The purpose of this report is to provide a comprehensive review of municipal services delivered in the West San Gabriel Valley area.
The Municipal Service Review (MSR) area is a built-up urban environment in the Rio Hondo watershed below the San Gabriel Mountains. The area has a resident population of 935,337 and a job base of 418,906 in 2004. Visitors to the area are attracted by the Angeles National Forest, Santa Anita Park and Racetrack, the San Gabriel Mission, Old Town Pasadena, the Huntington Library Art Gallery and Botanical Gardens, the Arboretum of Los Angeles County, and several golf courses.
The area is within the jurisdictional boundaries of the County of Los Angeles. There are 18 cities and 25 special districts under LAFCO’s jurisdiction, which provide municipal services in the area.
Independent Special Districts
Dependent Special Districts
City of Alhambra
Altadena Library District
Consolidated Fire Protection District of Los Angeles County
City of Arcadia
Bradbury Estates Community Services District
County Sanitation District 2
City of Bradbury
Central Basin Municipal Water District
County Sanitation District 15
City of Duarte
Crescenta Valley County Water District
County Sanitation District 16
City of El Monte
Foothill Municipal Water District
County Sanitation District 17
City of Irwindale
Greater Los Angeles County Vector Control District
Water Replenishment District of Southern California
City of Temple City
The following MSR Findings apply to one or more of the local agencies listed above.
Municipal Service Review Findings
Infrastructure needs or deficiencies
The Irwindale, San Gabriel and Altadena police stations, the El Monte, Irwindale, and Monterey Park police dispatch systems, and the Irwindale and Sheriff Temple Station dispatch centers need replacement or upgrade.
Montebello and Monterey Park identified areas that could not be properly served without additional fire stations. Five of the existing 46 fire stations in the MSR area were described as deficient and in need of replacement. The deficient stations include a Montebello fire station, two fire stations in Monterey Park, a fire station in Pasadena, and a fire station in San Gabriel. In addition, the CFPD fire station in La Cañada Flintridge was described as deficient and in need of capital improvements.
The wastewater trunk lines serving the MSR area are at or approaching capacity. The capacity of the Los Angeles-Glendale Water Reclamation Plant has been reduced in order to remove nitrogen from the effluent prior to discharge into the Los Angeles River. This reduced capacity could affect the western portions of La Cañada Flintridge, where a sewer collection system is being installed for conveying waste to the Los Angeles-Glendale facility.
Portions of four communities are on septic systems, which are subject to failure and potential groundwater contamination, if not properly maintained.
The primary landfills where solid waste is disposed will be closing between 2013 and 2019. Beginning in 2010, remote landfills will be phased in as replacement disposal sites.
The local agencies face significant challenges in financing the infrastructure and staffing levels to meet new regulatory requirements to prevent trash from flowing through the storm drains, to monitor discharges, and to identifying illicit wastewater connections into the stormwater system.
All of the cities face ongoing needs for resurfacing, slurry-sealing, traffic signals, and street widening in high-traffic areas.
Park availability in six cities does not meet national guidelines for at least 2.5 acres of park land per 1,000 residents.
San Marino and Sierra Madre reported that existing library facilities are deficient in meeting service demand, and require expansion or replacement.
Growth and population projections
Over the next 20 years, the MSR area population is projected to grow at about one percent annually, roughly the same rate of growth as in the County as a whole. The MSR area population is currently 935,000, and is expected to reach 1,092,000 by the year 2025.
The most rapid growth in the residential population is anticipated in the unincorporated communities, Monterey Park, San Gabriel, El Monte, Irwindale, and Bradbury. The pace of growth in the unincorporated areas and El Monte is expected to slow in the long-term.
The daytime population (job base) is projected to grow most quickly in Irwindale, Alhambra and Arcadia.
Most of the cities identified residential growth areas and opportunities as primarily involving infill development and redevelopment.
Most of the jurisdictions cited a shortage of vacant, developable land as a significant growth constraint. In the foothill cities, topography and related concerns about fire, flood hazard, and street access in hillside areas were also cited as growth constraints.
Financing constraints and opportunities
General fund revenues per capita are most ample in Pasadena, Irwindale, Bradbury and San Marino where revenues per capita exceed the countywide average of $552. In Rosemead, Temple City, and South El Monte, general fund revenues per capita were less than half of the countywide average.
