LAFCO begins work reviewing SCV Water Agency plan

SCV Water logo
SCV Water Agency logo. Courtesy

Officials mandated to review proposed annexations learned Wednesday they can’t call an election or require a “protest process” when they start down the road of reviewing an application submitted to them by Santa Clarita Valley’s new water agency.

On Wednesday,  the Local Agency Formation Commission for Los Angeles – or L.A.’s LAFCO – met in the Board of Supervisors Hearing Room in Los Angeles to begin reviewing a plan drawn up by the Santa Clarita Valley Water Agency to deliver water throughout the SCV in three defined areas, called divisions.

As expected, commissioners voted to receive the file submitted to them by the SCV Water Agency, which went into effect on Jan. 1.

“The Commission voted to receive and file the Santa Clarita Valley Application for Conditions Status Report,” said LAFCO Executive Officer Paul Novak, noting the decision was what LAFCO  staffers had recommended.

Novak was asked during the hearing about the types of conditions LAFCO can and can’t impose once it begins its work reviewing the conditions and services promised by the SCV Water Agency.

“A couple of primary restrictions in the legislation are that LAFCO cannot require a protest process and cannot require an election, things that can potentially occur in the normal course of  LAFCO applications,” he said.

LAFCO also can’t require anything that would be contrary to what is already stipulated in the senate bill that created the SCV Water Agency, SB 634.

The application, submitted to LAFCO by SCV Water, contains a copy of SB 634, a map and description of the boundaries of the agency and a plan for providing services.

The plan must include the Valencia Water Company and must identify the type of services traditionally offered by SCV’S now-defunct water wholesaler, the Castaic Lake Water Agency, and the Newhall County Water District, which for half a century operated as one of SCV’s main water retailers, according to the edicts of the bill.

LAFCO Commission Chair Jerry Gladbach – who also sits on the board of the SCV Water Agency – recused himself Wednesday from consideration of the item, Novak said.

“In his absence, Commissioner Margaret Finlay served as Acting Chair for this item,” he said.

Although the public was invited to attend the commission’s first order of business pertaining to SCV’s news water agency, the official public hearing inviting public comment is set for March 14.

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.

For more than a year, officials with the CLWA and the NCWD – SCV’s water wholesaler and one of its four local water retailers, respectively – hammered out details of a merger, eliciting input from the public at four public meetings.

In December 2016, both the CLWA and NCWD signed a settlement agreement calling for legislation to be drafted and submitted.

In February, SB 634 was introduced to create one new all-encompassing water agency that would manage and distribute water throughout the Santa Clarita Valley.

In October, Governor Jerry Brown signed the bill into law.

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