NR 2002-08
February 14, 2002

Contact: Carol Dahmen
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
Ed Wilson
(916) 323-1886


SACRAMENTO -- The pace of urbanization in San Joaquin County in 1998-2000 increased compared to 1996-1998, and a significant amount of prime farmland was developed, according to a map released today by the California Department of Conservation. The map is designed to help local governments evaluate land-use planning decisions.

The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP), part of DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection, maps 44.5 million acres of California's public and private land to produce a major study every two years.

In San Joaquin County, 2,555 acres were urbanized during the latest mapping cycle compared to 1,857 acres during the 1996-98 cycle. More than 90 percent of the land reclassified as urban in the latest study was farmland, and 1,529 acres was rated as prime farmland.

Since the 1990 FMMP survey, 10,390 acres from all sources have been urbanized in San Joaquin County.

Of the 912,600 acres mapped in San Joaquin County, 69 percent were farmland, 16.5 percent were grazing land, 8 percent was urban and 5 percent were "other" land. The remainder was water. "Other" land is a category that includes wetlands, low-density "ranchettes" and brush or timberlands unsuitable for grazing.

Looking ahead, the county reports that 8,733 acres of farmland -- more than half of it prime -- and 9,000 total acres are committed to non-agricultural use. Often, this is land earmarked for development. In some cases infrastructure development, such as sewer installation, may be underway.

The map has been sent to San Joaquin County planning officials. Interested parties such as the county Farm Bureau, Local Agency Formation Commission, planning consultants and area resource conservation districts have received copies.

"We do this mapping to help counties plan and prepare for their expected growth in the coming years," explained Department of Conservation Director Darryl Young. "This information can help San Joaquin County and other local governments balance the needs of a growing population with those of the agricultural economy."

San Joaquin County's agricultural land will continue to face development pressure in the foreseeable future. The California Department of Finance projects that the county's population will grow from its current 585,600 to 920,900 by 2020.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the gross value of San Joaquin County's agricultural production was about $1.35 billion in 2000, ranking it sixth among the state's 58 counties.

The FMMP noted 74 changes of farmland to urban land in the survey, predominantly additions to housing, commercial and industrial facilities in Stockton, Tracy, Manteca and Lodi. One of the largest conversions was about 275 acres for the first phase of a golf course and housing development, The Reserve at Spanos Park.

The latest statewide study by the FMMP, Farmland Conversion Report 1996-98, was released in the fall of 2000. About 70,000 acres were urbanized throughout the state; more than 43,000 acres of the new urban land, an area about the size of the city of Modesto, were developed on agricultural land.