Bradbury, Duarte and Montebello did not maintain contingency reserves. The remainder of the jurisdictions maintained fund balances that meet Government Finance Officers Association recommendations.
Stormwater infrastructure financing opportunities include bonded indebtedness. The City of Los Angeles is submitting a ballot measure to use this approach to finance stormwater system improvements to the voters in November 2004.
Cost avoidance opportunities
Law enforcement agencies indicated that regional collaboration efforts have reduced costs and provided the agencies access to service they could not otherwise afford.
Several fire service providers indicated that regional sharing of training facilities and classes could reduce costs.
Opportunities for rate restructuring
Wastewater and solid waste disposal rates charged by the County Sanitation Districts are likely to increase in the long-term.
Opportunities for shared facilities
Future opportunities include regionalized dispatch, SWAT, and holding facilities. Specific opportunities involve excess police storage space and two fire training facilities.
Government structure options
Special district formation for stormwater financing purposes is one of many options currently being studied by the County Department of Public Works in collaboration with local agencies throughout the County. The stakeholders are expected to recommend the most viable option within the next several years.
Evaluation of management efficiencies
Eight of the 18 cities conduct workload monitoring and performance evaluation, and were able to provide recent examples of these efforts.
Three of the cities—Bradbury, Rosemead, and South El Monte—indicated that they neither conduct performance evaluations nor workload monitoring.
Local accountability and governance
For the most part, the local agencies are accountable to their citizens, publicize governing body meetings and actively solicit community input in decision-making.
The cities of El Monte and Montebello did not cooperate fully with LAFCO inquiries. Although both cities responded to the LAFCO questionnaires on police and fire services, neither city responded to the agency-wide LAFCO questionnaires. Both agencies were non-responsive to repeated LAFCO requests for information over the last 18 months. Therefore, the data contained herein has been gathered from available public documents.
Sphere of Influence Findings
Most of the cities face significant financing constraints in servicing existing territory and in meeting current infrastructure needs and regulatory requirements. In most cases, extending services into additional territory is not financially feasible at present.
Based on this municipal service review, this report recommends that the spheres of influence (SOIs) of four agencies be amended at this time:
Arcadia: The report recommends that the Arcadia SOI be reduced to exclude the joint SOI area shared with Pasadena. The affected area is not contiguous to the Arcadia city limits, and the City does not anticipate annexing the territory that lies between the western city boundary and the affected area. The affected area is primarily residential, is contiguous to the Pasadena city limits, and shares communities of interest with Pasadena.
Montebello: The report recommends that the Montebello SOI be reduced to be coterminous with the city limits due to the City’s financial predicament, local accountability deficiencies, and failure to cooperate with the municipal service review.
San Marino: The report recommends that the San Marino SOI be reduced to exclude the overlapping SOI area shared with Temple City to promote logical boundaries. San Marino consistently indicated that it lacks the public safety infrastructure needed to service any growth or areas outside its existing city limits. Further, the City indicated that adjacent unincorporated territory is served by septic systems and would be difficult to annex. The affected area is east of Eaton Wash and, if annexed, would be a difficult area for the City to serve and access. The affected area lies on the same side of Eaton Wash as Temple City. Placing the affected area solely in the Temple City SOI would promote logical boundaries.
South El Monte: The report recommends that the South El Monte SOI be expanded to include a U.S. Army Reserve facility south of the City in unincorporated territory. The City’s general plan discusses the area at length as a desirable annexation area. Although the facility is still being used actively due to the U.S. war in Iraq, it could potentially be decommissioned when the war ends. Once decommissioned, South El Monte would be the only potential city to annex the property.
This report is prepared pursuant to a new legislative requirement that LAFCO conduct a comprehensive review of municipal service delivery and update, as necessary, the spheres of influence of agencies under LAFCO’s jurisdiction not less than every five years. This chapter provides an overview of LAFCO’s history, powers and responsibilities. It explains spheres of influence and the legal and procedural requirements for updating the spheres of influence. It discusses the origins and legal requirements for preparation of the municipal service review (MSR). The chapter explains spheres of influence and the legal and procedural requirements for updating the spheres of influence. Finally, the chapter reviews the process for MSR review, MSR approval and sphere of influence updates.
