City of Brentwood
Home PageContact Us!Back

Back to Agricultural AdvisoryAgricultural Advisory

Calendar of Events | Current Agenda | Past Agendas | Meeting Minutes
Agricultural Advisory Committee Final Report

City Administration
Meeting Minutes
Brentwood Agricultural Advisory Committee
Meeting #8

June 26, 2000
7:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m.
City Council Chambers

Mayor Kidd, Councilman McPoland, Commissioner Lawrence, Peter Wolfe, Marty Maggorie, Dick Vrmeer, John Chapman, Ronn Nunn, Mark Dwelley, Glen Stonebarger, John Johnson, Jack Adams, John Kopchik and Ed Meyer. 

There were no announcements.

The Committee approved the April 27, 2000 Action Notes unanimously.

The Committee requested that the May 15, 2000 Action Notes include that additional information on the issue of lending needs to be brought before the Committee. Also, that it be noted that the Consultants are beyond the number of Advisory Committee meetings within their contract and that it was decided to add more meetings and take additional time to review the Draft Committee Report. With these corrections, the Action Notes were approved.

Jeff Loux, of MIG, indicated that the Committee start with the report and the specifics. He suggested going over the items that had not yet been reviewed and also going over the unresolved items, which Mayor Kidd would address.

There were no public comments.

Jeff Loux suggested taking five minutes to give the Committee time to review a memo from Mayor Kidd to the Advisory Committee dated June 20, 2000. (Five minutes was taken for the Committee to review the memo.)

A Committee Member mentioned a concern with the Brown Act related to review of the memo. A discussion ensued over whether or not an item can or cannot be discussed. The Committee decided that the memo could be discussed because it related directly to topics in the Draft Agricultural Enterprise Program Report which was on the agenda.

A citizen in the audience commented on the Draft Advisory Committee Report. He was concerned with the possibility of a parcel tax. He felt the citizens did not have representation at the meeting. Mayor Kidd explained that the Committee could not impose a parcel tax. 

Councilperson McPoland indicated that a month ago he asked for a bond measure to be put on the ballot. The Council took action in directing Staff to hire a firm to do a survey for Fire, Police, and agricultural land preservation within the City limits. He indicated to the citizen that until this survey is done, as far as Council is concerned, there would be no action. 

Mayor Kidd indicated that citizens would be informed. The citizen stated the people aren’t being informed what’s going on and they should be informed now. Mayor Kidd explained that right now is the time for the Committee to discuss this item. The citizen indicated that he was here to protest this and he wanted it brought forth right now, in the newspapers and everywhere. Mayor Kidd explained to the citizen that he was getting very close to being out of order. 

Mayor Kidd stated that some of the items talked about by the Committee were not intended to impose the Agricultural Enterprise Program on a single group of people. He stated that agricultural land preservation should be endorsed by the existing residents of the City and not be solely the responsibility of developers and future residents. He expressed concerns about doing preservation through permanent easements and not having term easements available. He also brought a question to the Committee regarding how to promote agriculture to bring in some capital.

Mayor Kidd suggested putting into place a modest parcel tax ($50 to $75). He also indicated that two-thirds of the voters would have to vote for this in order for it to pass. It was explained that the fee could possibly provide support for ongoing agricultural tourism and capital investment in local farms. In return, the local farmer would provide an East County agricultural land trust with a term easement. He indicated that this was just a proposal.

Mayor Kidd discussed the land trust formation and who should be involved in this. He spoke regarding the formation of 2.5 acre Agricultural Estates south of the City and mentioned having a discussion with a group of farmers regarding clustered home sites with small agricultural operations. He also mentioned the methodology for calculation of the Agricultural Mitigation Fee. He noted the amount to be paid for conservation easements would be negotiable and vary and would not be the same amount as the mitigation fee. He indicated this item was included within his memo for explanation because there has been a great deal of confusion over this topic. 

Jeff Loux explained how the Mayor’s memorandum came about. He explained that there were approximately six or eight major items that have become topics of disagreement. A few of these are term easements versus permanent, where to concentrate purchase of easements, and how to get local residents involved. He commented that the Committee really had not reached a decision on these items. Jeff Loux stated that this memorandum was an attempt to break the logjam. A few of the more vocal members were chosen to try to reach a common ground and to address concerns that some of the farmers had.

Mayor Kidd indicated that if the people who live in Brentwood aren’t willing to help fund an Agricultural Enterprise Program and it’s not a priority to them, then the Program should not go forward. 

A Committee member stated that the farmers have historically taken the lead on building community amenities. He mentioned that it was the farmers who built the first schools, City Hall, and local roads. He felt the citizens should be asked if they want their view corridors and agricultural local land preserved here and whether they are willing to pay for it. The farmers see certain features of the Agricultural Enterprise Program as a potential taking from a lifetime of work. It was discussed that the general public should be included in these discussions. Another Committee member indicated that if the public knows exactly what is happening with their money, they would be supportive. There was discussion regarding a survey being done.

