The governmental agency that rejected cityhood for Calabasas was denounced as "a rapist" Thursday by a state lawmaker who has introduced a bill to overhaul the body.
State Sen. Ed Davis (R-Valencia) said his seven-point measure would wrest Local Agency Formation Commissions from the control of counties and end the "arrogance" of Los Angeles County's LAFCO.
Commission members voted 5 to 2 Thursday to deny Calabasas residents a chance to vote in June on whether to form an independent city in a 10-square-mile area at the southwest corner of the San Fernando Valley.
Red Ink Predicted
LAFCO members predicted budget problems and cited objections of a major Calabasas land developer in terminating residents' 3-year-old cityhood effort.
Davis charged that the county-dominated LAFCO was in league with developers anxious to kill Calabasas' incorporation effort.
"It's a classic example of something being rotten in the LAFCO process," Davis said. "Developers seem to have a lot of money. It's amazing what money will do."
Aides to Davis said his bill was introduced Feb. 18. They said it was not announced until after Thursday's Calabasas cityhood hearing "to avoid the appearance of having put any additional pressure on LAFCO."
The measure would require the state to pay LAFCO bills and require that LAFCO staff members be housed outside county facilities. It also would mandate written policies and procedures for LAFCOs and the use of independent consultants to evaluate incorporation petitions handled by commissions.
Rejection of consultants' recommendations would trigger the right for an appeal to Superior Court, according to Davis' measure, Senate Bill 2277.
Additionally, the bill would require that local county supervisors participate as LAFCO members when incorporation applications from their districts are being reviewed. Local legislators would also be allowed to participate in the review of such cases.
"LAFCO is a rapist in its present form. It was a rape of a community trying to get out of county control. My bill would have prevented what happened today to Calabasas," Davis said by telephone from Sacramento.
In Los Angeles, the chief administrator of the local LAFCO disputed the need for overhaul, however.
"I would say that Sen. Davis doesn't really understand the roles of LAFCOs and what they have been doing since 1963 throughout the state," said Ruth Benell, executive officer of the county's commission.
She said her agency has approved eight new cities and rejected only two cityhood applications since that time. Two other approved incorporation drives were rejected at the polls and a third was disqualified after LAFCO approval because of forged cityhood petition signatures, Benell said.
She said local LAFCO members are appointed by various governmental agencies. They hire staff, who work out of free county offices but are not county employees, she said.