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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 04



Meeting Date: August 16, 2001

Subject/Title: Public Hearing for consideration of an Agricultural Enterprise Program and Agricultural Conservation Fee

Submitted by: Mitch Oshinsky, Community Development Director
Winston Rhodes, Senior Planner

Approved by: Jon Elam, City Manager



RECOMMENDATION

The City Council Agricultural Committee, Planning Commission and staff recommend that Council take the following actions:

1. Approve the Agricultural Enterprise Program Final Report;

2. Introduce and waive the first reading of the proposed Agricultural Land Conservation Ordinance adding Brentwood Municipal Code: Chapter 17.730 the Agricultural Land Conservation Ordinance, and

3. Approve enactment of an agricultural conservation fee.

PREVIOUS ACTION 

In 1998 the City Council directed staff to initiate an Agricultural Enterprise Program (AEP), as a Consensus Priority project. On May 25, 1999, the City Council authorized a consultant contract with MIG, to help formulate the AEP. On July 27, 1999, Council appointed a nineteen person committee to work with Community Development Department staff and the consultant, to develop the AEP. On January 25, 2000, Council authorized staff to apply for a grant to help fund the consultant services. A $25,000 grant was received by the City, for that purpose. On November 14, 2000 the Council considered adoption of the AEP and dead-locked 2 – 2. On November 28, 2000 the Council reconsidered the Program and directed staff to bring the item back to Council for adoption by July 1, 2001 after continuing discussions with local farmers. On June 26, 2001 the Council delayed action on the Program in order to allow further public review.

BACKGROUND 

Brentwood has a long and rich agricultural heritage, due to excellent soils and good climate. Agriculture has historically been the leading industry in the Brentwood area and has helped distinguish Brentwood from other Bay Area communities. Today agriculture continues to be an extremely important local and regional industry. According to the County Agricultural Commissioner, the Brentwood area produces crops and products contribute approximately $200 million annually to the local and regional economy. The annual Corn Fest and u-pick operations are among Brentwood’s most important tourism attractions bringing thousands of visitors to the area. The Brentwood area represents over 50% of the County crop of apples, apricots, cherries, fresh tomatoes and pears. The area also contributes from 10 – 40% of the County’s alfalfa, beans, hay, nectarines, peaches, peppers, plums, processing tomatoes, sweet corn and walnuts. 

The State has recognized the importance of conserving the highest quality farmland and made $25 million available under the California Farmland Conservancy Program with $6.5 million budgeted during the past fiscal year. In addition, 60 private foundations with large funding assets are potentially poised to help fund the AEP.

A major component of the AEP is the Transferable Agricultural Credits (TAC) program, an innovative concept that conveys major potential economic benefits to farmers. TAC designates a pilot area in the south Agricultural Conservation area, where eligible property owners can get a 2 dwelling unit per acre development credit, in exchange for acceptance of a permanent conservation easement on their land. The credit can be transferred to Brentwood land designated for development, as a density bonus. For example, a property owner with 40 acres of agricultural land would get 80 credits. If those credits are applied to low density land in the City, the mid-range density of 3 units per acre, could go to 5 units per acre with the 2 unit density bonus. Both Pulte and Signature, which are large developers in Brentwood, have expressed great interest in this program, and stated the value they would pay farmers is $15,000 to $30,000 per TAC dwelling unit. Therefore, 80 credits would be worth between $1.2 to $2.4 million to the property owner.

GENERAL PLAN

The General Plan identifies agriculture as the primary land use within the eastern and southeastern portion of the Planning Area and the historic industry for the community. Preserving agriculture and the scenic qualities it provides is repeatedly cited as being important. This, coupled with increasing development pressures throughout the Bay Area, led to Brentwood’s desire to balance these two interests. Brentwood’s desire is to maintain the productivity of agricultural lands, protect farmers who wish to farm, while providing for the community’s growth and expansion. This is to be accomplished by protecting agricultural uses so that they do not prematurely develop. The General Plan Conservation Element includes specific policy language which will be implemented through the AEP.

Goal 1 of the General Plan Conservation Element states: Preserve productive agricultural lands in Brentwood’s Planning Area.

Policy 1.1.4 – Secure Agricultural Lands: Establish a program which secures permanent agriculture on lands designated for agriculture in the City and/or County General Plan. The program should include land dedication and a transfer of development/in-lieu fee ordinance.

1.1.5 – Maintain Prime Agricultural Land south of the ECCID main channel and east of Sellers Ave. and direct urban growth to the west and north.

1.2.4 - Developers inside the City to be responsible for mitigating impacts upon agriculture.

The Council Agricultural Committee and staff have worked during the past five years on agricultural land protection strategies. In 1999 the City Council appointed an Agricultural Advisory Committee to provide recommendations for development of an AEP. The Agricultural Advisory Committee met 11 times between September 1999 and October 2000 to prepare AEP report and recommendations. The Committee voted 7 to 6 on October 11, 2000 to recommend approval of the AEP to the Planning Commission and Council. On October 25, 2000 the Neighborhood Committee voted 8 to 2 to recommend approval of the AEP to Council. On October 30, 2000 the Planning Commission voted 4 to 1 to recommend that Council approve the AEP Ordinance with three changes discussed below. On May 7, 2001 the Council Agricultural Committee met to discuss AEP report changes. The Final Agricultural Enterprise Program Report which reflects the input from Planning Commission and Council Agricultural Committee (shown with strike through and underlining), the draft implementing ordinance, and the draft agricultural conservation fee resolution are attached.

Since November 2000 Mayor McPoland, Councilmember Beckstrand and City staff have discussed the Agricultural Enterprise Program with local farmers; members of the County Board of Supervisors and County staff; representatives from other East Bay cities, State Senator Torlakson and State Department of Conservation staff. Local farmers have identified remaining issues of concern and met with the Council Agriculture Committee on several occasions to modify program details. The State has been very encouraging about future funding opportunities for the Program if adopted. The County has been encouraging and has formed an Agricultural Advisory Task Force to work on some of the same issues addressed by the AEP.

DISCUSSION

The AEP Final Report includes a summary of recommendations on pages 4-11, which were the result of lengthy discussions, reconsiderations and votes over the 11 Committee meetings. The AEP has three components: 1) farmland mitigation, 2) transferable agricultural credits, and 3) agricultural enterprise. 

The Planning Commission recommended Council approval of the Committee’s Final Report, with the changes to the Ordinance as follows.

· Replace references to the “Farm Bureau” with references to “local agricultural organizations” per the request of the Farm Bureau, which is neutral on the AEP. This change is reflected in recommendations 3.1, 3.2, 3.8, 3.9, 3.11, and 3.12 of the Committee Report.

· Eliminate term easements to ensure permanent rather than temporary agricultural land protection. It was pointed out that temporary farm assistance is already available through the Williamson Act’s property tax relief. It was also noted that voters would be less likely to support taxpayer funds for temporary rather than permanent farmland protection. In addition, it was mentioned that term easements would be less valuable and make it harder to obtain outside grants, because they do not offer permanent protection.

· Eliminate the AEP sunset clause if voters fail to support a ballot measure for taxpayer funding of the program. The Planning Commission did not want the program to be decided by an additional citizen tax ballot measure vote when the necessary funding appears available from mitigation fees, State and federal agencies and private foundations. 

After discussions with local farmers the Council Agricultural Committee now recommends approval of the AEP report and Ordinance with the following changes:

1. A mitigation ratio of 1:1 will be attempted for all private and public projects involving the conversion of productive agricultural land [Applies to Final Report Recommendations 1.4 and 1.7].

2. The rate of increase of the in lieu mitigation fee shall be capped at a fixed annual percentage. [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 1.7] 


3. Agricultural lands serving as mitigation areas or participating in the TAC program should be a minimum of 40 contiguous acres in size either comprised of one 40 acre parcel or several parcels totaling at least 40 acres [Applies to Final Report. Recommendation 1.8 and 2.1].

4. While permanent easements with fee title purchase as an available option are the preferred method to fully satisfy mitigation requirements, term easements should be eligible for City mitigation funding consideration. [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 1.9]

5. The makeup of the new local land trust board of directors shall be a total of seven voting members with three members selected by the City and three selected by ECCID, and the seventh member selected by the other six members. All voting members shall reside in East Contra Costa County [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 1.12].

6. Expand the TAC sending area by approximately 160 acres to include additional agricultural land west of Walnut Boulevard and south of Marsh Creek in the vicinity of Kellogg Creek [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 2.1].

7. Allow the TAC program component to be changed by the new local land trust subject to City concurrence with the proposed change [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 2.1].

8. The City and new land trust board shall work with the County to ensure property tax assessments are decreased after participation in the TAC or comparable permanent agricultural mitigation transaction [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 2.3].

9. Allow a 75’ minimum buffer distance between the edge of an agricultural parcel and an ultimate urban property line [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 3.6].

10. Delete the Planning Commission Agricultural Enterprise Program Report change related to the elimination of term easements as a method to protect agricultural land (mentioned above) and approve the balance of the Planning Commission AEP report changes. [Applies to Final Report Recommendation 1.9]

11. Conservation easements on mitigated agricultural lands shall not preclude utilization of established utility or infrastructure easements (e.g., water, sewer, power, etc.) on non-mitigated agricultural land.

