Annexations & LAFCO

Is Annexation Difficult?

Here in California, we have the Local Agency Formation Commission (better known as LAFCO), which oversees the formation of new cities and the annexation of properties into existing cities.  It seems that “rumors” can seem to take on a life of their own in our industry, fueled by word of mouth opinions.  One of those rumors has been the supposed horror stories of processing an annexation through LAFCO.

As with many development projects, the specific circumstances and issues can make any governmental process more difficult than others.  As for LAFCO, a couple of small projects that were located in unincorporated County jurisdictions were processed with project approvals obtained through a City.  The City approved the project “subject” to annexation approval, which required the process of getting LAFCO approval after receiving City Council approval of the projects.

Now the horror stories – there were none.  At the beginning of the process with the City, an initial meeting was scheduled with a LAFCO planner and we received a very clear description of the process and path to LAFCO annexation approval.  Because the property abutted the City boundary and we were agreeing to be annexed, we had little controversy.  Among other steps in the process, we needed to send out notices to surrounding properties that were still in unincorporated County jurisdiction and give them the opportunity to be included in the annexation.  At the end of the day, we received LAFCO annexation approval four months after the City Council approval.

However, many LAFCO processes probably do not go so smoothly.  While our initial meetings with LAFCO and understanding the process was very beneficial to a smooth approval process, various factors make annexations much more difficult.

If you have some experiences or comments about LAFCO and annexations, we welcome you to share below.  And, if you are located in another state, we would welcome knowing if you have a version of LAFCO or how your annexation process works.

John Kaye has over 30 years experience within the land development and homebuilding industries, having held senior management positions with The Irvine Company, Koll Real Estate Group, and Brookfield Homes. As a developer, John has overseen the land acquisition, entitlements, and development of master planned communities, residential tracts, urban infill sites, and land assemblages. His experience and skill sets include land acquisition, land brokerage, project management, market analysis, finance, and strategic planning.

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