After World War II, California experienced dramatic growth in population and economic development. With this boom came a demand for housing, jobs, and public services. To accommodate this demand, the state approved the formation of many new local government agencies, often with little forethought as to the ultimate governance structures in a given region. The lack of coordination and adequate planning led to a multitude of overlapping, inefficient jurisdictional and service boundaries, and the premature conversion of California’s agricultural and open-space lands. Recognizing this problem, in 1959, Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. appointed the Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems. The Commission's charge was to study and make recommendations on the "misuse of land resources" and the growing complexity of local governmental jurisdictions. The Commission's recommendations on local governmental reorganization were introduced in the Legislature in 1963, resulting in the creation of Local Agency Formation Commissions operating in each county.
In 1964, the Legislature formed a Local Agency Formation Commission in each county, including Los Angeles, as a regulatory agency with countywide jurisdiction to discourage urban sprawl and encourage the orderly formation and development of local government agencies. Each LAFCO is responsible for coordinating logical and timely changes in local governmental boundaries, including annexations and detachments of territory, incorporations of cities, formations of special districts, and consolidations, mergers, and dissolutions of districts, as well as reviewing ways to reorganize, simplify, and streamline governmental structure. Each LAFCO's efforts are directed toward seeing that services are provided efficiently and economically while agricultural and open-space lands are protected. To better inform itself and the community as it seeks to exercise its charge, LAFCO conducts service reviews to evaluate the provision of municipal services within the county.
Each LAFCO regulates the boundary changes proposed by other public agencies or individuals by approving or disapproving such changes, with or without amendment, wholly, partially or conditionally. Each LAFCO is empowered to initiate updates to the spheres of influence as well as proposals involving the dissolution or consolidation of special districts and the merging of subsidiary districts. Otherwise, LAFCO actions must originate as applications from affected homeowners, developers, cities or districts.
Los Angeles County LAFCO (hereafter, “LAFCO”) consists of nine regular members: two members from the Board of Supervisors, two city representatives, one City of Los Angeles representative, two special district representatives and two public members (one of which represents the San Fernando Valley Statistical Area). There are six alternates to the regular members. Commissioners are appointed to four-year terms.
Table Intro-1: Commission Members, 2004
Two members from the Board of Supervisors appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
Supervisor Yvonne Burke
Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky
Supervisor Don Knabe
Two members representing the 88 cities in the county. Must be a city officer and appointed by the City Selection Committee.
Mayor Carol Herrera
City of Diamond Bar
Mayor Beatrice Proo
City of Pico Rivera
Mayor Cristina Cruz-Madrid
City of Azusa
One member from a city representing 30% of the total population of the county who is a member of the legislative body from that city.
Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski
City of Los Angeles
Councilman Grieg Smith
City of Los Angeles
Two members appointed by the Independent Special District Selection Committee.
Castaic Lake Water Agency
West Basin Municipal Water District
Robert W. Goldsworthy
Water Replenishment District of Southern California
One public member from the San Fernando Valley statistical area, not a member of the Board of Supervisors, appointed by the Board of Supervisors.
One member from the general public appointed by the other eight Commissioners
The municipal service review requirement was adopted after the Legislature’s consideration of two studies recommending that each LAFCO throughout the State conduct reviews of local agencies. The Little Hoover Commission study focused on the need for oversight and consolidation of special districts, whereas the Commission on Local Governance for the 21st Century study focused on the need for regional planning to ensure efficient service delivery as the California population continues to grow.
Little Hoover Commission
In May 2000, the Little Hoover Commission1 released a report entitled Special Districts: Relics of the Past or Resources for the Future? This report focused on governance and financial problems among independent special districts, and the barriers to LAFCO’s pursuit of district consolidation and dissolution. The report raised the concern that “the underlying patchwork of special district governments has become unnecessarily redundant, inefficient and unaccountable.”2
The report raised concerns about independent districts with the following problems:
a lack of visibility;
a lack of accountability as evidenced by relatively low voter turnout rates, infrequency of contested elections, and inadequate notice of public meetings;
excessive reserve funds;
questionable receipt of property tax revenue by utility districts;
inadequate financial reporting;
outdated boundaries; and
The report questioned the public benefit provided by health care districts that have sold, leased or closed their hospitals, and asserted that LAFCOs consistently fail to examine whether they should be eliminated. The report pointed to service improvements and cost reductions associated with special district consolidations, but asserted that LAFCOs have generally failed to pursue special district reorganizations.
