Man speaks during a forum on governance options in Montecito.
Dave Mullinax, regional public affairs manager for the League of California Cities, speaks during a forum highlighting alternative governance options for unincorporated Montecito at Montecito Union School on Monday afternoon. (Brooke Holland / Noozhawk photo)

State and local experts provided information and answered questions regarding various governance options for unincorporated Montecito during a forum on Monday afternoon.

The Montecito Association hosted the nearly two-hour gathering on governance options.

The association takes no position and seeks solely to better inform community members about governance options, said Charlene Nagel, president of the Montecito Association.

“We are here to learn,” Nagel told more than 50 residents gathered at Montecito Union School.

Dave Mullinax, regional public affairs manager for the League of California Cities, said the main reason communities tend to incorporate is because of public safety, land-use authority and budget priority control.

“You might have a little more control of public safety and how it’s constituted,” Mullinax said. “When a city incorporates, they want to have more control of their land-use. They don’t want to go through the county’s process — it could be much longer compared to the city process.”

The League of California Cities’ mission is to expand and protect local control for cities through education and advocacy.

Mullinax also spoke of data related to California residents, the basic geography of California cities, state and city budgets, as well as local tax and revenue limitations.

“Eighty-two percent of Californians live in incorporated areas in the state,” Mullinax said.

Paul Hood, Santa Barbara Local Agency Formation Commission executive officer, provided an overview of the existing conditions in Montecito.

The Local Agency Formation Commission, or LAFCO, is a state-created agency that exists in every California county. The commission is responsible for working with citizens, the county, cities and special districts on a variety of issues concerning jurisdictional change. 

Hood said unincorporated area services are law enforcement, land-use planning and regulation, county roads and public parks. Countywide services include the courts, jails, health care and social services.

The process to form a special multi-purpose district includes an application to LAFCO, the commission’s review and approval, election by voters in the proposed area, creating a district and electing an initial board of directors.

A simple majority vote is required for final approval of the incorporation.

LAFCO’s work is finished after the voters approve the incorporation. Then the work of the new city has begun.

Questions from the audience were encouraged at the forum.

Some residents asked for further study on the impacts of potentially incorporating the Montecito area.

“There are some serious problems, and go slowly,” a Montecito resident said. 

Michael Cooney moderated the forum.

“This is a pretty complex subject,” Cooney said after the presentation.

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Brooke Holland, Noozhawk Staff Writer | @NoozhawkNews

Noozhawk staff writer Brooke Holland can be reached at bholland@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.