gmhTODAY 08 gmhToday May June 2016 - Page 80

LAFCO What is Its Role in Our Growth? Written By Larry J. Mickartz M any pieces of legislation are reactions to past abuses. A good example of this is the urban sprawl that occurred in places like Los Angeles and San Jose after World War II. Post-war economic growth was strong in California. Soldiers returning home felt the draw of the Golden State. But rather than orderly growth, California suffered from dis- jointed urban sprawl and with it, significant loss of agriculture and open space. Today, a drive through the LA basin and the northern sections of Santa Clara Valley provide clear evidence of this sprawl. Then came the public outcry as the negative 80 impacts of sprawl became increasingly clear. In response, the California legislature mandated the creation of Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs) in 1963. The primary objective of Santa Clara County’s LAFCO is to provide oversight when it comes to the establishment of boundaries of cities and special districts, thus encouraging orderly boundaries and discouraging urban sprawl while preserving agricultural and open space lands. It should be noted that while the majority of Santa Clara Valley’s potentially developable open space and farmland GILROY • MORGAN HILL • SAN MARTIN MAY/JUNE 2016 lies within the South County, there is no requirement to have a representative from South County on the Santa Clara LAFCO. In fact, the commission operated for many years without a representation from Gilroy or Morgan Hill. LAFCO maps depict its three areas of concern as: city limits, urban service areas, and spheres of influence. For most cities in the northern part of Santa Clara County, the LAFCO map shows the three areas to be the same, overlapping one another. For the South County, it’s a different story – the three areas are distinct, progressing outward from city limit to urban service