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LAFCO dissolves detachment advisory committee

Joe Naiman

Village News Reporter

The detachment advisory committee San Diego's County's Local Agency Formation Commission created to address issues regarding the proposed detachment of the Fallbrook Public Utility District and the Rainbow Municipal Water District from the San Diego County Water Authority has been dissolved.

LAFCO’s board voted 8-0 Aug. 7 to dissolve the detachment advisory committee. The vote also authorized LAFCO chair Jim Desmond to issue commendations to the advisory committee members.

The July 10 LAFCO meeting included a 5-3 vote to approve the reorganization in which FPUD and Rainbow detach from the San Diego County Water Authority and annex to the Eastern Municipal Water District contingent upon FPUD and Rainbow voters approving the reorganization.

The separate applications were filed in 2020. The May 2020 LAFCO meeting included the creation of a technical advisory committee. The June 2020 LAFCO meeting approved the composition of the advisory committee, although LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds appointed the specific members, and the list of tasks for the committee.

The 10-member committee consisted of one representative from FPUD (general manager Jack Bebee), one representative from Rainbow (general manager Tom Kennedy), one representative from the SDCWA (general manager Sandra Kerl, who retired between the final advisory committee meeting and the committee’s dissolution), two board or staff members from other CWA member agencies (originally incoming CWA board chair Gary Croucher and Imported Water Committee vice chair David Cherashore and then current chair Mel Katz and vice chair Nick Serrano) plus one representative from LAFCO's Special Districts Advisory Committee (Special Districts Advisory Council chair and Olivenhain Municipal Water District general manager Kimberly Thorner).

The committee also included one representative from LAFCO's Cities Advisory Committee (City of Lemon Grove general manager Lydia Romero), one at-large member from the County of San Diego with expertise (Department of Parks and Recreation director Brian Albright), one at-large member from the San Diego Association of Governments with expertise (initially regional models analyst Rachel Cortes and then regional planner Keith Greer), and one member from the Eastern Municipal Water District (deputy general manager Nick Kanetis).

The August 2020 advisory committee meeting included discussion on the use of consultants to address issues on which parties differ. A list of consultants for each task was provided to FPUD, Rainbow, the CWA, and Eastern with each of those agencies having the right to veto a specific consultant. Michael Hanemann was chosen as the consultant. Hanemann submitted his report at the end of 2021.

The committee conducted a scale and scope review including key assumptions, documenting the differences in proposals, identifying key stakeholders, topics and firms for LAFCO consultants, and legal topics. The committee reviewed stakeholder comments, provided input on the consultant analysis, considered statutory standard jurisdictional change factors, identified and considered local factors, and discussed appropriate quantitative items.

Potential terms including compensation, infrastructure improvements, special taxes or other assessments, and an expanded vote were identified and considered, and the committee also identified and considered alternative options. The committee's tasks included setting timelines and revising the timelines if necessary.

The committee meetings were open to the public (although some were by teleconference before coronavirus emergency restrictions were lifted), and committee minutes were provided to all LAFCO board members. The committee held 13 public meetings between July 2020 and April 2023.


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