When a city revises its “sphere of influence” map to designate areas in which it plans on expanding into, more often than not it grows.
Lathrop is taking a different approach – at least when it comes to one portion of the community.
On Monday the Lathrop City Council accepted a report from staff that will shrink the sphere of influence that was last expanded in 2007 to exclude the northernmost portion of the map that because of its location and is not feasible for further development.
Because of the “Delta Plan” that was adopted by the State of California, a large swath of land north of De Lima Road falls into a unique category of land that is traditionally protected for its agricultural contribution. Because that land was not designated for residential, commercial or industrial uses when the plan was adopted, they can’t be used for that in the future either.
To further complicate things, having such a large swath of land within the sphere of influence – which would permit exploration into development – while the City of Lathrop is preparing to get the State of California to sign off on their advancements towards overhauling the 20-mile stretch of levee that protects all of Lathrop from a surging San Joaquin River and a 200-year-flood could, according to staff, complicate that request and put all of the city’s future development goals into jeopardy. If that designation is not granted by the State of California before the cutoff date in July, then no new construction can take place anywhere within the city limits because all of Lathrop technically falls within that 200-year flood plain.
To solidify the move through a general plan amendment would take more than year and require the approval of the Delta Stewardship Council, so designating the roughly 2,000 acres of land previously included in the SOI as agricultural land – which the city itself uses to spray water once it has undergone the sewage treatment process (Lathrop, unlike other nearby communities, is not able to discharge their treated water into the San Joaquin River) – is an easier way of achieving roughly the same result.
No other portion of the city’s sphere of influence is being expanded or retracted as a result of the approval.
It will be up to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) to approve the changes to the sphere of influence as well as the municipal service review that Lathrop is also currently updating.
But if approved by LAFCO, that portion of the community – the land east of the San Joaquin River, west of I-5 and north of De Lima Road until the border with San Joaquin County’s sphere of influence – will not be completely abandoned by the city.
The official title of the completely rural and ag-based area will be an “area of interest” but will still be considered outside of the City of Lathrop’s future borders.
The area south of Lathrop’s city limits will remain part of its sphere of influence.
According to the language of SB5 – the 200-year flood protection bill that was passed legislatively in 2005 – only land within the community that is urban or urbanizing and will be afflicted by at least three feet of floodwater if the event were to ever take place are affected by the restrictions. This means that Dell ‘Osso Farms is not included as it does not even currently have 100-year flood protection like the land behind the 20-mile levee that comprises reclamation district 17 – which affects Manteca, Lathrop, Stockton and San Joaquin County.