The end of World War II saw California experiencing a tremendous population increase, which resulted in the sporadic formation of cities and special service districts. The results of this development boom became evident as more of California's agricultural land was converted to urban uses. Premature and unplanned development created inefficient, expensive systems of delivering public services using various small units of local government.
Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. responded to this problem in 1959 by appointing the Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems. The Commission's charge was to study and make recommendations on the "misuse of land resources" and the growing complexity of overlapping, local governmental jurisdictions. The Commission's recommendations on local governmental reorganization were introduced in the Legislature in 1963, resulting in the creation of a Local Agency Formation Commission, or "LAFCo," to operate in each county.
LAFCos are state-mandated quasi-judicial countywide Commissions whose purview is to oversee boundary changes of cities and special districts, the formation of new agencies, including the incorporation of new cities and districts, and the consolidation or reorganization of special districts and or cities.
On September 26, 2000, Governor Gray Davis signed into law AB 2838 (Chapter 761, Statutes of 2000), authored by then Assembly Speaker Robert M. Hertzberg. This legislation, titled the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000, marked the most significant reform to local government reorganization law since the 1963 statute that created local agency formation commissions (LAFCos) in each county. The legislation resulted from the recommendations of the Commission on Local Governance for the 21st Century, created by legislation enacted in 1997. The Commission's recommendations were included in its final report, titled “Growth Within Bounds,” issued on January 20, 2000. The Commission ceased to exist on July 1, 2000, pursuant to a statutory sunset provision.
The broad goals of the Commission's directive are to ensure the orderly formation of local governmental agencies, to preserve agricultural and open space lands, and to discourage urban sprawl. Commissions must, by law, create Municipal Service Reviews and Update Spheres of Influence for each independent local governmental jurisdiction within their countywide jurisdiction.
Sacramento LAFCo joins with LAFCo’s across the state in working diligently to comply with the new statute and in doing so, accepting more responsibility towards overseeing orderly provision of local government services.