The February 2 meeting of San Diego’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) saw Bonsall’s Andy Vanderlaan selected to serve another four-year term on the board while seeing a chair other than Vanderlaan for the first time since 2005.
County Supervisor Bill Horn replaced Vanderlaan as the LAFCO board chair after Vanderlaan served three terms as chair from 2006 to 2008.
Vanderlaan’s four-year term as LAFCO’s public member expires in May, and a unanimous vote on February 2 reappointed him for a fourth four-year term.
“I was just delighted that they would have enough confidence in me to reappoint me to the position,” Vanderlaan said. “It’s just an honor to serve, and I look forward to another four years on the commission.”
LAFCO handles jurisdictional boundary changes including incorporations, annexations, consolidations and detachments.
The LAFCO board consists of two County Supervisors (currently Dianne Jacob and Horn), one City Council representative from San Diego, two City Council members from the county’s other 17 incorporated cites, two members from special districts and one public member.
The LAFCO board also has one alternate member from each of those five sources.
Each of California’s 58 counties has a LAFCO, although the structure of the board varies based on the presence of large cities and whether a county has any cities or unincorporated area.
“I think that LAFCOs in general throughout the state serve a good purpose,” Vanderlaan said.
Normally the vice-chair becomes chair for the following year. However, LAFCO’s focus on the reorganization of fire protection and emergency medical services in unincorporated San Diego County led to Vanderlaan and Horn retaining their positions for three consecutive terms in order to allow for continuity.
Vanderlaan was the first LAFCO board member to serve three consecutive terms as chair.
Although consolidations have occurred infrequently in recent years and no city has incorporated since Encinitas and Solana Beach in 1986, small annexations and detachments result in San Diego LAFCO processing numerous boundary changes each year.
Smaller annexation issues often involve citizens making their first presentation at a public hearing.
“I tried during my tenure to make it less stressful and to let them know that we were really there to serve them,” Vanderlaan said. “Sometimes it takes a little extra understanding, if you will, to try to put yourself in the place of the person who is making the presentation.”
Vanderlaan came to Fallbrook in 1976 as the assistant fire chief and then became the fire chief. His work with LAFCO during his time as fire chief led him to apply for the public member position when that seat had an opening in 1996.
He was appointed as LAFCO’s public member that year and was reappointed to additional four-year terms in 2000 and 2004. Vanderlaan took over as LAFCO chair in 2006 after serving as vice-chair in 2005.
At the February 2 meeting Vanderlaan was presented with a plaque which cited his leadership during his three-year stint as chair. “The words on the plaque were kind of humbling,” he said.
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