Attachments:

Draft Agricultural Land Conservation Ordinance
Agricultural Enterprise Program Final Report, August 16, 2001
Draft Agricultural Conservation Fee Resolution




CITY COUNCIL ORDINANCE NO. ___

AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD APPROVING THE BRENTWOOD AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISE PROGRAM AND ADDING CHAPTER 17.730 TO THE BRENTWOOD MUNICIPAL CODE TO CONSERVE AGRICULTURAL LAND.

WHEREAS, agriculture is a historically and economically important component of the City of Brentwood; and 

WHEREAS, it is the City's stated goal in the Conservation/Open Space Element of the General Plan to "preserve productive agriculture lands in Brentwood's Planning Area;" and

WHEREAS, Policy 1.14 of the Conservation/Open Space Element of the General Plan calls for the establishment of a program which secures permanent agriculture on lands designated for agriculture in the City and/or County General Plan; and 

WHEREAS, Policy 1.1.5 of the Conservation/Open Space Element of the General Plan calls for the maintenance of prime agricultural lands south of the East Contra Costa Irrigation District Main Canal and east of Sellers Avenue and directing urban growth to the west and the north; and 

WHEREAS, Policy 1.2.4 of the Conservation/Open Space Element of the General Plan calls for the developers inside the City to be responsible for mitigating impacts upon nearby agriculture; and

WHEREAS, Policy 1.4.1 of the Conservation/Open Space Element of the General Plan identifies the use of a density transfer program as a mechanism to investigate for agricultural preservation; and

WHEREAS, Policy 2.3.1 of the Economic Development Element of the General Plan calls for the establishment of a program to promote and maintain prime agricultural lands and locations for continued agricultural use, or agriculture supportive industries; and 

WHEREAS, the City Council created an Agricultural Advisory Committee to recommend a program to protect Brentwood’s agricultural land and to enhance agriculture in the vicinity of Brentwood; and

WHEREAS, the Advisory Committee held eleven publicly noticed meetings and has recommended an Agricultural Enterprise Program that includes land conservation strategies requiring the adoption of an implementing ordinance; and 

WHEREAS, on October 25, 2000, the Brentwood Neighborhood Committee reviewed the draft Agricultural Enterprise Program and voted to support the report and recommend approval to the City Council; and

WHEREAS, on October 30, 2000, the Planning Commission conducted a duly noticed public hearing, considered public comments and passed Resolution 00-77 recommending approval of the proposed Agricultural Enterprise Program to the City Council; and

WHEREAS, this action has been reviewed per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Pursuant to Section 15061(a)(3) of CEQA this activity is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Where it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment, the activity is not subject to CEQA. In addition, pursuant to Sections 15168(c) and 15162 of the CEQA Guidelines, the project is within the scope of development evaluated in the 1993 Brentwood General Plan Program EIR. No substantial changes have occurred to the circumstances under which that EIR was certified and no new information, which was not known and could not have been known at the time that the EIR was certified as complete, has become available relating to the environmental effects of this project. Therefore, the Program EIR for the 1993 General Plan is adequate for the approval relating to the project; and

WHEREAS, a Notice of Public Hearing was legally advertised in the Contra Costa Times on August 6, 2001, according to City policies and Government Code Section 65091; and

WHEREAS, the City Council held a public hearing on the proposed amendment on August 16, 2001, for the purpose of reviewing the Agricultural Enterprise Program Report, the draft ordinance, and the Council Agricultural Committee, Planning Commission, Neighborhood Committee and staff recommendations; and

WHEREAS, after close of the public hearing, the City Council considered all public comments received both before and during the public hearing, the presentation by City staff, the staff report, the recommendations, and all other pertinent documents and associated actions regarding the proposed Agricultural Enterprise Program and ordinance; and 

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Brentwood makes the following finding per the Brentwood Municipal Code associated with this amendment:

This amendment is consistent with the General Plan and other applicable City plans, and is appropriate to the public interest, in that it will help implement several General Plan Policies by supporting the preservation of productive agricultural lands and the retention of the agricultural industry in the Brentwood vicinity which produces food, jobs, and a desirable quality of life and rural character which helps distinguish Brentwood from other communities within the San Francisco Bay Area region.

NOW, THEREFORE, the City Council of the City of Brentwood ordains as follows:

SECTION1. The Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Program Final Report, August 16, 2001 attached as Exhibit “A” is hereby adopted.

SECTION 2. The foregoing recitals and staff report are found and determined to be true and correct. 

SECTION 3. Chapter 17.730 relating to Agricultural Land Conservation is hereby added to the Brentwood Municipal Code as follows:


Chapter 17.730

AGRICULTURAL LAND CONSERVATION

17.730.010 Purpose and Findings
17.730.020 Definitions
17.730.030 Agricultural Land Mitigation Requirements
17.730.040 Procedure For Establishment of Agricultural Credit
17.703.050 Eligible Lands To Satisfy Agricultural Land Mitigation Requirements
17.730.060 Requirements of Easements or Other Instruments 
17.730.070 Procedure For Transfer of Agricultural Credits
17.730.080 City of Brentwood Farmland Conservation Program Advisory 
Committee
17.730.090 Formation of Local Land Trust
17.730.100 Monitoring
17.730.110 Violations and Enforcement
17.730.120 Precedence


17.730.010 Purpose and Findings

The purpose of this chapter is to implement the agricultural enterprise land conservation policies contained in the Brentwood General Plan with a program designed to protect and conserve agricultural lands located within or adjacent to the Brentwood Planning Area or its approved Sphere of Influence. This includes mitigating the loss of productive agricultural lands converted for urban uses within the City by permanently protecting agricultural lands planned for agricultural use, by working with farmers who voluntarily wish to place conservation easements on their land with fair compensation for such easements, and permitting a transfer of agricultural credits (TAC) from “agricultural donor parcels” within the TAC target area to “receiver parcels.”

The City Council finds this chapter is necessary for the following reasons: (1) to benefit the local economy and provide jobs; (2) East Contra Costa County farmland is of highly productive quality; (3) the City is surrounded by productive farmland on the north, east and south sides; (4) the continuation of agricultural operations preserves the existing landscape, environmental and aesthetic resources of the area; (5) the Brentwood General Plan sets forth policies to preserve productive farmland, including the development of a program to secure permanent agriculture on lands designated for agriculture in the City and/or county General Plan; (6) California is losing farmland at a rapid rate; (7) loss of agricultural land is consistently determined to be a significant impact under the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) in development projects; (8) loss of farmland to development is irreparable and agriculture is an important component of the region's economy and rural community character; and (9) losing agricultural land will have a cumulatively negative impact on air quality, traffic, noise, public services demands, and aesthetics in the City and in the County of Contra Costa.

It is the policy of the City to work cooperatively with Contra Costa County to preserve agricultural land within or adjacent to the Brentwood Planning Area and its adopted Sphere of Influence, beyond that land deemed necessary for development. It is further the policy of the City to protect and conserve agricultural land in its vicinity, especially in its Agricultural Conservation Area and Contra Costa County Core Agricultural Area south and east of the City’s boundary. 

17.730.020 Definitions

“Transferable Agricultural Credit” means a potential transferable credit to construct dwelling unit(s) in a City residential zoning district, which can only be exercised when the agricultural credit has been transferred pursuant to the provisions of this section from a donor to a receiver parcel and all other legal requirements are fulfilled.

“Agricultural Donor Parcel” means a parcel of agricultural land from which agricultural credits are transferred

“Agricultural Enterprise Advisory Committee” means a committee appointed by the City Council to assist with the implementation of the City’s Agricultural Enterprise Program and evaluate the effect of City policies on local growers and agricultural land owners.

“Agricultural Land or Farmland” for the purposes of this chapter shall mean those land areas of the County specifically designated as Agricultural Core (AC) or Agricultural Lands (AL) as defined in the Contra Costa General Plan; those land areas near the City designated as Agricultural Conservation (AC) as defined in the Brentwood General Plan; and/or other lands upon which agricultural activities, uses, operations or facilities exist or could exist at the time of adoption of this ordinance that contain Class I, II, III or IV soils as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.

“Agricultural Mitigation Land” means agricultural land encumbered by a farmland deed restriction, a farmland conservation easement or such other conservation mechanism acceptable to the City.

“Agricultural Operation” means normal and customary farming and agricultural activities which may occur during any 24-hour period of the day. Normal and customary farming and agricultural activities include, but are not limited to, the cultivation and tillage of the soil, the production, irrigation, cultivation, growing, harvesting, and processing of any agricultural commodity for wholesale or retail markets, including viticulture, horticulture, the keeping and raising of livestock, fur bearing animals, fish or poultry, and any commercial agricultural practices performed as incident to or in conjunction with such activities including preparation for market, delivery to storage or to market, or to carriers for transportation to market.

“Farmland Conservation Easement” means an easement over agricultural land for the purpose of restricting its use to agriculture. The interest granted pursuant to a farmland conservation easement is an interest in land which is less than fee simple. Farmland conservation easements shall be permanent. However, mitigation funds should be available to fund term easements at minimum lengths to be determined by a new local land trust subject to the approval of the City. 

“Farmland Deed Restriction” means a recorded deed restriction, covenant or condition which precludes the use of the agricultural land subject to the restriction for any nonagricultural purposes, use, operation or activity. The deed restriction shall provide that the land subject to the restriction will permanently remain agricultural land unless specified as a Term Easement as defined in this section.

