The strategies defined in this section are separate from the strategies included in the County's traditional array of services, but are included in this Strategic Vision because Riverside County believes that they are of critical importance as the County strives to achieve its overall vision and mission. Included in this section are strategies pertaining to Citizen Participation and Annexation.
Riverside County's commitment to citizen involvement is reflected in the Board's philosophy that our citizens are the greatest resource in our community. Riverside County recognizes and appreciates that citizen involvement enhances decision making, generates information and ideas, and ensures greater acceptance once decisions are made and plans implemented. Likewise, it recognizes that citizen involvement requires a commitment from citizens to examine the issues, share information and knowledge, and assume responsibility for taking part in "government by the people."
It is the challenge of a democratic government to balance the will of the majority with the rights of the minority. As elected representatives, the Board has established a variety of mechanisms to encourage input, recognize differing views, and to forward pertinent information to the community. It is also acknowledged, however, that demands for the attention of the Board by the County's residents are acute.
Acknowledging the County's responsibility for thoughtful and innovative public policy, and recognizing the depth and diversity of the community's skills, perspectives, initiative and commitment, Riverside County supports citizen involvement in public policy formation and implementation through a variety of public involvement mechanisms. These mechanisms, which are either community-based, citizen-based, or media/information-based, include:
The Board of Supervisors currently utilizes approximately 150 Board-appointed commissions, task forces, and committees comprised of County stakeholders to advise it on policy matters from neighborhood-level to county-wide in scope.
The newest of these Board-appointed advisory bodies is the Riverside County Youth Commission, composed of one representative from each of five Youth Advisory Councils established in each Supervisorial District. The councils are made up of 10 to 15 students, including average as well as top academic performers, to reflect a wide range of attitudes and perspectives. The purpose of the Youth Commission is to obtain input from young people on issues that impact them, to help set goals, recommend projects, and report annually to the Board.
Access to the regular Board of Supervisors' meetings and hearings in Riverside is a significant inconvenience to many individuals in outlying areas. The County will help address this challenge by the innovative use of technology. A near-term goal of Strategic Vision will be to establish a number of teleconferencing facilities throughout the County, making possible enhanced citizen participation in the business of government.
A wide variety of information about Riverside County government, its plans, programs, available services, appointive Boards and Commissions, and upcoming events is available through the County's Internet site at www.countyofriverside.us.
Annexation and Incorporation
Riverside County is one of the largest counties in the State, encompassing 7,300 square miles and containing twenty-four incorporated cities. More than three-quarters of the County's land area, and one-quarter of the County's population, lie outside these municipalities. Each elected member of the Board of Supervisors represents city, as well as unincorporated, residents.
The "normal" progression of a developing unincorporated area has historically been from rural to urbanizing community, then later to city status, either through annexation to an existing city, or incorporation as a new city. Typically, those who desire to be part of a city point to higher levels of police protection and "home rule" as selling points. By the same token, cities have historically desired to annex unincorporated territory for economic development or tax base purposes, to better control land use, or to acquire desirable neighborhoods. Not all unincorporated communities desire to become cities, however. In recent years, a few Riverside County unincorporated areas have taken steps to protect their existing lifestyle from city encroachment.
The Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) is the statutorily-empowered body which reviews and decides on the establishment, modification, and dissolution of governmental jurisdictions. LAFCO includes County, City, Special District, and citizen representation. Two members of the Board of Supervisors serve on this seven member body.
The Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act of 1985, as amended, establishes the statutory guidelines that LAFCO's must follow when they consider requests for annexation and incorporations. In recognition of the financial plight of counties in recent years, Cortese-Knox was amended by the Legislature in 1994 to provide that proposed incorporations must be "revenue neutral"; i.e. that the affected county must be left with sufficient tax base to continue to provide countywide services to those residents who would be joining a city. This provision has virtually halted incorporations statewide, and will probably continue to do so until the fiscal health of counties markedly improves.
The "revenue neutral" provisions of the Cortese-Knox Act do not apply to proposed annexations. However, typically the annexing city and the affected county will present fiscal impact information to LAFCO as part of the public hearing process, and adverse impacts are often resolved through negotiation.
Our Riverside County LAFCO is guided by a local policy of its own creation in regard to annexations, recognizing the right of unincorporated areas not to be annexed if that action would tend to destroy the character or the ambitions of the community. A community designation category of Community of Interest (COI) is being used to provide a two-year breathing period for a community to thoroughly consider the pros and cons of annexation or incorporation. If residents decide that they are not yet ready to make such a decision, they can seek LAFCO approval for designation as an Unincorporated Community. This status protects the area from annexation consideration for five years and removes the community from the adjacent city=s sphere of influence.
In future annexation cases, the County's basic position will be that of support for annexation requests where efficiency of service delivery and community backing are evident, and opposition to requests which are premature, which would have a significant fiscal or operational impact upon the County's budget or service delivery capability, and/or where local residents evidence little enthusiasm for the annexation.
It is important to note that while the County places great weight on the desires of affected residents, the lack of annexation may, in the long term, significantly impact the infrastructure of the affected communities. The lack of services which are typically provided by cities in urban areas, but are not currently being provided by the County, coupled with population growth and development density, and the inevitable aging of structures, could potentially result in a lesser quality of life for all concerned.
Therefore, it is important to consider the potential concerns our unincorporated communities may face should voters reject annexation/incorporation while, at the same time, choosing not to fund, through special districts or user fees, some necessary city-type services.
In light of this concern, the County is committed to providing information to the public about the benefits and disadvantages of annexation and incorporation so that unincorporated area residents can make informed choices.
County Administration Center
4080 Lemon St. Riverside, CA 92501
Phone: (951) 955-1000
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