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SB-985 Agricultural preserves: public use.(1999-2000)

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SB985:v90#DOCUMENT

Senate Bill No. 985
CHAPTER 1018

An act to amend Sections 51201, 51230, 51234, 51256, 51282.3, 51283, 51291, 51292, 51296, and 66474.4 of, to amend and repeal Section 51257 of, and to add Sections 51256.1 and 51291.5 to, the Government Code, relating to the Williamson Act.

[ Filed with Secretary of State  October 10, 1999. Approved by Governor  October 10, 1999. ]

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


SB 985, Johnston. Agricultural preserves: public use.
(1) Under existing law, the Williamson Act provides that a landowner and a city or county may enter into a mutually beneficial contract to restrict the use of agricultural land by creating an “agricultural preserve,” as defined, in order to preserve the limited supply of agricultural land necessary to the conservation of the state’s economic resources. The act also defines other terms for purposes of its provisions, including “recreational use.”
This bill would revise the definition of “recreational use.”
(2) The act provides that an agricultural preserve may contain land other than agricultural land not under contract if the land is restricted within 2 years of the effective date of the contract by zoning or other suitable means in such a way as not to be incompatible with the agricultural use of the land.
This bill would limit the means of restriction to zoning.
(3) The act also requires that any proposal to establish an agricultural preserve be submitted to the local planning department or planning commission and that the planning department or commission submit a report to the county board of supervisors or the city council within 30 days after receiving the proposal. The report is required to include a statement that the preserve is consistent or inconsistent with the general plan, and the board or council is required to make a finding to that effect.
This bill would require the report to contain a statement and the board or council to make a finding that the proposal is consistent with the general plan.
(4) Under the act, the parties to a contract may enter into an agreement to rescind a contract in order to simultaneously place other land under an agricultural conservation easement, if specified findings are made.
This bill would permit the parties to rescind the contract in order to place other specified land under an agricultural conservation easement if different findings are made.
(5) Existing law permits the parties to rescind a contract or contracts and simultaneously enter into a new contract or contracts to facilitate a lot line adjustment under the Subdivision Map Act if the board of supervisors or the city council makes specified findings.
This bill would require an additional finding that the lot line adjustment does not result in a greater number of developable parcels or an adjusted lot that is inconsistent with the general plan.
(6) Existing law requires that, prior to cancellation of a contract, the county assessor shall determine the cancellation valuation of the land for purposes of determining the cancellation fee which the landowner shall pay to the county treasurer as deferred taxes upon cancellation.
This bill would delete references to the cancellation fee as deferred taxes and state that the fees are not taxes.
(7) Under the Williamson Act, whenever it appears that land within an agricultural preserve may be required by a public agency or person, as defined, for a public use, the public agency or person is required to provide specified notices and findings to the Director of Conservation and the local governing body responsible for the administration of the preserve, that explain its intention to consider the location of a public improvement within the preserve. The act also provides that the required notices and findings may be given and contained in documents prepared pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) as long as they are provided no later than the times set forth in these provisions. The act provides that the notice requirements do not apply to the acquisition of land for the erection, construction, alteration, or maintenance of gas, electric, water, or communication facilities.
This bill would repeal these provisions that allow the CEQA documents to provide the required notices and findings and would revise the required findings. The bill would provide that the notice requirements do not apply to the erection, construction, alteration, or maintenance of gas, electric, piped subterranean water or wastewater, or communication facilities or to the acquisition of land for those purposes.
(8) Existing law also authorizes the rescission of contracts under the Williamson Act in order to place the land under an open-space easement or agricultural conservation easement.
This bill would provide that the laws authorizing rescissions of the Williamson Act contracts in order to enter into open space easement or agricultural conservation easements are not applicable to farmland security zones.
(9) Under the Subdivision Map Act, the legislative body of a city or county is required to deny approval of a tentative map, or a parcel map for which a tentative map was not required, if it finds that the land is subject to a Williamson Act contract and that the resulting parcels following a subdivision of the land would be too small to sustain their agricultural use.
This bill would also require denial of approval if the legislative body finds that the land is subject to a Williamson Act contract and the subdivision will result in residential development not incidental to the commercial agricultural use of the subject land. The bill would declare that this provision is declaratory of existing law.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:


SECTION 1.

