The end of World War II saw California experiencing a tremendous population increase which resulted in the sporadic formation of cities and special service districts. The results of this land speculation and development boom became evident as more of California's agricultural land was converted to urban uses. Premature and unplanned development created inefficient, expensive systems of delivering public services using various small units of local government.
Governor Edmund G. Brown, Sr. responded to this problem in 1959 by appointing the Commission on Metropolitan Area Problems. The Commission's charge was to study and make recommendations on the "misuse of land resources" and the growing complexity of overlapping local governmental jurisdictions. The Commission's recommendations on local governmental reorganization were introduced in the Legislature in 1963, resulting in the creation of Local Agency Formation Commissions, or "LAFCOs", operating in each county except San Francisco.
Recognizing the challenges facing California governance in the 21st Century, the State Legislature in 1997 enacted AB 1484 (Hertzberg), establishing the Commission on Local Governance for the 21st Century ("Commission"). The Commission was asked to assess governance issues and make appropriate recommendations, directing special attention to the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act of 1985, the 57 Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs) governed by the Act, and citizen participation in local government.
Over a period of 16 months, the Commission on Local Governance held 25 public hearings throughout the state, heard testimony from more than 160 individuals and groups, and received 100 recommendations. Upon conclusion, their findings, conclusions, and recommendations were put forth in a report entitled "Growth Within Bounds". On February 28, 2000, Assemblyman Robert Hertzberg introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 2838, which incorporated all of the recommendations contained in "Growth Within Bounds". On August 31, 2000, an amended version of the bill was passed by the Legislature and was signed by Governor Davis on September 26, 2000. The new law, which now governs LAFCOs, became effective January 1, 2001.