Bonsall resident Andy Vanderlaan remains on San Diego County’s Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), but his two-year term on the state LAFCO board has come to an end.
“I thought I had a positive influence on the CALAFCO board,” Vanderlaan said.
“I felt that my time there provided an opportunity for the other LAFCOs that have members on the CALAFCO board to see that the Southern Region was working for the same goals as the others,” Vanderlaan said. “We were accepted as not being rabble-rousers but being team players.”
CALAFCO consists of the 58 county LAFCO agencies. Prior to 2010, CALAFCO directors were elected at large. “In some cases it made it difficult for LAFCOs in the southern part of the state, which are the larger LAFCOs, to have representation on the CALAFCO board,” Vanderlaan said.
CALAFCO addressed the concern by creating four regions with each region selecting directors. “It’s one of the biggest things that CALAFCO has done in many years,” Vanderlaan said.
CALAFCO’s Southern Region consists of San Diego, Imperial, Orange, Riverside, Los Angeles, and San Bernardino Counties. The Central Region covers 19 counties, including Kern County. Ventura County is in the 15-county Coastal Region which also includes the Bay Area. The Northern Region is comprised of 18 counties.
“It provides for better distribution of members to serve on CALAFCO,” Vanderlaan said. “It gives Southern California LAFCOs more opportunity to have members on the CALAFCO board.”
The county LAFCO structure includes county supervisors, city council members, special district representatives, and a public member although some counties have no incorporated cities while the San Francisco County Board of Supervisors is also the city council for that county’s only jurisdiction. Each of the four regions selects a county member, a city council member, a special district board member, and a public member for the CALAFCO board.
During the initial regional elections in 2010, Vanderlaan, who is the public member on San Diego County’s LAFCO board, was selected as the Southern Region’s public member. The Southern Region decided to rotate terms on the CALAFCO board, so Vanderlaan knew that he would be off the board after 2012. “I think we’re the only region that has done that,” he said of rotating terms. “It’s proving, at least in the short term, to be a good thing.”
One of Vanderlaan’s goals was to overcome the remaining reluctance to the new system. “I saw myself as a change agent there,” he said.
“The regional concept was not totally embraced throughout the state,” Vanderlaan said. “There were still some concerns.”
One of CALAFCO’s activities is to monitor legislation which affects local governments and to consider recommendations on such legislation. CALAFCO also provides an opportunity for the county LAFCO agencies to utilize each other’s experience, and the state organization also provides training and advice benefits to its county members.
Vanderlaan sought to show the other CALAFCO representatives that the Southern Region didn’t necessarily take a different view of LAFCO activities. “I had a two-year term to just be part of that, to help allay whatever concerns there were,” he said.
“Unity was the thing that I felt was very important there,” Vanderlaan said. “I did play a role, so I’m very pleased that I was given the opportunity to do that and I think the outcome has gone quite well.”
During the Dec. 3 meeting of San Diego County’s LAFCO, Vanderlaan was presented with a plaque recognizing his service on the CALAFCO board. “Andy was an instrumental person,” said San Diego LAFCO executive officer Mike Ott.
The Dec. 3 meeting also saw Vanderlaan elected to his fifth term as San Diego LAFCO’s public member. He was initially appointed as LAFCO’s public member in 1996, a year after retiring as the North County Fire Protection District fire chief. “I guess that’s what happens when you retire. You fill your time up with something,” he said.