Frequently Asked Questions

LAFCO is an acronym for Local Agency Formation Commission. It is a regulatory agency in each county in California with county-wide jurisdiction, established by the State Legislature in 1963. The law that governs LAFCO is known as the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg (CKH) Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (Government Code §§ 56000 et seq). LAFCO was established to coordinate logical and timely changes in local government boundaries, discourage urban sprawl and encourage orderly and efficient provision of services, such as water, sewer, fire protection, etc. while agricultural lands are protected. Riverside LAFCO is a state-mandated legislative agency and is independent of county government.

LAFCO is responsible for reviewing and approving proposed jurisdictional boundary changes, including annexations and detachments of territory to and/or from cities and special districts, incorporations of new cities, formations of new special districts, and consolidations, mergers, and dissolutions of existing districts. In addition, LAFCO must review and approve contractual service agreements, determine spheres of influence for each city and district, and may initiate proposals involving district consolidation, dissolution, establishment of subsidiary districts, mergers, and reorganizations (combinations of these jurisdictional changes).

With the passage of new legislation in 2000, LAFCOs also were charged with the responsibility to conduct municipal service reviews. A Municipal Service Review (MSR) is a study designed to determine the adequacy of governmental services being provided to the region or sub-region. Developing service reviews for each city and special district within the county may be used by LAFCO, other governmental agencies, and the public to better understand and improve service conditions

The County Board of Supervisors chooses two of its members to serve on LAFCO. The Council of Mayors chooses two members of city councils to serve as LAFCO members. The presiding officers of independent special districts in the County select two members. The six county, city and special district LAFCO members choose the public member.

Regular LAFCO meetings are scheduled at 9:30 a.m. typically on the fourth Thursday of each month at the Riverside Board of Supervisor’s Meeting Room of the Riverside County Administration Building.

If your proposal is considered routine and is non-controversial, processing time is approximately 4 to 6 months after a complete set of application materials have been submitted to the LAFCO office. More complex proposals may take additional time to process. However, each project is unique.

State Law requires that LAFCO notify affected agencies and the public regarding jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Notification of a pending proposal is made to County departments, interested individuals, and local governmental agencies potentially affected by a LAFCO proposal. In addition, comments are solicited from community groups as well as agencies that may potentially be affected by a LAFCO project. LAFCO must also wait until information is returned from the County Assessor, Auditor, and various state agencies before a proposal may be scheduled for a public hearing.

State Law authorizes LAFCO to charge the estimated reasonable cost to process jurisdictional boundary change proposals. Processing fees vary depending on the type of proposal (i.e. district formation, merger, reorganization, etc.). Annexation and detachment fees are also based on acreage. Please contact the LAFCO office at (951) 369-0631 for fee calculation information.

A sphere of influence is a planning tool adopted and used by LAFCO to designate the future boundary and service area for a city or special district.

Yes. LAFCO may amend and update spheres of influence. However, in many cases amending a sphere of influence requires a Municipal Service Review.

A municipal service review is a comprehensive study designed to better inform LAFCO, local agencies, and the community about the provision of municipal services.

Yes. LAFCO must comply with California ’s environmental laws.


Individual homeowners requesting annexation to a sewer district due to a septic tank.

Developers seeking annexation to cities in order to obtain urban densities and urban service extended to the new housing.

Cities wishing to annex pockets or “ island ” of unincorporated land located within their borders in order to avoid duplication of services with the county.

Special Districts or cities seeking to consolidate two or more government agencies into one, thereby streamlining their services and reducing the cost to the local taxpayer.

Special Districts are local government agencies that provide important municipal services throughout the state. If you live in the unincorporated area, you probably receive a number of vital services such as fire protection, water service, wastewater treatment and sewer, park and recreation, landscaping and lighting and other services from districts established to provide those services. Districts are either dependent (governed by the County Board of Supervisors) or independent (governed by a locally-elected board of directors). They are special because they provide service to areas that require special services above and beyond the regional services provided by the county.

School districts are not considered special districts and they fall under their own section of California law. LAFCO does receive and review proposals for new school sites that will require the extension of municipal services to unincorporated areas.

Although state legislators are exempt from the Brown Act, the members of quasi-legislative bodies are not. Commissioners are subject to the same laws and restrictions that apply to all locally elected officials, including the filing of Statements of Economic Interest under the Political Reform Act.

There is no appeal process to a Commission decision. Persons who oppose a Commission action may request the Commission to reconsider its decision, but if the Commission upholds its decision, the only recourse would be to file a lawsuit for judicial review of the matter.

For inhabited areas (areas containing twelve or more registered voters), state law indicates that if written protest is filed by 25% to 50% of the registered voters, or any amount greater than 25% of the landowners, then an election is called, and the annexation would be scheduled for a vote. If the protest is less than 25% of the voters or landowners, then the annexation is approved without an election; if the protest is greater than 50% of the total registered voters, then the annexation is denied without an election.