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Policy: Urban Land uses to be within Cities

The Commission encourages urban development in cities rather than in unincorporated territory. Where existing urban development is adjacent to a city, the Commission encourages annexation to, and provision of services by, the adjacent city.

Legal Authority

The Legislature provided each LAFCO with the authority to “establish written policies and procedures and exercise its a manner consistent with those policies and procedures and that encourages and provides planned, well-ordered, efficient urban development patterns with appropriate consideration of preserving open-space and agricultural lands within those patterns.” (Government Code Section §56300) This policy implements the intended goal of well-ordered growth.

Background and Discussion

The County General Plan 2020 states “generally, concentrated growth allows greater efficiency and economy in providing public services, conserves agriculture and resource lands, preserves the rural character desired by many of the County's residents, and can provide more affordable housing.“ The County General Plan 2020’s Land Use and Housing Elements reinforce city and community centered population growth patterns by reserving the residential lands in Urban Service Areas, which includes all cities, for more affordable, higher-density types of housing.

The Commission supports the planning principle that urban growth should be in cities. Cities are better equipped to provide a broad range of services than rural communities that rely on special districts for services.

Most of the urban scale growth is planned to occur in the cities. However, some growth is to occur in the “legacy communities.” A “legacy community” is a community that is older than 50 years and traditionally identified as community. Good examples of these are Monte Rio, Guerneville, Agua Caliente, Mark West and Valley Ford. To make community centered growth successful in an unincorporated area, adequate sewer and water service capacities are essential. Yet, many of the systems are operated by small districts without adequate funding for system improvements or long-term operation and maintenance. As a result, the capacity to accommodate planned growth in some communities is not assured.

Because of the uncertainty, the Commission will carefully review the expansion of special districts’ ability to provide services when a sphere of influence or annexation is requested.

Adopted: 2006
Amended: June 5, 2013