Frequently Asked Questions
What is LAFCo?
LAFCo is an acronym for Local Agency Formation Commission. LAFCos were created by the State legislature in 1963 to regulate the boundaries of cities and special districts. It is a regulatory agency with county-wide jurisdiction established by Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act to discourage urban sprawl and to encourage orderly and efficient provisions of services, such as sewer, water, fire protection, etc. There is a LAFCo in every county of California. LAFCos are independent commissions with two county supervisors, two city council members, two special district members, and a public member with each category having an alternate. LAFCo is funded by Marin County, all 11 cities/towns within Marin County, and 30 independent special districts.
What does LAFCo do?
LAFCo is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed 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).
How long will it take to process my application?
If your proposal is considered routine and is non-controversial, processing time is approximately 3-4 months after a complete set of application materials have been submitted to the LAFCo office. More complex proposals may take additional time to process.
Is there a fee for filing a LAFCo application?
State law authorizes LAFCo to charge an estimated reasonable cost to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Processing fees vary depending on the type of proposal (i.e., district formation, merger, reorganization, etc.). Please refer to LAFCo's fee schedule located on-line at this website or contact Marin LAFCo Executive Officer, Jason Fried at (415) 578-2304 for more information.
What is a Sphere of Influence Review and can it be changed?
A sphere of influence is a planning tool adopted and used by LAFCo to designate the future boundary and service areas for a city or special district. Yes, Marin LAFCo may amend and update spheres of influence.
What is a Municipal Service Review?
A municipal service review is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCo, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services.
Is LAFCo required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
Yes. LAFCo must comply with CEQA.
Is LAFCo subject to the Brown Act and Political Reform Act?
Although state legislators are exempt from the Brown Act, the members of quasi-legislative bodies are not. Commissioners are subject to the same laws and restrictions that apply to all locally elected officials, including the filing of Statements of Economic Interest under the Political Reform Act.
Can I appeal a LAFCo decision?
There is no appeal process to a Commission decision. Persons who oppose a Commission action may request the Commission to reconsider its decision, but if the Commission upholds its decision, the only recourse would be to file a lawsuit for judicial review of the matter.
For inhabited areas (areas containing twelve or more registered voters), state law indicates that if written protest is filed by 25% to 50% of the registered voters, or any amount greater than 25% of the landowners, then an election is called, and the annexation would be scheduled for a vote. If the protest is less than 25% of the voters or landowners, then the annexation is approved without an election; if the protest is greater than 50% of the total registered voters, then the annexation is denied without an election.