 The Legislature hereby finds and declares all of the following:
(a) The long-term conservation of agricultural and open-space land is critical to the welfare of the people of California.
(b) The Williamson Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 51200) of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Government Code) has succeeded in keeping large amounts of agricultural land in agriculture for more than three decades by providing long-term, enforceably restricted contracts, and property tax benefits to participating farmers and ranchers.
(c) The people of the state have made significant investments in local government subventions to offset property tax revenue loss and the cost of administering local agricultural preserve programs.
(d) Strong and consistent state and local enforcement of the restrictions required under the Williamson Act is necessary to preserve the constitutional benefit of preferential assessments for contracting landowners, and to protect the state’s considerable investment in the conservation of agricultural and open-space land.
(e) The interpretation of compatible recreational uses has expanded well beyond the types of uses originally contemplated by the Legislature as being consistent with the agricultural or open-space character so greatly valued by the people of California, and local governments should be provided more specific guidance on the latitude for those uses.
(f) Some owners of contracted land are seeking to establish multiple legal parcels to circumvent local restrictions on minimum parcel sizes on land for which the original parcel size was an element of the contract.
(g) Existing provisions of the Williamson Act do not require that local zoning of designated agriculture preserves be consistent with the minimum parcel size under the act, and without that requirement the purpose of the act can be seriously undermined by subminimum parcel sizes and incompatible uses within those preserves.
(h) Some local governments have approved or are considering approval of large-scale mining or other uses that would terminate and replace or irreparably diminish the agricultural uses on contracted lands, while still receiving both tax benefits and qualifying for subventions from the state.
(i) The latitude provided by the Williamson Act to participating local governments is not, and has never been, so great as to make uses that are not inherently related to, or beneficial to, the agricultural or open-space character of contracted land permissible under the compatible use provisions of the Williamson Act.
(j) Some local governments have approved proposals for subdivision maps or parcel maps on Williamson Act contracted land that met the minimum parcel size requirements in the Subdivision Map Act (Division 2 (commencing with Section 66410) of Title 7 of the Government Code), even though the result has been the creation of housing developments on property under contract that continues to receive tax benefits and state subventions.
(k) More specific guidance is needed, in concert with the careful enforcement of the Williamson Act by administering local governments, so that the result will not excessively curtail the latitude of local governments to manage agricultural preserves and Williamson Act contracts.
(l) Focusing development pressures, infrastructure funding, and investment funds away from agricultural preserves will increase the urban benefits of the program by making more funds available to develop or redevelop within existing urban boundaries.
(m) The long-term conservation of agricultural and open-space land will additionally benefit urban areas by ensuring that a steady supply of high-quality, low-cost fresh foods is available to urban residents, by providing open-space uses that benefit the public seeking escape from the closeness of urban society, and by conserving world-class agricultural soils.

SEC. 2.

