The County Service Area (CSA) concept enables counties to provide a guaranteed level of services where requested by property owners. Lake County has adopted a "Countywide County Service Area". This allows any neighborhood within the County to establish a "Zone of Benefit" to obtain increased services to that neighborhood. Each of these Zones includes properties benefitted by the service rendered. The laws regulating the creation and operation of County Service Areas were enacted into law by the California State Legislature and are found in the California Government Code.
The level of service is usually one agreed upon by the affected property owners, with input by the Public Works Department staff to assure that a minimum of safety and liability requirements are met.
The level of service is determined by the revenue derived from a benefit assessment or special tax raised within the Zone of Benefit. A benefit assessment requires approval by a majority of at least 51% of the property owners within the Zone of Benefit boundaries and each is counted in proportion to the proposed assessment per parcel. A special tax requires approval by two-thirds of the individuals who are registered to vote within the Zone of Benefit boundaries.
Often, larger up-front costs are required to pay for improvements to bring the road surfaces (which may have declined from years of neglect) up to a maintainable standard, and cover Zone formation costs and interim maintenance costs until the tax role assessments can be collected. The County is currently considering a means to loan these up-front costs to a Zone, with repayment of some of these costs over a number of years at the County's normal interest earnings rate (very reasonable rates compared with conventional financing).