Last week the Yolo County Board of Supervisors approved a proposed annexation policy framework that may be looking to expand the amount of tax revenue the county receives in exchange for the annexation of land to a city.
The county staff noted, “The development and related activities that follow—can impact the County in a number of ways.” Staff adds, “While each proposed annexation will have to be evaluated individually, this document provides a good starting place for identifying issues that require consideration and, if appropriate, resolution through one or more of the following mechanisms,” which include: Tax-sharing Agreement; Development Impact Fees; Development Agreement; CEQA Mitigation Measures; Joint Planning/Environmental Review MO; and Community Facilities District.
The county notes, “Tax-sharing agreements can also be an effective mechanism for non-traditional allocations of property and sales tax revenues in a manner that enables counties to share in the fiscal benefits of development that follows annexations.”
How much this would effect Davis, as it attempts to potentially annex land for proposed innovation parks, remains to be seen. Supervisor Matt Rexroad seemed to downplay the impact on Davis.
The city of Woodland, in particular, had some concerns about the proposed policy. In a letter to Supervisor Don Saylor, Woodland City Manager Paul Navazio on December 16, wrote, “While the proposed policy framework includes several of the issues that the County has consistently identified as considerations in the analysis of annexation proposals, the document also appears to go well beyond concerns related to fiscal and service impacts of proposed projects.”
He continues, “We are struggling to understand how the County envisions implementing this policy framework and, specifically, how the County’s interest (as expressed) meshes with existing General Plan, CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act], YSAQMD [Yolo-Solano Air Quality Management District], and local zoning and design review requirements for which development projects are already subject to as well as with the statutory requirements for annexations and existing LAFCo [Local Agency Formation Commission] procedures.”
“At best, the policy framework would benefit from further refinement and clarification,” Mr. Navazio continues. “At worst, certain elements of the policy could be construed as a direct infringement on each city’s’ local control and autonomy over land use planning and project approvals.”
The county noted that Davis with its Innovation Parks may be the first city impacted by the revised policy, however, during their discussion at the Board of Supervisors meeting, they seemed to downplay the impact on Davis but noted that Woodland may be more affected by it.
However, Yolo County Administrator Patrick Blacklock stated, “We worked with (Davis) City Staff to identify key issues that the county might want to see considered so they could have a fairly comprehensive sense of our interests as they begin their CEQA process. That’s the genesis for this annexation framework policy.”
Mr. Blacklock described the document as not a “rigid and inflexible document” but rather one that will be dependent on the specifics of the project and reflective of the overall needs and concerns of the county. “But it gives everyone a sense of the key interests that the county would like to see evaluated and the potential remedies,” he stated.
Supervisor Rexroad stated that it has been the desire of the county for a long time to have a mechanism to recover costs that relate to the development “but also become a partner in the development process by individual cities.”
Supervisor Rexroad argued that, in order for the county to be made whole on new development, they need a significant take on both property and sales tax. “This is a big deal in terms of our relationships with city,” he said.
He added that the board needs to articulate its position. “Are we going to hold up annexation unless we get this? What is the bottom line that we’re willing to accept?”
Patrick Blacklock noted that Yolo County has pushed development into the cities, “but that means revenue growth has also happened in the cities.” The cities have grown “and they are demanding additional services.” He cited the jail as a “classic example.”
He said he hears from the cities that they need more jail beds but there is a lack of revenue growth to staff correctional officers.
“We’re not asking for anything that is out of the bounds of what other counties are doing,” Mr. Blacklock stated. He argued that their current tax-transfer agreements lag behind current tax-transfer agreements in other counties.
The county-staff report states, “Effects on County infrastructure can be direct (e.g., road relocation) and indirect (e.g., bridge reconstruction to accommodate increased traffic). The extension of city utility services, such as water and sewer, also presents unique issues and opportunities, as annexations and related development can reduce the fiscal and other barriers to providing such services to existing portions of the unincorporated area.
“Many such impacts will be identified and addressed—to varying degrees—through the environmental review process. However, conventional tools such as ‘fair share’ contributions to new infrastructure are frequently inadequate to fully address effects on County facilities. Alternative approaches, including but not limited to Development Agreements as a means of securing dedicated funding for such improvements and/or implementation of the countywide Capital Improvement Plan, may be appropriate in some cases.”
However, Supervisor Rexroad noted about the innovation parks as he understands them, “I can’t imagine that there would be a significant impact on county services from the innovation park. So largely this falls upon Woodland.”
The county adopted this as a policy framework, and will proceed to talk with the two-by-twos and then bring it back.
—David M. Greenwald reporting