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Update sphere of influence studies expected to get Local Agency Formation Commission approval


Last updated 12/14/2017 at 4:33pm

The Feb. 5 meeting of San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission is expected to include the approval of a five-year schedule for updated sphere of influence studies for each of the county’s cities and special districts.

A presentation on the plans to update sphere of influence studies between 2018 and 2022 was given at the LAFCO meeting, Dec. 4, and the LAFCO board members provided feedback for staff.

“This is a big deal for San Diego LAFCO,” LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds said.

A municipal service review evaluates services and anticipated needs. A sphere of influence study determines boundaries best served by a particular agency. Municipal service review and sphere of influence updates are prerequisites to a jurisdictional change other than annexation of land within the sphere of influence, and LAFCO periodically conducts sphere of influence updates for all cities and special districts.

“It’s also an opportunity today to start getting a little feedback,” Simonds said.

The LAFCO list of municipal service reviews since 2001 includes 105 special districts as well as the county’s 18 incorporated cities, although some of those special districts no longer exist due to consolidations, and Simonds expects about 90 special districts to be reviewed over the next five years.

“We’ve been reaching out to the local agencies,” Simonds said.

The schedule will provide “triage” to the studies based on the level of work needed.

The latest round of sphere of influence studies will include some additional information, some of which is in response to new state legislation. Joint powers authorities, which often provide functional but not jurisdictional consolidation, will be reviewed. Some areas are served by mutual water companies rather than water agencies, and the mutual water companies will also be part of the studies.

“These are issues that staff will be looking to incorporate into those documents,” Simonds said.

Disadvantaged communities in unincorporated areas will also be mapped in the new round of studies.

“I can see the benefit of addressing this,” Simonds said.

Although Indian reservations are sovereign and not under LAFCO jurisdiction, LAFCO will also study tribal land municipal service needs in case water or fire and emergency medical service from other agencies could be of benefit to the reservations.

“This is a large project,” Escondido mayor Sam Abed said, who chaired the LAFCO board meetings in 2017. “It’s a lot of work.”


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