State Laws Governing LAFCO
Marin LAFCO is a subdivision of the State of California and currently responsible for directly administering the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (CKH). This legislation marked a comprehensive rewrite of pre-existing LAFCO law dating back to 1963 and marked by substantively expanding LAFCOs’ planning responsibilities. Examples includes now regularly preparing studies – titled municipal service reviews – to independently evaluate the availability, need, and performance of local governmental services relative to current and future community needs and ahead of updating local agencies’ spheres of influence every five years. CKH also expanded LAFCOs’ regulatory powers to now oversee outside service extensions as well as the authority to directly initiate certain government reorganizations, such as forming, consolidating, or dissolving special districts. CKH also reaffirmed and expanded LAFCOs’ underlying directive to balance orderly development with efficient governmental services with the sometimes competing interests of discouraging urban sprawl and preserving open space and prime agricultural lands. (Government Code Section 56000 et seq.)
LAFCOs are also responsible for complying with several other State statutes. Most frequently, this includes the following two statutes.
California Environmental Quality Act
Many of the decisions rendered by Marin LAFCO are "projects" as defined by the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) under California Code of Regulations § 1500-15387. For purposes of complying with CEQA, Marin LAFCO has adopted the "State Guidelines" published by the California Office of Planning and Research under California Administrative Code. The State CEQA Guidelines are incorporated by this reference into the Policy Handbook. Additionally, amendments to the State CEQA Guidelines are automatically effective unless otherwise noted by action of the Commission. (CEQA Guidelines §15022(d))
Ralph M. Brown Act
Marin LAFCO qualifies as a “local legislative body” and must adhere to the public access standards required under the Ralph M. Brown Act (Government Code §54950-54963). Towards this end, all LAFCO regular meetings are noticed no less than 72 hours in advance and open to the general public. Special meetings may also be convened under the Brown Act under specified circumstances so long as notice has been provided no less than 24 hours in advance. All regular and special meeting notices must be accompanied by written agendas briefly describing each item to be considered at the meeting. Actions or discussions not tied to an item listed on the agenda may not be taken.