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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is LAFCO? 

LAFCO is an acronym for Local Agency Formation Commission. It is a regional planning and regulatory agency with county-wide jurisdiction, established by State Law (Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act) to discourage urban sprawl and to encourage orderly and efficient provision of governmental services, such as water, sewer, fire protection, etc. San Luis Obispo LAFCO is a state-mandated agency and is independent of county government.

There is a LAFCO in each county in California. San Luis Obispo LAFCO is a seven-member Commission comprised of two city council members (chosen by the City Mayors), two county supervisor members (chosen by the Board of Supervisors), two special district members (chosen by Independent Special District Selection Committee), and one public member (chosen by the members of the Commission). San Luis Obispo LAFCO currently serves 53 local government agencies with 7 cities and 35 special districts and 11 dependent special districts (districts under the county Board of Supervisors).

2. What does LAFCO do? 

LAFCO is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed agency jurisdictional boundary changes, including annexations and detachments of territory to and/or from cities and special districts, incorporations of new cities, formations of new special districts, and consolidations, mergers, and dissolutions of existing districts. In addition, LAFCO must review and approve contractual service agreements, determine spheres of influence for each city and district, and may initiate proposals involving district consolidation, dissolution, establishment of subsidiary districts, mergers, and reorganizations (combinations of these jurisdictional changes).

 LAFCOs are charged with the responsibility to conduct municipal service reviews. A Municipal Service Review (MSR) is a study designed to determine the adequacy and efficiency of governmental services being provided by a city or district. 

3. What are LAFCO’s responsibilities?

LAFCOs are responsible for coordinating logical and timely changes in local governmental boundaries, conducting special studies that review ways to reorganize, simplify, and streamline governmental structure and preparing a sphere of influence for each city and special district within each county.

The Commission's efforts are directed toward seeing that services are provided efficiently and economically. To better inform itself and the community as it seeks to exercise its charge, each LAFCO must conduct service reviews to evaluate the provision of municipal services within each county (see also #4 below).

4. What are Municipal Service Reviews? 

A service review is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCO, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services of a city or district. Service reviews attempt to capture and analyze information about the governance structures and efficiencies of service providers, and to identify opportunities for governmental efficiencies. The service review is a prerequisite to a sphere of influence determination and may also lead a LAFCO to take other actions under its authority.

5. What is a sphere of influence? 

A sphere of influence is a planning tool adopted and used by LAFCO to designate the future boundary and service area for a city or special district based on the informatoin contained in a municipal service review (discussed above in #4).

6. Can a sphere of influence be changed? 

Yes, LAFCO may amend and periodically update spheres of influence.

7. When and where does the commission meet? 

Regular LAFCO meetings are scheduled for 9:00 AM on the third Thursday of each month in the Board of Supervisors Chambers and the County Government Center, 1055 Monterey Street, San Luis Obispo, CA 93408 or through ZOOM, please refer to the LAFCO Agenda for location of Commission Meetings.  Notices and agendas are made publicly available. 

8. Is the public notified about LAFCO actions? 

Yes. State Law requires that LAFCO notify affected agencies and the public regarding jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Generally, notification of a proposal is made to affected agencies, adjacent landowners and registered voters, and interested individuals.  In addition, the agenda for every LAFCO meeting is made publicly available. 

9. Is LAFCO a County or City Department? 

No. San Luis Obispo LAFCO is a state-mandated “independent” agency and is not a County agency, a City department, or a special district.  Powers of LAFCO are directly derived from state legislation. 

10. How long will it take to process my proposal? 

Processing time is approximately 6-12 months depending on the complexity of the proposal and the number of applications currently in queue.

11. Is LAFCO required to comply with the California Environmnetal Quality Act (CEQA)? 

Yes. LAFCO must comply with California’s environmental laws.

12. Is there a fee for LAFCO applications? 

Yes. Annexation and reorganization applications are subject to fees set by San Luis Obispo LAFCO and the State Board of Equalization. Fees vary based on the type of application and may also apply for environmental review. Contact the LAFCO staff at (805-781-5795) for specific fee calculations.

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