 Section 51201 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51201.
 As used in this chapter, unless otherwise apparent from the context:
(a) “Agricultural commodity” means any and all plant and animal products produced in this state for commercial purposes.
(b) “Agricultural use” means use of land for the purpose of producing an agricultural commodity for commercial purposes.
(c) “Prime agricultural land” means any of the following:
(1) All land that qualifies for rating as class I or class II in the Natural Resource Conservation Service land use capability classifications.
(2) Land which qualifies for rating 80 through 100 in the Storie Index Rating.
(3) Land which supports livestock used for the production of food and fiber and which has an annual carrying capacity equivalent to at least one animal unit per acre as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture.
(4) Land planted with fruit- or nut-bearing trees, vines, bushes or crops which have a nonbearing period of less than five years and which will normally return during the commercial bearing period on an annual basis from the production of unprocessed agricultural plant production not less than two hundred dollars ($200) per acre.
(5) Land which has returned from the production of unprocessed agricultural plant products an annual gross value of not less than two hundred dollars ($200) per acre for three of the previous five years.
(d) “Agricultural preserve” means an area devoted to either agricultural use, as defined in subdivision (b), recreational use as defined in subdivision (n), or open-space use as defined in subdivision (o), or any combination of those uses and which is established in accordance with the provisions of this chapter.
(e) “Compatible use” is any use determined by the county or city administering the preserve pursuant to Section 51231, 51238, or 51238.1 or by this act to be compatible with the agricultural, recreational, or open-space use of land within the preserve and subject to contract. “Compatible use” includes agricultural use, recreational use or open-space use unless the board or council finds after notice and hearing that the use is not compatible with the agricultural, recreational or open-space use to which the land is restricted by contract pursuant to this chapter.
(f) “Board” means the board of supervisors of a county which establishes or proposes to establish an agricultural preserve or which enters or proposes to enter into a contract on land within an agricultural preserve pursuant to this chapter.
(g) “Council” means the city council of a city which establishes or proposes to establish an agricultural preserve or which enters or proposes to enter into a contract on land within an agricultural preserve pursuant to this chapter.
(h) Except where it is otherwise apparent from the context, “county” or “city” means the county or city having jurisdiction over the land.
(i) A “scenic highway corridor” is an area adjacent to, and within view of, the right-of-way of:
(1) An existing or proposed state scenic highway in the state scenic highway system established by the Legislature pursuant to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 260) of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of the Streets and Highways Code and which has been officially designated by the Department of Transportation as an official state scenic highway; or
(2) A county scenic highway established pursuant to Article 2.5 (commencing with Section 260) of Chapter 2 of Division 1 of the Streets and Highways Code, if each of the following conditions have been met:
(A) The scenic highway is included in an adopted general plan of the county or city; and
(B) The scenic highway corridor is included in an adopted specific plan of the county or city; and
(C) Specific proposals for implementing the plan, including regulation of land use, have been approved by the Advisory Committee on a Master Plan for Scenic Highways, and the county or city highway has been officially designated by the Department of Transportation as an official county scenic highway.
(j) A “wildlife habitat area” is a land or water area designated by a board or council, after consulting with and considering the recommendation of the Department of Fish and Game, as an area of great importance for the protection or enhancement of the wildlife resources of the state.
(k) A “saltpond” is an area which, for at least three consecutive years immediately prior to being placed within an agricultural preserve pursuant to this chapter, has been used for the solar evaporation of seawater in the course of salt production for commercial purposes.
(l) A “managed wetland area” is an area, which may be an area diked off from the ocean or any bay, river or stream to which water is occasionally admitted, and which, for at least three consecutive years immediately prior to being placed within an agricultural preserve pursuant to this chapter, was used and maintained as a waterfowl hunting preserve or game refuge or for agricultural purposes.
(m) A “submerged area” is any land determined by the board or council to be submerged or subject to tidal action and found by the board or council to be of great value to the state as open space.
(n) “Recreational use” is the use of land in its agricultural or natural state by the public, with or without charge, for any of the following: walking, hiking, picnicking, camping, swimming, boating, fishing, hunting, or other outdoor games or sports for which facilities are provided for public participation. Any fee charged for the recreational use of land as defined in this subdivision shall be in a reasonable amount and shall not have the effect of unduly limiting its use by the public. Any ancillary structures necessary for a recreational use shall comply with the provisions of Section 51238.1.
(o) “Open-space use” is the use or maintenance of land in a manner that preserves its natural characteristics, beauty, or openness for the benefit and enjoyment of the public, to provide essential habitat for wildlife, or for the solar evaporation of seawater in the course of salt production for commercial purposes, if the land is within:
(1) A scenic highway corridor, as defined in subdivision (i).
(2) A wildlife habitat area, as defined in subdivision (j).
(3) A saltpond, as defined in subdivision (k).
(4) A managed wetland area, as defined in subdivision (l).
(5) A submerged area, as defined in subdivision (m).

SEC. 3.

 Section 51230 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51230.
 Beginning January 1, 1971, any county or city having a general plan, and until December 31, 1970, any county or city, by resolution, and after a public hearing may establish an agricultural preserve. Notice of the hearing shall be published pursuant to Section 6061, and shall include a legal description, or the assessor’s parcel number, of the land which is proposed to be included within the preserve. The preserves shall be established for the purpose of defining the boundaries of those areas within which the city or county will be willing to enter into contracts pursuant to this act. An agricultural preserve shall consist of no less than 100 acres; provided, that in order to meet this requirement two or more parcels may be combined if they are contiguous or if they are in common ownership; and further provided, that in order to meet this requirement land zoned as timberland production pursuant to Chapter 6.7 (commencing with Section 51100) may be taken into account.
A county or city may establish agricultural preserves of less than 100 acres if it finds that smaller preserves are necessary due to the unique characteristics of the agricultural enterprises in the area and that the establishment of preserves of less than 100 acres is consistent with the general plan of the county or city.
An agricultural preserve may contain land other than agricultural land, but the use of any land within the preserve and not under contract shall within two years of the effective date of any contract on land within the preserve be restricted by zoning, including appropriate minimum parcel sizes that are at a minimum consistent with this chapter, in such a way as not to be incompatible with the agricultural use of the land, the use of which is limited by contract in accordance with this chapter.
Failure on the part of the board or council to restrict the use of land within a preserve but not subject to contract shall not be sufficient reason to cancel or otherwise invalidate a contract.

