Detachment: City of Menifee / Valley Wide Recreation & Park District
Menifee parks and recreation services are currently offered by two distinct and separate public agencies: the City of Menifee and Valley Wide Recreation and Park District (VWRPD). Prior to City incorporation, much of the landscape maintenance and recreation programming was delivered by VWRPD in-lieu of the County of Riverside offering a full complement of programs and services to residents of the area. More recently, the City’s Community Services Department has emerged as the local provider for similar services within the City. Consequently, there exists a bifurcation of the services by the geographic areas with park facilities on the east side of the I-215 freeway owned and operated by VWRPD, and all park facilities on the west side of the I-215 freeway owned and operated by the City’s Community Services Department. Both the City and VWRPD are public agencies who received special tax district revenues from residents’ property tax assessments to maintain and operate their respective facilities.
Since incorporation, the City of Menifee has progressively improved infrastructure, public services, and accessibility for its residents. Prior to 2008, the County of Riverside provided most public services through various Community Services Areas (CSA), Lighting and Landscape Maintenance Districts (LLMD), and Community Facility Districts (CFD) special taxes. At the time of incorporation most of these special tax districts were succeeded to the City, with few exceptions. Today, additional governmental services are funded and provided to the community through the City’s General Fund revenues. Consequently, most public benefit services are offered directly by City personnel including: Public Works/Engineering, Finance, Community Development and Planning, Economic Development, Administrative Services (Information Technology, Human Resources), City Council, City Manager, Code Enforcement/Building and Safety, and most recently parks and recreation through the Community Services Department. Police, Fire, and Animal services are the few functions currently provided by contract operators.
What is LAFCO?
Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs) are mandated by the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Reorganization Act of 2000 (CKH) to encourage orderly development within their county of jurisdiction. The Act governs the boundaries of special districts and cities, consistent with each agency’s principal act, and further directs LAFCOs to make reorganization decisions based on multiple factors, including the need for efficient delivery of public services. For example, before granting a reorganization proposal, the CKH requires a LAFCO to consider “[t]he need for organized community services; the present cost and adequacy of governmental services and controls in the area; probable future needs for those services and controls; probable effect of the proposed incorporation, formation, annexation, or exclusion and of alternative courses of action on the cost and adequacy of services and controls in the area and adjacent areas.” (Gov. Code § 56668 (b).) Similarly, the LAFCO must also consider “[t]he effect of the proposed action and of alternative actions, on adjacent areas, on mutual social and economic interests, and on the local governmental structure of the county. (Gov. Code § 56668(c).)
On December 11, 2014, the Riverside County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) considered a Sphere of Influence review and amendment for VWRPD. The amendment proposed the expansion of the VWRPD boundary beyond the I-215 freeway to the far western boundary of the City. In a unanimous vote, the Commission declined the request to increase the VWRPD territory, citing a need for the City to establish itself as a reliable service provider of park and recreation programs and facilities within its own territory. Furthermore, the Commission concurred that the natural evolution of cityhood should include the local agency gaining full control of all public facilities within its boundaries (east and west). The Commission recommended that the City achieve critical benchmarks to demonstrate a need for detachment from VWRPD:
- Setup its own parks and recreation operation (complete as of July 1, 2015)
- Show a track record of performance (complete)
- Gain concurrence from City council on desire to detach VWRPD from the City of Menifee (complete)
- Develop a plan to transition VWRPD facilities to the City (pending detachment application review)
In 2013, the Menifee City Council voted to create the City’s first Community Services Department, charged with delivering recreation programs and facilities to residents of the growing community. For the first year City personnel worked to improve residents’ quality of life through park and landscape improvements, signature special events, and dynamic recreation programs for Menifee’s youth, adults, and seniors. In year two, In-house city staff was directly responsible for program development, maintenance operations, and special capital improvement projects. Needless to say, much progress has been made during this time with various facility upgrades, enhanced programs, special events, and community beautification. As a result, on February 3, 2016 the Menifee City Council adopted Resolution No. 16-496 directing staff to submit a formal application for detachment to LAFCO.
On May 26, 2016, the City of Menifee submitted a formal application to LAFCO for the detachment of VWRPD from the City of Menifee boundaries. If approved by the LAFCO Commission, the decision would potentially transfer all VWRPD facilities within the City boundary over to city ownership and operation. As a result, the special tax assessments currently paid by residents would continue, however the tax revenue would then be remitted by the County Tax Assessor’s office to the City instead of to VWRPD. The City would then be solely responsible for all park and recreation services (and applicable parkway landscaping) within City limits, confirming local control and operations. A copy of the City’s application is available at the link(s) below for public reference: