Letter: LAFCo Denies Midcoast Parks and Recreation Powers
Wednesday, October 15, 2008—San Mateo County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) today, in a surprise move, overruled its own Executive Officer’s recommendation to reduce Half Moon Bay’s "sphere of influence" to the current city limits, as supported by the Midcoast Community Council, and instead left in place a 1963 determination that gives Half Moon Bay a sphere of influence including the entire coastside.
The only municipal service that Half Moon Bay currently provides outside the city limits, to residents of the Midcoast, is park and recreation by allowing Midcoast residents to have access to HMB’s recreational programs. And for many Midcoast residents, HMB’s services are a meager substitute for local community parks and nearby recreation opportunities.
The entire purpose of LAFCo is to guide delivery of services through adoption of spheres of influence, which define the area in which each city or special district may offer services and delimit the anticipated future boundaries of each city or special district. LAFCo prevents duplication of service delivery by authorizing only one city or district to have active powers over a given territory.
Because Half Moon Bay is already delivering recreation services in its sphere of influence, it appears any proposal to form a community services district in the Midcoast for the same purpose is now dead, and would be rejected out of hand as a duplication of existing services.
Oddly, LAFCo spent a great deal of time pondering which water district was best able to serve a small area currently outside of the jurisdictional boundaries of both Montara Water and Sanitary District and Coastside County Water District, but overruled the LAFCo Executive Officer’s recommendation on Half Moon Bay’s sphere of influence without any consideration at all of whether or not Half Moon Bay had any plans for more extensive park and recreation services or financing in place to extend services within its sphere of influence, as a step toward future annexation.
As an interested and relatively well-informed observer, I’m really quite surprised by the outcome. It’s a shame, because so many people have worked hard for Midcoast parks and recreation, and now the continuation of an obsolete sphere of influence for Half Moon Bay may extinguish those hopes.