Skip to main content

Alternative Incorporation Process

May contain: book, publication, advertisement, and poster
Self-determination is not a new idea

Why does it always have to be LAFCO? Laudable as the goals of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Act are, our coalition's experience has shown that those goals can easily be pushed aside to protect the status quo and frustrate new incorporations. Contributing factors are the burdens that befall citizen groups who seek local control, the inefficiencies of the current process, the lack of transparency and accountability, and the excessive costs that fall on the shoulders of poroponents of good governance and cityhood. California is failing its urbanized unincorporated communities at the things cities can do - give voice to residents and local businesses, improve local infrastructure, drive local economies, and promote quality of life for residents. Our collective needs for agricultural productivity, sustainable climate solutions and open space for a large, growing population are not well-served by a municipal incorporation process that has not been revised in almost a quarter century. Yet some counties (notably Orange and Riverside Counties) actively plan for new cities to be formed and other existing local governments are often valid precursors to a municipality - in some cases they are assigned that purpose as legislative intent.

We suggest there might be another way to form new cities. Besides, given the failure of the current policy set to let new municipalities be formed, it certainly looks like another process should be considered. There should be a streamlined, cost-effective process whereby local governments can, by resolution: either conduct, or ask the State Controller to conduct, a financial analysis for becoming a city and then, based on that analysis, put the issue before the voters in their jurisdiction. This alternative process need not be limited to a single jurisdiction, but could also be accomplished by multiple jurisdictions (whether overlapping or adjacent). LAFCO’s important function of resolving boundary considerations would remain, but in a review and comment context similar to the way Responsible Agencies and Trustee Agencies engage with the California Environmental Quality Act.  Legislation is needed for this purpose.

Join our mailing list