“Qualifying Entity” means a nonprofit public benefit 501(c)3 corporation operating in Contra Costa County for the purpose of conserving and protecting land in its natural, rural or agricultural condition. The following entities currently are qualifying entities: Contra Costa Land Trust, John Muir Heritage Land Trust and American Farmland Trust. Other entities may be approved by the City Council from time to time. 

“Receiver Parcel” means a residentially zoned parcel within the City’s jurisdiction to which agricultural credits are transferred.

17.730.030 Agricultural Land Mitigation Requirements

In order to mitigate and offset the loss of valuable farmland resources, the City shall require agricultural land mitigation by any applicant for a subdivision or any other discretionary land use entitlement which will permanently change agricultural land over one acre in size within the City’s jurisdiction to any nonagricultural use.

Agricultural land mitigation shall be satisfied by one of the following mechanisms:

(1) Granting a farmland conservation easement, a farmland deed restriction or other farmland conservation mechanism (including fee title purchase by the City or qualifying entity) to or for the benefit of the City and/or a qualifying entity approved by the City on lands deemed acceptable by the City. The mitigation shall be required for agricultural land that is permanently converted to an urban use, including any portion of the land used for park and recreation purposes, on a one to one land area ratio; or

(2) By payment of an in lieu fee as established by City Council resolution, which shall be reviewed and adjusted periodically to ensure that the fee is adequate to offset the cost of purchasing farmland conservation easements on a one to one ratio. The fee shall be fixed for a twelve-month period after enactment of this ordinance. Thereafter the fee may be adjusted when deemed appropriate, but may not be increased by more than ten percent during any twelve-month period. For non-residential projects that the City Council determines are important for economic development purposes, some or all of the mitigation requirements of this chapter may be waived. 

The in lieu fee, paid to the City, shall be placed in a trust account and used solely for farmland mitigation purposes. The interest from funds in this account shall also be used for farmland protection purposes. A limited portion, not to exceed five percent of the fees collected, may be used by the City or City–approved qualifying entity for administrative costs associated with establishing, monitoring, and managing farmland conservation easements.

17.730.040 Procedure For Establishment of Transferable Agricultural Credits

Transferable agricultural credits are eligible to be allocated to the property owners of record of agricultural land within the approximately 2,160 acre portion of the established Contra Costa County Agricultural Core Area, in effect on the date of adoption of this ordinance, that is bounded by Marsh Creek on the west, the East Contra Costa Irrigation District Main Canal on the north, Sellers Avenue on the east, and Marsh Creek Road on the south except as noted in Exhibit 1 for approximately 160 acres south of Marsh Creek Road. This area consists of donor parcels and is identified in Exhibit 1 which is hereby attached and made part of this ordinance.

Transferable agricultural credits shall run with the land. Existing agricultural parcels in the subject area, and over an acre in size are eligible to transfer two credits for each acre of agricultural land which is placed in a permanent conservation easement. In the calculation of agricultural credits, a fraction which is 0.5 or larger shall be considered a full agricultural credit.

17.730.050 Eligible Lands To Satisfy Agricultural Land Mitigation Requirements

The following minimum criteria shall be met for a property to be eligible for placement in an agricultural conservation easement or satisfy agricultural land mitigation requirements identified within this chapter:

▪ The property shall have adequate water supply to support the historic agricultural use on the land. The water supply for the land shall be protected in the farmland conservation easement, the farmland deed restriction or other document evidencing the agricultural mitigation; or 

▪ The property is of adequate size, configuration and location to be viable for continued agricultural use. 

In addition, a property that meets any or all of the following criteria can be considered as agricultural mitigation land:

▪ The mitigation land is located along a roadway and contains unique visual values;

▪ The mitigation land is not strategically located for other economic development purposes;

▪ The mitigation land is contiguous with other areas sought for agricultural protection which comprise a minimum of 40 acres; and 

▪ The mitigation land provides open space and wildlife habitat values.

The lands to be conserved are to be located in the following areas: 

§ First priority will be given to the Brentwood Agricultural Conservation Area as defined on the Brentwood General Plan Land Use Map. 

§ Lands to be conserved may also be located in the following areas: the Contra Costa County Agricultural Core lands as defined on the Contra Costa County General Plan Urban Limit Line Map. 

§ Agricultural land within the City limits that possess unique agricultural, visual, historic or other important values may also be considered. 

A property is ineligible to serve as agricultural mitigation land if one or both of the two circumstances below apply.

(1) The property is already subject to easements or physical conditions that legally or practicably prevent modification of the property's land use to a nonagricultural use.

(2) The property is currently encumbered by a conservation easement of any nature or kind.

17.730.060 Requirements of Easements or Other Instruments

To preserve agricultural land, all owners of the land shall execute the appropriate conservation easement or other legal instrument. The instrument shall be in recordable form and contain an accurate legal description setting forth the description of the land. The instrument shall prohibit any activity that substantially impairs or diminishes the agricultural productivity of the land. The instrument shall protect the existing water rights and retain them with the agricultural mitigation land.

The City or a qualifying entity approved by the City shall pay the costs of administering, monitoring and enforcing the instrument. The City shall be a named beneficiary under any instrument conveying the interest in the agricultural mitigation land to a qualifying entity, unless waived by the City Council.

Interests in agricultural mitigation land shall be held in trust by a qualifying entity and/or the City in perpetuity.

If judicial proceedings find that the public interests described in this section of this chapter can no longer reasonably be fulfilled as to an interest acquired, the interest in the agricultural mitigation land may be extinguished through sale and the proceeds shall be used to acquire interests in other agricultural mitigation land in Contra Costa County, as approved by the City and provided in this chapter.

If any qualifying entity owning an interest in agricultural mitigation land ceases to exist, the duty to hold, administer, monitor and enforce the interest shall pass to the City. 

17.730.070 Procedure For Transfer of Agricultural Credits

Agricultural credits may be transferred to any residential zone within the City. Approval by the City must be based on findings that the transfer is consistent with the General Plan and provides for the permanent conservation of the donor parcel as farmland. The transfer of agricultural credits shall be authorized as part of a development agreement and shall be subject to all City policies, regulations and codes, including the requirement to obtain development entitlements for the receiver parcel. A development agreement application shall include both the donor and receiver parcel.

When agricultural credits are transferred from a donor site, the corresponding acreage generating the transferred credits shall be maintained as farmland subject to conditions specified in the farmland conservation easement deed restriction. Partial transfer of allocated credits for donor parcels may be allowed and any remaining credit allocation balance shall be monitored until all credits are transferred.

The number of agricultural credits which may be transferred to a receiver parcel shall not exceed the maximum density range specified in the General Plan.

The City Council may adopt rules and procedures it considers necessary to implement these provisions to facilitate the transfer of allowable development. Such rules and procedures shall be adopted by resolution.

17.730.080 City of Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Program Advisory Committee

The City Council should consider creating an Agricultural Enterprise Advisory Committee to advise the Council on how City policy affects local growers and landowners. 

17.730.090 Formation of Local Land Trust 

A new local land trust should be formed pursuant to Sections 1.12, 1.13, 1.14, 1.15 and any other relevant Sections of the Agricultural Enterprise Program Final Report, dated August 16, 2001.

17.730.100 Monitoring

On a periodic basis the Community Development Director shall publish a report delineating the activities undertaken pursuant to the requirements of this chapter and an assessment of these activities. The report shall list and report on the status of all lands and easements acquired under this chapter.


17.730.110 Violations and Enforcement

Any person or entity who violates any provision of this chapter shall be deemed guilty of an infraction and, upon conviction thereof, shall be punished by a fine not exceeding the maximum prescribed by law. In addition, any person or entity who violates any provision this article shall be liable to the transferee of the property for actual damages. In an action to enforce such liability or fine, the prevailing party shall be awarded reasonable attorneys' fees. 

17.730.120 Precedence

This chapter shall take precedence over all ordinances or parts of ordinances or resolutions or parts of resolutions in conflict herewith. 

SECTION 4. This Ordinance shall take effect and be in force thirty (30) days following its adoption and, prior to the expiration of fifteen (15) days after its adoption, it shall be published once with the names of the council members voting for and against it in a newspaper of general circulation, available in the City of Brentwood.

SECTION 5. If any section, subsection, sentence, clause or phrase of this ordinance is for any reason held to be invalid or unconstitutional by the decision of a court of competent jurisdiction, the holding shall not affect the validity or enforceability of the remaining provisions, and the council declares that it would have adopted each provision of this ordinance irrespective of the validity of any other provision. 

SECTION 6. Any judicial review of this Ordinance shall be by writ of mandate under Code of Civil Procedure 1085. Any action or proceeding seeking to attack, review, set aside, void or annul this ordinance shall be commenced within 90 days after the adoption of this Ordinance.

SECTION 7. This Ordinance shall be published in accordance with Government Code Section 36933 by either posting or publishing the ordinance in accordance with that law. Further, the City Clerk is directed to cause Section 3 of this Ordinance to be entered in the Brentwood Municipal Code.

SECTION 8. In accordance with Government Code Section 65863.5, upon the effective date of this Ordinance, a copy shall be delivered to the County Assessor.

