Fire Authority split a step closer to reality

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San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission will begin the process of making the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority a separate fire protection district.

An 8-0 LAFCO board vote May 4 approved a sphere of influ­ence update for County Service Area No. 135 including support for a recommendation that the SDCRFA be separated from the San Diego County Regional Communications System.

“CSA 135 merits reorganization to split the district into two distinct entities,” said LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds.

“We’ve given direction for the county to come back with an application and we’re incentivizing that application by waiving the fee,” Simonds said. “We will work as quickly as possible in processing it.”

The San Diego County Board of Supervisors and LAFCO created the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority in 2008. CSA No. 135 covers the entire unincorporated area of the county as well as several incorporated cities who have joined the 800 MHz communications system which allows emergency and public safety agencies to communicate with one another. The 2008 decision to authorize latent powers for fire protection and emergency medical services within a zone of CSA No. 135 al­lowed the SDCRFA to be created without the process of forming a new district.

“What they did in ‘08 made sense at the time,” Simonds said.

The creation brought territory not within the boundaries of a public agency but served by a volunteer fire department into the San Diego County Regional Fire Authority. In 2011 five county service areas responsible for fire protection and emergency med­ical services were consolidated into the SDCRFA. The first fire protection districts to be dissolved and added to the SDCRFA boundaries were the Pine Valley and San Diego Rural districts, whose addition to the SDCRFA was approved in 2015. The Julian- Cuyamaca Fire Protection District board supported a consolida­tion and despite some public opposition that area became part of the SDCRFA in 2019. Last year’s actions also included removing the fire protection and emergency medical services latent pow­ers from the Mootamai, Pauma, and Yuima water districts in Pauma Valley and making those areas part of the SDCRFA.

“This has been a twelve-year process,” Simonds said.

A sphere of influence study determines the boundaries best served by a particular agency. It is a prerequisite to any juris­dictional change other than an annexation of land within the existing sphere of influence, and LAFCO also conducts periodic sphere of influence updates for all cities and special districts.

Fire Authority split a step closer to reality

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