ACLU Toolkit: Engaging with Local Decision-Makers
A toolkit for communities seeking improved water, sanitation, and other municipal services
Everyone needs basic municipal services, ranging from water to garbage and sewage removal. But these services are not equitably distributed.
The purpose of this toolkit is to help residents advocate for the services they need and deserve. It explains a key process by which local governments make decisions about the allocation of public services and the ways in which residents can participate to voice their concerns and urge for changes in their communities. Community participation ensures decision-makers see a neighborhood’s needs and invest time and money into improving those neighborhoods. We hope that this toolkit empowers residents to make changes in their communities and stay involved in processes that impact their lives.
This toolkit provides important information about a little-known but critical agency that has enormous control over public services—Local Agency Formation Commissions (LAFCOs). Next, it provides information about an essential planning document that these agencies prepare, called Municipal Service Reviews (MSRs), and the process a LAFCO undertakes in generating them. Finally, it lists concrete steps community members can take to be involved in the MSR process. The appendices include additional information on legal requirements, a sample public comment document, know your rights materials, and contact information for your LAFCO.