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Agricultural Advisory Committee Final Report

City Administration
Meeting Minutes
Brentwood Agricultural Advisory Committee
Meeting #10

September 21, 2000
7:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Brentwood City Council Chambers
734 Third Street
Brentwood, California

John Chapman, Mark Dwelley, Nancy Holloman, Mayor Kidd, Laine Lawrence, Marty Maggiore, Councilman McPoland, Edward Meyer, Evelyn Stivers, and Peter Wolfe.

The Committee unanimously approved the July 31, 2000 Action Notes.

Jeff Loux, from MIG, reviewed the items that were on the agenda for the evening.

There were no public comments.

Mr. Loux stated that this was the second full draft of the City of Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Program Committee Report. He said that the Executive Summary is really the heart of the draft. He was hoping that the Committee could reach agreement on the Summary. Then anything in the body of report could be corrected to reflect the changes to the Summary. He asked the Committee Members for specific items they wish to discuss further. They were as follows:

1.1 Basic Mitigation Program
1.6 Site Selection
1.7 Mitigation Ratio
1.9 Permanent Easement Term
1.12 Land Trust
1.14 Percentage of Mitigation Funds for Administration Purposes
2.1 Transferable Agricultural Credits
2.2 Discussions with the County
2.3 Contra Costa County Assessor and the Board of Supervisors

The Committee Members felt the wording regarding the public vote should be stronger. Mr. Loux suggested the sentence to read:

The vote of the citizens of Brentwood would be used to determine:
¨ if the citizens support the program; and
¨ if they will approve a mechanism to help fund agricultural and open space preservation.

It was the consensus of the Committee to change the sentence to read as Mr. Loux had suggested.

A Committee Member felt that what was agreed on was that the mitigation fee provided by the City would be subject to the rules. But other income such as grants, etc. would not necessarily be subject to these restrictions. In other words, the priority for the Brentwood mitigation fee is correctly stated. Something to address the other funding needs to be added. Mr. Loux suggested adding the following:

Other funds not originating in the Brentwood program of the Land Trust are not subject to the criteria. 

It was the consensus of the Committee to keep wording as is for the mitigation fee but add Mr. Loux’s additional language for other funding.

A Committee Member suggested striking “within one mile of City limits”. It was the consensus of the Committee to strike “within one mile of City limits”. 

A Committee member felt that something should be added that stated larger parcels were preferred. It was the consensus of the Committee that the intended priority is to larger parcels but smaller parcels that were contiguous or within the context of a larger parcel would be considered as well.

A Committee Member suggested that the word “approximately” be replaced with the word “recommends”. It was the consensus of the Committee to agree with the word change.

Some Committee Members suggested that there should be a cap on the fees and also the 1-acre for 1-acre mitigation ratio. After some discussion, Mr. Loux said a sentence could be added that states, “This fee shall be capped based on the actual cost”. He said the feeling he was getting from the Committee is that they were looking for something to safeguard against the fee going up too high. He suggested an annual review be specified with an increase of no more than 5% in any given year. Or, he suggested capping the fee at $5,000 for three to five years initially, then reviewing the mitigation fee at a later date. Those were the two choices from their discussion and he asked the Committee for their recommendation. The two choices were:

1. $5,000 fee for Three to Five Years with No Change 
2. 1.5 to 5% no more than but no less than 1%

A Public Speaker felt the developers were obtaining their own development rights in 1.7 and asked for more consideration. Mr. Loux said that 1.7 deals with a fee to partially fund easement purchases only, not what would be paid for development rights, and explained the difference.

Public Speaker felt that it was unfair to the business owners in the Ag Core. 

It was the consensus of the committee to keep the fee at $5,000 for an interim ordinance. If there is to be a long-term ordinance then the fee is to be reviewed annually, reflecting the East County Land Trust recommendations. The City Council would cap the maximum rate of increase to insure that the developer fee would not increase too dramatically. 

