The Sacramento Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) on Nov. 6 denied an application from Elk Grove city officials to expand their planning influence by more than 7,800 acres south of the city.

Proponents had claimed that Elk Grove could use its Sphere Of Influence (SOI) amendment as a planning tool. They also said the expansion could help boost Elk Grove’s number of jobs per household, which is the lowest in the Sacramento region.

But critics of the city’s SOI application have said there is no need for the city to expand its planning influence by 7,869 acres south of Elk Grove when there are still thousands of undeveloped acres inside the city.

Many opponents of the city’s application mentioned “sprawl” during their public comments.

The commission voted 5-2, with Sacramento County Supervisors Jimmie Yee and Susan Peters voting no, to deny the application.

“This jobs-housing ratio has been the touchstone for the city of Elk Grove’s proposal,” Commissioner Gay Jones said.

Elk Grove resident Lynn Wheat and other members of Elk Grove GRASP spoke out against the application.

“Expanding outward wasn’t going to create the jobs,” she said after the five-hour meeting concluded.

Commission staff recommended an “enhanced regional alternative” of 4,040 acres for commissioners to consider.

Yee made a motion seconded by Peters for the commission to support staff’s recommendation while adding about 550 acres in the Franklin area by Interstate 5.

“The city of Elk Grove can’t improve the jobs-housing ratio without some form of SOI,” Yee said.

Peters said the city “deserved self-determination,” but she and Yee were the only commissioners to vote for the motion.

Elk Grove City Council Member Pat Hume, who called the SOI a planning tool, said before the meeting that an approved SOI amendment application would give the city a seat at the table if development occurred south of Elk Grove.

“It’s a huge deal when you’re thinking about long-term planning, when you’re thinking about logical areas to grow,” he said after the meeting. “The idea that it’s not appropriate now or come back in a couple of years, that’s ridiculous, because this is a 15-year process that we’re not halfway into.”

Hume said a manufacturing company wanted to occupy 300 acres, but nothing was available in or near the city, so they looked somewhere else.

Representatives of environmental organizations including Friends of the Swainson’s Hawk, the Environmental Council of Sacramento, and Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge also spoke in opposition to the application.

The commission’s action was an “intent” vote, as staff presented a series of resolutions that supported staff’s recommendation. A different action would indicate the commission’s intent to formally approve that action at the board’s December meeting.

Although that meeting is still about a month away, Hume said the city would probably not  try to lobby commissioners to change their mind.