SEC. 4.

 Section 51234 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51234.
 Any proposal to establish an agricultural preserve shall be submitted to the planning department of the county or city having jurisdiction over the land. If the county or city has no planning department, a proposal to establish an agricultural preserve shall be submitted to the planning commission. Within 30 days after receiving such a proposal, the planning department or planning commission shall submit a report thereon to the board or council. However, the board or council may extend the time allowed for an additional period not to exceed 30 days.
The report shall include a statement that the preserve is consistent with the general plan, and the board or council shall make a finding to that effect. Final action upon the establishment of an agricultural preserve may not be taken by the board or council until the report required by this section is received from the planning department or planning commission, or until the required 30 days have elapsed and any extension thereof granted by the board or council has elapsed.

SEC. 5.

 Section 51256 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51256.
 Notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, a city or county, upon petition by a landowner, may enter into an agreement with the landowner to rescind a contract in accordance with the contract cancellation provisions of Section 51282 in order to simultaneously place other land within that city, the county, or the county where the contract is rescinded under an agricultural conservation easement, consistent with the purposes and, except as provided in subdivision (b), the requirements of the Agricultural Land Stewardship Program pursuant to Division 10.2 (commencing with Section 10200) of the Public Resources Code, provided that the board or council makes all of the following findings:
(a) The proposed agricultural conservation easement is consistent with the criteria set forth in Section 10251 of the Public Resources Code.
(b) The proposed agricultural conservation easement is evaluated pursuant to the selection criteria in Section 10252 of the Public Resources Code, and particularly subdivisions (a), (c), (e), (f), and (h), and the board or council makes a finding that the proposed easement will make a beneficial contribution to the conservation of agricultural land in its area.
(c) The land proposed to be placed under an agricultural conservation easement is of equal size or larger than the land subject to the contract to be rescinded, and is equally or more suitable for agricultural use than the land subject to the contract to be rescinded. In determining the suitability of the land for agricultural use, the city or county shall consider the soil quality and water availability of the land, adjacent land uses, and any agricultural support infrastructure.
(d) The value of the proposed agricultural conservation easement, as determined pursuant to Section 10260 of the Public Resources Code, is equal to or greater than 12.5 percent of the cancellation valuation of the land subject to the contract to be rescinded, pursuant to subdivision (a) of Section 51283. The easement value and the cancellation valuation shall be determined within 30 days before the approval of the city or county of an agreement pursuant to this section.

SEC. 6.

 Section 51256.1 is added to the Government Code, to read:

51256.1.
 No agreement entered into pursuant to Section 51256 shall take effect until it is approved by the Secretary of Resources. The secretary may approve the agreement if he or she finds that the findings of the board or council, as required by Sections 51256 and 51282, are supported by substantial evidence, and that the proposed agricultural conservation easement is consistent with the eligibility criteria set forth in Section 10251 of the Public Resources Code and will make a beneficial contribution to the conservation of agricultural land in its area. The secretary shall not approve the agreement if an agricultural conservation easement has been purchased with funds from the Agricultural Land Stewardship Program Fund, established pursuant to Section 10230 of the Public Resources Code, on the same land proposed to be placed under an agricultural conservation easement pursuant to this section.

SEC. 7.

 Section 51257 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51257.
 (a) To facilitate a lot line adjustment, pursuant to subdivision (d) of Section 66412, and notwithstanding any other provision of this chapter, the parties may mutually agree to rescind the contract or contracts and simultaneously enter into a new contract or contracts pursuant to this chapter, provided that the board or council finds all of the following:
(1) The new contract or contracts would enforceably restrict the adjusted boundaries of the parcel for an initial term for at least as long as the unexpired term of the rescinded contract or contracts, but for not less than 10 years.
(2) There is no net decrease in the amount of the acreage restricted. In cases where two parcels involved in a lot line adjustment are both subject to contracts rescinded pursuant to this section, this finding will be satisfied if the aggregate acreage of the land restricted by the new contracts is at least as great as the aggregate acreage restricted by the rescinded contracts.
(3) At least 90 percent of the land under the former contract or contracts remains under the new contract or contracts.
(4) After the lot line adjustment, the parcels of land subject to contract will be large enough to sustain their agricultural use, as defined in Section 51222.
(5) The lot line adjustment would not compromise the long-term agricultural productivity of the parcel or other agricultural lands subject to a contract or contracts.
(6) The lot line adjustment is not likely to result in the removal of adjacent land from agricultural use.
(7) The lot line adjustment does not result in a greater number of developable parcels than existed prior to the adjustment, or an adjusted lot that is inconsistent with the general plan.
(b) Nothing in this section shall limit the authority of the board or council to enact additional conditions or restrictions on lot line adjustments.
(c) Only one new contract may be entered into pursuant to this section with respect to a given parcel, prior to January 1, 2003.
(d) In the year 2002, the department’s Williamson Act Status Report, prepared pursuant to Section 51207, shall include a review of the performance of this section.
(e) This section shall remain in effect only until January 1, 2003, and as of that date is repealed, unless a later enacted statute, that is enacted on or before January 1, 2003, deletes or extends that date.

