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Land Conservation (Williamson) Act

Legislative Amendments

effective January 1, 2009

Assembly Bill 1764 (Blakeslee, Chapter 136, Statutes of 2008)

Williamson Act Definitions (GC §51201)

Existing law defines agricultural commodity as any and all plant and animal products produced in this state for commercial purposes.  Existing law further states that lands may be defined as an open-space use if they are within, 1) a scenic highway corridor, 2) a wildlife habitat area, 3) a saltpond, 4) a managed wetland area; and 5) a submerged area as defined in the Williamson Act.

AB 1764 amends the definition of an agricultural commodity to include “plant products used for producing biofuels”.  

AB 1764 amends the definition of open-space to include areas enrolled in the USDA Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) or Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP). 

Text of AB 1764 as Chaptered

Assembly Bill 1389 (Assembly Budget Committee, Chapter 751, Statutes of 2008)

AB 1389 provided the necessary statutory changes to enact the 2008 Budget Act, which reduced the fiscal year 2008-09 Open Space Subvention Act Entitlement Amounts by ten percent.

Assembly Bill 2921 (Laird, Chapter 503, Statutes of 2008)

Williamson Act Definitions (GC §51201)

Existing law allows the parties to the contract to rescind the contract and simultaneously place the same property under a new open-space contract or an open-space easement agreement.

AB 2921 defines development on lands subject to open space contracts or open space easement agreements, as “the construction of buildings or use of the restricted property”.

Open Space Contracts, Easements and Agreements (GC §51223)

Existing law allows the parties to the contract to rescind the contract and simultaneously place the same property under a new open-space contract or an open-space easement agreement.

AB 2921 requires the board or council, prior to the rescission and reentry of an open-space contract or open-space easement agreement, to determine that the parcel(s) are large enough to provide the open-space benefits for which they are being restricted. 

AB 2921 requires that use or development on lands subject to an open-space contract or open-space easement agreement pursuant to §51255, must comply with the Williamson Act principles of compatibility or be of benefit to the open-space use of the land.   

AB 2921 further prohibits new development on open-space easement agreements during the time period remaining on the contract at its rescission, unless the use is compatible or related to the open-space use.

AB 2921 prohibits a board or council from approving a rescission and reentry of a contract for land discovered or noticed of a likely material breach of contract.

Material Breach of Contract (GC §51250)

Existing law requires a board or council to determine whether a material breach of contract exists.

AB 2921 requires a board or council to support its determination of whether a material breach of contract exists with findings in the record.  AB 2921 allows the Department of Conservation and the city or county to extend any deadline subject to the material breach of contract provisions upon mutual agreement.  AB 2921 additionally allows the city or county, the landowner and the Department to meet and resolve a material breach of contract. 

AB 2921 prohibits a city or county from utilizing the contract cancellation provisions of §51280 to resolve a material breach.
 
Williamson Act Easement Exchange (GC §51256)

Existing law allows the parties to simultaneously rescind a contract and re-enter into an agricultural conservation easement upon the same land.

AB 2921 clarifies that the value of a proposed agricultural conservation easement for which a Farmland Security Zone contract was rescinded, must be equal or greater than twenty-five percent of the cancellation valuation.

Williamson Act Lot Line Adjustment Provisions (GC §51257)

AB 2921 extends the lot line adjustment provisions until January 1, 2010.

Text of AB 2921 as Chaptered