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AB-925 Williamson Act: farmland security and conservation zones.(2017-2018)

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Date Published: 03/29/2017 09:00 PM
AB925:v98#DOCUMENT

Amended  IN  Assembly  March 29, 2017

CALIFORNIA LEGISLATURE— 2017–2018 REGULAR SESSION

Assembly Bill No. 925


Introduced by Assembly Member Frazier

February 16, 2017


An act to amend Section 51243 of add Article 8 (commencing with Section 51297.100) to Chapter 7 of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Government Code, and to add Section 423.45 to the Revenue and Taxation Code, relating to agricultural land.


LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL'S DIGEST


AB 925, as amended, Frazier. Williamson Act: contracts. farmland security and conservation zones.
The Williamson Act, also known as the California Land Conservation Act of 1965, authorizes a city or county to enter into contracts with owners of land devoted to agricultural use, whereby the owners agree to continue using the property for that purpose, and the city or county agrees to value the land accordingly for purposes of property taxation. The act requires that each contract both (1) provide for the exclusion of uses other than agricultural and related uses for the duration of the contract and (2) be binding upon, and inure to the benefit of, all successors in interest of the owner, as provided. Existing law authorizes a landowner or group of landowners to petition the board of supervisors to rescind a contract or contracts 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, as specified. Under existing law, land under a farmland security contract is valued at 65% of the value of the land, as specified.
This bill would additionally authorize a landowner or group of landowners to petition the board of supervisors to rescind a contract or contracts 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 and conservation zone for a period of at least 30, 40, or 50 years, as specified. This bill would require land subject to a farmland security and conservation zone contract to be valued between 61% and 65% of the value of the land based on the length of the contract, as specified.

This bill, if the governing body of the city or county provides, as authorized by law, tax relief in addition to the valuation of the land under specified law, would additionally require that the contract require the owner to provide additional public benefits as consideration for that additional tax relief.

Vote: MAJORITY   Appropriation: NO   Fiscal Committee: NOYES   Local Program: NO  

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


SECTION 1.

 Article 8 (commencing with Section 51297.100) is added to Chapter 7 of Part 1 of Division 1 of Title 5 of the Government Code, to read:
Article  8. Farmland Security and Conservation Zones

51297.100.
 The Legislature finds and declares that it is desirable to further 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.

51297.101.
 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 and conservation zone. A landowner or group of landowners may also petition the board to create a farmland security and conservation zone for the purpose of entering into farmland security and conservation zone contracts pursuant to this section.
(a) 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 and conservation zone contract, the board shall create a farmland security and conservation zone, pursuant to the requirements of Section 51230, within an existing agricultural preserve.
(b) No land shall be included in a farmland security and conservation 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 and conservation zone, unless the creation of the farmland security and conservation zone within the sphere of influence has been expressly approved by resolution by the city with jurisdiction within the sphere of influence.
(c) If more than one landowner requests the creation of a farmland security and conservation zone and the parcels are contiguous, the county shall place those parcels in the same farmland security and conservation zone.
(d) A contract entered into pursuant to this section shall be for an initial term of no less than 30, 40, or 50 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.
(e) Upon termination of a farmland security and conservation zone contract, the farmland security and conservation zone designation for that parcel shall simultaneously be terminated.

51297.102.
 Both of the following shall apply to land within a designated farmland security and conservation zone:
(a) The land shall be eligible for property tax valuation pursuant to Section 423.45 of the Revenue and Taxation Code.
(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any special tax approved by the voters for urban-related services on or after January 1, 2019, 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.

51297.103.
 Notwithstanding any provision of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (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 and conservation zone to a city. However, this subdivision shall not apply under any of the following circumstances:
(a) If the farmland security and conservation 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.
(b) 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 Section 51297.105 or 51297.106.
(c) If the landowner consents to the annexation.

51297.104.
 Notwithstanding any provision of the Cortese-Knox-Hertzberg Local Government Reorganization Act of 2000 (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 and conservation zone to a special district that provides or would provide 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.

51297.105.
 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 and conservation zone.

51297.106.
 Notwithstanding any other law, a school district shall not acquire any land that is within a designated farmland security and conservation zone.

51297.107.
 The board shall not approve any use of land within a designated farmland security and conservation zone based on the compatible use provisions contained in subdivision (c) of Section 51238.1.

51297.108.
 (a) This article 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.
(b) If the proposed farmland security and conservation 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.

51297.109.
 Nonrenewal of a farmland security and conservation zone contract shall be pursuant to Article 3 (commencing with Section 51240), except as otherwise provided in this article.

