New boundaries for Danville/San Ramon?
LAFCO 101 presented to Exchange Club members

by Dolores Fox Ciardelli

Danville Weekly
October 15, 2009

San Ramon asked in 2008 to look at amending its sphere of influence to include Tassajara Valley, but Danville didn't agree, explained Lou Ann Texeira, executive officer of LAFCO, to the Exchange Club of the San Ramon Valley at its luncheon Wednesday. So in stepped her agency.

Texeira was at the meeting to explain just what the Local Agency Formation Commission is and what it does. One member expressed surprise that he had never heard of LAFCO, a quasi-legislative, state-mandated agency that acts on boundary matters. The agencies were founded in 1963, as a response to urban boundary wars throughout the state and the problems they created of public finance and service.

"There is one in each of California's 58 counties," said Texeira. Its decisions on annexations, special districts, cities and spheres of influence are legal unless challenged in the courts.

"We are boundary watchdogs," she said. "We monitor spheres of influence."

Such spheres are important because annexations cannot be approved by cities unless the area to be annexed is already in the city's sphere of influence.

With the resurgence of the New Farm Development, a large scale plan for an undeveloped area bordered to the south by Camino Tassajara and to the east by Finley Road, both Danville and San Ramon have shown interest in who will control Tassajara Valley.

"Sphere updates are pending for Danville and San Ramon," Texeira said, "and they have competing interests in Tassajara Valley.

"We asked the town, city and county for a meeting to discuss their competing interests."

This meeting is scheduled for Nov. 6, she said, but Danville has asked to postpone it until after it has adopted its 2010 General Plan.

The county has two pending applications in the Tassajara Valley, said Texeira. One is for establishing a cemetery; the other is a General Plan amendment study for New Farm.

The agency is prohibited from regulating land use, she noted, although it works with public and private agencies and interests.

"The intention (of LAFCO) is to prevent urban sprawl and to preserve open space and agricultural land," Texeira explained, adding with a laugh that perhaps some people would say it has been unsuccessful.

LAFCO also works closely with cities in preparing their Municipal Service Reviews, Texeira explained, addressing six factors:

  1. Growth and population projections;
  2. Present and planned capacity of public facilities;
  3. Financial ability of agencies to provide services;
  4. Status of and opportunity for shared facilities;
  5. Accountability for community service needs, including government structures and operational efficiencies; and
  6. Any other matter related to effective services delivery.

The Local Agency Formation Commission includes two county supervisors, two city council members, two special district members, and one public member, plus one alternate member in each category. For more information, visit www.contracostalafco.org.