Sunday, May 27, 2007

The end of the Williamson Act?

Found by way of Skippy the Bush Kangaroo, is this SF Chron opinion regarding the Williamson Act.

In the May revise of the budget, the Governator has eliminated funding for the Williamson Act which provides compensation to local government for reducing property taxes on land designated for agriculture. Parcels under Williamson Act contracts are restricted from commerical development other than agriculture. The law has been in effect since 1965 and is intended to preserve agricultural land and prevent sprawl.

From the State of CA website:
The California Land Conservation Act of 1965--commonly referred to as the Williamson Act--enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. In return, landowners receive property tax assessments which are much lower than normal because they are based upon farming and open space uses as opposed to full market value. Local governments receive an annual subvention of forgone property tax revenues from the state via the Open Space Subvention Act of 1971.

Since local budgets are in such dire straits, it seems assured that the state's slack won't be picked up by county authorities, and the Williamson Act would go the way of the dodo.

I dunno...I'm no expert on zoning or agricultural land (or anything else for that matter), but it seems like a bad idea to me. I imagine developers are thrilled with it though.

It looks the governator can raise taxes afterall ... he just has to use the backdoor to do it.

edit- I did a little searching to see what kind of money we're talking about, and found this article at the Napa Valley Register.
According to the state department of finance, Napa County receives about $79,000 in subvention funds, far less than the county with the biggest benefit, Tulare County, which receives $3.5 million. The county in the state least affected is San Diego, which receives $8,600 in Williamson Act funds.



Blogger nunya said...

The rising cost of water makes agriculture less and less attractive in San Diego. Global warming will exacerbate. Think the developers have any clue about this? Climate changes in San Diego

5/29/2007 11:34:00 AM  

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