SEC. 8.

 Section 51282.3 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51282.3.
 (a) The landowner may petition the board or council, pursuant to Section 51282, for cancellation of any contract or of any portion of a contract if the board or council has determined that agricultural laborer housing is not a compatible use on the contracted lands. The petition, and any subsequent cancellation based thereon, shall (1) particularly describe the acreage to be subject to cancellation; (2) stipulate that the purpose of the cancellation is to allow the land to be used exclusively for agricultural laborer housing facilities; (3) demonstrate that the contracted lands, or portion thereof, for which cancellation is being sought are reasonably necessary for the development and siting of agricultural laborer housing; and (4) certify that the contracted lands, or portion thereof, for which cancellation is being sought, shall not be converted to any other alternative use within the first 10 years immediately following the cancellation.
The petition shall be deemed to be a petition for cancellation for a specified alternative use of the land. The petition shall be acted upon by the board or council in the manner prescribed in Section 51283.4. However, the provisions of Section 51283 pertaining to the payment of cancellation fees shall not be imposed except as provided in subdivision (b).
(b) If the owner of real property is issued a certificate of cancellation of contract based on subdivision (a), there shall be executed and recorded concurrently with the recordation of the certificate of cancellation of contract, a lien in favor of the county, city or city and county in the amount of the fees which would otherwise have been imposed pursuant to Section 51283. Those amounts shall bear interest at the rate of 10 percent per annum. The lien shall particularly describe the real property subject to the lien, shall be recorded in the county where the real property subject to the lien is located, and shall be indexed by the recorder in the grantor index to the name of the owner of the real property and in the grantee index in the name of the county or city or city and county. From the date of recordation, the lien shall have the force, effect and priority of a judgment lien. The board or council shall execute and record a release of lien if, after a period of 10 years from the date of the recordation of the certificate of cancellation of contract, the real property subject to the lien has not been converted to a use other than agricultural laborer housing. In the event the real property subject to the lien has been converted to a use other than agricultural laborer housing, or the construction of agricultural laborer housing has not commenced within a period of one year from the date of recordation of the certificate of cancellation of contract, then the lien shall only be released upon payment of the fees and interest for which the lien has been imposed. Where construction commences after the one-year period, the amount of the interest shall only be for that period from one year following the date of the recordation of the certificate of cancellation of contract until the actual commencement of construction.

SEC. 9.

