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Help Communities Seeking Self-Determination

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Unincorporated communities are asking for fairness in their pursuit of local control via cityhood

It is in California's best interests to enable the formation of new cities. Quality of life, sustainability of a local economy and improvement and upkeep of infrastructure are important local issues. Our unincorporated communities live every day with the impact of little to no local control. Instead of sidewalks, for example, we have dirt paths. If there is a sidewalk, it might just stop in the middle of the block. A mishmash of planning and zoning approaches adversely impacts business development and means that many residents must travel to neighboring cities for access to retail establishments, restaurants and other amenities. These are among the reasons that unincorporated communities desire greater local control, enhanced democratic participation and greater accountability. The state looks to cities to implement its urban policies - like housing, economic development, and public safety. The effectiveness of those policies is diminished because some 5 million Californians live in urbanized unincorporated areas run by counties, whose subordinate role a political subdivision of the state is to deliver the services mandated by the state and federal governments.

There is a fundamental distinction between a county and a city. Counties lack broad powers of self-government that California cities have (e.g., cities have broad revenue generating authority and counties do not). In addition, legislative control over counties is more complete than it is over cities. Unless restricted by a specific provision of the state Constitution, the Legislature may delegate to the counties any of the functions which belong to the state itself. Conversely, the state may take back to itself and resume the functions which it has delegated to counties (e.g., state funding of trial courts).
California State Association of Counties {}

Typically, citizen groups have to raise funds to pay the substantial costs of forming a municipality. This is a significant hardship for disadvantaged communities. The cost of an incorporation inquiry ($300K-$600K) is miniscule relative to the state budget.  In times of adequacy for the state budget, why not provide incentives for unincorporated communities that seek improvement of municipal services where it makes sense to do so? Incentives could be delivered through grant programs and managed via the state budget process, something the Legislature approved in 2022 (but the Governor vetoed) for cities seeking to annex adjacent territory.  Stipulate the use of state programs and grant funds for this purpose

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