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Glossary of Terms

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Annexation: The inclusion, attachment, or addition of territory to a city or special district.
Change of organization:A change of government structure, including: city incorporation; district formation; annexation to, or detachment from, a city or district; disincorporation of a city; dissolution of a district; city or district consolidation; merger of a city and a district; establishment of a subsidiary district; and the exercise of new or different functions or classes of service or the divestiture of the power to provide particular functions or classes of service, within all or part of the jurisdictional boundaries of a special district.
Coastal plan:A local plan prepared by cities and counties situated within the coastal zone. Until local coastal plans are certified, the California Coastal Commission issues coastal development permits.
Community plan:A focused planning policy document that is part of a general plan. The community plan addresses a particular region within the overall planning area of an agency and is adopted in the same manner as a general plan. Also called area plan.
Conducting authority:The commission of the principal county, or the commission’s executive officer when authorized by the commission, acts as the agency responsible for conducting protest proceedings following approval by the commission of a change of organization or reorganization.
Consolidation: The uniting or joining of two or more cities located in the same county into a single new successor city or two or more districts into a single new successor district.

In the case of annexation, territory adjacent to territory within a city or district to which annexation is proposed. Territory is not contiguous if the only contiguity is based upon a strip of land more than 300 feet long and less than 200 feet wide at its narrowest width, excluding highways.

Dependent special district: Any special district that has a legislative body that consists, in whole or in part, of members who are officers of a county or another local agency or who are appointees of those officers and who are not appointed to fixed terms.
Detachment:The exclusion, deletion, or removal from a city or district of any portion of territory of that city or district.
Disincorporation:The dissolution, extinguishment, or termination of the existence of a city and the cessation of its corporate powers, except for the winding up the affairs of the city.
Dissolution:The disincorporation, extinguishment, or termination of the existence of a district and the cessation of all its corporate powers, except as the commission may provide or for the purpose of winding up the affairs of the district.
District:An agency of the state, formed in accordance with general law or a special act, for the local performance of governmental functions within limited boundaries. Synonymous with “special district.”
Easement:A less-than-fee interest that includes selected rights, or grants the holder the right to prevent certain land uses. A property owner retains ownership and rights other than those expressly limited by the easement. Easements may be granted for a number of reasons, including access, public utilities, conservation, open-space, and scenic purposes.
Formation:The creation of a district.
General plan:A document containing a statement of development policies including a diagram and text setting forth the objectives of the plan. The general plan must include certain state mandated elements related to land use, circulation, housing, conservation, open-space, noise, and safety.
Incorporation:The creation or establishment of a city. Any area proposed for incorporation as a city must have at least 500 registered voters residing within the territory proposed to be within city limits at the time the proposal is initiated.
Independent special district:Any special district with a legislative body (board of directors) all of whose members are elected by registered voters or landowners within the district or whose members are appointed to fixed terms.
Inhabited territory:Territory within which 12 or more registered voters reside. The number of registered voters, as determined by the elections officer, shall be established as of the date a certificate of filing is issued by the commission’s executive officer.
Initiating petition:Territory within which 12 or more registered voters reside. The number of registered voters, as determined by the elections officer, shall be established as of the date a certificate of filing is issued by the commission’s executive officer.
Island:Unincorporated territory surrounded or substantially surrounded by a city, or territory surrounded by a city on one or more sides and the Pacific Ocean on the remaining sides.
Merger:The termination of the existence of a district when the responsibility for the functions, services, assets, and liabilities of that district are assumed by a city as a result of actions taken by the commission.
Pre-zoning:The primary instrument for implementing a city’s general plan. Pre-zoning divides territory outside a city’s corporate limits into districts or "zones" that specify the permitted/prohibited land uses, should the territory be annexed to the city. Pre-zoning has no regulatory effect until the property is annexed. Also see “zoning.”
Prime agricultural land:An area of land, whether a single parcel or contiguous parcels, that has not been developed for a use other than agriculture and meets certain criteria related to soil classification or crop and livestock carrying capacity.
Protest proceedings:Proceedings taken by a commission, or its executive officer when authorized by the commission, as the conducting authority.
Reorganization:Two or more changes of organization contained in a single proposal.
Resolution of application:The document adopted by a local agency, such as a city council or district board of directors, or a school district initiating a change of organization or reorganization.
Special district:See district.
Specific plan:A policy statement and implementation tool that is used to address a single project or planning area. Specific plans contain concrete standards and development criteria that supplement those of the general plan.
Sphere of influence amendment:The changing or modification of an adopted sphere of influence.
Sphere of influence determinations:Written statements required by state law when the sphere of influence of a local agency is established, amended, or updated. Determinations relate to present and planned land uses, present and probable need and capacity of public facilities and adequacy of public services, and existence of social and economic communities of interest. 
Subsidiary district:A district of limited powers for which a city council is designated as and empowered to act as the ex officio board of directors. At least 70% of the district’s land area and registered voters must be within the city limits.
Uninhabited territory:Territory within which fewer than 12 registered voters reside.
Urban Growth Boundary:A planning boundary used by cities to determine the area to which they will “grow” within a specific time period, usually 20 years. All nine cities in Sonoma County have adopted Urban Growth Boundaries or UGBs which have been ratified by registered voters.
Urban Service Area Boundary:A planning boundary designated in the Sonoma County General Plan for cities and areas that provide public urban services like sanitary sewer and water. Annexation to a city or district is not encouraged for territory that is outside an area’s Urban Service Area Boundary or USB.
Zoning:The primary instrument for implementing a county’s or city’s general plan. Zoning divides a community into districts or "zones" that specify the permitted/prohibited land uses.