Davis, CA Right to Farm & Farmland Preservation Ordinance

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Davis, CA, US

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Type: Ordinance

Status: Adopted

Source File: http://www.city.davis.ca.us/cmo/citycode/chapter.cfm?chapter=40A

Text (of Farmland Preservation section):


40A.03.010 Purpose and findings. (a) The purpose of this chapter and this article is to implement the agricultural land conservation policies contained in the Davis general plan with a program designed to permanently protect agricultural land located within the Davis planning area for agricultural uses.

(b) The city council finds this chapter and this article are necessary for the following reasons: California is losing farmland at a rapid rate; Yolo and Solano County farmland is of exceptional productive quality; loss of agricultural land is consistently a significant impact under CEQA in development projects; the Davis general plan has policies to preserve farmland; the city is surrounded by farmland; the Yolo and Solano County general plans clearly include policies to preserve farmland; the continuation of agricultural operations preserves the landscape and environmental resources; loss of farmland to development is irreparable and agriculture is an important component of the city's economy; and losing agricultural land will have a cumulatively negative impact on the economy of the city and the counties of Yolo and Solano.

(c) It is the policy of the city to work cooperatively with Yolo and Solano counties to preserve agricultural land within the Davis planning area beyond that deemed necessary for development. It is further the policy of the city to protect and conserve agricultural land, especially in areas presently farmed or having Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 soils.

(d) The city council finds that some urban uses when contiguous to farmland can affect how an agricultural use can be operated which can lead to the conversion of agricultural land to urban use.

(e) The city council further finds that by requiring conservation easements for land being converted from an agricultural use and by requiring a one hundred fifty foot buffer, the city shall be helping to ensure prime farmland remains an agricultural use. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)

40A.03.020 Definitions.

(a) Advisory committee. The city of Davis planning commission shall serve as the advisory committee.

(b) Agricultural land or farmland. Those land areas of the county and/or city specifically classed and zoned as Agricultural Preserve (A-P), Agricultural Exclusive (A-E), or Agricultural General (A-l), as those zones are defined in the Yolo County zoning ordinance; those land areas classed and zoned Exclusive Agriculture (A-40), as defined in the Solano County zoning ordinance; and those land areas of the city of Davis specifically classed and zoned as Agricultural (A), Agricultural Planned Development or Urban Reserve where the soil of the land contains Class 1, 2, 3 or 4 soils, as defined by the Soil Conservation Service.

(c) Agricultural mitigation land. Agricultural land encumbered by a farmland deed restriction, a farmland conservation easement or such other farmland conservation mechanism acceptable to the city.

(d) Farmland conservation easement. The granting of an easement over agricultural land for the purpose of restricting its use to agricultural land. The interest granted pursuant to a farmland conservation easement is an interest in land which is less than fee simple.

(e) Farmland deed restriction. The creation of a deed restriction, covenant or condition which precludes the use of the agricultural land subject to the restriction for any nonagricultural purposes, use, operation or activity. The deed restriction shall provide that the land subject to the restriction will (f)Qualifying entity. A nonprofit public benefit 501(c)(3) corporation operating in Yolo County or Solano County for the purpose of conserving and protecting land in its natural, rural or agricultural condition. The following entities are qualifying entities: Yolo Land Conservation Trust and Solano Farm and Open Space Trust. Other entities may be approved by the city council from time to time. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)

40A.03.030 Agricultural land mitigation requirements.

(a) Beginning on November 1, 1995, the city shall require agricultural mitigation by applicants for zoning changes or any other discretionary entitlement which will change the use of agricultural land to any nonagricultural zone or use.

(b) Agricultural mitigation shall be satisfied by:

(1) Granting a farmland conservation easement, a farmland deed restriction or other farmland conservation mechanism to or for the benefit of the city and/or a qualifying entity approved by the city. Mitigation shall only be required for that portion of the land which no longer will be designated agricultural land, including any portion of the land used for park and recreation purposes. Two times as many acres of agricultural land shall be protected as was changed to a nonagricultural use in order to mitigate the loss of agricultural land; or

(2) In lieu of conserving land as provided above, agricultural mitigation may be satisfied by the payment of a fee based upon a two to one replacement for a farmland conservation easement or farmland deed restriction established by the city council by resolution or through an enforceable agreement with the developer. The in lieu fee option must be approved by the city council. The fee shall be equal to or greater than the value of a previous farmland conservation transaction in the planning area plus the estimated cost of legal, appraisal and other costs, including staff time, to acquire property for agricultural mitigation. The in lieu fee, paid to the city, shall be used for farmland mitigation purposes, with priority given to lands with prime agricultural soils and habitat value.

(c) The land included within the one hundred foot agricultural buffer required by section 40A.01.050(c) shall not be included in the calculation for the purposes of determining the amount of land that is required for mitigation.

