Policy: Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District - Sphere of Influence and Extension of Services
For purposes of clarity, the Commission separates the area encompassing the Sphere of Influence (SOI) for the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District (District) into three zones, as described in the Background Discussion associated with this policy. The Commission policies for the zones are as follows:
- In the Northern Zone, the District SOI aligns with the District Urban Service Boundary (USB) as designated in the Sonoma County 2020 General Plan.
- In the Central Zone, the District SOI aligns with the USBs for both the District and the City of Sonoma as designated in the Sonoma County 2020 General Plan.
- In the Southern Zone, the District SOI extends beyond the District USB as designated in the Sonoma County General Plan, to include parcels with services through Outside Service Area Agreements, parcels within the District, parcels with existing district sanitation services, parcels with water table well and water table problems as well as parcels adjacent to District facilities and pipelines.
- Parcels served by the District but outside the District USB are excluded from the District SOI with the exception of those included in the Southern Zone.
- Islands, other than those included in the Southern Zone, are excluded from the District SOI. An island is defined as territory served or proposed to be served by the District that is outside of and not contiguous to main District boundaries and which may or may not be owned by the District.
- Annexation of parcels outside the District USB is discouraged. Extension of services, via an Outside Service Area Agreement (OSAA), to parcels within the District SOI but outside the District USB may be considered on a case-by-case basis.
The California Government Code states in part:
56425 In order to carry out its purposes and responsibilities for planning and shaping the logical and orderly development and coordination of local governmental agencies 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.
The California Government Code states in part:
56133.(a) A city or district may provide new or extended services by contract or agreement outside its jurisdictional boundaries only if it first requests and receives written approval from the commission in the affected county.
(b) The commission may authorize a city or district to provide new or extended services outside its jurisdictional boundaries but within its sphere of influence in anticipation of a later change of organization.
(c) The commission may authorize a city or district to provide new or extended services outside its jurisdictional boundaries and outside its sphere of influence to respond to an existing or impending threat to the public health or safety of the residents of the affected territory if both of the following requirements are met:
- The entity applying for the contract approval has provided the commission with documentation of a threat to the health and safety of the public or the affected residents.
- The commission has notified any alternate service provider, including any water corporation as defined in Section 241 of the Public Utilities Code, or sewer system corporation as defined in Section 230.6 of the Public Utilities Code, that has filed a map and a statement of its service capabilities with the commission.
Background and Discussion
Spheres of influence are established by LAFCO to identify the probable physical boundaries and service areas of special districts. SOIs 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.
Annexations to the Sonoma Valley County Sanitation District prior to the establishment of its SOI or USB created an irregular District boundary including “islands” of territory served by the District but outside the District SOI and USB. Furthermore, the District has extended services, through OSAAs, to numerous parcels outside the District SOI and USB. As such, the policy for amendments to the District SOI and the extension of services, particularly in the Southern Zone, is unique and specific to the District. This policy is intended to create a logical and consistent approach in LAFCO’s consideration of extension of services by the District. LAFCO has divided the District SOI into three zones for the application of policy:
Northern Zone - All territory west and north of the Urban Growth Boundary (UGB), USB and SOI for the City of Sonoma including Agua Caliente, Boyes Hot Springs and Glen Ellen. In this Zone, the District SOI aligns with the District USB.
Central Zone – All territory within the UGB/USB/SOI for the City of Sonoma. In this Zone, the District SOI aligns with the USB/UGB/SOI for the City of Sonoma and the District USB.
Southern Zone - All territory south of the UGB/ USB/SOI for the City of Sonoma. In this Zone, the District SOI includes an area larger than the District USB.
The General Plans of the City of Sonoma and the County of Sonoma include policies to retain the rural and agricultural character of the area in and around the Southern Zone. This area, typified by vineyards, grazing land and large parcels, provides a transition from the urban form of the City of Sonoma to the rural dairies and vineyards of the Carneros region.
The County General Plan provides policy guidance, in the form of the District USB, which the Commission may apply when considering an amendment to the District SOI. The USB is a starting point when reviewing the SOI, not a controlling factor.
In order to address the policies of both the County and City of Sonoma in discouraging untoward urbanization, change in character and loss of agricultural lands in the Southern Zone, LAFCO policy discourages annexation to the District of parcels located within this Zone. Extensions of service may be provided through Outside Service Area Agreements and subject to compliance with current County General Plan policies and zoning requirements.
Adopted: February 3, 2010