History of the Commission

After the end of World War II and throughout the 1950’s, California experienced a tremendous population increase, which resulted in a number of illogical and "special interest" incorporations of new cities and formations of new special districts. In addition, a number of cities engaged in "annexation wars" with one another, resulting in haphazard, illogical, and inefficient service boundaries.


This development boom not only resulted in the proliferation of inefficient service agencies, but it also led to premature conversion of prime agricultural land to urban/suburban uses, premature and unplanned development, and urban sprawl.


Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. responded to this problem in 1959 by appointing the "Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems." The Commission’s charge was to study and make recommendations on the "misuse of land resources" and the growing complexity of overlapping governmental jurisdictions. The Commission’s recommendations on local governmental reorganization were introduced in the Legislature in 1963, resulting in the creation of Local Agency Formation Commissions (or "LAFCO’s) in every county in the state.


From 1963-1985, LAFCOs administered three enabling acts - the Knox-Nisbet Act, the Municipal Organization Act (MORGA), and the District Reorganization Act. In 1985, these three acts were combined into the first consolidated LAFCO Act, the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act of 1985. In 1997, a new call for reform in local government resulted in the formation, by the Legislature, of the “Commission on Local Governance in the 21st Century”. The Commission recommended changes to the laws governing LAFCOs in its comprehensive report “Growth Within Bounds.” These recommendations became the foundation for the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg (CKH) Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000.