The mission of the Yolo Local Agency Formation Commission (Yolo LAFCo) is to provide professional, innovative, and proactive leadership in the implementation of the policies of the Yolo LAFCo to enhance the quality of life for the community.
Yolo LAFCo is an independent agency responsible for the implementation of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000. Yolo LAFCo is empowered to review, approve or deny boundary changes, city annexations, consolidations, special district formations, incorporations for cities and special districts, and to establish local "Spheres of Influence". The Sphere of Influence for each governmental agency is a plan for its future boundary and service area. The LAFCo function is outlined in Government Code, Section 56000 et seq., known as the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000.
To Encourage the Orderly Formation of Local Governmental Agencies
LAFCo's review proposals for the formation of new local governmental agencies and for changes in the organization of existing agencies. There are 58 LAFCo's working with nearly 3,500 governmental agencies (400+ cities and 3,000+ special districts). Agency boundaries are frequently unrelated to one another and sometimes overlap at random, often leading to higher service costs to the taxpayer and general confusion regarding service area boundaries. LAFCo decisions strive to balance the competing needs for efficient services, affordable housing, economic opportunity, and conservation of natural resources.
To Preserve Agricultural Land Resources
LAFCo must consider the effect that any proposal will have on existing agricultural lands. By guiding development toward vacant urban land and away from agricultural preserves, LAFCo assists with the preservation of California's valuable agricultural resources.
To Discourage Urban Sprawl
Urban sprawl can best be described as irregular and disorganized growth occurring without apparent design or plan. This pattern of development is characterized by the inefficient delivery of municipal services (e.g., police, fire, water, and sanitation) and the unnecessary loss of agricultural resources and open space lands. By discouraging sprawl, LAFCo limits the misuse of land resources and promotes a more efficient system of local governmental agencies.
LAFCos are responsible for coordinating logical and timely changes in local governmental boundaries, conducting special studies that review ways to reorganize, simplify and streamline governmental structure and preparing a Sphere of Influence for each city and special district within each county. The Commission's efforts are directed to seeing that services are provided efficiently and economically while agricultural and open-space lands are protected.
LAFCo's regulate, through approval or denial, the boundary changes proposed by other public agencies or individuals. LAFCo's do not have the power to initiate boundary changes on their own, except for proposals involving the dissolution or consolidation of special districts and the merging of subsidiary districts.
Typical applicants might include:
- Individual homeowners requesting annexation to a sewer district due to a failing septic system
- Developers seeking annexation to cities in order to obtain urban services for new housing
- Cities wishing to annex pockets of unincorporated land, or "islands," located within their borders in order to avoid duplication of services with the county
- Special Districts or cities seeking to consolidate two or more governmental agencies into one, thereby streamlining their services and reducing the cost to the local taxpayer.
Sphere of Influence Studies
In 1972, LAFCo's were given the power to determine spheres of influence for all local governmental agencies. A sphere of influence is a planning boundary outside of an agency's legal boundary (such as the city limit line) that designates the agency's probable future boundary and service area. Factors considered in a sphere of influence review focus on the current and future land use, the current and future need and capacity for service, and any relevant communities of interest. With the passage of the CKH Act, spheres are reviewed every five years. The purpose of the sphere of influence is to ensure the provision of efficient services while discouraging urban sprawl and the premature conversion of agricultural and open space lands by preventing overlapping jurisdictions and duplication of services. Commissions cannot tell agencies what their planning goals should be. Rather, on a regional level, LAFCo's coordinate by reconciling differences between agency plans so that the most efficient urban service arrangements are created for the benefit of area residents and property owners.
Service reviews were added to LAFCo's mandate with the passage of the CKH Act in 2000. A service review is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCo, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services. Service reviews attempt to capture and analyze information about the governance structures and efficiencies of service providers and to identify opportunities for greater coordination and cooperation between providers. The service review is a prerequisite to a sphere of influence determination and may also lead a LAFCo to take other actions under its authority.
Initiation of Special District Consolidations
As of July 1, 1994, LAFCo's have the authority to initiate proposals that include the dissolution or consolidation of special districts or the merging of existing subsidiary districts. Prior to initiating such an action, LAFCo must determine that the district's customers would benefit from the proposal through adoption of a sphere of influence or other special study.
Out of Agency Service Agreements
Cities and districts are required to obtain LAFCo's approval prior to entering into contracts with private individuals or organization to provide services outside of the agency's boundaries.
Adoption of Local Policies
Each LAFCo may adopt local policies to appropriately administer the CKH Act in its county. LAFCo's must act in accordance with any locally adopted policies.
A section of the California Government Code, the Cortese Knox Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000, exists to provide local agency formation commissions (LAFCo) with its powers, procedures and functions. This law gives LAFCo power to "approve or disapprove with or without amendment, wholly, partially or conditionally" proposals concerning the formation of cities and special districts, and other changes of jurisdiction or organization of local government agencies. In reviewing proposals, LAFCo is required to consider certain factors such as the conformity between city and county plans; current levels and need for future services to the area; and the social, physical and economic effects that agency boundary changes present to the community. LAFCo is given authority to make studies of existing governmental agencies in an effort to improve the efficiency of urban services.Guide to CKH Act - Dec2017.pdf
After World War ll, California experienced dramatic growth in population and economic development. With this boom came demands for housing, jobs, and public services. To accommodate these demands, the state approved the formation of many new local government agencies, often with little forethought as to the ultimate governance structures in a given region. The lack of coordination and adequate planning led to a multitude of overlapping, inefficient jurisdictional and service boundaries and the premature conversion/loss of California's agricultural and open-space lands.
Recognizing this problem, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. appointed the Commission of Metropolitan Area Problems in 1959. The Commission's charge was to study and make recommendations on the "misuse of land resources" and the growing complexity of local governmental jurisdictions. The Commission's recommendations on local governmental reorganization were introduced in the Legislature in 1963, resulting in the creation of Local Agency Formation Commissions, or "LAFCo's," operating in each county except San Francisco.
From 1963-1985, LAFCo's administered a complicated series of statutory laws and three enabling acts - the Knox-Nisbet Act, the Municipal Organization Act (MORGA), and the District Reorganization Act. Confusion over the application of these laws led to a reform movement that produced the first consolidated LAFCo Act, the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act of 1985. In 1997, a new call for reform in local government resulted in the formation, by the Legislature, of the Commission on Local Governance in the 21st Century. After many months canvassing the state, the Commission recommended changes to the laws governing LAFCo's in its comprehensive report "Growth Within Bounds". These recommendations became the foundation for the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (CKH Act), an act that mandates greater independence for LAFCo's and further clarifies their purpose and mission.