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Policy: Premature Extension of Urban Services - Cities

Prior to the Commission’s consideration of a change of organization involving annexation of territory to a city, the applicant shall provide a plan for services including written evidence from the affected city that it has the physical and fiscal capability to adequately serve the subject territory.

Legal Authority

The state Legislature’s policy calls for the logical formation of local government agencies and orderly modification of their boundaries. A preference is granted to growth within, or through the expansion of, the boundaries of those local agencies, which can best accommodate and provide necessary governmental services in the most efficient manner feasible.

California Government Code §56653 states in part:

  1. Whenever a local agency or school district submits a resolution of application for a change of organization or reorganization pursuant to this part, the local agency shall submit with the resolution of application a plan for providing services within the affected territory.
  2.  The plan for providing services shall include all of the following information and any additional information required by the commission or the executive officer:
    1. An enumeration and description of the services to be extended to the affected territory.
    2. The level and range of those services.
    3. An indication of when those services can feasibly be extended to the affected territory.
    4. An indication of any improvement or upgrading of structures, roads, sewer or water facilities, or other conditions the local agency would impose or require within the affected territory if the change of organization or reorganization is completed.
    5. Information with respect to how those services will be financed.

The Legislature empowered the commission to establish criteria for review and approval of proposals

Background and Discussion

One of the underlying tenets of planning in Sonoma County is the cautious and deliberate expansion of public services. Recognizing that sprawling development generally results in more costly public services, the Commission discourages premature expansion of services.

Each city in Sonoma County has a voter-approved “urban growth boundary” that is, with few exceptions, the ultimate boundary for urban development of that city. Commission policy is to align a city’s sphere of influence with the city’s “urban growth boundary.” In most cities, the city’s “urban growth boundary” aligns with the city’s sphere of influence. In cases that the Sphere does not align with the Urban Growth Boundary, the Commission will conduct a Municipal Service Review prior to aligning the two boundaries.

Although a territory may be included in the Sphere of Influence, the Commission requires a city to pre-zone the subject territory prior to the submittal to the Commission of an application for a change of organization involving annexation. Further, the Commission also encourages cities to prepare a site-specific project review of any area that is the subject of an annexation proposal. Such review can provide the Commission with sufficient information to determine whether the territory within the annexation boundary can be adequately served and whether the proposed annexation is premature.

Adopted: August 2006
Amended: May 2, 2012