Jeff Loux indicated that the Committee had, for the most part, agreed that a funding mechanism was needed which includes existing residents. He indicated that the parcel tax is one possibility.

A Committee Member indicated that the press needed to be included in the Agricultural Enterprise Program process and it may be a good idea to include the public before the survey is done. 

There was discussion regarding dollar figures on parcels. Senior Planner Rhodes explained there was a point in the deliberation of the Committee at which two different approaches were reviewed. The first was a fee based on how much land the Committee desired to protect. The other approach was a mitigation fee based on how much land is being converted. The Committee had previously decided that the fee would be based on how much agricultural land is in the City that would be converted. He further stated that the memo is saying the mitigation fee would be calculated based on land values in the County Agricultural Core area. 

Mayor Kidd indicated the memorandum was written to help reach possible compromise. He said that the Committee also needs to recognize that there are other undecided issues here from an environmental impact standpoint. In particular are the agricultural estates, which are located in certain areas. 

A Member felt a possible reason why the general public was not attending these meetings was because the General Plan process is happening at the same time and most of the public believes that the decisions about land use are being made at the General Plan meetings.

Mayor Kidd indicated there should definitely be a community-wide meeting.

A discussion ensued regarding where agricultural estate clustering could possible be located. 

Potential Existing Residential Support Mechanisms
· Monetary support
· Water surcharge
· Parcel tax
· Bond Measure
· Method to fund enterprise activities

The group agreed that residential support was needed. A discussion ensued regarding how the public would react to these possible ideas. The Committee also discussed that they felt that if these ideas are presented to the public in a complicated manner, then support would be unlikely. A Member indicated that the public must feel that they are going to get something for their money. 

A Member mentioned the Planning and Conservation League in Sacramento which is a group that does very careful studies of what appeals to the public in terms of open space and what people are really interested in. Another Member felt that staff should get in contact with this group and gather more information from them regarding what questions should be asked to the public. After this information is gathered, it should be presented to the Committee.

A discussion ensued over how the residential support should be asked for. Should it be a separate issue or should it be rolled into the entire program? Jeff Loux indicated that this could be asked in a manner of, “Do you support Ag preservation, and would you be willing to pay for this? He mentioned that the two-thirds vote could be a problem if the formal parcel tax vote is included. He also stated that it’s required under the California Environmental Quality Act to address adverse impact of lost agricultural land. It is not just a question of whether or not it is a popular program. 

A Member mentioned recommending to the Council two separate questions. The first would be a method to fund enterprise activities and the second would be a question to fund the overall program.

The group did not reach a consensus and decided to move on to the next item.

· City and local agricultural industry needs to be represented
· Balanced representation and high level of farming expertise needed
· Nine-member board; 3 City appointed representatives; 3 ECCID appointed representatives; 3 others selected by the other six members.

A discussion ensued amongst the Committee on who should sit on this Board. There was a Committee Member that was not fully comfortable with ECCID being a representative on this board. 

The Committee voted 12-1-1 that the East County Agricultural Land Trust Board should have nine members. Three will be appointed by the City Council, three will be appointed by the ECCID, and those six board members will select the last three. All board members would need to reside in East Contra Costa County. Additionally, non-voting members could also be selected to provide additional expertise.

· 2.5 acre minimum parcels
· Located within the County
· Permanent easements
· Plan carefully
· Limited use of cluster development
· City Council Agricultural Subcommittee to meet with representatives from the County Board of Supervisors to discuss viability.

Discussion ensued over minimum acreage sizes and buffer zones. A Committee Member stated that the Committee needed to convince the County to support this idea. He indicated there are a lot of policy hurdles in the way. 

A citizen from the audience asked if Walnut Boulevard was going to be four lanes. Mayor Kidd responded that it would not be widened at this point, but the intersections may be improved. The citizen also wanted to know where his stop light on Concord Avenue and Walnut was? Mayor Kidd responded that he would check into the stop light issue.

A Member suggested having a subcommittee meet with the County. Another Member suggested having a general community meeting to get feedback from the public.

Jeff Loux indicated that a detailed policy will have to be drafted to describe this issue, in general terms, and bring it back to the Committee. The majority of the Committee agreed that they wanted to have further discussions on the Ag estate issue. A Committee member suggested not using the word “Ranchette” when discussing this topic.

Another Member suggested having reports from lenders available for the next meeting.

Jeff Loux stated that staff and consultants would attempt to have people with lending expertise available for that meeting.

This item was continued to the next meeting.

· How do we plan this?
· Enterprise enhancement funds 
· Funding to be provided by existing residents 

Jeff Loux indicated that he felt the Committee is looking for a role for term easements. He also stated it could be looked at part of an enterprise enhancement fund. A discussion ensued over this suggestion and the Committee decided term easements needed to be part of the Agriculture Enterprise Program. 

