Unfamiliar to most, LAFCo (Local Agency Formation Commission) was created by the state legislature to be a "watch dog" on local government to oversee land use. There is a LAFCo in every county. Though they are not a state or county agency, their decisions are legislative, backed by the courts and there is no appeals process.
Because they've been granted so much power, they are supposed to operate independently and autonomously.
In 2008, LAFCo was the agency that aggressively advocated making Oakhurst a city (i.e., incorporation) at a time when the national, state and local economies were declining. As we now watch established cities (and states) teetering on the verge of bankruptcy, thank goodness Oakhurst voters had the foresight to 'just say no' to becoming a city rather than get saddled with another bureaucracy needing taxpayer dollars to survive.
Now LAFCo is at it again, recommending that Oakhurst take an intermediary step to reach what LAFCo considers the threshold for incorporation by initially consolidating water, sewer and road maintenance districts into an area-wide Community Service District (CSD). A district complete with its own independent level of bureaucracy and board of directors.
Once in place, the CSD would have the power to levy taxes, sue and be sued, acquire property by eminent domain or other means, appoint employees, enter into contracts, borrow money, overrule area plans, enforce regulations and much more.
There are better solutions for improved county services without requiring another layer of government intrusion into our lives and pocketbooks. Of the LAFCo suggestions, one that would be more appropriate is just combining road work across multiple districts under one bid and one contractor could be a way to cut county costs. Or perhaps it would make more sense for the county to stop forming new road maintenance districts and instead bring all existing and future roads under one county road department.
Such an action might require an increase in road assessment fees -- but certainly a lot less than funding an entire new government body. But for any option to be successful, we all must be pro-actively involved, otherwise we will be saying "what just happened" as we are being taxed more and find ourselves under an ever-increasing regulatory burden.
Editor's Note: LAFCo's next public meeting in Oakhurst is at 6 p.m., Tuesday, July 24 at the Oakhurst Community Center. LAFCo's draft report can be seen at madera-county/rma/archives/yploads/1337289190-document-upload-draftmsrstaffreportworkshop.pdf. LAFCo is requesting public comments on the draft report by June 27. Letters can be mailed to LAFCo at 2037 West Cleaveland Ave., Madera 93637, or emailed to email@example.com.