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What is a LAFCO?

The Local Agency Formation Commission was created by the California Legislature in 1963 to discourage urban sprawl and encourage the orderly formation and development of local government agencies. By 1963, the landscape of the State was undergoing substantial change. The economic, social, and geographic terrains had been shifting in response to a post-war surge of new residents.  Housing and business development boomed, but the growth was piecemeal, disorderly and very inefficient. One result of this period was a sprawling suburban area that became difficult and costly to manage and to efficiently provide with urban services such as sewer and water lines. Another result was the permanent loss of prime farmlands, making it difficult for California’s largest industry at that time to sustain itself in a previously abundant agricultural valley.

LAFCO regulates the boundaries of cities and special districts to ensure efficient and orderly services can be provided.. Boundary change proposals to LAFCO may include annexations to, or detachments from cities or districts; incorporation of new cities; formation of new districts; dissolution of districts; disincorporation of cities; or other changes such as consolidations and mergers of cities and districts. Cities and districts are required to obtain LAFCO’s approval prior to extending services outside of their boundaries. Districts are required to obtain LAFCO’s approval prior to exercising their power to provide new or different services.

LAFCO plans for efficient, orderly growth and development by considering proposed amendments to urban service areas of cities; and works collaboratively with local agencies on growth, preservation, governance and service issues by conducting service reviews, prior to updating the spheres of influence of cities and special districts once every five years, or as necessary.

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).


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