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Fixing the Problems

California (un)Incorporated urges the Legislature to consider changing the laws about unincorporated area governance and about the process that proposed new cities must follow for municipal incorporation.

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Our testimony in favor of VLF reform was supported in two legislative sessions (2018 and 2019) by the Assembly Local Government Committee but was killed each time in Assembly Appropriations without public input

By nature, the structure of a county Board of Supervisors means decisions about a community are made by Supervisors from outside the community, minimizing the voice of these communities. Further, the Supervisor who represents a community typically has a very large constituency, which also tends to diminish input from these communities.

The state looks to local governments for policy implementation. Yet, whether it is underinvestment in basic infrastructure like sidewalks or lack of engagement in tackling complex municipal issues - like housing or the impact of climate change - counties are often unable to adequately address the needs of unincorporated area residents. The lack of local control in unincorporated communities impacts the state’s ability to address the larger policy goals it seeks to achieve across California.

Residents of incorporated cities have local, democratic self-governance. Residents of unincorporated communities do not have Mayors and City Councils to focus on local priorities. Our coalition has been asking for policy changes since our formation in 2017 because we believe residents of unincorporated communities deserve the rights and privileges of self-determination that residents of cities enjoy.  Current state policy works against the empowerment of unincorporated communities, thereby limiting the delivery of the state’s urban priorities to a subset of urbanized areas and restricting the ability of citizens to seek cityhood. Changes are needed.

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