Prepared by: Peter Banning, Executive Officer
165 North Redwood Drive, Suite 160 San Rafael, California 94903
The staff of Marin LAFCO gratefully acknowledge the time and effort of the staff and elected officials of southern Marin cities, special districts and the County who provided information and insight during the preparation of this report.
Uses 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 section, “sphere of influence” means a plan for the probable physical boundaries and service area of a local government agency.
In determining a sphere of influence, the Commission is required to consider and make written findings with respect to the following factors:
Following adoption, spheres of influence act as a guide to LAFCO review of future proposals for changes to local government boundaries. LAFCO is now required to update adopted spheres of influence every five years. Other local agencies, especially cities and counties, recognize and incorporate adopted spheres of influence in their general plans. Cities usually rely on spheres to define the planning area of their general plans. The Community Facilities Element of the Countywide General Plan designates “urban service areas.”
New legislation effective in 2001 requires LAFCO to perform “service reviews” prior to updating spheres of influence. In conducting a service review, LAFCOs review all of the agencies that provide each local service within a designated geographic area. Service reviews are intended to open discussion of alternatives to existing service arrangements that may improve service levels, efficiency and/or political accountability.
Local Government Structure in Southern Marin
Local government agencies in southern Marin County provide service through a complex pattern of jurisdictional and inter-jurisdictional relationships between four cities, eleven independent special districts plus various county service areas governed by the Board of Supervisors and joint-powers authorities made up of combinations of cities and special districts. The existing structure of local government is exceptionally complex for an area the approximate size of the City of San Rafael.
The study area encompasses a population of approximately 52,000. The four cities together (Belvedere, Tiburon, Mill Valley and Sausalito) encompass a population of approximately 32,000 or 62% of the total study area population. A series of unincorporated areas ranging in population size of less than 1,000 (Alto and Muir Woods Park) to over 5,000 (Tamalpais Valley). All areas within the study area receive services from a combination of a city, the county and one or more special districts.
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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.