Land Use

Land Use Committee Report

Submitted By Peter Bauer, Land Use Committee Chair

Getaway House Proposal
We updated you in October on this project.  We had reviewed the application,  maps and other documents associated with the Getaway House proposal.  If this is the first you’ve heard of the Getaway House, permit me to give you a brief synopsis.  This company proposes a micro-cabin style RV recreational camping facility on a parcel zoned rangeland off the Old Toll Road in Hopland.  They want to bring in 45 “micro-cabins” and scatter them on a piece of rangeland surrounded by productive ag land,  primarily vineyards.  The company plans to  construct a lodge and other supporting utility infrastructure.  People reserve the RVs by the night and the development is considered commercial and residential. 

Since October, the Land Use Committee met and discussed the company’s responses to our concerns.  We felt our concerns were not adequately addressed in their responses and we crafted another comment letter that we submitted on November 23rd.  As I stated in my October article, we have serious concerns over water use, fire safety, traffic safety an leap frog development.

Once a parcel like this piece of rangeland is converted to a use like this, the land is never the same.  Right now, it’s just a campground/hotel/trailer park.  Five years from now, we could see a proposal for a store out on the corner to accommodate the customers at this recreational facility.  What happens if this endeavor fails?  Will the land be restored or abandoned?  You could also see a petition filed by regular customers at the Getaway House to curtail necessary agricultural activities such as spraying and  burning.  Urban people rarely move to a rural area and acclimate to things like dust and livestock or pruning and  late-night harvesting.  The majority of them move to a rural area and then complain about the things we do as part of our livelihood and try to shut us down.  Hopland is a beautiful area.  What makes Hopland beautiful is the production agriculture.  The vineyards and the rangeland and the fields are what makes the Sanel Valley a nice place.  If the citizens of Mendocino County allow a use like this to move into the middle of this, it will erode at that beauty we all know and love.

For more information on the project and to view copies of comments submitted on the initial study, you can visit:                      

https://www.mendocinocounty.org/government/planning-building-services/public-notices

For more information on the Hopland MAC, and upcoming meeting agendas, you can refer to their Facebook page or email:

[email protected]

To see the rest of the article, please visit the Members Only Page.

Williamson Act

The California Land Conservation Act, more popularly known as the Williamson Act, was created when the Assembly Agriculture Committee undertook a study in cooperation with the California Department of Food and Agriculture and others that eventually led to the passage of legislation in 1965.

Under the Williamson Act, an owner of agricultural land may enter into a contract with the county if the landowner agrees to restrict use of the land to the production of commercial crops for a term of not less than 10 years. The term of the contract is automatically extended each year unless notice of cancellation or nonrenewal is given. Certain compatible uses are also allowed on the property. In return, the landowner is taxed on the capitalization of the income from the land, and not on the Proposition 13 value. Additional information on the California Land Conservation Act is available from the California Department of Conservation at http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/lca.

Mendocino County Williamson Act Information

Mendocino County Agricultural Preserve Application

Mendocino County Agricultural Preserve Contract

Mendocino County Williamson Act Ordinance

Mendocino County Sustainable Ag Lands Committee Fact Sheet

The Great Redwood Rail Trail Proposal

SB 1029, authored by Senator McGuire, was introduced in February 2018 titled,” The Great Redwood Trail Act” and was amended and approved by the Governor in September 2018.  The basic intent of the legislation is twofold:  First, SB 1029 would dissolve the North Coast Railroad Authority (NCRA). Second, the bill would then create two separate management entities for the northern and southern halves of the existing rail system to essentially utilize, and perhaps expand, the existing footprint of the railway and construct a multi-use trail. The state Transportation Agency and the Natural Resources Agency are tasked to create a report by July 1, 2020 that would include  existing NCRA debts/liabilities, NCRA assets/property easements/right-of-way, a viability assessment for creating the trail, trail governance structure options and more.

The Great Redwood Trail proposal provides public access for a number of recreational purposes (hiking, biking and equestrian uses) which could create impacts to the numerous private properties that the rail line currently crosses in the 300 miles of track plus spur lines (there are 1300 parcels that the RR line crosses/borders in Mendocino County alone). There are numerous private properties, a number of these are involved in farming or ranching, that may be impacted by the placement and/or use of the trail.  This may also require the construction of trail crossings, further imperiling adjacent land holders. Since this trail is 300 miles long, issues related to garbage, camping/overnight stays, human waste or possible fire risk should also be considered. The legislation is unclear as to how disputes related to these types of interactions may be dealt with.  Moreover, due to deteriorating conditions along the defunct rail line and the associated deferred maintenance issues, the newly established Agency may consider alternative routes beyond the scope of the existing right-of-way which may result in the dissection of private property.

If the existing railroad adjoins or crosses your property in Mendocino County, you should pay attention to this rail trail proposal as it moves forward. Farm Bureau is not against public recreational opportunities, however the potential impacts to farming and ranching operations as well as private properties along the proposed trail route cannot be ignored.