The San Mateo Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) is a State-mandated, independent agency with countywide jurisdiction over changes in organization and boundaries of cities and special districts including annexations, detachments, incorporations and formations. LAFCos were created by the State Legislature in 1963 in response to the rapid growth and sporadic formation of cities and special districts in California in the years following World War II.

The Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (CKH Act) establishes procedures for local government changes of organization, including city incorporations, annexations to a city or special district, and city and special district consolidations. Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCos) have numerous powers under the CKH Act, but those of primary concern are the power to act on local agency boundary changes and to adopt spheres of influence for local agencies. Among the purposes of LAFCos are the discouragement of urban sprawl and the encouragement of the orderly formation and development of local agencies.

LAFCo has responsibility in the following areas affecting local government in the county:

  1. To discourage urban sprawl and encourage the orderly growth and development of local government agencies;
  2. To prevent premature conversion of agricultural and open space lands;
  3. To review, approve, or disapprove proposals for changes in the boundaries and organization of the 20 cities, 22 independent special districts, and 33 active County-governed special districts, plus incorporations of cities and formations of special districts;
  4. To conduct municipal service reviews and establish and periodically update spheres of influence ─ future boundary, organization, and service plans ─ for the County, cities, and special districts; and
  5. To perform and assist in studies of local government agencies with the goal of improving efficiency and reducing costs of providing urban services.

For more information on what LAFCos are and how they work, please read 50 Years of LAFCO - A Guide to LAFCOs.