In 1968, the San Mateo County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), then a fledgling governmental institution, had the responsibility of determining which of Stanford’s lands in unincorporated San Mateo County would be placed within the “sphere of influence” of which cities. This determination would be vital to the issue of enabling intensive urban development on Stanford’s rural lands by allowing city services such as sewer and water to be extended into open space.
Of particular concern to this determination was the fate of Webb Ranch on Alpine Road, where Stanford was exploring the possibility of locating an industrial park. Stanford urged that the Webb Ranch should be placed in the sphere of influence of development-friendly Menlo Park, asserting that Menlo Park was better able to provide services such as sewer and water. CGF, Portola Valley, and the community of Ladera advocated instead that Webb Ranch be placed within the sphere of influence of Portola Valley, which had recently been incorporated (1964) in order to protect the rural character of the area. Portola Valley was strongly opposed to industrial or housing development on Webb Ranch. After months of heated hearings, Webb Ranch was placed in Portola Valley’s sphere of influence and remains a working farm today.