In 1972, LAFCOs were given the power to determine
*Spheres of Influence for all local government agencies. A “Sphere of Influence”
is a planning boundary outside of an agency’s legal boundary (such as the city
limit line). This is defined as the physical boundary and service area that
designates the agency’s probable future boundary and service area that is
expected to serve. Factors considered in a Sphere of Influence Review focus on
the current and future land use, the current and future need and capacity for
service, and any relevant communities of interest. Establishment of this
boundary is necessary to determine which governmental agencies can provide
services in the most efficient way to the people and property in any given area.
With the passage of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg (CKH) Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (Government Code §§
56000 et seq), spheres are reviewed every five years.
Properly, established, the Sphere of Influence line discourages competition
among agencies for developable land; it promotes orderly land use and service
planning, and provides direction to landowners.
The Sphere of Influence requirement also works 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.
Commissions cannot tell agencies, counties or cities what their planning
goals should be. Rather, on a regional level, LAFCOs coordinate the orderly
development of a community by reconciling differences between agency, county and
city plans so the most efficient urban service arrangements are created for the
benefit of area residents and property owners.
State law requires the Commission to consider the following factors in
determining a Sphere of Influence boundary
1. The present and planned land uses in the area, including
agricultural and open-space lands.
2. The present and probable need for public facilities and services in
3. The present capactiy of public facilities and adequacy
of public services that the agency provides or is authorized to provide.
4. The existence of any social or economic communities of interest in
the area if
the commission determines that they
are relevant to the agency.
State law (Government Code §§ 56430 et seq.), now states that in order to
prepare and update a Sphere of Influence (SOI), LAFCOs are required to first
conduct a Municipal
Service Review under the Authority of LAFCO Section of the municipal
services provided in the county or other appropriate designated
area. State law requires the Commission to review all city and district
Spheres of Influence at least once every five