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Agricultural Advisory Committee Final Report

City Administration
Meeting Minutes

Action Notes 
Brentwood Agricultural Advisory Committee
Meeting #2

October 14, 1999
6:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m.
Brentwood Community Development Department 
104 Oak Street 

Members Present:  Jack Adams, John Chapman, Mark Dwelley,  Nancy Holloman, John L. Johnson, Quintin Kidd, Marty Maggiore, Jim McKeehan, Mike McPoland, Edward Meyer, Evelyn Stirers, Ron Nunn, William Putnam, Glenn Stonebarger, Dick Vrneer, Peter Wolfe

I. Introduction & Welcome
Winston Rhodes opened the meeting.  Jeff Loux led the Committee in reviewing the agenda. 

II. Review of the September 15, 1999 Meeting

The Action Notes from the 9/15 meeting were reviewed and accepted.

The Revised Committee Charge and Ground Rounds were reviewed and accepted. The new charge reads, “To advise the City of Brentwood on how to protect and enhance agriculture in Brentwood, potentially including an agricultural land mitigation program, agricultural enterprise program and other voluntary approaches.”

III. Land Valuation Analysis
Walter Keiser (Economic and Planning Systems) presented the “Economic Analysis of Agricultural Land Values and Mitigation Fee Scenarios.”

The Committee raised the following points during the discussion:
* Question: What is the effect of zoning on land price? ($11,400/acre is the average price for agricultural land sales; Non-agricultural land averages $75,000/acre)
* Question: Did the issue paper use a representative parcel size? They seemed too small in paper. (Study drew from all recent sales: sample was representative.)
* Question: What is the price of a conservation easement? (Conservation easements are typically 30-60% of the full fee title.)
*Question: What is the impact of the easement on land value?
* (It reduces the sales value but provides other benefits such as short-term funds, tax benefits and others.)
* Question: Would the program be able to provide adequate compensation?
* Question: Are farmers willing to sell easements at all? 
* Question: What are the projected revenues over time?
* Question: Are the farmers willing to continue farming with our without a land protection program?
* Question: What role will county land development/encroachment play?
* Question: What is the impact of agricultural conversion to residential uses on the long-term economic base of the community? How can Brentwood maintain a diverse economic base?

IV. Agricultural Mitigation Options Paper
Jeff Loux (MIG) led the Committee in a discussion of major issues regarding the development of an agricultural mitigation program for Brentwood. 

A. Types of Projects Required to Mitigate
* Non-vested residential projects
* Non-residential (maybe at a reduced level)
* County projects to address the cumulative impact of growth in the area
* Existing city residents to provide funds.
Committee agreed that vested residential projects would not mitigate, non-vested would mitigate, non-residential might mitigate at lesser level; County needs to be brought in to participate in a program.

B. Where to Mitigate/Criteria for Selecting Sites to Protect
The Committee proposed a number of possible criteria. Members emphasized the need to develop flexible guidelines that could include the following:
* Visual benefits
* Rural atmosphere
* Soil quality (productive farmland)
* Farms well-tended
* Within Brentwood planning area
* Within City agricultural conservation area
* Willing sellers (voluntary participation)
* Agricultural viability (parcel size, infrastructure etc.)
* Within City limits (Committee debated this point)
* Retain flexibility for future economic development
* “Inner rings” around city versus next ring out to allow for economic development close to the city.
* Potential for open space protection versus viable farmland
* Larger area: creates better market conditions for buying easements
Consultant to bring back recommendation for criteria.  (Included in the “Discussion Memo”)

C. How Much Mitigation Should be Required?
Two models were proposed:
1. Base fee on the future area to be protected: In this case, the 11,000 acres of the County Agricultural Core. Brentwood would be responsible for some proportion of the whole. 
2. 1:1 or some other ratio of actual land developed to land protected. 
Consultant to test both and bring back recommendations.  (Included in the “Discussion Memo”.)

D. Mechanisms
* Estate planning, donation rights
* Mitigate development on adjacent county lands with funds from county. Use county sales tax. 
* Options for current and future residents contribute to the program:
* Bond
* ¼ cent sales tax
* Water surcharge
* Local parcel tax
Consultant to bring back a list of how existing residents might contribute. 
(Included in the attached “Financing Mechanisms” memo).

Land Conservation Tools
* Need methods of avoiding land-value inflation when buying easements
* Purchase fee title for open space: purchase easements for agriculture.
* Allow subdivisions with agriculture dedication.
* Consider different time frames (either limited term or permanent) for easements
* Easements on parcels, parts of parcels, full ownership (Important because of fragmented parcels but concentrated ownership in Brentwood area). 
* Consider use of transferable easements
* Consider density bonuses
* “Fast track” development agreement for target development areas as “compensation” for developers providing mitigation fees

E. Broader Issues
* Who pays for program? (Farmer/Ag. land owner, consumer)
* Who benefits from the program? (Existing residents, farmers)
* How is liability addressed on land with conservation easements?
* Feasibility of farming in the area with or without this mitigation program. Can this program have a beneficial effect?
* Co-ordination with county on development planning and farmland protection.

V. Agreements
* Need analysis of options for resident contributions (EPS will provide for next meeting).
* Need analysis of 11,000-acre pool versus the 1:1 ratio approach to setting mitigation fee levels.
* Need to clarify criteria for land/easement acquisition.
* Need to summarize funding mechanisms.
* Need to consider areas beyond City agricultural conservation area.
* Need better coordination with the county.

VI. Issues for Future Discussion
* City’s runoff policy and its impact on agriculture (will be resolved before next committee meeting).
* Other mechanisms that can stimulate agricultural viability such as agricultural enterprises.
* Bring in case studies of comparable programs elsewhere (such as Sonoma County). 
* Discuss conducting a survey of farmers to determine extent of willing sellers.

VII. Next Meeting
November 11, 1999 6:30 p.m.

City of Brentwood Agricultural Advisory
730 Third Street
Brentwood, CA 94513
(925) 516-5444
Fax (925)516-5445