Use of an EIR Process in Controlling Urban Sprawl

by Randolph M. Brodersen, Environmental Specialist; Office of Environmental Quality, Santa Barbara County, Calif.; formerly, Research Asst., Dept. of Civ. Engrg., Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif. and Consultant, Santa Clara County Local Agency Formation Commission, Santa Clara County, Calif.,
Leonard Ortolano, (M.ASCE), Assoc. Prof. of Civ. Engrg.; Stanford Univ., Stanford, Calif.,

Serial Information: Journal of the Urban Planning and Development Division, 1976, Vol. 102, Issue 1, Pg. 199-212

Document Type: Journal Paper


The Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCO) were created by the California Legislature to provide a badly needed regional perspective to land-use decision making in order to control urban sprawl. To carry out its functions, the Santa Clara County LAFCO has developed a county-wide approach to staged urban development known as the urban service area approach. Using this approach, the County LAFCO evaluates city annexation proposals on the basis of whether the land areas involved are inside the urban service areas and whether plans for municipal services are included in the relevant staged development plans. In addition, as a result of recent court actions relevant to all LAFCO, the Santa Clara County LAFCO has adopted a master environmental impact reporting (EIR) process to integrate its responsibilities under the California Environmental Quality Act with its urban service area approach. Limited experience suggests that the process has greatly expanded the information that is available to the public.

Subject Headings: Urban development | Land use | Environmental issues | Legislation | Decision making | Local government | Public information programs | California | United States

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