THIS ORDINANCE was introduced with first reading waived at a regular meeting of the Brentwood City Council on the 16th day of August, 2001, and adopted at a regular meeting of the Brentwood City Council on the 28th day of August, 2001 by the following vote: 

AYES:
NOES:
ABSTENTIONS:
ABSENT:

_________________________
Michael A. McPoland Sr.
Mayor

ATTEST:


__________________________
Karen Diaz, CMC
City Clerk


APPROVED AS TO FORM:

__________________________
Dennis Beougher, City Attorney














City of Brentwood 
Agricultural Enterprise Program


Final Report




August 16, 2001













Prepared for: 
The City of Brentwood

Prepared by: 
Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc. (MIG)

With assistance from:
Economic and Planning Systems (EPS)



TABLE OF CONTENTS 

Table of Contents..................................................................................... 1
Acknowledgments..................................................................................... 3
Summary of Recommendations.............................................................. 4
Introduction.............................................................................................. 12
Study Process and Methods..................................................................... 14
Background Information......................................................................... 17
The Brentwood Area Agricultural Land Base....................................... 18
Existing Agricultural Land Protection Policies..................................... 20
Economic Analysis of Agricultural Land Values................................ 21
Issues Determined by the Committee.................................................... 22
Farmland Mitigation Program............................................................... 23
Basic Program Description.................................................................... 24
What Types of Projects Are Required to Mitigate................................ 25
What Agricultural Lands Should be Conserved.................................... 27
How Should the Mitigation Fee be Set................................................. 28
What Land Acquisition Mechanisms are Appropriate?........................ 29
How Should the Program Be Administered?........................................ 30
Administrative Funding……………………………………………… 33
Institutional/ Organizational Options.................................................... 33
Transferable Agricultural Credits Program......................................... 38
Agricultural Enterprise Programs......................................................... 43
Operational/FinancialSupport............................................................. 45
Farmland Security Zones…………………………………………….. 45
Estate Planning………………………………………………………. 46
Economic Development Strategies....................................................... 47
Agricultural Forum................................................................................ 48
Public Policy Support............................................................................ 48
City Policies: General Plan………………………………………….. 48
Agricultural Buffers………………………………………………….. 49
Circulation……………………………………………………………. 51
Consultation…………………………………………………………… 52
County Policies: Land Use Designations.............................................. 53
Farm Worker Housing........................................................................... 54
Marketing Support................................................................................. 56
Regional Marketing………………………………………………….. 56
Direct Marketing & Agricultural Tourism…………………………… 56
Community Supported Agriculture………………………………….. 58
Agricultural Research & Product Development……………………… 58
Additional Agricultural Support Funds................................................. 59
State Grants…………………………………………………………... 59
Federal Grants………………………………………………………... 60
Private Foundations………………………………………………….. 61
Local Technical Support/Capacity Building…………………………. 61
Conclusions and Next Steps..................................................................... 62
Appendix...........................................................................….................... 65
References................................................................................................. 66
An Analysis of “Agricultural Land Values and Mitigation Fee Scenarios” ...........................................................................................…. 70


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

City of Brentwood City Council

Councilmember Annette Beckstrand
Former Mayor Quintin Kidd
Vice Mayor Wade Gomes
Mayor Mike McPoland
Councilmember Pete Petrovitch
Former Councilmember Steve Young

City of Brentwood Planning Commission

Former Commissioner Jim Alves Former Commissioner Laine Lawrence
Commissioner Robert Brockman Commissioner Christopher Mosser
Former Commissioner Jeffrey Cowling Commissioner Steve Padgett
Commissioner Michael Kerchner Commissioner Ray Shipley

Agricultural Advisory Committee













City of Brentwood Staff
John Elam, City Manager
Mitch Oshinsky, AICP, Community Development Director
Winston Rhodes, AICP, Senior Planner (Project Manager)

Moore Iacofano Goltsman, Inc. (MIG)
Jeff Loux, Project Manager
Jonathan London, Project Associate
Meghan Gavin, Project Assistant

Economic and Planning Systems (EPS)
Walter Kieser, Sonia Jacques, Jeannie Young

American Farmland Trust (AFT)
Erik Vink
















Summary of Recommendations

SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS 

The Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Committee was appointed by the City Council “to advise the City on how to protect and enhance agriculture in Brentwood, including a potential agricultural land mitigation program, agricultural enterprise programs and other voluntary approaches.”

The Committee met eleven times over the course of a year period and reviewed a substantial body of technical and policy material in urban planning, economics, land values, agriculture, conservation, funding, and implementation. Many policy options were debated for each element of the program. The Committee did not agree on all of the concepts at various points in the process, although members continued to meet, discuss and seek consensus.

Working with the staff and consultants, the Committee developed the following recommendations for the Brentwood’s Agricultural Enterprise Program. The recommendations are described more fully in the body of the report. There are several instances where the Committee did not reach consensus on issues; these are noted in the text.

1.0 FARMLAND MITIGATION PROGRAM

1.1 The City should adopt an agricultural mitigation program as identified in Policy 1.1.4 of the City General Plan, provided that the Brentwood citizens demonstrate support for such a program. The Committee recommends that the City adopt an Interim Ordinance to implement the program over the next several years until a vote can be taken to determine the level of citizen interest and support. The vote of the citizens of Brentwood would be used to: (1) determine if the citizens support the program; and (2) if they will approve a mechanism to help fund agricultural and open space preservation (Note: Some Committee members were comfortable with the mitigation program moving forward permanently without a vote. However, the majority of the Committee believed citizen support is an essential component).

1.2 The City should work cooperatively with the County to ensure agricultural land preservation activities in County lands. 

1.3 The following criteria should be used for determining which types of development projects are required to provide farmland mitigation. The Interim Ordinance should apply to all proposed development projects involving the conversion of farmland within the City that have not received full discretionary approval from the City, as well as approved projects that have been conditioned to mitigate for the loss of agricultural land. Residential and non-residential projects should be subject to the same mitigation requirements.

1.4 In addition, all public projects that are constructed on former agricultural land should pay into the mitigation fund and attempt to reach a protection ratio on an acre-for-acre basis to demonstrate equitable treatment under the Interim Ordinance. The fee should be set at the same level for all projects.

1.5 All development subject to the Interim Ordinance should be required to mitigate at the same level regardless of soil type and quality.

1.6 The priority for selecting agricultural lands for protection using Brentwood agricultural mitigation funds should be focused first and foremost on agricultural lands within the Brentwood Agricultural Conservation Area. As a second priority, lands in the following categories can also be considered for protection:

§ Productive agricultural lands within City limits. 
§ Agricultural lands adjacent to the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area in the County Agricultural Core.

Within these categories, the City should use additional criteria to select specific parcels for protection including visual prominence, proximity to other agricultural parcels, price, willing seller, size of parcel, and conservation easement value. It is the intent to conserve larger parcels, although smaller parcels contiguous to conserved areas or larger parcels would be considered as well. 

Other funds not originating from City of Brentwood agricultural mitigation payments are not required to adhere to the priorities listed above. 

1.7 The City’s Interim Ordinance should be based on strive for a mitigation ratio of 1:1 (acre for acre) for every developed acre, a fee equal to the costs associated with protecting one acre of conserved farmland is required. A developer should have several methods for achieving this required mitigation including offering an agricultural parcel with a conservation easement directly (provided it meets the City’s established criteria) or paying the appropriate fee. In lieu of an actual agricultural easement, the fee should be initially set at $5,000 per gross acre, reflecting a range of $4,000-6,000 per gross acre for conservation easements. This is not necessarily the price that the City (or land trust) would pay for any particular easement. Each easement purchase would be based on proper land appraisals and negotiations with a willing seller. The fee should be evaluated periodically and modified to reflect changes in land values, transaction costs or other variables.

The Committee felt that the The $5,000 fee should be kept static during the lifetime of the interim ordinance. If there is a long-term ordinance, the fee should be reviewed annually, and adjusted based on the East County Land Trust recommended changes. The Committee believes that the fee should not increase significantly, and therefore, recommends placing a cap on the maximum percentage rate of future allowed increases. 

1.8 The City should retain full authority to accept or reject any offered parcel as part of a development mitigation. A 40 acre minimum mitigation area comprised of one or more contiguous parcels should be required.

1.9 The program should rely primarily on permanent conservation easements, although fee title purchase could be an available option. There was considerable debate over the use of temporary or “term” easements instead of or in addition to permanent easements. Assuming the Interim Ordinance with the citizen vote provision, the Committee agreed to recommend permanent easements for lands secured through the developer mitigation program. Term easements could supplement the basic program. The Council Committee agreed to recommend that City agricultural mitigation funding and outside non-mitigation additional funding should be available eligible for purchase of term easements unless otherwise prohibited. Mitigation funds should be available to fund term easements at minimum lengths to be determined by a new local land trust subject to the approval of the City.

1.10 The City of Brentwood Community Development Department should place an Interim Farmland Mitigation Ordinance before the Planning Commission and City Council. Once adopted, the Department would apply the mitigation requirement as it would any other development fee or project condition. The Ordinance and the mitigation requirement may “sunset” if the citizens are opposed to the concept or may be codified permanently if the citizens are in favor of the concept.

1.11 The Committee recommends the following general principles for the entity selected to administer conservation easements: (1) Have a single point of contact for land acquisition; (2) Provide as much flexibility and autonomy as possible to allow for open and creative negotiations; (3) Insulate the land acquisition agent from political processes; and (4) Ensure that the person(s) has expertise in land valuation, real estate transactions, agricultural practices, the development review process, tax laws, and charitable giving regulations.

