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Special Districts

Independent Districts

Community Service Districts

A community services district (CSD) may be formed to provide water, sewer or garbage services, fire protection, public recreation, street lighting, mosquito abatement, police services, library services, street improvements, conversion of overhead electric and communication facilities to underground locations, ambulance services, airport facilities, and transportation services. A district may consist of unincorporated territory in one or more counties. The board of directors may consist of three or five members elected at large, or may be the board of supervisors.
After a CSD has been formed, the boundaries of the district may be altered and contiguous or noncontiguous unincorporated territory may be annexed to the district. Incorporated territory that is contiguous to the district may be annexed to the district with the consent of the affected city.

Fire Protection Districts

A fire protection district may provide fire protection services including ambulance services, rescue and first aid services, clearing of land, adoption of fire prevention ordinances, issuance of burning permits and dissemination of fire prevention information. A district may establish special fire protection zones when improvements are made which benefit only a portion of the district or for similar purposes. A district may consist of any incorporated and unincorporated territories which have not been declared the responsibility of the state for fire protection. The board of directors may be composed of one of the following alternatives:

  • The supervising authority (If the district includes only incorporated territory, this would be the city council; if more than one city is included, it would be the city council of the city with the largest population; if any unincorporated territory is included, the supervising authority is the board of supervisors.)
  • Five members appointed by the supervising authority
  • Five or eleven members appointed by and from the board of supervisors and by and from the city councils of the cities included within the district
  • Three or five members to be elected, generally, under the provisions of the Uniform District Election Law

Public Utility Districts

 A Public Utility District may provide facilities and services for light, water, power, heat, transportation, telephone/telecommunication service, wastewater and solid waste disposal, fire protection, recreation, public parks and other public buildings, streets, and street drainage.
Public utility districts are governed by a three or five-member board of directors, although a larger board may be instituted by LAFCo in the course of a consolidation proceeding.
The jurisdiction of a PUD may consist only of unincorporated territory. The boundaries of a public utility district may be altered by the annexation of unincorporated, contiguous territory, or the annexation of non-contiguous territory of at least 10 privately owned acres lying within three miles of the closest district boundary.

Sanitary Districts

A sanitary district may acquire, construct and operate works for the collection, treatment and disposal of garbage, storm water and sewage.

Water Districts

A water district may furnish water, provide sewer services, operate recreational facilities, provide for waste collection and disposal, operate fire protection facilities and reclaim land.  It may establish various improvement districts to finance acquisition or construction facilities. A district may include both incorporated and unincorporated territory. 

These districts are listed alphabetically.


Dependent Districts

County Service Areas

In unincorporated areas, basic services like water, sewer, police and fire protection are provided by the county. Because counties often consist of large and diverse geographical areas, providing a consistent and adequate service level across all areas can be difficult. Residents of urban communities may want more services than those residing in rural areas. The County Service Area Law (Government Code §25210.1 et seq.) was created in the 1950’s to provide a means of providing expanded service levels in areas where residents are willing to pay for the extra service.

CSAs allow small communities in unincorporated areas to pay for and receive specific services from the county. If residents are willing to pay, they can receive the types of services and improvements not available in other areas of the county. There is no cost to residents of other areas of the county who do not wish to receive the additional services.

County Sanitation Districts

A county sanitation district may acquire, construct and operate sewage collection, treatment and disposal works within or outside district boundaries. It may also provide water services.
A district may include incorporated or unincorporated territory. The governing body of a county sanitation district within unincorporated territory only is the board of supervisors. The governing board of a county sanitation district which includes both incorporated and unincorporated territory is made up of both city council and county supervisor members depending on the amount of overlap.