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Frequently Asked Questions

What is LAFCO?
Is LAFCo a County Department?
What does LAFCO do?
How do I apply to LAFCO?
Who are the members of LAFCO?
When and where does the Commission meet?
How long will it take to process my proposal?
Is the public notified about LAFCO actions?
What if I don't want to annex?
Does LAFCO charge a fee to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals?
What is a Sphere of Influence?
Can a Sphere of Influence be changed?
What are special districts, and why are they so "special"?
What is a Municipal Service Review?
Is LAFCO subject to the Brown Act and the Political Reform Act?
Is LAFCO required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?

What is LAFCO?
LAFCO is an acronym for Local Agency Formation Commission. It is a regulatory agency with county-wide jurisdiction, established by state law to discourage urban sprawl and to encourage orderly and efficient provision of services, such as water, sewer, fire protection, etc.  LAFCO operations are governed by the Cortese-Knox - Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000

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Is LAFCo a County Department?
No.  Fresno LAFCO is a state-mandated "independent" agency and is not a County agency, a City department or a special district.

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What does LAFCO do?
LAFCO is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed jurisdictional boundary changes, including annexations and detachments of territory to and/or from cities and special districts, incorporations of new cities, formations of new special districts, and consolidations, mergers, and dissolutions of existing districts. In addition, LAFCO must review and approve contractual service agreements, determine Spheres of Influence for each city and district, and may initiate proposals involving district consolidation, dissolution, establishment of subsidiary districts, mergers, and reorganizations (combinations of these jurisdictional changes).

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How do I apply to LAFCO?
While certain types of applications can be filed directly with LAFCO by a petition of property owners, the typical applicant to LAFCO is a city and/or a special district that proposes a change in boundaries. A property owner who wants to annex to a city and/or district should first contact the respective city and/or district. The city and/or district may have separate application forms and can charge separate fees for boundary changes. Once a city and/or district accepts an application from a property owner for a boundary change, the city and/or district becomes the lead agency for compliance with CEQA and determines whether or not to initiate the annexation and make application to LAFCO.

For annexation to a city, the law requires that the city first pre-zone the property involved. This is typically done concurrently with city processes to initiate the annexation. Once a property is annexed to a city, the city cannot change the zoning for at least two years after the annexation is completed.

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Who are the members of LAFCO?
Fresno LAFCo is composed of five regular Commissioners: two members from the Board of Supervisors; two members who represent the cities in Fresno County;  and one public member. There are three alternate Commission seats; one from each of the above-membership categories.  State law does also provide for representation by special districts.  However, special districts in Fresno County have elected not to participate at this time.

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When and where does the Commission meet?
Regular LAFCO meetings are scheduled for 1:30 p.m., one Wednesday a month (see the LAFCo Calendar) and held in the Board of Supervisors Chambers in the Hall of Records, 3rd Floor, 2281 Tulare St, Fresno, CA 93721. Click here for map (Provided by Google Maps)

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How long will it take to process my proposal?
If your proposal is considered routine and is non-controversial, processing time is approximately 2 to 3 months after a complete set of application materials have been submitted to the LAFCO office. More complex proposals may take additional time to process.

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Is the public notified about LAFCO actions?
State law requires that LAFCO notify affected agencies and the public regarding most jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Notification of a pending proposal is made to County departments, interested individuals, and local governmental agencies. In addition, comments are solicited from community groups as well as agencies that may potentially be affected by a LAFCO project. LAFCO must also wait until information is returned from the County Assessor, Auditor, and various state agencies before a proposal may be scheduled for a public hearing.

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What if I don't want to annex?
Property owners in an area have the right to protest a proposed annexation and, if the protest is sufficiently large, they may vote on whether to annex their area. (See Uninhabited Protest Proceedings or Inhabited Protest Proceedings)

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Does LAFCO charge a fee to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals?
State law authorizes LAFCO to charge the estimated reasonable cost to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Processing fees vary depending on the type of proposal (i.e., district formation, merger, reorganization, etc.). Please refer to LAFCO's fee schedule or contact the LAFCO office for fee information.

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What is a Sphere of Influence?
A Sphere of Influence is an established boundary line adopted  by LAFCO to designate the future boundary and service area for a city or special district.  It usually reflects a future growth area for a 20 to 25 year period.

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Can a Sphere of Influence be changed?
Yes. LAFCO may amend and update Spheres of Influence.  State law requires that the Commission review and update the Sphere of Influence every five years.

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What are special districts, and why are they so "special"?
Special districts provide important services throughout the County, even if you live in a city. If you live in the unincorporated area, you probably receive a number of vital services such as fire protection, water service, park and recreation, and other services from districts established to provide those services. Districts are either dependent (governed by the County Board of Supervisors) or independent (governed by a locally elected board of directors). They're "special" because they provide services to areas that require special services above and beyond the regional services provided by the County.

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What is a Municipal Service Review?
A Municipal Service Review is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCO, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services.  State law requires that Municipal Service Reviews be prepared and adopted prior to considering any changes to the Sphere of Influence.

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Is LAFCO subject to the Brown Act and the Political Reform Act?
Although state legislators are exempt from the Brown Act, the members of quasi-legislative bodies are not. Commissioners are subject to the same laws and restrictions that apply to all locally elected officials, including the filing of Statements of Economic Interest under the Political Reform Act.

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Is LAFCO required to comply with the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA)?
Yes. LAFCO must comply with CEQA.  LAFCo normally serves as a "responsible agency" in reviewing the environmental work performed for a project by cities and special districts.

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If you have additional questions, please contact the LAFCo office at (559) 600-0604 or by e-mail. Thank you for your interest in Fresno LAFCo.