1.12 A new local land trust (“East Contra Costa Agricultural Land Trust”) should be formed to negotiate, monitor, hold and manage easements and land. The land trust board should consist of three members appointed by the City, three members appointed by the East Contra Costa Irrigation District (representing agricultural interests), and three members one member selected by the first six. All The six members appointed by the City and ECCID must reside in East Contra County. (The three additional members may reside outside the area.) Other at large, non-voting members could be added to provide additional expertise at the discretion of the board. The concept is an independent body focused on local agricultural and open space conservation efforts. The board should fairly represent farm and urban interests. The land trust offers the maximum flexibility and potential to seek outside funds and political independence. The board should have the expertise to coordinate successfully with agricultural, funding, regulatory and conservation partners.

1.13 The land trust should concentrate on conservation easements to reduce the need for active land management activities. The land trust should have a high degree of credibility in terms of the mission of agricultural land stewardship. 

1.14 A very limited portion, not to exceed 5%, of the development fees collected may be used for administrative purposes to ensure a stable, dedicated source of funding for land trust administration, easement monitoring and management.

1.15 The strengths of the City of Brentwood Community Development Department should be combined with the new East Contra Costa Land Trust to begin operation of the program. The City would work with the developers and collect fees; the land trust would negotiate, manage and monitor easements and land; and both the City and land trust could play a role in outreach, education and coordination. Both the City and the land trust could seek outside funding sources.

1.16 The City’s Role: The City of Brentwood would have direct control of the mitigation process because of its regulatory authority over environmental review and development approval. The fees collected for the agricultural program would be set aside in a dedicated trust account with a substantial percentage ear-marked for conservation easement purchase and a very limited percentage for administration, monitoring and transaction costs for both the City staff and land trust. 

2.0 TRANSFERABLE AGRICULTURAL CREDITS PROGRAM

2.1 The City should further study and, if feasible, adopt a program that allows for transferable agricultural credits in a selected portion of the Brentwood Planning Area. The “pilot” area that should be initially-selected for the program is approximately 2,000 2,160 acres located southeast of the City and is characterized by relatively small, County agricultural parcels at the southern entrance to Brentwood.

Under the program, the City would designate this area as a “credit sending area.” The parcels in the sending area would be designated as having a credit “value” of 2 units per acre. Developable parcels identified within Brentwood’s General Plan designated for residential use would become credit “receiving areas;” that is, they would be eligible for an increase in residential density (i.e. density bonus) if the developer could transfer in the credits from one or several parcels in the agricultural sending area. The density bonus might increase the urban development density above the current mid-range density to a higher density, but never exceeding the top end of the density established under the General Plan and zoning. To transfer credits, a property owner/developer would be required to purchase or place a permanent conservation easement on the agricultural “sending” parcel(s) . The Land Trust Board with concurrence of the City could recommend modifications over time. 

The Committee recognizes that numerous details need to be addressed before this program can be placed before the City for adoption. However, the program has several benefits: it would allow for permanent conservation of prohibitively expensive parcels in a strategic location next to the City; it provides an incentive for increased densities within the City to promote a more compact urban form; it compliments the mitigation program described in section 1.0; and it requires no public subsidy other than City management of the process. 

2.2 The City should continue the already begun discussions with the County regarding expanding this transferable agricultural credits concept into other County areas slated for agricultural or open space preservation.

2.3 The City and Land Trust Board should work with the Contra Costa County Assessor and the Board of Supervisors to ensure that a transfer of agricultural credits is not a taxable event that triggers an increase in property tax assessment but instead results in a reassessment at a decreased rate after participating in the TAC or comparable permanent agricultural mitigation transaction.

3.0 AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

3.1 The City should work with and support the County, the County Agricultural Task Force, the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations and others in their efforts to create a Farmland Securities Zone (FSZ) program in east County. This program (the so-called “Super Williamson Act”) can offer additional property tax relief to active farms with 20-year restrictions on land conversion. 

3.2 The City, in cooperation with the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations and others, should facilitate seminars in estate tax benefits for interested growers and/or their financial, legal and tax advisors. Such training is available from the California Oak Foundation and other appropriate conservation organizations. 

3.3 The City should review its current economic development programs and policies and consider expanding them to include agricultural support businesses.

3.4 The City should support and facilitate a discussion forum for area farmers and related businesses. The City could consider creating an Agricultural Advisory Committee to advise the Council on how City policy affects local growers and landowners.

3.5 The City should utilize the current General Plan Update process to promote an urban development pattern that protects important agricultural lands in the Brentwood Planning Area.
3.6 The City should adopt a clear and consistent agricultural buffer policy to separate urban and agricultural uses and reduce nuisance opportunities. The details of this policy should be developed as part of its General Plan Update and implemented during the development applications and subdivision review. Recommended parameters include the following:

§ Width: A width of 75-150 feet between the edge of the agricultural parcel to the ultimate urban property line. 
§ Allowable uses: At least half of the buffer should be free from public use to provide a separation between uses and to address growers’ concerns about trespass, theft and liability. Where feasible, the remainder of the buffer should be used for infrastructure, recreation, natural area or other beneficial use. 
§ Land dedication: Buffers should be provided on existing public land (such as a road or drainage basin), or from the developer’s land. Buffers should be created around land planned (and zoned) for future agricultural use. 

3.7 The City should review its road design standards and signage in urban edge/agricultural areas to ensure the mutual convenience and safety of agricultural and urban users. 

3.8 The City should continue to actively consult with the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations, growers, U.C. Cooperative Extension, the County Agricultural Commissioner and other agricultural interests on projects that may impact agricultural operations in the Brentwood area. 

3.9 The City, in consultation with the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations and other agricultural representatives, should work with the County to analyze options to revise the County zoning code to better support agriculture and agricultural tourism activities in the Brentwood area. 

3.10 The City should also work cooperatively with County departments such as Environmental Health, Building Inspection, Community Development, and Public Works to review agency policies and procedures to ensure their support of the agricultural sector. 

3.11 The City should work with the County in consultation with farm worker organizations, the Farm Bureau other local agricultural organizations and affordable housing organizations to develop plans to increase the supply of quality farm worker housing as part of a broader low-income/affordable housing development strategy in existing urban areas. Innovative plans for on-site farm accommodations might also be considered.

3.12 The City should work with the Farm Bureau, local agricultural organizations County, Chamber of Commerce and area growers to encourage the development of agricultural retail businesses by promoting local agricultural events and other direct marketing programs. This could include marketing the unique historic and scenic values associated with Brentwood agriculture in regional and statewide tourism venues.
3.13 The City should support and facilitate a local growers’ organization in the Brentwood area that would allow individual growers to offer a selection of farm products to urban customers in the region. This might involve community information, providing facilities for events, or other activities.

3.14 To the extent that supplemental funds can be raised, these could be used to promote an agricultural research and marketing program that provides seed money for innovative agricultural enhancement projects. 

3.15 The City of Brentwood, in conjunction with the existing Contra Costa County Land Trust and/or the newly formed East County Land Trust, should submit applications for California Farmland Protection Program grants for purchases of conservation easements in the greater Brentwood area.

3.16 The City and newly-formed land trust should track available sources of federal, state and foundation funding and pursue such funding for farmland protection as it becomes available. 

3.17 The City should explore various options to fund an executive director position for the new land trust. One viable option to explore is to share staff resources between the existing Contra Costa County Land Trust and the newly established Brentwood-area land trust("East Contra Costa Agricultural Land Trust"). 















Introduction

INTRODUCTION

The Brentwood City Council appointed the Agricultural Advisory Committee (hereafter “the Committee”) to advise the City on how to achieve the goals for agricultural preservation contained in the Brentwood General Plan. At its first meeting, the Committee formalized this charge as follows:

“To advise the City of Brentwood on how to protect and enhance agriculture in Brentwood, including a potential agricultural land mitigation program, agricultural enterprise programs and other voluntary approaches.” 

This report presents the recommendations of the Committee on a range of policies to protect agricultural land surrounding Brentwood. The report summarizes the analysis, deliberations and findings of the Committee. The report is to serve as guidance to the Brentwood Planning Commission and City Council on developing policies, ordinances, cooperative relationships and other future actions to support agriculture in the Brentwood area. 

The report is divided into the following sections: 

§ Introduction and Study Process; 
§ Background Information;
§ Agricultural Mitigation Program; 
§ Transferable Agricultural Credits Program;
§ Agricultural Enterprise Support Policies; 
§ Conclusions sand Next Steps.
§ Appendix including an analysis of Agricultural Land Values and Mitigation Fee Scenarios. 

Two additional products will be generated for the Planning Commission and City Council to initiate the program:

§ A draft agricultural land mitigation ordinance; and 
§ A draft conservation easement.

The recommendations are summarized in the Summary Recommendations section. The recommendations are numbered and italicized for ease of identification. The numbering system is not meant to convey priorities or level of importance, but rather to separate the concepts into logical groupings. The first section (1.1-1.16) focuses on a mitigation program for the loss of agricultural land as urban development proceeds. The second section (2.1-2.3) focuses on a complimentary program of transferable agricultural credits designed to encourage conservation of farmland in a focused area south of Brentwood. The third section (3.1-3.17) focuses on agricultural enterprise programs. These are all of the incentives and assistance that can support viable farming operations in the local area.
















