The permanent road division (PRD) zone covering Sunbeam Lane has been dissolved.
The San Diego County Board of Supervisors approved a first reading and introduction of the ordinance to dissolve PRD Zone No. 39 on Jan. 30 while approving the second reading and ordinance adoption Feb. 6.
“It’s an old, very small PRD and their funding is insufficient,” said Michele Stress, the special districts program coordinator for the county’s Department of Public Works (DPW).
What was then County Service Area No. 39 was created in May 1972 for the improvement and maintenance of approximately 500 feet of the road. The creation of a county service area (CSA) allowed for paving, road repair and maintenance of roads not in the county-maintained system. Property owners are assessed for the repairs; the financing mechanism may include an annual assessment to cover loans and property owners may also approve one-time assessments to cover specific projects. The cost share assessed to each parcel is determined by the amount of benefit it receives from the improvement.
A county service area is a special district, so any boundary changes as well as creation of new CSAs must undergo the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) process. A permanent road division is not considered a special district, so the creation and adjustment of a PRD is not subject to LAFCO review. In February 1998, the Board of Supervisors approved the use of a permanent road division alternative for property owners to improve or maintain roads. In February 2000, the supervisors approved the creation of PRD No. 1000, which covers the entire unincorporated area under County of San Diego jurisdiction. LAFCO then replaced the CSAs with zones within PRD No. 1000.
PRD Zone No. 39 received a small portion of the one percent property tax collected from property owners. The last improvement or maintenance project for Sunbeam Lane was a repaving in 2003, and the road is currently in good condition. The district had not imposed any new assessments, and administrative costs exceeded the district’s revenue of approximately $2,700 annually.
“We’ve been over the years telling them that their finances were dwindling,” Stress said.
DPW staff informed PRD Zone No. 39 representatives that a new assessment would be required before any future road work could be performed. In March 2012, DPW mailed petitions to the zone’s eight property owners concerning support of a new assessment. Only three of those petitions were returned; two opposed an assessment while one was in favor.
In January 2013, DPW sent petitions to the zone’s property owners notifying them of the intent to dissolve PRD Zone No. 39. The three who responded consisted of two in favor of dissolving the entity and one opposed to dissolution. “There was not support,” Stress said.
The zone’s cash balance of $7,800 was enough to cover the administrative costs of dissolution, so DPW recommended dissolution while the funding could cover the expenses. “The balance is so low that it’s going to be used for the dissolution,” Stress said.
Any remaining balance after the dissolution is processed would be transferred to the county’s general fund, as the cost to return such a balance to the property owners would likely consume that remainder. The dissolution of the PRD zone transfers the maintenance responsibility for Sunbeam Lane from the county to the property owners.
The dissolution of PRD Zone No. 39 does not prevent parcel owners from creating a replacement improvement zone, which could include different boundaries. A petition signed by 60 percent of the property owners – which would make passage highly likely during an ensuing public vote – would begin the process of creating a new PRD zone.
“It’s really up to the property owners. It’s their decision,” Stress said. “Once a PRD is dissolved, they can re-form.”