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City of Selma v. Fresno County Local Agency Formation Commission

California Court of Appeals, Fifth District

July 14, 2016

CITY OF SELMA, Plaintiff and Appellant,
v.
FRESNO COUNTY LOCAL AGENCY FORMATION COMMISSION, Defendant and Respondent; CITY OF KINGSBURG, Real Party in Interest and Respondent

         [CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]]

         As modified Aug. 11, 2016.

          APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Fresno County, No. 13CECG02651, Jeffrey Y. Hamilton, Jr., Judge.

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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[Copyrighted Material Omitted]

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         COUNSEL

         Costanzo & Associates and Neal E. Costanzo for Plaintiff and Appellant.

         Baker, Manock & Jensen and Kenneth J. Price for Defendant and Respondent.

         Kahn, Soares & Conway, Rissa A. Stuart and Michael J. Noland for Real Party in Interest and Respondent.

         Opinion by Peña, J., with Kane, Acting P. J., and Detjen, J., concurred.

          OPINION

          [204 Cal.Rptr.3d 852] PEÑ A, J.

         INTRODUCTION

         When a local agency formation commission sets a public hearing on a reorganization proposal and thereafter continues the hearing date beyond the 70-day limitation for continuances under Government Code section 56666, subdivision (a), is the approval of the reorganization proposal by the commission void because it violated a mandatory provision? We conclude the 70-day limitation is a directory rather than a mandatory provision. As a result, we hold the violation of the 70-day limitation in this case did not affect the validity of the commission's actions taken at the continued hearing.

         FACTS

         1. The Project

         In 2012, the City of Kingsburg (Kingsburg) studied a proposal to annex approximately 430 acres of land in Fresno County (the Annexation Territory).

Page 577

The Annexation Territory included 350 acres that had been developed with industrial/commercial uses, 52 undeveloped acres, and approximately 28 acres of street rights-of-way. The Annexation Territory is home to at least three major facilities, including a glass manufacturing plant run by Guardian Industries Corp., a grape processing facility run by Vie-Del Company, and a raisin processing plant run by Sun-Maid Growers of California.

         In addition to annexing the land into Kingsburg, the project also involved detaching portions of the Annexation Territory from the Fresno County Fire Protection District (FCFPD), the Consolidated Irrigation District, and the Kings River Conservation District. The project also involved annexing portions of the Annexation Territory into the Selma-Kingsburg-Fowler County Sanitation District. Finally, the project included prezoning approximately 183 acres as " Highway Commercial" and " Light Industrial."

         2. California Environmental Quality Act[1] Review

         Kingsburg prepared and circulated a combined initial study and mitigated negative declaration for the annexation project (MND). (See Cal. Code Regs., tit. 14, § § 15365, 15369.5.)[2] Below, we discuss [204 Cal.Rptr.3d 853] certain portions of the MND in detail along with the appellate issues to which they pertain.

         On September 5, 2012, the Kingsburg City Council certified the MND.

         3. Local Agency Formation Commission Proceedings

          Every county in California has a local agency formation commission. (Gov. Code, § 56325.)[3] These commissions oversee local agency boundary changes, including municipal annexations, under the auspices of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (hereafter Reorganization Act). (§ 56000 et seq.; Placer County Local Agency Formation Com. v. Nevada County Local Agency Formation Com. (2006) 135 Cal.App.4th 793, 797 [37 Cal.Rptr.3d 729]; see § 56375.)

         When Kingsburg certified the MND on September 5, 2012, it also requested that the Fresno County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo)[4] initiate proceedings to approve the annexation. On October 22, 2012, Kingsburg submitted to LAFCo application materials for approval of the annexation.

Page 578

         LAFCo rejected the application since it had relied on a previous application from nine years prior. LAFCo requested Kingsburg submit a new application, and Kingsburg did so in November 2012. The application indicated no change was being proposed to the provision of domestic water for the area.

         Kingsburg prepared a service plan, describing how certain services would be provided to the Annexation Territory. (See § 56653.) Kingsburg's service plan is dated July 2012. However, in an e-mail correspondence on November 2, 2012, LAFCo staff informed Kingsburg staff that a service plan was required. Kingsburg staff responded by asking what a service plan was, and they were provided an exemplar by LAFCo on November 8, 2012. ...


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