 Section 51283 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51283.
 (a) Prior to any action by the board or council giving tentative approval to the cancellation of any contract, the county assessor of the county in which the land is located shall determine the current fair market value of the land as though it were free of the contractual restriction. The assessor shall certify to the board or council the cancellation valuation of the land for the purpose of determining the cancellation fee.
(b) Prior to giving tentative approval to the cancellation of any contract, the board or council shall determine and certify to the county auditor the amount of the cancellation fee which the landowner shall pay the county treasurer upon cancellation. That fee shall be an amount equal to 121/2 percent of the cancellation valuation of the property.
(c) If it finds that it is in the public interest to do so, the board or council may waive any payment or any portion of a payment by the landowner, or may extend the time for making the payment or a portion of the payment contingent upon the future use made of the land and its economic return to the landowner for a period of time not to exceed the unexpired period of the contract, had it not been canceled, if all of the following occur:
(1) The cancellation is caused by an involuntary transfer or change in the use which may be made of the land and the land is not immediately suitable, nor will be immediately used, for a purpose which produces a greater economic return to the owner.
(2) The board or council has determined that it is in the best interests of the program to conserve agricultural land use that the payment be either deferred or is not required.
(3) The waiver or extension of time is approved by the Secretary of the Resources Agency. The secretary shall approve a waiver or extension of time if the secretary finds that the granting of the waiver or extension of time by the board or council is consistent with the policies of this chapter and that the board or council complied with this article. In evaluating a request for a waiver or extension of time, the secretary shall review the findings of the board or council, the evidence in the record of the board or council, and any other evidence the secretary may receive concerning the cancellation, waiver, or extension of time.
(d) The first nine hundred eighty-five thousand dollars ($985,000) of revenue paid to the Controller pursuant to subdivision (e) in the 1992–93 fiscal year, and any other amount as approved in the final Budget Act for each fiscal year thereafter, shall be deposited in the Soil Conservation Fund, which is continued in existence. The money in the fund is available, when appropriated by the Legislature, for the support of both of the following:
(1) The total cost of the farmlands mapping and monitoring program of the Department of Conservation pursuant to Section 65570.
(2) The soil conservation program identified in Section 614 of the Public Resources Code.
(e) When cancellation fees required by this section are collected, they shall be transmitted by the county treasurer to the Controller and deposited in the General Fund, except as provided in subdivision (d). The funds collected by the county treasurer with respect to each cancellation of a contract shall be transmitted to the Controller within 30 days of the execution of a certificate of cancellation of contract by the board or council, as specified in subdivision (b) of Section 51283.4.
(f) It is the intent of the Legislature that fees paid to cancel a contract do not constitute taxes but are payments that, when made, provide a private benefit that tends to increase the value of the property.

SEC. 10.

 Section 51291 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51291.
 (a) As used in this section and Sections 51292 and 51295, (1) “public agency” means any department or agency of the United States or the state, and any county, city, school district, or other local public district, agency, or entity, and (2) “person” means any person authorized to acquire property by eminent domain.
(b) Except as provided in Section 51291.5, whenever it appears that land within an agricultural preserve may be required by a public agency or person for a public use, the public agency or person shall advise the Director of Conservation and the local governing body responsible for the administration of the preserve of its intention to consider the location of a public improvement within the preserve. In accordance with Section 51290, the notice shall include an explanation of the preliminary consideration of Section 51292, and give a general description, in text or by diagram, of the agricultural preserve land proposed for acquisition, and a copy of any applicable contract created under this chapter. The Director of Conservation shall forward to the Secretary of Food and Agriculture, a copy of any material received from the public agency or person relating to the proposed acquisition.
Within 30 days thereafter, the Director of Conservation and the local governing body shall forward to the appropriate public agency or person concerned their comments with respect to the effect of the location of the public improvement on the land within the agricultural preserve and those comments shall be considered by the public agency or person. In preparing those comments, the Director of Conservation shall consider issues related to agricultural land use, including, but not limited to, matters related to the effects of the proposal on the conversion of adjacent or nearby agricultural land to nonagricultural uses, and shall consult with, and incorporate the comments of, the Secretary of Food and Agriculture on any other matters related to agricultural operations. The failure by any person or public agency, other than a state agency, to comply with the requirements of this section shall be admissible in evidence in any litigation for the acquisition of that land or involving the allocation of funds or the construction of the public improvement. This subdivision does not apply to the erection, construction, alteration, or maintenance of gas, electric, piped subterranean water or wastewater, or communication utility facilities within an agricultural preserve if that preserve was established after the submission of the location of those facilities to the city or county for review or approval.
(c) When land in an agricultural preserve is acquired by a public entity, the public entity shall notify the Director of Conservation within 10 working days. The notice shall include a general explanation of the decision and the findings made pursuant to Section 51292. If different from that previously provided pursuant to subdivision (b), the notice shall also include a general description, in text or by diagram, of the agricultural preserve land acquired and a copy of any applicable contract created under this chapter.
(d) If, after giving the notice required under subdivisions (b) and (c) and before the project is completed within an agricultural preserve, the public agency or person proposes any significant change in the public improvement, it shall give notice of the changes to the Director of Conservation and the local governing body responsible for the administration of the preserve. Within 30 days thereafter, the Director of Conservation and the local governing body may forward to the public agency or person their comments with respect to the effect of the change to the public improvement on the land within the preserve and the compliance of the changed public improvements with this article. Those comments shall be considered by the public agency or person, if available within the time limits set by this subdivision.
(e) Any action or proceeding regarding notices or findings required by this article filed by the Director of Conservation or the local governing body administering the agricultural preserve shall be governed by Section 51294.

SEC. 11.

