Policy: Territory Subject to Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve Contract
Proposals establishing or amending spheres of influence and/or annexations for territory to a or city or district providing sewers or nonagricultural water or cities, with an existing Williamson Act Agricultural Preserve Contract shall be prohibited, unless these facilities or services benefit land uses that are allowed under the contract and the landowner consents .
Pursuant to Government Code §56426.5, the Commission may approve the inclusion of territory subject to the Agricultural Preserve Contract within the sphere of influence of a city or special district able to provide sewers or nonagricultural water if it complies with all of the following criteria:
- Territory that is subject to a contract for which a notice of nonrenewal has been served pursuant to Section 51245 and has less than five (5) years remaining in the term of the contract.
- Territory that is subject to a contract for which a tentative cancellation has been approved pursuant to Section 51282 and has less than five (5) years remaining in the term of the contract.
- Territory for which the governing body of the county or city administering the contract has given its written approval to the change and the landowner consents to the change and has less than five (5) years remaining in the term of the contract.
Government Code §56426.5 states that:
- The commission shall not approve a change to the sphere of influence of a local government agency of territory that is subject to a contract entered into pursuant to the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 51200) of Part 1 of Division 1) if that local government agency provides or would provide facilities or services related to sewers, nonagricultural water, or streets and roads to the territory, unless these facilities or services benefit land uses that are allowed under the contract and the landowner consents to the change to the sphere of influence.
- Notwithstanding subdivision (a), the commission may nevertheless approve a change for that territory if it finds either of the following:
- That the change would facilitate planned, orderly, and efficient patterns of land use or provision of services, and the public interest in the change substantially outweighs the public interest in the current continuation of the contract beyond its current expiration date.
- That the change is not likely to adversely affect the continuation of the contract beyond its current expiration date. In making this determination, the commission shall consider all of the following:
- The policies and implementation measures adopted by the city or county that would administer the contract both before and after any ultimate annexation, relative to the continuation of agriculture or other uses allowable under the contract.
- The infrastructure plans of the annexing agency.
- Other factors that the commission deems relevant.
- This section shall not apply to any of the following:
- Territory that is subject to a contract for which a notice of nonrenewal has been served pursuant to Section 51245.
- Territory that is subject to a contract for which a tentative cancellation has been approved pursuant to Section 51282.
- Territory for which the governing body of the county or city administering the contract has given its written approval to the change and the landowner consents to the change
The Legislature provided each LAFCO with the authority to establish written policies and procedures and exercise its powers pursuant to this part in a manner consistent with those policies and procedures and that encourages and provides planned, well-ordered, efficient urban development patterns with appropriate consideration of preserving open-space and agricultural lands within those patterns. This policy implements the intended goal of maintaining agricultural lands.
Background and Discussion
Sonoma County has a diversity of agricultural products. Agriculture is a vital and essential part of the Sonoma County economy and environment. Agriculture shapes and enhances the way Sonoma County residents and visitors view themselves and the quality of their lives. The diversity of agriculture is amazing, with apple orchards along the Gravenstein Highway, the vineyards in the Dry Creek and Alexander Valleys, and the poultry and dairy ranches and farms in west and southern Sonoma County. Accordingly, boundary changes for urban development and services should only be proposed, evaluated, and approved in a manner which is consistent with the continuing vitality of agriculture in the county.
The County of Sonoma is the only jurisdiction in the county that has entered into Williamson Act Contracts. The protection of agricultural lands is so important that the County included an entire element of the General Plan is devoted to Agricultural Resources. The General Plan recognizes that policies are needed to create and support incentive programs to stabilize the farmer’s economic situation and maintain the land in agriculture.
Sonoma LAFCO believes it is important to preserve the historic agricultural culture of the County and has adopted policy that narrowly defines the parameters under which property with Williamson Act contracts may be annexed to special districts providing sanitary sewer and water services..
Adopted: August 2006
Amended: May 2013