Williamson Act Contracts

An agricultural preserve defines the boundary of an area within which a city or county will enter into Williamson Act contracts with landowners. The boundary is designated by resolution of the board or city council having jurisdiction.  Agricultural preserves must generally be at least 100 acres in size.

Williamson Act Contracts

Williamson Act Contracts are formed between a county or city and a landowner for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use.  Private land within locally-designated agricultural preserve areas are eligible for enrollment under a contract.  The minimum term for contracts is ten years.  However, since the contract term automatically renews on each anniversary date of the contract, the actual term is essentially indefinite.

Landowners receive substantially reduced property tax assessments in return for enrollment under a Williamson Act contract.  Property tax assessments of Williamson Act contracted land are based upon generated income as opposed to potential market value of the property.

Farmland Security Zone Contracts

Farmland Security Zone (FSZ) Contracts are voluntarily entered into between a County/City and the landowner for 20 years as opposed to the 10 years for a standard Williamson Act contract.  Farmland Security Zones offer landowners greater property tax reduction.  Land restricted by a FSZ contract is valued for property assessment purposes at 65% of its Williamson Act valuation, or 65% of its Proposition 13 valuation, whichever is lower.  Cities and special districts that provide non-agricultural services are generally prohibited from annexing land enrolled under an FSZ contract.  Lastly, school districts are prohibited from taking FSZ lands for school facilities.

A landowner interested in enrolling land in a contract should contact the jurisdiction in which the land is located (City or County Planning Department) to obtain information and instructions.