We all have a little Influence

In the previous posted I talked about boundaries and LAFCO. The discussion introduced a phrase “Sphere of Influence”. This post will explain how cities expand.

Borders and boundaries are pervasive in our lives and they come in various sizes, shapes and forms. Personal boundaries declare, “Give me some space”. Linguistic boundaries separate areas where different languages are spoken. They may be natural barriers, such as shorelines, canyons, mountains or cliffs. Or boundaries can be artificial, like the walls of your room. On the other hand, there are social boundaries, which may include a vast assortment of choices, differences and situations that can divide one neighborhood from another, — economics being just one example. However, the most common use of the term refers to an imaginary line separating one country from another and a city from a city. These are refereed to as political boundaries.

While the boundaries of states and counties have been set for some time those of cities have been more elastic. A prime illustration is Tokyo, Japan. Depending on how its borders are defined, its population can range anywhere from 8 and 40 million.

Since the creation of the world’s first city, Jerhico, (theoretically built in the Stone Age between 10,000 and 11,000 years ago), people have been migrating to cities in a constant stream pushing their boundaries ever outward. Ancient Babylon reached a population of 200,000 in 612 B.C. and Bagdad was the first to reach a million in 775 A.D.

Today, California currently has 480 cities throughout the state. The total population within these city boundaries is 30.5 million, while the entire state population is 37.1 million. As of January 2006, 82 percent of the State’s residents live within a city boundary.

Our own Contra Costa County’s population is projected to exceed 1.1 million by 2020, stressing the current boundaries of all cities. To help ensure an orderly change to these boundaries the State, through the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), has set up a two step process. These two steps are: designation of a sphere of influence and then annexation.

A sphere of influence, as defined by the Cortese-Knox Act, is a “plan for the ultimate physical boundaries and service area for a local agency”. Establishing this sphere of influence is absolutely necessary so that LAFCO can determine which government agency can provide services in the most efficient way to the people and property in any given area.

All California cities have a sphere of influence, typically encompassing an area broader then the city limits. However, in the case of a newly-incorporated city the sphere of influence is identical to its city limits. After incorporation it is up to the city to request that LAFCo change the sphere to include additional territory.

Under current law LAFCO must establish a sphere of influence for each city as a means of promoting planning. The sphere defines the primary area within which urban development is to be encouraged. A sphere of influence must be adopted before annexation can be considered. Only annexation changes the political boundary and city limits.

The 2020 General Plan adopted by the City Council in December 2002 included land within the City and unincorporated territory to the east known as the East Cypress Corridor(everything east of Jersey Island Road). When the General Plan was adopted the City submitted a request to LAFCO to expand its sphere of influence by including the East Cypress Corridor. In August of 2003 LAFCO approved this request and Oakley’s sphere of influence was amended to include the East Cypress Annexation Area. At this time Oakley’s boundaries did not change, but a planning area for the probable ultimate physical boundary for the future was established.

In 2006 the majority of the East Cypress Corridor (Areas I and II) was annexed to the City. The first is 2,520 acres east of Jersey Island Road, which includes the 1,300 dwelling unit Cypress Lakes project. The second is a 155-acre section located on the southeast corner of the intersection of East Cypress and Sellers. The exception, Area III, fronts Dutch Slough on the north and Sandmound Slough on the east was not annexed at this time. Area III is still within Oakley Sphere of Influence.

The City encompasses approximately 15.9 square miles including the 2006 annexation of the East Cypress Area. The City population as of January 1, 2008 is approximately 33,200 (State Department of Finance).


About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit, Transplan, San Joaquin Joint Powers Authority and RD 2137, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction
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