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. The Open Space Subvention Act of 1971 provided local governments an annual subvention of forgone property tax revenues from the state through the year 2009; these payment have been suspended in more recent years due to revenue shortfalls.
new and frequently requested information
2012-13 Williamson Act and Open Space Subvention Act Survey
The Fiscal Year 2012-13 (FY 2012) survey of participation in the Williamson Act and Open Space Subvention Act (OSSA) is now available.
Despite elimination of OSSA payments in the FY 2012 budget, this information is critical in order to document the level of participation in the program and the impact the loss of OSSA payments is having on local governments. This information is also utilized in the biennial Williamson Act Status Report, which provides information to the Legislature and general public on the status of the Program among counties and cities.
Solar-use Easements - Senate Bill 618
The bill authorizes parties to a Williamson Act contract, under specific circumstances, to agree to rescind the contract while simultaneously entering into a Solar-use easement. In most cases, the easement will require that the land be used for solar photovoltaic facilities for a term no less than 20 years.
Implementing the legislation - regulations:
Regulations to guide implementation of the legislation are being developed. Earlier this summer, the Department of Conservation provided an initial draft of the proposed regulations for comment by potentially affected stakeholders and the public; the deadline for these comments was August 17. The Department is now evaluating comments in preparation for the formal regulatory adoption process later this year.
Please see this page for information about SB618, and solar-use easements.
Guidance for Cancellation of Williamson Act Contracts:
The Department has compiled this Cancellation Petition Advice Paper (PDF) to assist landowners and jurisdictions in compiling and organizing the material necessary to document the need to prematurely exit existing Williamson Act contracts.
Acquisition of Willamson Act Enrolled Land by Public Agencies:
New advice and example documents to assist agencies in the notification process.
Public Acquisitions of Williamson Act Land