Peter Banning, Executive Officer - Evelyn Ellis, Assistant Planner - Candice Bozzard, Commission Clerk
165 North Redwood Drive, Suite 160 San Rafael, California 94903
The staff of Marin LAFCO gratefully acknowledges the time and effort of staff of the County of Marin, City of Larkspur, Town of Corte Madera, Town of San Anselmo, Town of Fairfax, Town of Ross, Sanitary District #1, Sanitary District #2, Ross Valley Fire Service, Kentfield Fire Protection District, and Sleepy Hollow Fire Protection District who provided information and insight during the preparation of this report.
Purposes of Spheres of Influence Adopted by LAFCO
This report is presented as part of a process mandated by Sections 56425 and 56430 of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000. As stated in that section, “In order to carry out its purposes and responsibilities for planning and shaping the logical and orderly development and coordination of local government agencies so as to advantageously provide for the present and future needs of the county and its communities, the Local Agency Formation Commission shall develop and determine the sphere of influence of each local governmental agency within the county.” As used in this report, “sphere of influence” means a plan for the probable physical boundaries and service area of a local government agency. Establishing geographic areas around each city and special district to delineate where they may expand in the future is one of the primary activities of each LAFCO in the State.
In determining a sphere of influence, the Commission is required to consider and make written findings with respect to the following factors:
Spheres of influence act as a guide to LAFCO review of future boundary proposals. LAFCO is required to review adopted spheres of influence every five years.
Existing Ross Valley Area Spheres of Influence
Marin LAFCO adopted spheres of influence for cities and special districts in Ross Valley during studies conducted in 1982 through 1986 under an earlier definition of sphere of influence (“…the ultimate boundary and service area…”) as discussed below. As a result, all urbanized areas of Ross Valley were allocated to the spheres of influence of one of the five cities as shown in Map 1, comparing existing and recommended city spheres of influence.
Changes Affecting Ross Valley Area Spheres of Influence Since Adoption
A number of important changes have occurred in Marin County and the Ross Valley area since 1982 that will have an impact on the review of existing spheres of influence:
1. Definition of Sphere of Influence: The definition of "sphere of influence" in 1982 was "… a plan for the ultimate boundary and service area of a local government agency." The definition now reads "…. a plan for the probable boundary and service area of a local government agency."
2. General Plans and Development Regulations: The County's General Plan and Zoning Ordinance have been made more restrictive since 1982, decreasing potential growth in the unincorporated areas.
3. Preservation of Open Space & Agriculture: Large areas of open space and agricultural land are now permanently preserved in their present uses, restricting the outward expansion of urban land uses and reducing the potential demand for urban services in unincorporated areas around existing city boundaries.
4. Local Government’s Financial Pressure from State: Since the passage of Proposition 13 in 1978, the ability of property tax revenue to fund the extension of city services to developed communities has been impaired. Even in Marin County where assessed values have kept pace and sometimes exceeded inflation in the cost of municipal services, significant sales tax generating land uses would need to be present in annexing communities to avoid adverse fiscal impacts from annexation of developed communities. State legislative policies continue to favor annexation of unincorporated communities to cities, but fiscal disincentives persist. In recent years and for the short-term future, policies encouraging city annexation are undermined to the extent that the Legislature re-directs or “borrows” revenue intended to support local services (including property tax, vehicle license fees and gas tax) to resolve funding shortfalls at the state level.
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After World War II, California experienced dramatic growth in population and economic development. With this boom came a demand for housing, jobs, and public services. To accommodate this demand, the state approved the formation of many new local government agencies, often with little forethought as to the ultimate governance structures in a given region. The lack of coordination and adequate planning led to a multitude of overlapping, inefficient jurisdictional and service boundaries, and the premature conversion/loss of California’s agricultural and open-space lands.