Honoring a state pledge that calls for transparency in creating a brand new Santa Clarita Valley water agency, annexation officials reviewing a merger and the resulting new water agency are opening their doors to the public.
The Local Agency Formation Commission for Los Angeles – or L.A.’s LAFCO – scheduled its first meeting on the formation of the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency.
The meeting is scheduled to take place Feb. 14 beginning at 9 a.m. in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administration, 500 W. Temple Street, Room 381-B, in Los Angeles.
In addition to the meeting, a public hearing is scheduled, which is called for in Senate Bill 634, which created the SCV Water Agency. The hearing is set for March 14.
“We have to hold a public hearing within 60 days of having received the application,” LAFCO Executive Officer Paul Novak told The Signal Tuesday.
“The public is more than welcome to attend the Feb. 14 meeting,” he said, adding he doesn’t anticipate much discussion on that day.
It is LAFCO’s job, in part, to oversee changes to local government boundaries that involve the formation and expansion of cities and special districts, as well as the merger of special districts.
Commission staffers have recommended that LAFCO receive and file the SCV Water Application for Conditions Status Report.
One concern voiced publicly two years ago, was the apparent conflict of interest posed by LAFCO Chair Jerry Gladbach, who also serves on the SCV Water Agency’s board.
Conflict of interest
The concern over his apparent conflict of interest was first raised at a public meeting in April 2016 at Santa Clarita City Hall. After the meeting, Gladbach was asked by The Signal if he thought sitting on both boards might be a conflict of interest.
“The LAFCO rules are very liberal,” he told The Signal at the time. “I do not have to recuse myself, but I will recuse myself to make sure no one feels that I’m biasing the board.”
Gladbach told The Signal Wednesday: “I will recuse myself on that issue.”
The Senate bill’s road to becoming law was a rocky one when it came to discussions about its relationship with LAFCO.
On at least two occasions last year, as the bill made its way through various committees, county commissioners did not back the bill — voting early on to “oppose unless amended” and later voting to remain “neutral” on the bill — neither opposing it, nor supporting it.
One concern shared by commissioners hinged on prejudice — that if the bill goes through, LAFCO could be called upon to impose conditions on the merger application farther down the road.
On Twitter @jamesarthurholt