Study Process and Methods

STUDY PROCESS AND METHODS

The study involved a series of technical and policy analyses conducted by a team of consultants, guest speakers and City staff members and extensive interactive discussions with the Committee on a range of issues. The Advisory Committee represented a broad range of local and regional stakeholders in agriculture, business, housing and commercial development, the City and County, the County Agricultural Commissioner, environmental interests, land trusts and other perspectives. The Committee included the two City Council representatives from the City Council’s Agricultural Sub-Committee and one member from the City Planning Commission. 

The Committee met eleven times over a one-year period to consider information presented by the consultants and City staff and to formulate recommendations. In addition, several guest speakers provided presentations to the Committee including an agricultural lender, organic farmer, former board member of an agricultural land trust, a farmer who sold a major conservation easement on his land, and several other farm interests. In general, the Committee operated on a consensus basis, although the Committee did have a voting procedure that was used when consensus could not be achieved. 

The Consulting Team for the project included Moore Iacofano Goltsman (MIG) as the lead consultant with economic support from Economic and Planning Systems (EPS) and advice from American Farmland Trust (AFT). Staff from the City of Brentwood Community Development Department also provided technical input and reviewed and refined the work of the Consultant Team. During the initial phases, the team conducted a series of background research tasks to develop the informational base for the project. This informational base included the following:

(1) Development of a set of analytical maps depicting development patterns in the Brentwood planning area and determining what residential and commercial development projects were in various stages of planning and City approvals.

(2) Review of maps showing soil types and agricultural ratings for soils in the area to determine the most important farming areas to consider protection.

(3) A daylong field visit with the Consultant Team, City Staff and key technical advisors such as the County Agricultural Commissioner and U.C. Agricultural Extension Service.

(4) A series of one-on-one interviews with a range of agriculturally-related stakeholders (small and large growers, local and County officials, agricultural extension staff, environmental and community organizations, irrigation district members, real estate brokers etc.) These interviews helped the team identify challenges facing the local agricultural sector, gauge perspectives on growth and development in the area, explore initial reactions to an agricultural mitigation program; estimate land values; and elicit other ideas for agricultural support policies. 

(5) A land value analysis that delineated the agricultural areas of the City and County; described recent land sales in the agricultural area; estimated costs of conservation easements in the agricultural area; and estimated mitigation fee revenues based on several fee options. 

(6) Analysis of existing policies of the City, County and LAFCO (the Local Agency Formation Commission of Contra Costa County) that assist in agricultural preservation. In addition, the Consultant Team identified and summarized policies and programs that have proven successful in other areas in California and elsewhere and brought that background information into the process.

(7) Analysis of the impact of conservation easements on farm lending practices including a presentation by Holly King of the Great Valley Center, former manager of a major farm lending program.

(8) Review of the formation, operations and track record of an established agricultural land trust, the Yolo Land Trust and its easement programs.

(9) Analysis and recommendations for three fundamental components of an agricultural enterprise program. Each component was distilled into an “Issue Paper” which was presented to the Committee for their review and deliberation. The three Issue Papers were entitled “Options and Recommendations for an Agricultural Mitigation Program, “Institutional/Organizational Recommendations for an Agricultural Mitigation Program” and “Agricultural Support Policies and Recommendations for Promoting Agricultural Enterprises.” Each paper presented background information, a discussion of relevant issues, a range of optional solutions and a Consultant Team recommendation for the Committee’s consideration. This report is based on the Issue Papers and the Committee’s discussions and recommendations during the course of its meetings. 

















Background Information

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The Brentwood Area Agricultural Land Base

Agriculture is an important element of the landscape and economy of the Brentwood area and east Contra Costa as a whole. The City of Brentwood Agricultural Conservation Area totals about 2,500 acres immediately east and south of Brentwood inside the City’s Planning Area. Total agricultural acreage within the Brentwood Planning Area is 5,980 acres. The majority of the City Agricultural Conservation Area overlaps with the approximately 10,000-acre County Agricultural Core Area (See Figure A).

The predominate land uses in the City Agricultural Conservation Area and the County Agricultural Core are orchards (apples, peaches, and cherries), vineyards, and row crops (tomatoes, corn, and other vegetables.) In 1998, vegetable, field, seed, fruit and nut crops in east Contra Costa County (Brentwood, Oakley, Knightson, Byron, and the Delta Islands) produced $51.2 million in gross revenue. This represents a 65% increase in revenue from 1988. The crops with the highest revenue were milk ($8.7 million), grapes ($6.6 million), apples ($6.3 million), sweet corn ($6 million), and tomatoes ($5.8 million). 

The soils in the Brentwood area are considered some of the most productive and suitable for intensive farming in California. The majority of the soils in the Brentwood area are in the Brentwood-Rincon-Zamora Soil Association. The primary soil type, found on over 6,300 acres, within this association is Brentwood clay loam (Bh). Brentwood clay loam is ranked as Grade 1 on the Storie Soil Index and Class 1 on the Natural Resource Conservation Service soil capacity scale. This top rating indicates an exceptional soil profile depth, and texture, gentle slope, good drainage, and low salinity, alkalinity, and erodability. There are also several blocks of Grade 1/Class I Sorrento silty clay loam (Sm) and Grade 2/Class 2 Brentwood clay loam wet phase (Bc) and Rincon clay loam (RbA). 

Conversely, while Brentwood is blessed with a fine growing climate, good soils and ample water, the Committee heard numerous presentations on the economic difficulty of farming in this urbanizing context. Expensive land and labor, proximity of new urban development and residential populations, low commodity prices, and strong competition all contribute to making local farming a complex and difficult business. Brentwood farmers have had to be very creative in pursuing niche markets, specialty crops and specialized marketing approaches to keep their businesses economically viable.






Existing Agricultural Land Protection Policies

Both the City of Brentwood and Contra Costa County have already developed a range of policies to protect and promote agriculture. The City of Brentwood’s 1993 General Plan addresses protection of agricultural land in its Economic Development, Conservation/Open Space, and Community Design Elements. For example, Goal 1 in the Conservation/ Open Space element (“Preserve productive agriculture lands in Brentwood’s Planning Area”) includes the following policies related to protecting the agricultural land base.

1.1.4 Secure Agricultural Lands: Establish a program which secures permanent agriculture on lands designated for agriculture in the City and/or County General Plan. The program should include joint use concepts (e.g., wastewater irrigation), land dedication (e.g., secured through development agreements) and a transfer of development/in-lieu fee ordinance. The Program should also create incentives for continuing agriculture (e.g., long-term irrigation water contracts) and assurances that potential ag-urban conflicts will be mitigated.”

1.1.5 Maintain Prime Agricultural Land: Maintain prime agricultural lands south of the East Contra Costa Irrigation District main channel and east of Sellers Avenue and direct urban growth to west and the north.

Brentwood’s General Plan also includes policies to establish buffers between agricultural areas and urban developments; maintain and promote the local agricultural sector, and to develop a right to farm ordinance. The City passed a Right-To-Farm Ordinance in 1999 (Ordinance No. 612) that sets forth policies to notify all surrounding homeowners of the presence of agricultural operations and establishes a grievance procedure if any conflict arises.

Contra Costa County’s General Plan includes a wide range of policies dedicated to protecting the viability of agriculture. The primary farmland protection mechanism is the designation of a County Agricultural Core that is zoned to maintain economically viable agricultural units (minimum of 40 acres). The County also has designated an Urban Limit Line to direct development to existing urban areas and away from agricultural lands. The urban limit line concept has been under considerable recent study, and a revised proposal has now been adopted by the Board of Supervisors. Like Brentwood, the County has a Right to Farm Ordinance and requires setbacks for urban uses within or adjacent to agricultural areas.

Finally, the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO) of Contra Costa County maintains a policy to promote “orderly growth and development through the preservation of prime agricultural lands by guiding development away from presently-undeveloped prime agricultural lands (Gov. C. Sec. 56377(a)).”

Economic Analysis of Agricultural Land Values

This sub-section provides a summary of the material in the Appendix. Information on agricultural land values is an important element in the design of an agricultural mitigation program. These data provide a way to establish a consistent development impact fee. They do not imply the price a land trust or anyone else might pay for a conservation easement or fee title to land. The actual price of easements would be determined case-by-case based on a willing seller, an appraisal and a negotiated process. 

Economic and Planning Systems, Inc. reviewed land sales over the past 5 years were reviewed in three areas: (1) the City Agricultural Conservation Area; (2) inside the City’s Planning Area, but outside the City Agricultural Area, and (3) the County Agricultural Core Area outside the City’s Planning Area. Nineteen parcels totaling 375 acres were sold in the Brentwood area between 1994 and 1999. The analysis of these sales produced the following results.

The average sales price for agricultural land in Brentwood was $11,365 per acre. The average parcel size was 20 acres. Average price per acre ranged from $10,748 outside the City Agricultural Conservation Area, to $11,445 in the County Agricultural Core, to $12,074 in the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area. Average parcel size was 15 acres in the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area, 17 acres outside the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area, and 23 acres in the County Agricultural Core Area. Clearly, these prices will vary over time depending on the agricultural market, real estate markets and other factors.