Mr. Loux said his recollection of the Committee’s decision on this item was that the revenue from the mitigation fees in the interim ordinance would go for the purchase of permanent conservation easements. Other funding sources such as grants could be used for purchasing term easements. The Transferable Agricultural Credits Program was the alternative program to take care of some of the concerns about the term easements. Mr. Loux suggested adding a sentence stating:

“If additional funds are available they can be used for term easements”

A member of the public requested another vote on 1.9 when a quorum was present. Committee disagreed because this Item had been voted on twice before, and because the County was also looking into adopting a “super” Williamson Act Program at this time, which would allow for lowered property taxes on farmland in exchange for 20 year commitments to keep land in agricultural use.

It was the consensus of the committee to add a sentence to read:

“If the Citizenry should approve additional funding source(s), then the additional funds can be used for term easements or agricultural assistance grants.”

A Committee Member felt the Committee would be limiting the expertise of people if they recommended that all nine Land Trust Board members must reside in East Contra Costa County. Mr. Loux suggested that the three members appointed by the City and the three members appointed by the East Contra Costa Irrigation District could be required to reside in East Contra Costa County. But the three additional Board members that would be selected by the first six did not need to reside in East Contra Costa County.

It was the consensus of the committee that the three additional Board members, which are not appointed by the City or ECCID, may reside outside of East Contra Costa County.

A Committee Member suggested that there should be a cap on how much of the fees would be used for administration costs. It was the consensus of the Committee to add a sentence stating, “no more than 5% of the fees collected could be used for administration costs.”

2.1 thru 2.3
There was concern from the Committee whether this had been used successfully in other areas. Mr. Loux said it has been studied in Butte County for their grazing land, not in a cropland agricultural concept. Mr. McPoland said the concept has been presented to County Supervisors Canciamilla and Gerber to look at and they had a positive reaction and seemed interested in the idea. The concept will be taken to the next Mayor’s Conference for input next.

The Committee was concerned as to how to plan for a density bonus. Mr. Loux said through the General Plan Update, the density ranges would be examined and traffic analysis would be conducted.

The Committee was concerned about the length of time for the easements. Mr. Loux said that agricultural credits would only be provided in exchange for permanent easements.

The Committee was concerned about what a dwelling unit credit is worth. Mr. Loux said developers would set the price after considering the number of potential lots they have in the City, their particular proforma costs, the unique development risk factors, and the market place, all of which would be taken into consideration in order to make the determination.

A member of the public asked if the City adopts an ordinance and there are willing sellers, would the City have the power to take the land? Mr. Oshinsky said no, this is strictly a voluntary program.

A Public Speaker asked if a landowner wants to sell an agricultural credit, would they need to sell all or could they retain some? Mayor Kidd stated the landowner could sell any portion of the property’s agricultural credits he wishes.

A Public Speaker asked that if the landowner sells would it be transferred tax-free for purposes of income tax? Mr. Oshinsky suggested speaking to a tax advisor. He had spoken to the County Assessor and it would affect the developer because of the density bonus, but he wasn’t sure in regards to the income tax implications for the seller of the credit.

Some of the committee members wanted to set up another meeting to look at these revisions, vote if there was a quorum, then present it to the Planning Commission. Others wanted to vote on the draft at this meeting and not set up another meeting since there was a quorum present. 

Mr. Loux suggested setting up another meeting, reviewing the revision. If there was a quorum, vote on the Final Draft; if there wasn’t a quorum at that meeting, then send the Final Draft to the Planning Commission as submitted at that meeting. 

The committee voted to set up another meeting to review the revision. If there was a quorum vote on the Final Draft, and if not, send the Final Draft as submitted to the Planning Commission. Vote: 6-3. There was one abstention.

The next meeting date was scheduled for October 11, 2000 at 7:00 PM.

The meeting was adjourned at 10:00 P.M.

Respectfully submitted,

Lynn Reichard
Recording Secretary

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