The report called on the Legislature to increase the oversight of special districts by mandating that LAFCOs identify service duplications and that LAFCOs study reorganization alternatives when service duplications are identified, when a district appears insolvent, when district reserves are excessive, when rate inequities surface, when a district’s mission changes, when a new city incorporates and when service levels are unsatisfactory. To accomplish this, the report recommended that the state strengthen the independence and funding of LAFCOs, require districts to report to their respective LAFCO, and require LAFCOs to study service duplications.
Commission on Local Governance for the 21st Century
The Legislature formed the Commission on Local Governance for the 21st Century (“21st Century Commission”) in 1997 to review current statutes on the policies, criteria, procedures and precedents for city, county and special district boundary changes. The 21st Century Commission released its final report Growth Within Bounds: Planning California Governance for the 21st Century in January 2000.3 The report examines the way that government is organized and operates, and establishes a vision of how the state will grow by “making better use of the often invisible LAFCOs in each county”.
The report points to the projected doubling of California’s population over the first four decades of the 21st Century, and raises concerns that, without a strategy, open spaces will be swallowed up, expensive freeway extensions will be needed, job centers will become farther removed from housing, and this will lead to longer commutes, increased pollution and stressful lifestyles.
The 21st Century Commission recommended that effective, efficient and easily understandable government be encouraged through consolidation of small, inefficient or overlapping providers, transparency of municipal service delivery to the people, and accountability of service providers. The sheer number of special districts, the report asserts, “has provoked controversy, including several legislative attempts to initiate district consolidations”4 but cautions LAFCOs that decisions to consolidate districts should focus on service adequacy, not simply on the number of districts.
Growth Within Bounds cautions that for LAFCOs to achieve their fundamental purposes, they must have a comprehensive knowledge of the services available, service efficiency within various areas of the county, future service needs, and expansion capacity of each service provider. Comprehensive knowledge of water and sanitary providers, the report argued, would promote consolidations of water and sanitary districts, reduce water costs and promote a more comprehensive approach to the use of water resources. Further, the report asserted that many LAFCOs lack such knowledge, and should be required to conduct such a review to ensure that municipal services are logically extended to accommodate growth and development.
The state-mandated municipal service review would require LAFCO to look broadly at all agencies within a geographic region that provide a particular municipal service and to examine consolidation or reorganization of service providers. The 21st Century Commission recommended that the review should include water, wastewater, garbage, and other municipal services that LAFCO judges to be important to future growth. The Commission recommended that the service review be followed by consolidation studies and be performed in conjunction with updates of spheres of influence. The recommendation indicated that service reviews be designed to make nine determinations, each of which was incorporated verbatim in the subsequently adopted legislation.
Municipal Service Review Legislation
The Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 requires LAFCO to review municipal services before updating the spheres of influence.5 The requirement for service reviews arises from the identified need for a more coordinated and efficient public service structure, which will support California’s anticipated growth. The service review provides LAFCO with a tool to comprehensively study existing and future public service conditions and to evaluate organizational options for accommodating growth, preventing urban sprawl, and ensuring that critical services are efficiently and cost-effectively provided.-
Effective January 1, 2001, Government Code Section 56430 requires LAFCO to conduct a review of municipal services provided in the county by region, sub-region or other designated geographic area, as appropriate, for the service or services to be reviewed, and prepare a written statement of determination with respect to each of the following:
Growth and population projections for the affected area;
Financing constraints and opportunities;
Cost avoidance opportunities;
Opportunities for rate restructuring;
Opportunities for shared facilities;
Government structure options, including advantages and disadvantages of consolidation or reorganization of service providers;
Evaluation of management efficiencies; and
Local accountability and governance.
The municipal service review process does not require LAFCO to initiate changes of organization based on service review findings; it only requires that LAFCO make determinations regarding the provision of public services per Government Code Section 56430. However, LAFCO, other local agencies, and the public may subsequently use the determinations to analyze prospective changes of organization or reorganization or to establish or amend spheres of influence
Municipal service reviews are not subject to the provisions of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) because they are only feasibility or planning studies for possible future action, which LAFCO has not approved. (Cal. Pub. Res. Code § 21150) The ultimate outcome of conducting a service review, however, may result in LAFCO taking discretionary action with respect to a recommended change of organization or reorganization. Either LAFCO, if acting on its own, or the local agency that submits a proposal to LAFCO, will be considered the lead agency for purposes of CEQA and must conduct an appropriate environmental review prior to LAFCO taking action.
