LAFCO is an independent agency created by state legislature to ensure changes in governmental organization occur in a manner which facilitates efficient and quality delivery of services and preserves agricultural land resources. LAFCO of Colusa County has adopted its own Policies, Standards and Procedures promoting state policy embodied in the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000.
LAFCO of Colusa County’s mission statement is:
“The Local Agency Formation Commission of Colusa County is committed to serving the citizens, governmental agen-cies, and applicants of its jurisdiction by using its authority, knowledge and expertise to make beneficial changes in the structure of public agencies through special studies, programs and actions resulting in the resolution of conflicts; or-derly growth, development, and governance of communities within Colusa County; cost-effective delivery of services; and timely processing of applications.”
The creation of LAFCO was a legislative response to actions by local jurisdictions in the 1940's and 1950's. Agencies incorporated or annexed large, irregular portions of land in a manner resulting in irrational urban boundaries, unnecessary conversion of prime agricultural land and isolated populations without efficient services or with no services at all. In 1963, the Legislature established a Local Agency Formation Commission in each county and delegated to them its regulatory authority over local agency boundary changes.
Additional legislation in the 1960's and 1970’s extended LAFCO’s authority. In the 1970's the Legislature recognized the connection between decisions concerning governmental organization and the issues of urban sprawl and loss of prime agricultural land. In response to these concerns, LAFCOs were charged with implementing changes in governmental organization in a manner which would preserve agricultural and open space land resources and provide for efficient delivery of services. Concerned that LAFCOs were responding reactively without considering long-term regional issues, in 1972 the Legislature began requiring LAFCO to adopt a sphere of influence for each agency in its jurisdiction. The sphere is the physical boundary and service area each local government agency is expected to serve and each proposal the Commission considers must be consistent with the sphere plan. The Legislature and the courts require LAFCOs to implement the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as it applies to LAFCO actions.
In 1985, the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act consolidated all statutes relative to local government changes of organization. Later, in 1997, the Legislature assembled a Commission on Local Governance in the 21st Century to examine governance issues with special attention to the Local Government Reorganization Act.
Many of the Commission on Local Governance’s recommendations were incorporated into the Cortese Knox Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act, which was adopted by the Legislature in 2000, and became effective in 2001.
LAFCO has the specific authority to review and approve or disapprove:
Annexations to, or detachments from, cities or districts.
Formation or dissolution of districts.
Incorporation or disincorporation of cities.
Consolidation or reorganization of cities or districts.
The establishment of a subsidiary district(s).
The development of, and amendments to, Spheres of Influence.
Extensions of service beyond an agency’s jurisdictional boundaries.
Provision of new or different services by districts.
Pursuant to Section 56434, the Commission may review and approve proposals that extend service into previously unserved territory in unincorporated areas.
LAFCO is now empowered to initiate and conduct Municipal Service Reviews for services within its jurisdiction.
The State Legislature recognized the validity of the findings of the Commission on Local Governance for the 21st Century and codified a tool that could be used to collect information and evaluate service provision from a broader perspective. The tool for conducting service reviews is provided in Section 56430 of Government Code. Section 56430 requires “that in order to prepare and to update Spheres of Influence in accordance with section 56425 of the LAFCO law; LAFCOs are required to conduct a service review of the municipal services provided in the county or other appropriate designated area. LAFCOs must include in the area designated for service review the county, the region, the sub-region, or other geographic area as is appropriate for an analysis of the service or services to be reviewed and, as noted previously, must prepare a written statement of its determination with respect to each of the following:
(1) Growth and population projections for the affected area;
(2) Present and Planned Capacity of public facilities and adequacy of public services, including infrastructure needs or deficiencies;
(3) Financial ability of agencies to provide service;
(4) Status of, and opportunities for, shared facilities;
(5) Accountability for community services needs, including government structure and operational efficiencies, and;
(6) Any other matter related to effective or efficient service delivery, as required by Commission policy.
In addition to LAFCO’s regulatory responsibilities, LAFCO of Colusa County considers that an important part of its role is to encourage communication and collaborative planning and studies between public agencies.
Lafco of Colusa County is funded by the Cities of Colusa and Williams and the County of Colusa. Lafco of Colusa County also receives fee revenue generated by applications for entitlements for actions subject to LAFCO’s jurisdiction.