use a litigation as a tool to challenge LAFCO actions that limit the percentage of annexation elections in unincorporated neighborhoods that are predominantly low-income vs. those that are wealthy; or is it best to use the racial make up of the neighborhoods as the key consideration? Are there other leverage points that are further upstream that we can exploit? For example, in addition to serving as the key regulatory body on the annexation process, LAFCOs are charged with the task of establishing the “spheres of influence” that serve to define the primary area in which a city will encourage urban development. Can leaders and allies of our Communities of Interest work with local smart growth advocates or those who oppose sprawl to encourage LAFCO’s to prioritize the annexation of island and fringe Communities of Interest as a strategy to preserve agriculture and open-space lands (one of the key points that is considered in “sphere of influence” determinations).
Improvement of the practices, performance and accountability of community service districts and special districts. What advocacy strategies could we use to ensure infrastructure and services CSDs and other special districts provide Communities of Interest with the basic/minimum standards in charters or service goals set by governing bodies? How might a litigation strategy be enhanced by including additional deep pockets as parties to lawsuits against service districts? For example, would including agricultural interests who are largely responsible for contamination of ground and surface water in Communities of Interest adjacent to farm land in lawsuits related to water services be a viable option (especially given the fact that some local farmers are members of the governing boards of the special districts?)
Taking a different tactic, are there new approaches to address the public finance challenges faced by Community Service Districts? Could regional CSA’s that include several or all unincorporated communities in the pool of rate payers Wall Street financers used to determine the viability of a bond deal to finance infrastructure improvement projects make a difference? Could the adoption of variable rates based on usage in CSDs that serve residents in Communities of Interest and agribusiness help to raise enough revenue to qualify for the bond financing needed to complete water related infrastructure projects? What advocacy strategies could be used to leverage new public capital and operating funds for unincorporated communities; and how can we emphasize solutions that are more than a “zero-sum game” within local governments?
4. Improvement of the practices, performance and accountability of the agencies of county government. Although this paper has emphasized the complexity of determining what public entity to hold accountable for various infrastructure deficits in Communities of Interest, the