Sphere of Influence Updates
LAFCO is charged with developing and updating the sphere of influence for each city and special district within the county.6 A sphere of influence is a planning boundary that designates the agency’s probable future boundary and service area. Spheres are planning tools used to provide guidance for individual proposals involving jurisdictional changes, and are intended to encourage efficient provision of organized community services and prevent duplication of service delivery. Territory must be within a city or district's sphere in order to be annexed.
The purpose of the sphere of influence is to ensure the provision of efficient services while discouraging urban sprawl and the premature conversion of agricultural and open space lands by preventing overlapping jurisdictions and duplication of services. LAFCOs cannot tell agencies what their planning goals should be. Rather, on a regional level, LAFCO coordinates the orderly development of a community through reconciling differences between agency plans so that the most efficient urban service arrangements are created for the benefit of area residents and property owners.
The Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg (CKH) Act requires LAFCO to develop and determine the sphere of influence of each local governmental agency within the county, and to review and update the SOI every five years. LAFCO is empowered to adopt, update and amend the SOI. It may do so with or without an application, and any party is allowed to submit an application proposing a SOI amendment.7
LAFCO may recommend government reorganizations to particular agencies in the county, using the SOIs as the basis for those recommendations. In determining the SOI, LAFCO must make determinations on four additional topics:
present and planned land uses in the area, including agricultural and open-space lands;
present and probable need for public facilities and services in the area;
present capacity of public facilities and adequacy of public service that the agency provides or is authorized to provide; and
existence of any social or economic communities of interest in the area if LAFCO determines that they are relevant to the agency.
CKH stipulates several procedural requirements in updating SOIs. The CKH Act requires that special districts file written statements on the class of services provided, and that LAFCO clearly establish the location, nature and extent of services provided by special districts.8 LAFCO must notify affected agencies 21 days before holding the public hearing to consider the SOI, and may not update the SOI until after that hearing.9
Municipal Service Review Process
LAFCO is charged with preparing municipal service reviews and updating the spheres of influence of 180 local agencies. Given the enormity of this task, the Executive Officer has divided the county into the following nine geographic areas for which MSRs are being prepared:
West San Gabriel Valley
East San Gabriel Valley
LAFCO has determined that certain special districts (cemetery, community services, garbage disposal, health care, library, recreation and park, resource conservation and mosquito abatement) are subject to sphere of influence reviews and updates, but are not considered providers of “backbone” municipal services. These special districts are subject to abbreviated municipal service reviews and sphere of influence updates, which are not part of this report.
The MSR process involves the following steps:
Draft Municipal Service Review. During this step, LAFCO has sent questionnaires (Requests for Information) to the agencies about their delivery of municipal services. LAFCO prepares the draft municipal service review report, and submits that report to the affected agencies for review. During the 30-day review period, LAFCO invites the agencies to discuss their comments and related policy options with the Executive Officer.
Draft Final Municipal Service Review: After receiving the agencies’ comments and holding a public workshop, LAFCO makes report revisions and releases the draft final municipal service review report.
Final Municipal Service Review: At a duly noticed public hearing, LAFCO may consider the nine written determinations regarding the municipal service review or may request revisions or additional analysis be conducted for the MSR. In the latter case, the report will be revised and resubmitted to LAFCO at the next meeting.
Sphere of Influence Update: After making the nine written determinations, LAFCO may proceed to update the sphere of influence of the agencies covered in the particular municipal service review report. Affected agencies must be notified 21 days in advance of this hearing.
This draft final municipal service review report includes analysis of service delivery providers and policy options for LAFCO to consider as it makes its determinations with respect to municipal service reviews and sphere of influence updates. The decision whether or not to approve or disapprove any policy options, with or without amendment, wholly, partially or conditionally, rests entirely with LAFCO. This report is not a substitute for those discretionary decisions yet to be made by LAFCO.
This report and the policy options herein are subject to revision as may be directed by LAFCO during the course of its deliberations.