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What's up with Sphere of Influence?

Original post made by Hal Bailey, another community, on Feb 1, 2008

A sphere of influence (SOI) is an area or region over which an organization or state exerts some kind of indirect cultural, economic, military or political domination. Also, in some areas of habitation, shopping or retail outlets or indeed destination outlets, have a sphere of influence over towns of certain areas, for example the Central business district (CBD). (LAFCo Definition)

Dear neighbors,

The definition of Spheres of Influence above concentrates on political definitions of areas or regions and neglects the cultural definition created by a majority of residents. In our e-chain discussions, we determined that the Diablo Road corridor is a natural and cultural divider from the tri-valley cultures to the south and the "Alamorinda" cultures to the north. We concluded Piedmont to Walnut Creek is the "Alamorinda" sphere of influence as bordered by Ignacio Valley Road corridor on the north and Diablo Road corridor on the south and extends west to Piedmont and east to the Boundary Oaks area.

By contrast, LAFCo attempts to label small enclaves as spheres of influence related to city governments. LAFCo's focus is on services providers and not the cultural definition of REGIONS. "Alamorinda" has only a small faction of individuals that identify with Danville and the San Ramon Valley and a vast majority of the culture south of the Diablo Road corridor has no cultural link to "Alamorinda."

City boundaries now and projected have little to do with cultural sphere of influence and how people define their region and lifestyle. Political preferences rather than political boundaries further define regions as spheres of influence. Current and prospective cities exist within political boundaries but do not exist as cultural spheres of influence.

What are your thoughts?


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Comments (5)

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Posted by Alamo Ron
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 1, 2008 at 9:14 am

I don't know the source of the Sphere of Influence (SOI) definition in the posting, but it wasn't Contra Costa LAFCO. Their website has the following information on SOI's:

LAFCO is charged by the State Legislature to determine and update at least every five years the “sphere of influence” of each city and special district.

A sphere of influence is a plan for the probable physical boundaries and service area of a local agency. Factors that LAFCO must consider in determining spheres of influence are:

▪ The present and planned land uses, including agricultural and open space lands,

▪ The present and probable needs for public facilities and services in the area,

▪ The present capacity of public facilities and adequacy of public services that the agency provides or is authorized to provide,

▪ The existence of any social or economic communities of interest in the area if the Commission determines that they are relevant to the agency.

LAFCO is required to review and update spheres of influence every five years.

The posting wrongly implies that cultural and social definitions are ignored by LAFCO in forming SOI's. This is simply not true.

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Posted by Oxymo Ron
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2008 at 1:02 pm

Welcome Back, Ron,

The source of the information is from a reference via In general, the calafco reference offers information that is not interpreted by local Contra Costa LAFCo policies and provides the full scope of the available definition under General Law. In research of sphere of influence designations in Contra Costa County, community (resident) counsel could not confirm any consideration of regional cultural definition as stated by the calafco and CCC LAFCo.

Certainly, current definitions and boundaries of Alamo are only a small segment of the overall cultural sphere of influence in the region. There is a very small minority in the region, as less than 1400 residents, that believe a narrowly defined Alamo is a cultural entity. A majority inside and outside those boundaries understand the larger cultural sphere of influence and the lack of defining culture within the contrived boundaries.

Once again, a clever oxymoron to imply that cultural boundaries have been misstated by use of a CCC LAFCo definition when no such regional cultural spheres of influence exist.

Clever and complex, Ron, my applause,


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Posted by Alamo Ron
a resident of Alamo
on Feb 1, 2008 at 4:33 pm

How about a specific reference (URL) on the CALAFCO website? I just did a pretty thorough search there and could find nothing resembling the purported LAFCO definition.

The erudite writer says. "The source of the information is from a reference via" Does this mean that once the LAFCO website was visited, one could then go anywhere on the Internet to prove one's point? After all, this would be "via calafco" wouldn't it?

The troubling section of the purported "definition" is the mention of an "organization or state (that) exerts some kind of indirect cultural, economic, military or political domination."

I'll hazard a guess that the words, "military or political domination" do not appear anywhere on the CALAFCO website or anywhere else in any legitimate State of California website. This is unless they're being used as an example of pernicious question-begging.

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Posted by Oxymo Ron
a resident of another community
on Feb 1, 2008 at 5:15 pm

Dear Ron,

The reference used from calafco is file data from 2004-2006 research of formation options by an ad hoc committee of neighbors and counsel. The specific definition was included in a response from calafco by e-mail in Summer 2006. There is no conflict between the CCC LAFCo and the 2006 calafco reference and, in fact, they confirm each other as to the concept of cultural sphere of influence.

At issue, if we return to the issue raised, sphere of influence as practiced by CCC LAFCo is related to cities and their services influence over enclaves bordering their boundaries. The concept of a regional culture as sphere of influence is not addressed or considered in CCC LAFCo determinations.

Thus, the discussion points are what regional consideration should be included in sphere of influence in developing boundaries for any formation subject to CCC LAFCo review?

Ron, if you wish to define that question with any LAFCo reference in your answer to the question, please do. But be aware that neighbors have confidential studies that show our region is dominated by the cultural attributes of the "Alamorinda" area as noted in the original message and Alamo itself is contrived boundaries without a community or culture identity.

Thank YOU for great content beyond the oxymoron,


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Posted by Cass Stanton
a resident of Walnut Creek
on Feb 3, 2008 at 2:04 pm

Posted by request of the author

Dear Neighbors,

A very interesting point is made in this exchange. The cultural relationship of the region from Piedmont through Walnut Creek has grown for Alamo as younger families seeking "urban luxury" replace the former residents. Growing up in Danville, there was always a strong relationship between Danville and Alamo, but that has changed.

Danville became a city within the tri-valley definition of cities and Alamo has become closely-linked to Walnut Creek's overall upscale shopping, restaurants and lifestyle. As Danville sprawled, Alamo's newer, younger residents created more of a relationship with Walnut Creek's well-planned environment.

Very interesting subject, thank you,


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