.