San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission approved municipal service reviews for the county’s three resource conservation districts while also updating the sphere of influence for each RCD.
Separate 8-0 LAFCO board votes Feb. 1 approved the municipal service reviews for the Resource Conservation District of Greater San Diego, the Mission Resource Conservation District, and the Upper San Luis Rey Resource Conservation District while approving a sphere of influence update for each RCD which does not alter the sphere boundaries. LAFCO also had a presentation and discussion on the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act that morning, although no board action was taken.
“This is our opportunity every five years to do a check-in and to look at the world of resource conservation services,” said LAFCO executive officer Keene Simonds.
LAFCO undertakes periodic municipal service reviews for all special districts. A municipal service review evaluates services and anticipated needs. A sphere of influence study determines the boundaries best served by a particular agency.
“The commission determines what are the community needs,” Simonds said.
“This is the first-ever MSR in final draft form,” said LAFCO analyst Linda Heckenkamp.
A resource conservation district does not have regulatory power but is classified as a special district and is thus subject to LAFCO governance. “RCDs are very special and unique,” Heckenkamp said.
Draft MSRs for the three RCDs in San Diego County were discussed at the December 7 LAFCO board meeting. The board did not take a formal vote that day but instead addressed the content of the draft MSRs before encouraging LAFCO staff to send the drafts to the public review and comment process.
“We really appreciate all the feedback on this first-ever MSR,” Heckenkamp said.
The MSRs recommend deferring any evaluation of functional or political consolidation to the next MSR cycle.
The recommendations also include clarifying the involvement of the Upper San Luis Rey Resource Conservation District in a Groundwater Sustainability Agency. LAFCO’s Special Districts Advisory Committee has created a working group on that which consists of Fallbrook Public Utility District general manager Jack Bebee, Leucadia Wastewater District general manager Paul Bushee, and Olivenhain Municipal Water District general manager Kimberly Thorner.
“The reason they’ve been carved out is because they’re very complicated,” Bebee said. “It’s a complicated answer that I don’t think is appropriate for LAFCO to finalize within the next couple of weeks.”
“The LAFCO staff recommendation to propose an addendum is not a signal or a sign that we have reached a conclusion,” Simonds said. “Whether the addendum produces a strike or a ball, that’s up to the commission to decide.”
Resource conservation districts were formed to control water runoff and prevent soil erosion. They are now also involved in watershed management, recreational area management, urban and agricultural irrigation and water use, water quality, forest land productivity, and public education for children and adults.