Idyllwild San Jacinto Fire Authority seeks court protection

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On Sept. 19, the City of San Jacinto and the Idyllwild San Jacinto Regional Joint Powers Authority filed an action in Riverside County Superior Court (RIC 1612042). One of the several defendants is the Idyllwild Fire Protection District’s resolution approving the joint powers agreement with San Jacinto.

“Essentially, this is a validation suit. The JPA is asking for a judgment that its actions are not subject to LAFCO review and approval,” said Tim Hults, San Jacinto’s city manager.

According to the Riverside Local Agency Formation Commission website, LAFCOs “are state-mandated regulatory agencies established by the legislature in 1963. LAFCOs were created to help implement State policy of encouraging orderly growth and development through the regulation of local public agency boundaries… LAFCO has both regulatory and planning functions. On the regulatory side, it carries out its legislative mandate through the consideration of proposals for boundary changes… LAFCO’s planning function is exercised through the establishment and amendment of ‘spheres of influence’ (SOI). LAFCO is required to designate and periodically review a SOI for each local agency in the County.”

Idyllwild Fire Chief Patrick Reitz acknowledged the lawsuit and also confirmed that it was merely procedural. The JPA’s board had approved it during a closed session at its July meeting, when both IFPD and the city modified their resolution, which approved establishing the JPA. The new resolutions improved the efficiency of adding new JPA members in the future.

The legal action would validate the agencies’ joint powers agreement. Filed pursuant to Code of Civil procedure section 860 et seq. and Government Code section 6516.6, subdivision (e), the city and JPA’s “Complaint to Validate” alleges that those sections authorize a public agency to bring an action to determine the validity of any joint powers agreement.

The suit also seeks a determination that Senate Bill 239, which requires a county’s LAFCO to approve “fire protection contracts for the exercise of new or extended fire protection services outside a public agency’s jurisdictional boundaries” does not apply to the local JPA.

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