Frequently Asked Questions

What is LAFCO?

LAFCO (an acronym for “Local Agency Formation Commission”) is a public agency with county-wide jurisdiction established by State Law (the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000). The Act intends to discourage urban sprawl and encourage orderly and efficient provision of services, such as water, sewer, and fire protection. LAFCO oversees changes to local government boundaries involving the formation and expansion of cities and special districts.

What state law governs LAFCO?

The Cortese Knox Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (California Government Code Section 56000 et seq.) is the primary law that governs LAFCOs. This Act establishes how LAFCOs are formed and sets forth the powers and duties of LAFCOs.

LAFCOs must comply with the following State laws:

  • California Revenue and Taxation Code Sections 93 and 99. LAFCO considers the proposals' revenue and taxation implications and initiates the property tax negotiation process amongst agencies affected by the proposal.
  • California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) (California Public Resources Code Section 21000 et seq.) and the related CEQA Guidelines (Title 14, California Code of Regulations Section 15000 et seq.). In most instances, applications before LAFCO are considered to be “projects” under CEQA, which requires that potential environmental impacts be analyzed prior to the Commission action.
  • Ralph M. Brown Act (California Government Code Section 54950 et seq.). Commonly known as the State’s “open meeting law,” the Brown Act ensures that the public has adequate opportunity to participate in the LAFCO process.
  • Political Reform Act (California Government Code Section 81000 et seq). Commissioners and some LAFCO staff (Executive Officers) are subject to the Act, which requires filing annual reports of economic interests.

Who are the members of LAFCO?

The Commission is composed of eight members:

  • Two members of the Imperial County Board of Supervisors & one alternate member
  • Two members of city councils & one alternate member
  • One public member & one alternate member

What does LAFCO do?

LAFCO oversees changes to local government boundaries involving the formation and expansion of cities and special districts. This includes annexations and detachments of territory to and/or from cities and special districts, incorporations of new cities; formations of new special districts, consolidations of cities or special districts; mergers of special districts with cities, and dissolutions of existing districts. LAFCO also approves or denies proposals from cities and special districts to provide municipal services outside their jurisdictional boundaries.

LAFCO determines a Sphere of Influence (“SOI”), a plan for the probable physical boundaries and service areas for each city and special district in the County. All jurisdictional changes, such as incorporations, annexations, and detachments, must be consistent with the affected agency’s Sphere of Influence, with limited exceptions.

LAFCO also prepares Municipal Service Reviews (“MSRs”), a comprehensive analysis of the municipal services provided in a particular city or special district.

How are LAFCO Commissioners Selected?

The Imperial County Board of Supervisors appoints two County Commissioners and one alternate.

The City Selection Committee, comprised of representatives from the city councils, appoints the two City Commissioners and one alternate.

The Commission appoints the Public Commissioner and one alternate.

Are LAFCOs independent agencies?


LAFCOs are independent public agencies that administer the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000. Created by the State but with local (not State appointees), each of the 58 counties in the State of California has a LAFCO. Each LAFCO operates independently of other LAFCOs, and each LAFCO has authority only within its corresponding county. While a LAFCO may purchase services (legal counsel or medical insurance) from a county, LAFCO’s are not County agencies.

When and where does the Commission meet?

The Commission holds its “regular meetings” at 08:30 a.m. on the fourth Thursday of each month. Periodically, the Commission will schedule “special meetings” on a date other than the fourth Thursday of the month.

Commission meetings are held in the El Centro City Council Chambers at 1275 Main Street in El Centro.

Public notice, including the Commission agenda, is published in the Imperial Valley Press, outside the LAFCO office, and on our website at

Where is the LAFCO Office located?

The LAFCO office is at 1122 W. State Street, Suite D, in the City of El Centro.

The office is open Monday through Thursday from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. The office is closed on Fridays.

Which jurisdictional boundaries are regulated by LAFCO?

LAFCO regulates the boundaries of all 7 incorporated cities within the County of Imperial. LAFCO regulates most special district boundaries including, but not limited to:

  • Cemetery districts
  • Community Service Districts (“CSDs”)
  • County Service Areas (“CSAs”)
  • County waterworks districts
  • Fire protection Districts
  • Hospital and healthcare districts
  • Irrigation districts
  • Library districts
  • Municipal utility districts
  • Reclamation districts
  • Recreation and parks districts
  • Resource conservation districts
  • Sanitation districts
  • Water districts

Where does LAFCO get the power to determine boundaries?

The Legislature has created a “uniform process” for boundary changes for cities and special districts in the Cortese Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (California Government Code Section 56000 et seq). The Act delegates the Legislature’s boundary powers over cities and special districts to LAFCO.

Which jurisdictional boundaries are not regulated by LAFCO?

  • LAFCO does not regulate boundaries for counties.
  • LAFCO does not regulate boundaries for the following public agencies:
  • Air pollution control districts
  • Bridge, highway, and thoroughfare districts
  • Community college districts
  • Community facility districts (aka “Mello-Roos” districts)
  • Improvement districts
  • Redevelopment agencies
  • School districts
  • Special Assessment districts
  • Transit and Transportation districts

Is Imperial LAFCO part of the County?

No, Imperial LAFCO is a state-mandated "independent" agency tasked with administering a section of planning law known as the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000.


Who funds LAFCO?

Imperial LAFCO is funded by Imperial County's 7 Cities and the County of Imperial. Government Code requires that the Cities as a whole pay half of the budget and the County pays the other half.


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 a Special District. It usually reflects a future growth area for a 20 to 25 year period.


What is a Municipal Service Review / Service Area Plan?

A Municipal Service Review (MSR) is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCO, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services. State law requires that MSRs be prepared every 5 years and adopted prior to considering any changes to the Sphere of Influence. In the Imperial County, we refer to them as Service Area Plans (SAP).


What is an Annexation?

The inclusion, attachment, or addition of territory to a city or district.

What is an Extension of Service?

A request for service by a city, district, or public agency that is outside the agency's jurisdictional boundaries pursuant to Sections 56133 and 56134.