Jeff Loux discussed the “target area,” which is the Ag core portion of the Brentwood Planning Area and secondarily the agricultural core area outside the City’s Planning Area within the County. The Committee was in agreement with this suggested “target area.” 

· Development mitigation funding
· Existing Community buy-in needed
· Outside money sources needed
· Ongoing local funding sources needed
· Clustered housing in portions of Ag core south of City

(A few of these items were discussed intermittently throughout the meeting.)

Jeff Loux explained that the calculation was $5,000 per acre of development. He stated that this has nothing to do with what a farmer may receive for an easement. This is an average based on looking at land sales that have happened in a three to four year period and calculating easement value.

This “fee” is what would be charged per acre of development, not what a land owner/farmer might receive in an easement purchase situation. That price would be negotiated on a case-by-case basis with willing sellers.

Jeff Loux asked the Committee if anyone had an alternative suggestion for where the Group should go. A Member suggested that the Committee should not set a fee until this is brought to the citizens of Brentwood. Jeff Loux reminded the group that establishment of the fee was a fundamental target early on in this process. He explained that the group had said, if you develop an acre, the program should include mechanisms to protect one acre through conservation easements. Five thousand dollars was where the midpoint of the calculations fell. Jeff Loux mentioned that this cost was primarily passed on to future homeowners. A Member stated that it is the landowner that pays this cost, not the homeowner. He further stated the basic components are the fees the City charges, cost of land itself and the cost of development. Another member stated the fees are based on the market. Senior Planner Rhodes mentioned there was another option in that the developer could buy easements elsewhere rather than pay the fee. Jeff Loux further stated that in order to satisfy the law, multiple options must be available.

Jeff Loux asked the Committee if they wanted to go ahead with the current recommendation. A suggestion was made to put it in a range, possibly $4000-$6,000. A vote was taken and there were ten Committee members in favor and two Committee Members that voted “no” with two members abstaining. One Member wanted the public to be heard from first before voting. A comment was made that overall support from the public was needed. 

The Committee voted on two separate propositions. The first would say, literally as written in the report; we think this is a good idea, we think this range is reasonable, Council, please proceed. The second proposition is I will be supportive of this notion if community support were demonstrated through a vote and financial participation.

A vote was taken on proposition one and three members supported it and ten opposed it. A vote was next taken on proposition two, which was only if there was community support and financial participation; ten members voted “yes” and three voted “no.”

A Member stated that the public needs to be informed. Another Member reiterated the need for lender information about the effect easements have on borrowing potential. There was a request to have several responses from lenders.

Farmers Market
· Idea was to work with the Harvest Time people 
· Compatible with the u-pick 
· Leave the idea open

The Committee discussed the possibility of working with Harvest Time to promote retail sales of farm products. A suggestion was made to have a representative from Harvest Time participate at the next meeting.

Speaker 1 was disturbed with mitigation fees on an acre-by-acre basis because the fees are unknown. He indicated a concern that if land is downzoned, property owners may lose money. He said they’re discouraging lower density and making impacts on values relative to densities. His second item of concern was that appointed land trust board members, years down the road, may have different objectives from what is originally wanted.

Speaker 2, Frank Souza, stated that there needs to be enforcement provisions. He indicated that there are currently people in the agricultural core who have more houses per acre than is permitted, even three and four houses, and that the County is not enforcing anything. His next item was that there is property that can’t be farmed because it’s too close to the City, so then what is to be done with the parcels? Mr. Souza then stated that he was upset because earlier he was told he was out of order when he wanted to comment further.

Jeff Loux asked if the Committee was interested in hearing from expert persons from other areas? The Committee was interested and suggested possibly a person from Livermore or Yolo County. 

Jeff Loux stated that July 27th could be a possible date for the next meeting. He mentioned preparing another draft that incorporates as many of the ideas and agreements as he can after the Committee completes review of the current draft. He further stated that he was not quite sure, in many of these cases, exactly how to frame the Committee’s agreements, but he would do his best. He asked the Committee not to attack this next draft but rather to constructively work with it and give specific comments and changes to specific items. 

A Committee Member requested that there be no further meetings until we have results of the survey. Senior Planner Rhodes indicated that there was a survey input done for the General Plan Update process and there is information available from that. Community Development Director Oshinsky indicated that this survey asked, “Do people support the preservation of ag?” This response was overwhelmingly “yes,” but it did not ask the financial question. A discussion ensued over the different surveys that are being worked on and when they may be completed. Another suggestion was made to have a meeting between the County people and our City Council people.

Mayor Kidd indicated that the Committee wouldn’t be able to make the November ballot. 

Jeff Loux indicated that there needs to be a cleanup meeting and then come back in August. That would be two more meetings. The next meeting would be in late July. He stated to the Committee to bring comments on item numbers 2.1 or 2.15 or 2.17, since these items were discussed for only a short time.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:10 p.m.

Respectfully Submitted,

Theresa Gubera

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