 Section 51291.5 is added to the Government Code, to read:

51291.5.
 The notice requirements of subdivision (b) of Section 51291 shall not apply to the acquisition of land for the erection, construction, or alteration of gas, electric, piped subterranean water or wastewater, or communication facilities.

SEC. 12.

 Section 51292 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51292.
 No public agency or person shall locate a public improvement within an agricultural preserve unless the following findings are made:
(a) The location is not based primarily on a consideration of the lower cost of acquiring land in an agricultural preserve.
(b) If the land is agricultural land covered under a contract pursuant to this chapter for any public improvement, that there is no other land within or outside the preserve on which it is reasonably feasible to locate the public improvement.

SEC. 13.

 Section 51296 of the Government Code is amended to read:

51296.
 (a) The Legislature finds and declares that it is desirable to expand options available to landowners for the preservation of agricultural land. It is therefore the intent of the Legislature in enacting this article to encourage the creation of longer term voluntary enforceable restrictions within agricultural preserves.
(b) A landowner or group of landowners may petition the board to rescind a contract or contracts entered into pursuant to this chapter in order to simultaneously place the land subject to that contract or those contracts under a new contract designating the property as a farmland security zone.
(1) Before approving the rescission of a contract or contracts entered into pursuant to this chapter in order to simultaneously place the land under a new farmland security zone contract, the board shall create a farmland security zone, pursuant to the requirements of Section 51230, within an existing agricultural preserve.
(2) No land shall be included in a farmland security zone unless expressly requested by the landowner. Any land located within a city’s sphere of influence shall not be included within a farmland security zone, unless the creation of the farmland security zone within the sphere of influence has been expressly approved by resolution by the city with jurisdiction within the sphere.
(3) If more than one landowner requests the creation of a farmland security zone and the parcels are contiguous, the county shall place those parcels in the same farmland security zone.
(4) A contract entered into pursuant to this section shall be for an initial term of no less than 20 years. Each contract shall provide that on the anniversary date of the contract or on another annual date as specified by the contract, a year shall be added automatically to the initial term unless a notice of nonrenewal is given pursuant to Section 51245.
(5) Upon termination of a farmland security zone contract, the farmland security zone designation for that parcel shall simultaneously be terminated.
(c) Both of the following shall apply to land within a designated farmland security zone:
(1) The land shall be eligible for property tax valuation pursuant to Section 423.4 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
(2) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any special tax approved by the voters for urban-related services on or after January 1, 1999, on the land or any living improvement shall be levied at a reduced rate unless the tax directly benefits the land or the living improvements.
(d) Notwithstanding any provision of the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act of 1985 (Division 3 (commencing with Section 56000)), a local agency formation commission shall not approve a change of organization or reorganization that would result in the annexation of land within a designated farmland security zone to a city. However, this subdivision shall not apply under any of the following circumstances:
(1) If the farmland security zone is located within a designated, delineated area that has been approved by the voters as a limit for existing and future urban facilities, utilities, and services.
(2) If annexation of a parcel or a portion of a parcel is necessary for the location of a public improvement, as defined in Section 51290.5, except as provided in subdivision (f) or (g) of this section.
(3) If the landowner consents to the annexation.
(e) Notwithstanding any provision of the Cortese-Knox Local Government Reorganization Act of 1985 (Division 3 (commencing with Section 56000)), a local agency formation commission shall not approve a change of organization or reorganization that would result in the annexation of land within a designated farmland security zone to a special district that provides urban services, including, but not limited to, sewers, nonagricultural water, or streets and roads, unless the facilities or services provided by the special district benefit land uses that are allowed under the contract and the landowner consents to the change of organization or reorganization.
(f) Notwithstanding Article 5 (commencing with Section 53090) of Chapter 1 of Division 2 of Title 5, a school district shall not render inapplicable a county zoning ordinance to the use of land by the school district if the land is within a designated farmland security zone.
(g) Notwithstanding any provision of law, a school district shall not acquire any land that is within a designated farmland security zone.
(h) The board shall not approve any use of land within a designated farmland security zone based on the compatible use provisions contained in subdivision (c) of Section 51238.1.
(i) This section shall only apply to land that is designated on the Important Farmland Series maps, prepared pursuant to Section 65570 as predominantly one or more of the following:
(1) Prime farmland.
(2) Farmland of statewide significance.
(3) Unique farmland.
(4) Farmland of local importance.
If the proposed farmland security zone is in an area that is not designated on the Important Farmland Series maps, the land shall qualify if it is predominantly prime agricultural land, as defined in subdivision (c) of Section 51201.
(j) Nonrenewal of a farmland security zone contract shall be pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 51240), except as otherwise provided in this article.
(k) All of the provisions of Article 6 (commencing with Section 51290) shall apply to farmland security zones created pursuant to this article except as specifically provided in this article.
(l) No state agency, as defined in Section 65934, or local agency, as defined in Section 65930, shall require any land to be placed under a farmland security zone contract as a condition of the issuance of any entitlement to use or the approval of a legislative or adjudicative act involving, but not limited to, the planning, use, or development of real property, or a change of organization or reorganization, as defined in Section 56021 or 56073. No contract shall be executed as a condition of an entitlement to use issued by an agency of the United States government.
(m) Subdivisions (d) and (e) shall not apply during the three-year period preceding the termination of a farmland security zone contract.
(n) Sections 51255 and 51256 shall not apply to farmland security zones.