The price of a conservation easement in the City Agricultural Conservation Area could range from below $4,000 to nearly $7,000 per acre. The value of conservation easements is defined as the difference between the “pure” agricultural value – based on income generated from agricultural production – and the total fair market value, which includes future development potential. It is estimated that a conservation easement in the Brentwood area could range from 33 to 58 percent of fair market value. The land sales analysis found that in the last five years, agricultural land in the City Agricultural Conservation Area sold for a weighted average sales price of about $12,000 per acre. 

The final piece of economic information necessary to consider a mitigation program is to estimate what level of funding would be generated given the adopted General Plan of the City. Using build-out estimates from the City, the range of potential revenue was calculated. Revenue generated from an agricultural mitigation fee was estimated to range from $7.3 million to $ 71.9 million, depending on the per acre fee charged. Based on projected future residential development in and around the City of Brentwood, potential agricultural fee mitigation revenues were calculated under three unit fee scenarios ranging from $1,000 per acre to $10,000 per acre. Assuming an average conservation easement value of $5,500 per acre, approximately 1,330 to 13,100 acres of agricultural land (at present values) could be preserved in the Brentwood area using revenues from these mitigation fees. If the lower fee amounts are adopted, outside supplemented funding sources will need to be secured. 

Issues Determined by the Committee 

During its initial meetings, the Committee identified a range of issues and topical areas they wanted the City’s agricultural enterprise program to address. This report addresses these and other issues. 

§ Obtain the support of all stakeholders. Stakeholders include the City and County governments, farmers, developers, environmentalists, residents, consumers, the irrigation districts, neighboring cities, and the state government;
§ Address the economic viability of agriculture in a context of tight competition, low commodity prices, high input costs and limited land availability;
§ Program benefits to small farms/parcels;
§ Address the problem of farm worker housing;
§ Provide protection for scenic values;
§ Explore multiple modes of assistance to agriculture
Easements
Land trusts
Estate planning
§ Enhance cooperative relationships between City/County/farmers/consumers;
§ Promote economic spin-offs 
Agricultural tourism opportunities
Local processing/packing/shipping business activity
§ Develop Brentwood as a research site for small-scale, value-added agriculture; 
§ Draw from a mixture of funding sources including:
Mitigation fees
Funds from adjacent cities, County, state and federal sources
Grants from private foundations
Public funds
§ Address agricultural buffer zones.

















Farmland Mitigation Program

FARMLAND MITIGATION PROGRAM

The following section provides the Committee’s recommendations for the farmland mitigation component of the program, as well as an explanation and rationale for these recommendations. They are not listed in a priority order, but rather in a logical sequence to explain the entire mitigation program. Most of the recommendations in this section are inter-related.

Basic Program Description 

Urbanization in and around Brentwood removes valuable agricultural soils from production on a permanent basis. Residential development is the dominant land use removing farmland, although other urban land uses are also resulting in permanent agricultural loss. While each individual agricultural parcel lost may not be significant, the cumulative loss of farmland has a negative impact on the region’s agricultural base. The 1993 City of Brentwood General Plan Environmental Impact Report recognized the loss of farmland as a significant adverse impact.

It is not possible to fully mitigate for the loss of agricultural acreage without bringing non-farmed land into production. This concept is not likely to be economically feasible nor is there adequate land available in the Brentwood area. It is possible, however, to partially compensate or mitigate for the loss of farmland, through conservation easements and other means.

When farmland is converted to urban use, mitigation would be required directly by offering conserved land on the parcel or nearby or indirectly through a mitigation fee that is used to purchase conservation easements in a designated area of high quality farmland. This compensation, whether it is a mitigation fee or land, would be used to protect valuable farmland within Brentwood’s Agricultural Conservation Area, within the city and/or the County’s Agricultural Core Area. 

This basic approach to mitigate for the loss of agricultural land has been used successfully in other areas of the State. Most programs are relatively simple. For example, in one existing program, for every acre converted to urban land use, the development is required to protect one acre of valuable soil in the same area, with a “perpetual” conservation easement. Brentwood’s proposed program would operate in this way. Most programs protect the land in perpetuity by purchasing the development rights using a permanent conservation easement. The land can still be farmed, bought, sold, etc., but no further development is allowed (unless specific building sites are identified in the easement). The program is strictly voluntary for the seller of a conservation easement or land. Conversely, the program is mandatory for the developer; that is, anyone urbanizing farmland is required to mitigate either by paying an appropriate fee or providing an appropriate parcel with a conservation easement.

The Committee grappled with the fundamental mitigation concept for some time. Ultimately, the Committee supported the concept, but only if the existing residents of Brentwood also demonstrated support for farmland and open space preservation, and willingness to contribute some type of funding. Therefore, the recommendation that the Committee is putting forth is for an interim a program to address the development applications occurring now, but a citizen vote should be taken to gauge support for the concept. The interim program would be removed if the citizens did not support the concept. The interim mitigation program would become permanent if the voters were in support. Voter support was defined by the Committee as conceptual support plus some willingness to fund future agricultural preservation activities. The Committee also believed that the program would be greatly strengthened if the County also developed a requirement to mitigate for loss of agricultural land. 

The Committee recommends the following:

1.1 The City should adopt an agricultural mitigation program as identified in Policy 1.1.4 of the City General Plan, provided that the Brentwood citizens demonstrate support for such a program. The City should adopt an interim ordinance to implement the program over the next several years until a vote can be taken to determine the level of citizen interest and support. The vote of the citizens of Brentwood would be used to: (1) determine if the citizens support the program; and (2) if they will approve a mechanism to help fund agricultural and open space preservation. 

1.2 The Committee also agreed that the agricultural program should be expanded to include County projects and County land preservation opportunities. The City should initiate a dialogue with the County once the City program is in place to see if the County would adopt similar agricultural mitigation requirements. In the meantime, the City should consider cooperative arrangements with the County such as a joint-powers authority or a similar County-based agricultural mitigation program. A consistent agricultural mitigation policy may help prevent development pressure shifting from within Brentwood’s City limits to the adjacent County lands in an attempt to avoid the City’s mitigation fees. 

What Types Of Projects Are Required To Mitigate?

The Committee considered several basic issues in regards to which projects should be required to mitigate: (1) Should the requirements be applied to residential projects only or all urban development including commercial and public projects that convert agricultural land; (2) At what stage in the development process should the program be applied; and (3) Should projects that convert lesser quality soil types also be required to mitigate?

Planned residential projects in the City of Brentwood can be divided into one of six categories as of October 1999. 

§ Category 1: Projects totaling 1,151 potential units on 288 potential acres that are fully approved and under construction. 

§ Category 2: Projects totaling 2,861 potential units on 1,337 potential acres that are fully approved and in possession of tentative subdivision maps. 

§ Category 3: Projects totaling 1,668 potential units on 530 potential acres that are fully approved and have already agreed to pay the City a $1,000/acre agricultural mitigation fee. 

§ Category 4: Projects totaling 600 potential units on 335 acres that are fully approved and have agreed to pay a future City mitigation fee at whatever level is decided.

§ Category 5: Potential projects totaling 8,343 potential units on 1,848 potential acres that are consistent with the 1993 Brentwood General Plan, but require development entitlements. These projects would likely be subject to a mitigation ordinance. 

§ Category 6: There are number of potential projects outside the current City limits, inside the City’s sphere of influence, and part of the City’s current General Plan that will result in impacts to the area’s agricultural land base. These projects total 7,234 units on 4,284 acres. These potential projects would also likely be expected to participate in a mitigation program.

Each of these potential projects is defined in Brentwood’s General Plan.

1.3 The Committee recommends the following criteria for including residential development projects under the mitigation requirement. Projects under construction, with building permits or approved tentative maps approved with no requirement to participate in a mitigation fee program (Categories 1 and 2) have vested rights and are too far along in the development process to be required to mitigate. Projects in which the developer has been previously conditioned to mitigate (Categories 3 and 4) should follow through with their required mitigation agreement based on the proposed impact fee. Projects that are in the early stages of planning and development (Category 5) should comply with any new mitigation ordinance. Farmland mitigation consistent with an adopted ordinance would become one of the City’s standard conditions of approval for projects involving the conversion of farmland. Projects outside City limits, but within Brentwood’s sphere of influence (Category 6) cannot currently be addressed under a City ordinance. However, when and if any of these areas are annexed by the City, the ordinance would then apply to these projects. 

While residential projects make up a significant proportion of agricultural land conversion, there are numerous public projects (such as parks, infrastructure, etc.) and hundreds of acres of non-residential projects (retail, industrial, business parks, etc.) that also will impact agricultural land as the City’s General Plan builds out. The Committee was concerned that imposing an agricultural mitigation fee might affect the City’s ability to compete for commercial projects that provide both jobs and City revenues. However, the Committee also recognized that it would be inconsistent and inequitable if non-residential projects were exempted from the fee or required to pay a discounted fee. The Committee did understand and agree that the City Council always has the legal authority (with appropriate findings) to waive or reduce development mitigations for policy objectives such as job-creation, tax revenue potential or public benefits.

1.4 The Committee recommends that all public projects pay into the mitigation fund on an acre-for-acre basis to demonstrate equitable treatment under the ordinance. The Committee also recommends that the ordinance apply to private residential and non-residential projects. The Committee recommends that the fee be set at the same level for all projects.

