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
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.