In 1965, the State legislature established the California Land Conservation Act, or Williamson Act (Government Code Section 51200 et. seq.). This action provides for the establishment of Rules for the Administration of Agricultural Preserves and the Implementation of the California Land Conservation Act. The Rules establish the procedures for initiating, filing, and processing requests to establish agricultural preserves and Williamson Act contracts.
Key provisions of the Rules include:
• Application is made to the Development Services Department on the standard planning application form.
• Applications may only be submitted between January and mid-December of each year, as required by State law.
• An application fee is required. This fee covers staff time in processing the application and completing the required public hearings and notices. This is an existing fee already in the City’s fee schedule and is $5,000.
• The Development Services Director (or designee) prepares a report and submits it to the Planning Commission for review and recommendation to the City Council. The City Council is the approval authority for preserves and contracts, consistent with State law.
• Criteria for agricultural preserves, which are consistent with State law. The preserve must be a minimum of 100 acres in size and can include one or more properties. The site(s) would also need to be designated Agriculture in the General Plan and have a zoning designation of AG-20 or AG-80.
• Procedures for the disestablishment or alteration of a preserve, consistent with State law, including review and recommendation by the Planning Commission and action by the City Council.