Saturday, 22 June 2024

Wiggins introduces legislation relating to LAFCO decisions on community boundaries

SACRAMENTO – North Coast State Senator Patricia Wiggins (D-Santa Rosa) has introduced new legislation requiring local agency formation commissions, or LAFCOs, to consider “sustainable community strategies” before making boundary decisions.


LAFCOs control the boundaries of cities and special districts. Among the commissions’ statutory obligations is “discouraging urban sprawl.”


To guide their boundary decisions, LAFCOs must adopt “spheres of influence” for cities and districts, designating their future service areas and boundaries. LAFCOs’ boundary decisions must be consistent with these spheres of influence.


As LAFCOs prepare to make decisions about proposed boundary changes, they are required to consider 15 specified “factors,” including local general plans and specific plans.


State law permits – but does not require – the commissions to consider regional growth goals and policies adopted by local elected officials.


According to Wiggins, there is increasing legislative and public support for using land use decisions to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Metropolitan planning organizations (MPOs) are required to adopt “sustainable communities strategies” or “alternative planning strategies” as part of their regional transportation plans.


These strategies align regional planning for transportation and housing (SB 375, Steinberg, 2008). In preparing a sustainable community strategy, an MPO must consider the spheres of influence for cities and special districts, as adopted by LAFCOs.


While MPOs must consider LAFCOs’ planning documents, there is no reciprocal requirement for LAFCOs to consider the MPOs’ sustainable communities strategies and alternative planning strategies.


Wiggins chairs the Senate Committee on Local Government. Her legislation, Senate Bill 215, seeks to add regional transportation plans, including their sustainable communities strategies or alternative planning strategies,” to the list of factors that LAFCOs must consider when acting on city and special district boundary changes. SB 215 also repeals the permission for LAFCOs to consider regional growth goals and policies.


“Regulating local boundaries is more than an exercise in cartographic neatness,” Wiggins said. “City limits and special districts’ boundaries influence the timing, location and character of land development. By approving annexations to cities and districts that provide public facilities such as water and sewer systems, streets, and flood control facilities, LAFCOs’ boundary decisions influence which land is likely to develop.”


Wiggins represents California’s 2nd Senate District, comprised of portions of all of six counties: Humboldt, Lake, Mendocino, Napa, Solano and Sonoma.


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