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Local Andy Vanderlaan steps down from LAFCO after 28 years

Andy Vanderlaan, a Bonsall resident, resigned from San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) on Jan. 19 after serving since 1996. “It has been one of the best experiences of my career,” Vanderlaan remarked about his tenure as the public member.

LAFCO handles jurisdictional changes like consolidations and annexations. Its board includes two county supervisors, city council representatives, members from special district boards, and one public member, with alternates who can vote in their absence.

LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds praised Vanderlaan, saying, “We’re really going to miss him.”

Vanderlaan’s career began in West Covina with the Covina Fire Department, followed by 9 1/2 years at the Huntington Beach Fire Department. He moved to Fallbrook in 1976, became the fire chief, and retired from the North County Fire Protection District in 1995.

His experience with LAFCO during his tenure as fire chief led him to apply for the public member position in 1996. He was reappointed multiple times, serving until his recent resignation. Vanderlaan highlighted LAFCO’s cooperative, non-partisan environment and praised its executive officers, Mike Ott and Keene Simonds.

Vanderlaan served as LAFCO’s chair several times, notably during the creation and reorganization of the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority. He played a crucial role in the consolidation of fire protection services, resulting in the establishment of the San Diego County Fire Protection District in 2020.

Significant fire district reorganizations and water district consolidations also occurred during Vanderlaan’s tenure. He was instrumental in resolving critical issues, including annexations related to development or infrastructure failures.

Vanderlaan served on the CALAFCO board and was recognized statewide. He co-chaired the Task Force on Fire Protection Funding, which later became independent and addressed broader fire service funding needs.

Simonds and county supervisors praised Vanderlaan’s contributions. Vanderlaan decided to resign to allow new ideas and skills to come forward. Harry Mathis, the alternate public member, will temporarily fill the vacancy.

Vanderlaan and his wife Miriam plan to remain in Bonsall, enjoying time with their grandchildren and great-grandchildren and possibly traveling.

Author Bio

Joe Naiman, Writer

Joe Naiman has been writing for the Village News since 2001


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