SEC. 14.

 Section 66474.4 of the Government Code is amended to read:

66474.4.
 (a) The legislative body of a city or county shall deny approval of a tentative map, or a parcel map for which a tentative map was not required, if it finds that the land is subject to a contract entered into pursuant to the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 51200) of Division 1 of Title 5) and that either the resulting parcels following a subdivision of that land would be too small to sustain their agricultural use or the subdivision will result in residential development not incidental to the commercial agricultural use of the land. For purposes of this section, land shall be conclusively presumed to be in parcels too small to sustain their agricultural use if the land is (1) less than 10 acres in size in the case of prime agricultural land, or (2) less than 40 acres in size in the case of land which is not prime agricultural land. For purposes of this section, agricultural land shall be presumed to be in parcels large enough to sustain their agricultural use if the land is (1) at least 10 acres in size in the case of prime agricultural land, or (2) at least 40 acres in size in the case of land which is not prime agricultural land.
(b) A legislative body may approve a subdivision with parcels smaller than those specified in this section if the legislative body makes either of the following findings:
(1) The parcels can nevertheless sustain an agricultural use permitted under the contract, or are subject to a written agreement for joint management pursuant to Section 51230.1, provided that the parcels which are jointly managed total at least 10 acres in size in the case of prime agricultural land or 40 acres in size in the case of land which is not prime agricultural land.
(2) One of the parcels contains a residence and is subject to Section 428 of the Revenue and Taxation Code; the residence has existed on the property for at least five years; the landowner has owned the parcels for at least 10 years; and the remaining parcels shown on the map are at least 10 acres in size if the land is prime agricultural land, or at least 40 acres in size if the land is not prime agricultural land.
(c) No other homesite parcels as described in paragraph (2) of subdivision (b) may be created on any remaining parcels under contract for at least 10 years following the creation of a homesite parcel pursuant to this section.
(d) This section shall not apply to land which is subject to a contract when any of the following has occurred:
(1) A local agency formation commission has approved the annexation of the land to a city and the city will not succeed to the contract as provided in Sections 51243 and 51243.5.
(2) Written notice of nonrenewal of the contract has been served prior to March 7, 1985, as provided in Section 51245.
(3) Written notice of nonrenewal of the contract has been served on or after March 7, 1985, as provided in Section 51245, and, as a result of that notice, there are no more than three years remaining in the term of the contract.
(4) The board or council has granted tentative approval for cancellation of the contract as provided in Section 51282.
(e) This section shall not be construed as limiting the power of legislative bodies to establish minimum parcel sizes larger than those specified in subdivision (a).

SEC. 15.

 The Legislature is aware of the Attorney General’s Opinion No. 92-708, dated December 2, 1992, the Attorney General’s Opinion No. 79-309, dated May 11, 1979, and the Attorney General’s Opinion No. 70-229, dated May 25, 1971. In enacting Section 14 of this act, it is the intent of the Legislature to concur in those interpretations by clarifying that a landowner’s right to subdivide is subject to the Williamson Act (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 51200) of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Government Code) and that act’s protection of enrolled lands, and that, therefore, the subdivision of enrolled lands for residential purposes is prohibited by both the Williamson Act and by Section 66474.4 of the Government Code, which was added in 1984 to ensure that the Williamson Act requirements are incorporated into the Subdivision Map Act (Chapter 1 (commencing with Section 66410) of Division 2 of Title 7 of the Government Code).
Therefore, the Legislature finds and declares that the amendment of Section 66474.4 of the Government Code by Section 14 of this act is declaratory of existing law.