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Land Conservation (Williamson) Act

Legislative Amendments

effective January 1, 1999

 

Senate Bill 1835 and Senate Bill 2227

Notification Provisions upon City Annexation of Williamson Act Contracted Land

The Department of Conservation is responsible for administering the California Land Conservation (Williamson) Act. On January 1, 1999, new legislation went into effect that amended Government Code provisions relating to city annexation of county Williamson Act contracted land.

City Protest Provisions

The Department of Conservation is responsible for administering the California Land Conservation (Williamson) Act. On January 1, 1999, new legislation went into effect that amended Government Code provisions relating to city annexation of county Williamson Act contracted land.

The addition of the protest requirement by 1968 legislation eliminated the option not to succeed to contracts where no protest was filed at the time the contract was executed. This was further clarified by AB 2764, effective January 1, 1991, which amended Government Code section 51243 to explicitly require that cities must succeed to all contracts, unless a valid protest was filed prior to 1991. For all annexations after January 1, 1999, Senate Bill 1835 revises the relevant code sections and continues to require that cities must succeed to contracts. Senate Bill 2227 requires the local agency formation commission (LAFCO) to notify the Director of the Department of Conservation of annexation proposals.

Senate Bill 1835 (Johnston, Chapter 690, Statutes of 1998)

SB 1835 requires the local agency formation commission (LAFCO) to make a determination as to whether a city annexing land enrolled in a Williamson Act contract is required to succeed to the rights, duties, and powers of the county under the contract. If a city exercises its option not to succeed to the contract, SB 1835 requires the city to record a contract termination with the county recorder. SB 1835 also authorizes the LAFCO to request, and the Department of Conservation to provide, advice and assistance in interpreting the following Government Code Section 51243.5 provisions:

A city may exercise its option to not succeed to the rights, duties, and powers of the county under the contract if both of the following had occurred prior to December 8, 1971:

(1) The land being annexed was within one mile of the city’s boundary when the contract was executed.

(2) The city had filed with the county board of supervisors a resolution protesting the execution of the contract.

A city may exercise its option to not succeed to the rights, duties, and powers of the county under the contract if each of the following had occurred prior to January 1, 1991:

(1) The land being annexed was within one mile of the city’s boundary when the contract was executed.

(2) The city had filed with the local agency formation commission a resolution protesting the execution of the contract.

(3) The local agency formation commission had held a hearing to consider the city’s protest to the contract.

(4) The local agency formation commission had found that the contract would be inconsistent with the publicly desirable future use and control of the land.

(5) The local agency formation commission had approved the city’s protest.

SB 1835 also requires that open-space easement agreements, established pursuant to Government Code Section 51255, must be consistent with the Williamson Act for the duration of the original Williamson Act contract. In addition, SB 1835 excludes open-space easement agreements from the termination provisions under the Open Space Easement Act of 1974 for the duration of the original Williamson Act contract. The bill requires agreements to be assessed pursuant to Section 423 of the Revenue and Taxation Code. Agreements entered into on or before August 12, 1998 are excluded from these provisions.

SB 1835 made technical, nonsubstantive changes to the Williamson Act lot line adjustments provisions (Government Code Section 51257). The requirement that only one new contract with regard to a given parcel may be entered into pursuant to these provisions has been extended to January 1, 2003.

SB 1835 defined any United States department or agency as a public agency subject to the public acquisition requirements of Williamson Act law.

Senate Bill 2227 (Monteith, Chapter 590, Statutes of 1998)

SB 2227 complements SB 1835 by adding new substantive and procedural requirements in the Cortese-Knox Act. The bill requires a LAFCO to notify the Department of Conservation within 10 days after receiving a city proposal to annex Williamson Act land. The notice must include the following items:

1. The contract number.

2. The date the contract was executed.

3. A copy of any protest filed by the annexing city pursuant to Government Code Section 51243.5.

SB 2227 requires a LAFCO to determine whether or not a city has a valid protest to allow it to succeed or not succeed to the contract. If a city must assume the rights and duties of the contract, SB 2227 requires the LAFCO to condition the final annexation on the city’s adoption of rules and procedures mandated in the Williamson Act. A city that exercises its option not to succeed to the contract must record a certificate of contract termination.