51297.110.
 A petition for cancellation of a farmland security and conservation zone contract created under this article may be filed only by the landowner with the city or county within which the contracted land is located. The city or county may grant a petition only in accordance with the procedures provided for in Article 5 (commencing with Section 51280) and only if all the following requirements are met:
(a) The city or county shall make both of the findings specified in paragraphs (1) and (2) of subdivision (a) of Section 51282, based on substantial evidence in the record. Subdivisions (b) to (e), inclusive, of Section 51282 shall apply to the findings made by the city or county.
(b) Prior to issuing tentative approval of the cancellation of the contract, the board or council shall determine and certify to the county auditor the amount of the cancellation fee that the landowner will be required to pay the county treasurer upon cancellation of the contract. The cancellation fee shall be in an amount that equals 25 percent of the cancellation valuation of the property.
(c) In its resolution tentatively approving cancellation of the contract, the city or county shall find all of the following:
(1) That no beneficial public purpose would be served by the continuation of the contract.
(2) That the uneconomic nature of the agricultural use is primarily attributable to circumstances beyond the control of the landowner and the local government.
(3) That the landowner has paid a cancellation fee equal to 25 percent of the cancellation valuation calculated in accordance with subdivision (b).
(d) The Director of Conservation approves the cancellation. The director may approve the cancellation after reviewing the record of the tentative cancellation provided by the city or county, only if he or she finds both of the following:
(1) That there is substantial evidence in the record supporting the decision.
(2) That no beneficial public purpose would be served by the continuation of the contract.
(e) A finding that no authorized use may be made of a remnant contract parcel of five acres or less left by public acquisition pursuant to Section 51295 may be substituted for the finding in subdivision (a).

51297.111.
 All of the provisions of Article 6 (commencing with Section 51290) shall apply to farmland security and conservation zones created pursuant to this article except as specifically provided in this article.

51297.112.
 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 and conservation 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.

51297.113.
 Sections 51297.103 and 51297.104 shall not apply during the three-year period preceding the termination of a farmland security and conservation zone contract.

51297.114.
 Nothing in this article shall be construed to limit the authority of a board to rescind a portion or portions of a Williamson Act contract or contracts for the purpose of immediately enrolling the land in a farmland security and conservation zone contract so long as the remaining land is retained in a Williamson Act contract and the board determines that its action would improve the conservation of agricultural land within the county where the rescission occurs. The creation of multiple contracts under this section does not constitute a subdivision of the land.

SEC. 2.

 Section 423.45 is added to the Revenue and Taxation Code, to read:

423.45.
 (a) Land subject to a farmland security and conservation zone contract for a term of 30 years pursuant to Section 51297.101 of the Government Code shall be valued for assessment purposes at 62 percent of the value under Section 423 or 65 percent of the value under Section 110.1, whichever is lower.
(b) Land subject to a farmland security and conservation zone contract for a term of 40 years pursuant to Section 51297.101 of the Government Code shall be valued for assessment purposes at 61 percent of the value under Section 423 or 65 percent of the value under Section 110.1, whichever is lower.
(c) Land subject to a farmland security and conservation zone contract for a term of 50 years pursuant to Section 51297.101 of the Government Code shall be valued for assessment purposes at 60 percent of the value under Section 423 or 65 percent of the value under Section 110.1, whichever is lower.

SECTION 1.Section 51243 of the Government Code is amended to read:
51243.

Every contract shall do all of the following:

(a)Provide for the exclusion of uses other than agricultural, and other than those compatible with agricultural uses, for the duration of the contract.

(b)Be binding upon, and inure to the benefit of, all successors in interest of the owner. Whenever land under a contract is divided, the owner of any parcel may exercise, independent of any other owner of a portion of the divided land, any of the rights of the owner in the original contract, including the right to give notice of nonrenewal and to petition for cancellation. The effect of any such action by the owner of a parcel created by the division of land under contract shall not be imputed to the owners of the remaining parcels and shall have no effect on the contract as it applies to the remaining parcels of the divided land. Except as provided in Section 51243.5, on and after the effective date of the annexation by a city of any land under contract with a county, the city shall succeed to all rights, duties, and powers of the county under the contract.

(c)If the governing body of the city or county provides, as authorized by law, tax relief in addition to the valuation of the land pursuant to Section 423, 423.3, 423.4, or 423.5 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, as applicable, require the owner to provide additional public benefits as consideration for that additional tax relief.