Orange County LAFCO

Orange County LAFCO

The Orange County Local Agency Formation Commission or OC LAFCO is a government agency that makes decisions regarding boundaries for cities, unincorporated territory (land not located within a city) and special districts (local agencies which provide water, sewer, parks and recreation and other municipal services) within Orange County, California. Orange County LAFCo offices are located in Santa Ana, California. The agency has a website ( and is on Facebook (OC LAFCO).



Following World War II, Orange County experienced a dramatic growth in population and economic development, increasing the demand for housing and public services. The population in Orange County grew from 216,224 in 1950 to 703,925 just ten years later in 1960. By 1970, the County’s population exceeded 1.4 million residents. As development pressures increased to serve Orange County’s growth, land developers tried to find the fastest and most cost effective means of providing basic municipal services such as water, roads, fire protection and sewers. Often this was done without consideration of the long-term consequences on municipal service delivery to Orange County residents.

During the 1950s and early 1960s, some Orange County cities began to haphazardly add annex territory to their boundaries to serve newly developing areas. In addition, numerous special districts were created – many of them with overlapping boundaries which created inefficiencies and higher costs for residents. To address these issues not only in Orange County, but throughout California, Local Agency Formation Commissions were established by the State Legislature in 1963 in each California county.


The legal authority and mandate for Orange County LAFCO, like all LAFCOs in California, are defined by the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (Government Code Section 56000 et seq).


Orange County LAFCO’s determinations involving the boundaries of cities and special districts can range from simple to complex actions. The power of LAFCOs to regulate local boundaries includes nine types of boundary changes:

  • Annexations (adding territory to a city or special district)
  • Detachments (removing territory from a city or special district)
  • Disincorporations (terminating the existence of a city)
  • Dissolutions (terminating the existence of a special district)
  • Formations (creating a new special district)
  • Incorporations (creating a new city)
  • Mergers (terminating a special district and merging those responsibilities with a city)
  • Consolidations (joining two or more cities or special districts into a single agency)
  • Reorganizations (two or more changes or organization in a single proposal)

Orange County LAFCO consists of an 11-member Commission, seven regular members and four alternate members. The regular members of the Commission consist of two members from the Orange County Board of Supervisors representing the County, two city council members representing Orange County cities, two members representing special districts and one public “at large” member. Current members of Orange County LAFCO include:

Regular Members

  • 2. Charley Wilson – Charley Wilson is a Director of the Santa Margarita Water District, the second largest retail water agency in Orange County. He is currently Vice Chair of Orange County LAFCO and has served on Orange County since April 2001.
  • 3. Patricia Bates – Patricia Bates was elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in 2006 after three terms in the State Assembly representing California’s 73rd Assembly District. She has served on Orange County LAFCO since March 2007.
  • 4. Joe Carchio – Joe Carchio, a successful businessman and high school football and baseball coach, is currently Mayor of the City of Huntington Beach. He has served on Orange County LAFCO since June 2011.
  • 5. Peter Herzog – Peter Herzog, a City of Lake Forest Councilman since 1994, has served on Orange County LAFCO as a city member since May 1996. He is a lawyer currently in private practice.
  • 6. Susan Wilson – Susan Wilson, the Commission’s public representative, has served on Orange County LAFCO since May 1996. Previously, she served as Public Information Officer for the Saddleback Valley School District.
  • 7. John Withers – John Withers is a Director of the Irvine Ranch Water District and has served as a special district member on Orange County LAFCO since May 1994.

Alternate Members

  • 8. Bill Campbell – Bill Campbell was first elected to the Orange County Board of Supervisors in January 2003. Previously he served in the California Legislature as an Assembly Member from 1996-2002 representing California’s 71st District. He has served as County representative on Orange County LAFCO since October 2003.
  • 9. James Fisler – James Fisler is a Director on the Mesa Consolidated Water District and has served on Orange County LAFCO since February 2011.
  • 10. Derek McGregor – Derek McGregor, Orange County LAFCO’s alternate public member, is a licensed civil engineer and land surveyor. He has served on Orange County LAFCO since July 2009.
  • 11. Bob Ring – Bob Ring has served on the Laguna Woods City Council since 2001. He has been an alternate city member on Orange County LAFCO since December 2010.

OC LAFCO Projects

Each LAFCO in California, although governed by the same set of laws, reflects the unique geography, constituency and issues of its home county. Each LAFCO designs and implements policies, programs and procedures that can best assist their own county to enhance local services. What works in one county may not necessarily work in another county. OC LAFCO has pioneered a “partnering” effort with Orange County’s cities and special districts and is dedicated to improving the lives of residents by creating whole and healthy communities served by effective and efficient municipal service providers. Three of its current projects that foster OC LAFCO’s partnering spirit include the Shared Services Program, Fiscal Trends Program and the Islands Task Force.

Shared Services

Orange County LAFCO has recently undertaken a partnering effort with its member agencies (the County of Orange, Orange County cities and Orange County special districts) to provide opportunities for local agencies to increase their efficiency in providing municipal services and to monitor their ongoing financial condition. The Shared Services Program is a web-based tool which matches agencies seeking specific services with other agencies offering services. Launched in June 2011, the program is anticipated to be a no-cost, user-friendly resource for local agencies in Orange County interested in sharing services to save money, enhance or maintain service levels, or both.

Fiscal Trends

The Fiscal Trend Analysis Program is a web-based financial “dashboard” developed by Orange County LAFCO that allows agencies and the public to assess the financial condition of local agencies. Similar to a car’s dashboard, the program provides a visual, graphic depiction of an agency’s financial information (based on eight key economic indicators). The program’s eight indicators are updated annually to ensure that the data remains current.

Islands Task Force

The Islands Task Force, composed of county, city, and LAFCO representatives, was initially started in 2010 as a way to “jump start” the annexation of unincorporated “islands” - territory not within a city (but surrounded by a city) - that receives municipal services from the County. The ideas/issues that came out of the Task Force discussions caused OC LAFCO to reevaluate its approach to improving services for Orange County residents. Annexation to cities, once the Commission’s highest priority, became one of a number of tools that OC LAFCO now uses to increase the efficiency of municipal services and build whole and healthy communities.

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