What is a special district?

Some frequently asked questions about special districts and a basic summary below.

What is a special district?
A special district is a type of government that provides a specific service or helps improve infrastructure for residents in a specific geographic area, such as water, fire protection, park maintenance, or harbor administration. Frequently found in rural, unincorporated areas, special districts are often established by residents to fill a particular need, and are a tool for people to provide themselves with a locally-controlled service. Special districts are typically funded in part from property taxes on residents of the district and fees. They often have a board of directors that is elected by district residents, and many smaller districts rely heavily on volunteers to administer services. You can learn more about special districts in California at the California Special Districts Association.
How many special districts are in Mendocino County?
California has around 2,000 special districts, and the North Coast has more special districts than any other part of the state. Mendocino County alone has over 60 special districts, although some cover the whole county, such as the Resource Conservation District or the Air Quality District. You can find a complete list of Mendocino County special districts here, and get more information about the individual districts on both the main districts map page (by clicking on a specific district), or on the individual district pages (still under construction.)
What is a Municipal Advisory Council?
A Municipal Advisory Council is one form of local government which allows residents of a specific geographic area in an unincoporated part of a county to provide input to municipal or county government on issues which impact that area, such as land use decisions, zoning, or new development projects. The California state legislature established the state code that allows for the creation of MACs in 1971. You can read the full text of that code here. Mendocino County currently has five MACS: Gualala, Hopland, Laytonville, Redwood Valley, and Westport.
Why is this important? Why should I care?

If you live in a rural area, a special district may be the government agency with which you interact the most. 

The North Coast has the most special districts of any region in California. This means that, chances are, many of your government services are provided by a special district, from fire, to water, recreation and even the harbor. This site was built to help you learn more about how our county is managed, how your essential services are administered, and what agencies your tax dollars are going towards.

 We believe for people to fully engage in their democracy, easy access to information about their government is key — so that we can all have our voices heard.

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