Land Use Committee Report
Submitted By Peter Bauer, Land Use Committee Chair
FOREIGN LAND OWNERSHIP
Senate Bill 224 was introduced January 19th by Senator Melissa Hurtado (D) Bakersfield. The Bill prohibits foreign governments from purchasing, leasing or holding any interest in agricultural land in California. It would exempt foreign government from that restriction until January of 2024. Existing federal law requires any foreign person, including a foreign government that acquires agricultural land to submit a report to the US Secretary of Ag. Every 6 months the secretary must send the state department of ag a copy of the reports which include citizenship or country of the people or governments that acquired the land. The bill would require CDFA to compile annual reports detailing the amount of ag land under foreign ownership. FB expects significant discussion and will be actively engaged on the issue.
(Ag alert Jan 25, 2023)
WILLIAMSON ACT AND CITY ANNEXATION
SB 440 (Skinner), Under existing law, the Williamson Act, upon the annexation by a city of any land subject to a contract with a county that enforceably restricts the land to agricultural use within an agricultural preserve, the city succeeds to all rights, duties, and powers of the county under the contract unless specified circumstances apply, including that the land being annexed was within one mile of the city boundary when the contract was executed, the contract was executed before January 1, 1991, and the city filed a protest of record that identifies the affected contract and the subject parcel. The act authorizes a local agency formation commission to request, and requires the Department of Conservation to provide, advice and assistance regarding these provisions. The act requires the department to advise the local agency formation commission of its concerns, whether or not it has been requested to do so, and requires the commission to address those concerns. This bill would make no substantive changes to those provisions. Staff: Chris Reardon; [email protected] (Farm Bureau at work 2-17-23)
To see the rest of the article, please visit the Members Only Page.
Insurance Non-Renewal or Cancellation
Mendocino County farmers, ranchers, timber property owners, residents and business owners have seen their property insurance or commercial insurance policies non-renewed or canceled over the past several years due in part to the reevaluation of coverage connected to wild fire risk scores.
In order to retain insurance coverage, the process has become more complicated with higher costs. Instead of a single policy, agents are now working to stack policies in order to retain adequate coverage for the property, equipment, liability, etc. If traditional market placement isn’t successful, the CA FAIR Plan is the last resort option that many have turned to.
In relation to the CA FAIR Plan, CA Farm Bureau was successful in working to have legislation passed, SB 11, that added the ability to have farm or ranch property covered under the FAIR plan. The ability to access the FAIR plan for agricultural policies started in 2022.
Each policy is a bit different and there are many questions that those with non-renewed or canceled policies have been trying to find answers to. For this reason, MCFB hosted a workshop in September 2021 to provide some information to consider if policies had been non-renewed or cancelled.
For some additional information on considerations related to the standard insurance markets, please see the presentation HERE
For some additional information on SB 11 and the FAIR Plan, please see the presentation HERE
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
The Great Redwood Rail Trail Proposal
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 Great Redwood Trail 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.