(d) It is the intent of this program to work in a coordinated fashion with the habitat conservation objectives of the Yolo County habitat management program, and, therefore, farmland conservation easement areas may overlap partially or completely with habitat easement areas approved by the State Department of Fish and Game and/or the Yolo County habitat management program. Up to twenty percent of the farmland conservation easement area may be enhanced for wildlife habitat purposes as per the requirements of the State Department of Fish and Game and/or Yolo County habitat management program; appropriate maintenance, processing or other fees may be required by the habitat program in addition to the requirements set forth herein. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part); Ord. No. 2133, Amended 09/16/2003)

40A.03.040 Comparable soils and water supply.

(a) The agricultural mitigation land shall be comparable in soil quality with the agricultural land whose use is being changed to nonagricultural use.

(b) The agricultural mitigation land shall have adequate water supply to support the historic agricultural use on the land to be converted to nonagricultural use and the water supply on the agricultural mitigation land shall be protected in the farmland conservation easement, the farmland deed restriction or other document evidencing the agricultural mitigation. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)

40A.03.050 Eligible lands.

(a) The agricultural mitigation land shall be located within the Davis planning area as shown in the Davis general plan. The criteria for preferred locations or zones for agricultural mitigation land shall be determined by the Davis city council after receiving input from the advisory committee, Yolo and Solano counties, Woodland, Dixon, the Davis open space committee, the natural resources commission and Yolo and Solano farm bureaus. In making their determination, the following factors shall be considered:

(1) The zones shall be compatible with the Davis general plan and the general plans of Yolo and Solano counties.

(2)The zones shall include agricultural land similar to the acreage, soil capability and water use sought to be changed to nonagricultural use.

(3) The zones shall include comparable soil types to that most likely to be lost due to proposed development.

(4) The property is not subject to any easements or physical conditions that would legally or practicably preclude modification of the property's land use to a nonagricultural use.

(b) The advisory committee shall recommend to the city council acceptance of agricultural mitigation land of twenty acres or more by a qualifying entity and/or the city, except that it may consider accepting smaller parcels if the entire mitigation required for a project is less, or when the agricultural mitigation land is adjacent to larger parcels of agricultural mitigation land already protected. Contiguous parcels shall be preferred.

(c) Land previously encumbered by a conservation easement of any nature or kind is not eligible to qualify as agricultural mitigation land, unless the conservation easement meets the requirements of section 40A.03.030. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)

40A.03.060 Requirements of instruments; duration.

(a) To qualify as an instrument encumbering agricultural mitigation land, all owners of the agricultural mitigation land shall execute the instrument.

(b) The instrument shall be in recordable form and contain an accurate legal description setting forth the description of the agricultural mitigation land.

(c) The instrument shall prohibit any activity which substantially impairs or diminishes the agricultural productivity of the land, as determined by the advisory committee.

(d) The instrument shall protect the existing water rights and retain them with the agricultural mitigation land.

(e) The applicant shall pay an agricultural mitigation fee equal to cover the costs of administering, monitoring and enforcing the instrument in an amount determined by city council.

(f) The city shall be named a beneficiary under any instrument conveying the interest in the agricultural mitigation land to a qualifying entity.

(g)Interests in agricultural mitigation land shall be held in trust by a qualifying entity and/or the city in perpetuity. Except as provided in subsection (h) of this section, the qualifying entity or the city shall not sell, lease, or convey any interest in agricultural mitigation land which it shall acquire can no longer reasonably be fulfilled as to an interest acquired, the interest in the agricultural mitigation land may be extinguished through sale and the proceeds shall be used to acquire interests in other agricultural mitigation land in Yolo and Solano counties, as approved by the city and provided in this chapter.

(i)If any qualifying entity owning an interest in agricultural mitigation land ceases to exist, the duty to hold, administer, monitor and enforce the interest shall pass to the city. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)

40A.03.070 City of Davis farmland conservation program advisory committee.

(a) The Davis planning commission shall serve as the Davis farmland conservation advisory committee.

(b) It shall be the duty and responsibility of the planning commission to exercise the following powers:

(1) To adopt rules of procedure and bylaws governing the operation of the advisory committee and the conduct of its meetings;

(2) To recommend the areas where mitigation zones would be preferred in the Davis planning area;

(3)To promote conservation of agricultural land in Yolo and Solano counties by offering information and assistance to landowners and others;

(4) To recommend tentative approval of mitigation proposals to city council;

(5) To certify that the agricultural mitigation land meets the requirements of this chapter;

(6) Any denial from the advisory committee may be appealed to city council.

(c) The natural resources commission shall monitor all lands and easements acquired under this chapter and shall review and monitor the implementation of all management and maintenance plans for these lands and easement areas. The natural resources commission shall provide advice to the planning commission on the establishment of criteria for the location of agricultural mitigation lands.

(d) All actions of the planning commission and the natural resources commission shall be subject to the approval of the Davis city council. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)

40A.03.080 Annual report.

Annually, beginning one year after the adoption of this chapter, the city planning director shall provide to the advisory committee an annual report delineating the activities undertaken pursuant to the requirements of this chapter and an assessment of these activities. The report shall list and report on the status of all lands and easements acquired under this chapter. The planning director shall also report to the natural resources commission. (Ord. No. 1823, § 1 (part).)