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Policy: City of Cloverdale Sphere of Influence

In establishing the sphere of influence for the City of Cloverdale (City), the Commission’s policies are as follows

  1. Prior to the Commission’s consideration of the annexation of territory to the City, the City shall provide a Plan for Services demonstrating that the City has the fiscal and physical capability to provide municipal services to that territory.
  2. Properties to the south of the existing City limits, including the “Industrial Exception Area” (Exhibit A), shall be considered for annexation only after a specific plan for the territory has been prepared and approved by the City and presented to and reviewed by the Commission. At a minimum, the specific plan shall include the pre-zoning of all the territory to be annexed, provisions for the preservation of open space, both within and adjacent to the territory and of agricultural lands adjacent to the territory, the extent, cost and financing of the proposed infrastructure improvements, and the proposed timing of development. Additionally, prior to annexation, the territory shall be brought within the voter approved Urban Growth Boundary.
  3. Properties located to the west of the City between the existing City boundary and the 550 foot elevation (Exhibit B) shall be considered for annexation to the City provided that any portion of a parcel located above the 400 foot or 550 foot elevation (whichever is applicable to the property) is placed into a conservation easement, deeded to a public agency or otherwise restricted to open space or recreational uses to the satisfaction of the Commission. The conservation easement or restrictions shall be in favor of a third party, such as the Regional Park District, the Agricultural and Open Space District or Land Trust.

Legal Authority

The California Government Code states, in part:

In order to carry out its purposes and responsibilities for planning and shaping the logical and orderly development and coordination of local governmental agencies so as to advantageously provide for the present and future needs of the county and its communities, the commission shall develop and determine the sphere of influence of each local governmental agency within the county and enact policies designed to promote the logical and orderly development of areas within the sphere.

Further, the Government Code defines a “sphere of influence” as a plan for the probable physical boundaries and service area of a local agency, as determined by the Commission. Key to the definition is that the sphere of influence is a plan, which includes a map. This policy provides the plan for future expansion of the City.

The policy ensures logical and orderly development, provides a plan for the implementation of the sphere of influence and preserves the agricultural resources of Sonoma County. 

Background and Discussion

The General Policy for establishing the Spheres of Influence for Cities states:

Spheres of influence are established by LAFCO to identify the probable physical boundaries and service areas of cities. Spheres of influence must be updated every five (5) years and are amended as conditions warrant. The intent of this policy is to promote the efficient, effective, and equitable delivery of local and regional services for existing and future residents through spheres of influence and to encourage a collaborative process with agencies.

By 2008, the Commission confirmed existing spheres of influence for all nine cities in the county. The spheres of influence and Urban Growth Boundaries for the nine cities in the County where voters have approved them often coincide, and, for most cities, the Urban Service Boundary, as designated in the Sonoma County General Plan, is frequently the same “line.” However, because of the Board of Supervisors’ approval of the 2020 General Plan in September 2008, there are a number of instances in which these three lines are not coterminous, i.e., where a city’s sphere of influence differs from its Urban Growth Boundary and Urban Service Boundary, which are generally coterminous. In those cases, besides reviewing the general policy, the Commission, must evaluate any changes to the sphere of influence using the following criteria:

  1. Relationship to city boundary, streets, open space
  2. Existing uses
  3. Size & development potential of parcel
  4. Topographical & physical considerations
  5. City’s willingness to serve
  6. City’s ability to serve
  7. Planning principles
  8. Legal agreements and settlements

First, the City has requested that its sphere of influence be amended to include territory outside its Urban Growth Boundary and the County Urban Service Boundary. This request is exceptional and requires special conditions.

The special conditions are based on the City’s General Plan having several unique policies, and physical features, including conservation areas outside its Urban Growth Boundary and “exception areas” inside its Urban Growth Boundary but not contiguous to the City boundary.

In order to annex the “Industrial Exception Area” the intervening territory between the City boundary and the “exception area” needs to be annexed. The intervening area consists of a variety of uses. To accommodate the goals of the City and conservation of agricultural and open spaces, a comprehensive specific plan is necessary.

Second, the City has stated that development west of the City should be limited to low intensity residential development, provided there is off-setting open space mitigation. While the Commission respects the City’s desire to limit development and encourages open space areas, it also desires assurance that once annexed, urban level development does not occur in the conservation areas. Therefore, prior to considering any of the parcels in this area for annexation, the Commission will require documentation that a large portion of the parcel remains as open space in perpetuity.

Adopted: July 2, 2014