Changes to Garberville Sanitary District's sphere of influence (SOI), the area outside GSD's boundaries where growth is expected in the next five years, will be reviewed at the next meeting of the Humboldt Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) tomorrow, Wednesday, March 20, in Eureka.
Although LAFCo is supposed to review each public jurisdiction's SOI every five years, GSD's current SOI was adopted in 1986, when the district provided only wastewater services, and has not been reconsidered since then.
In 2004 GSD purchased the privately owned Garberville Water Company and took over responsibility for drinking water service. Under LAFCo law at the time of the purchase GSD, like other special districts, was automatically allowed to exercise "latent powers," including the power to serve water to its existing customers.
At tomorrow's meeting, LAFCo staff will propose an updated SOI that adds some new areas and takes out some existing areas, resulting in no net change to the total acreage within the sphere.
Areas currently served with water that are outside the SOI have been added, including the Kimtu subdivision southwest of town and the Bear Canyon/Redwood Drive area north of town.
Some areas that are currently inside the SOI but which do not have water service and where zoning restricts further development have been taken out. These include properties west and south of the airport.
Both the current and the proposed SOI include the entire Southern Humboldt Community Park, as well as adjoining large parcels owned by Buck Mountain LLC and Steve Dazey.
Agricultural advocates and other members of the public have objected to the inclusion of the SHCP, Buck Mountain, and Dazey properties.
Concerned citizens who own property close to the proposed SOI have frequently stated their concern about potential impacts of new development to water quality, quantity, and wildlife, particularly salmon and steelhead, in the South Fork Eel River.
Members of the public have argued that although development cannot occur simply because a parcel is within the SOI, inclusion in the SOI is the first step toward possible annexation and service, and it makes it more likely the county will consider allowing more development in the area.
The commission's meeting materials include letters from the Humboldt County Farm Bureau and farmer John LaBoyteaux urging LAFCo to reduce GSD's SOI to coincide with its current service area.
The letters point out LAFCo's responsibility to protect prime agricultural land from other types of development. They also note that GSD has not provided any discussion of growth in the Garberville area within the next five years, and has revealed no plans to develop or finance capital improvements that would facilitate development outside its current service area.
LAFCo will also consider GSD's Municipal Service Review (MSR), a document detailing the history, financing, governance, services, and current state of the district, as well as community characteristics such as population and housing.
When the MSR is approved, it will be used as reference material when LAFCo considers future changes to GSD's annexed boundaries and SOI.
For the past two years, GSD has been discussing annexation of areas both within and outside the current SOI that it serves with water. GSD says it "inherited" these out-of-district services when it acquired the Garberville Water Company. Once the SOI is approved, the district will be able to go ahead with an annexation proposal for LAFCo later in the year.
Tomorrow's LAFCo meeting will be held in the board of supervisors' chambers in the county courthouse, beginning at 9 a.m. The public is welcome and time is made available for public comment.
The complete commission packet, which includes the proposed GSD MSR and SOI update and maps showing changes to the SOI, is available on the LAFCo website at http://humboldtlafco.org/meeting-packets/2013.