The Committee considered whether all proposed development areas are to be treated the same in terms of mitigation requirements based on the quality of soils throughout the area. There are substantial differences in the quality of soils surrounding the City. However, most lands could support farming or have in the past. In addition, even smaller more marginal farm parcels contribute to the “critical mass” of local agriculture and support various agricultural services and enterprises. Furthermore, the conversion of even inactive farm lands may have significant indirect impacts on the remaining agricultural economy in the area by increasing congestion on roads used by farm equipment, greater likelihood of conflicts over agricultural practices such as spraying, and higher property taxes for agricultural land owners. 

1.5 Given the generally good quality of Brentwood area soils, the number of small parcels that are still productive, and the complex and time consuming process required to analyze each potential development parcel, the Committee recommends that all appropriate developments which cause the loss of productive agricultural land, regardless of soil type and quality affected, should be required to mitigate at the same level.

What Agricultural Lands Should Be Conserved?

The Committee considered which areas or types of agricultural land around the City should be eligible for purchase of conservation easements or other conservation vehicle. Parcels closer to or within the City may be more costly to protect, but could be of great community benefit. Parcels protected in or near the County Agricultural Core Area would help maintain the large contiguous block of agricultural land that presently exists. Parcels protected along key roads leading into Brentwood would have visual and character value for the community.

1.6 The Committee recommends that the following category be the highest priority for selecting agricultural lands for protection using Brentwood agricultural mitigation funds. 

§ Agricultural lands within the Brentwood Agricultural Conservation Area.

Additional land that would be eligible for protection would include:

§ Agricultural lands within the City limits zoned for agriculture.
§ Agricultural lands adjacent to the City in the County Agricultural Core. 

Within these categories, the City should use the following criteria to select specific parcels for protection. These criteria are intended to guide the City to protect the land with the highest value for agriculture, visual benefits, and role in maintaining a compact urban form. It is the intent to conserve larger parcels, although smaller parcels contiguous to conserved areas or larger parcels would be considered as well. 

§ Visibility from key public roads and entryways to Brentwood.
§ Whether the parcel is contiguous with other relatively large agricultural parcels.
§ Presence of a willing seller.
§ Strategic location near other areas desired for conservation.
§ Vulnerability to urban development.
§ Overall parcel size.

Other funds not originating from the City of Brentwood agricultural mitigation payments are not required to adhere to the priorities listed above.

How Should The Mitigation Fee Be Set?

The Committee considered the level or magnitude of the mitigation fee and how the fee should be set. These decisions are dependent on several variables including conservation easement costs, the residual value available from the development process to allow projects to pay increased fees and still remain financially viable (i.e. ability to pay) and policy implications (i.e. willingness to pay). The Committee analyzed and discussed all of these variables and arrived at an appropriate fee. The Committee recognized that the actual fee will need to be set by City Council and adjusted periodically to account for changing conditions such as land costs. The Committee also wanted to be clear that the developer impact fee may not necessarily reflect what any future landowner may get for a conservation easement on his or her property. Actual transactions will be based on a negotiated agreement with a willing seller and may be lower or higher that the per acre impact fee.

1.7 The City’s Interim Ordinance should be based on strive for a mitigation ratio of 1:1 (acre for acre) for every developed acre, a fee equal to the costs associated with protecting one acre of conserved farmland is required. A developer should have several methods for achieving this required mitigation including offering an agricultural parcel with a conservation easement directly (provided it meets the City’s established criteria) or paying the appropriate fee. In lieu of an actual agricultural easement, the fee should be initially set at $5,000 per gross acre, reflecting a range of $4,000-6,000 per gross acre for conservation easements. This is not necessarily the price that the City (or land trust) would pay for any particular easement. Each easement purchase would be based on proper land appraisals and negotiations with a willing seller. The fee should be evaluated periodically and modified to reflect changes in land values, transaction costs or other variables.

The Committee felt that the $5,000 fee should be kept static during the lifetime of the interim ordinance. If there is a long-term ordinance, the fee should be reviewed annually, and adjusted based on the East County Land Trust recommended changes. The Committee believes that the fee should not increase significantly, and therefore, recommends placing a cap on the maximum percentage rate of future allowed increases. 

1.8 While a fee is the most practical mitigation approach, most similar ordinances also allow for conservation easements to be secured directly by developers and offered directly to the City. From a legal viewpoint, it is preferable to have a “menu” of ways to comply with the mitigation requirement. The City should allow a direct conservation easement option with clear criteria used in deciding if a particular parcel is eligible. The City should retain full authority to accept or reject any offered parcel.

What Land Acquisition Mechanisms Are Appropriate? 

The Committee considered several types of land acquisition mechanisms used to conserve agricultural land including purchase of conservation easements (term or permanent) or purchase of fee title with resale or leaseback arrangements. 

A conservation easement is a legally defined vehicle where land is required to remain open (undeveloped) and available for agricultural or other uses. Easements are very flexible tools because they are individually negotiated. Landowners retain the ability to farm the land, use water, lease it, live on it, or sell the land. In the event of sale of the land, the easement runs with the land title.

1.9 The Committee recommends the primary use of conservation easements, although fee title purchase should be an available option. The Committee had a divided opinion on recommending permanent versus term easements. While term easements provide greater flexibility to the landowner (since he/she can develop at some future time), term easements do not ensure long-term protection of the agricultural land base and may not be the best use of limited mitigation funds. Term easements also do not provide tax-benefits to the grantor, nor do they currently qualify for state or federal funds (such as the California Farmland Protection Program or the Federal Farmland Protection Program). For these reasons, the majority of the Committee agreed to recommend permanent easements as the primary mechanism based on development impact fees. The Council Committee agreed to recommend that City agricultural mitigation funds and other non-mitigation funding sources could be used for purchase of term easements unless otherwise prohibited. Mitigation funds should be available to fund term easements at minimum lengths to be determined by the local land trust subject to City approval. 

How Should the Program Be Administered?

This section of the report describes the recommended administration of the proposed mitigation program. To successfully administer a mitigation program requires an understanding of the different roles and responsibilities involved. It also requires careful planning so that the first projects and transactions are viewed as successful. Establishing a positive track record and credibility with the various interests (i.e. developers, farmers, land brokers, real estate professionals, elected officials from Brentwood, the County and neighboring cities, citizens, etc.) is critical. It is also important to make careful personnel decisions in terms of who negotiates easements, who brings decisions to the City Council, who coordinates with existing land trusts, the County Board, etc. The following general roles are required:

§ Adopt and apply the mitigation requirement.
§ Identify, negotiate and acquire conservation easements and/or land purchase.
§ Identify and obtain other funding sources to supplement the program.
§ Hold, manage and monitor conservation easements and fee title lands.
§ Conduct education and outreach programs for the public, landowners, local attorneys and accountants, decision-makers, etc.

Adopt and Apply the Mitigation Requirement: This set of tasks entails preparation of an ordinance to establish the mitigation fee requirement and ensuring that it is applied in a comprehensive, equitable and consistent manner to each development proposal, collecting fee revenues and keeping on-going accounts. While several institutional models are theoretically possible, such as a Joint Powers Authority or special district, the Committee concluded that the City of Brentwood is the appropriate agency to require the mitigation. The City is the only entity with the statutory authority to require mitigation for projects in the City. The City is also the agency charged with the responsibility to review and condition all development within its jurisdiction. For projects subject to annexation from the County, either the County or LAFCO could require or negotiate some type of mitigation. However, it is administratively simpler and likely to be more consistent for the City to require all mitigation as the project moves through its normal planning process. The City maintains control of project conditions and the developer knows exactly what he or she is expected to do and when the conditions are to be met.

1.10 The Committee recommends that the City of Brentwood Community Development Department place an Interim Ordinance before the Planning Commission and City Council for their consideration (based on the recommendations of this Committee). Once adopted, the Department would apply the mitigation requirement as it would any other development fee or project condition. Once fees are collected there are a number of options for how they might be handled and spent to acquire conservation easements. These options are discussed later in the report. The Interim Ordinance and the mitigation requirement may “sunset” if the citizen vote is negative. The Ordinance would become permanent if the citizen vote is positive.

Identify, Negotiate and Acquire Easements and Land: This fundamental role involves many on-going tasks. At the simplest level, it requires an entity to keep a list of potential willing sellers, maintain regular contact with land owners and farm interests, understand land and easement values, and negotiate and acquire the types of land desired under the program. In addition, while it is customary to start each negotiation with a model easement and a formula for determining land value, each transaction is unique. Therefore, the person(s) who negotiates must be conversant with how easements are developed and revised. Access to legal counsel is usually advisable. There are several models that might work to fulfill these roles including an existing or new land trust, City staff, private brokers hired by the agency or creation of a special district.

One complicating factor is that the City will generate much of the funding through its regulatory authority (mitigation fee), while other funding may come from donations or grants to a land trust. “Blending” funding sources can be very useful in securing easements, but to expend funds may require approval of multiple agencies or boards. Whoever is in charge of this part of the program, needs to have credibility with all interests and expertise in how to secure the necessary approvals.

1.11 The Committee recommends the following general principles for the entity selected to administer conservation easements: (1) Have a single point of contact for land acquisition; (2) Provide as much flexibility and autonomy as possible to allow for open and creative negotiations; (3) Insulate the land acquisition agent from political processes as much as possible, and from regulatory decisions; and (4) Ensure that the person(s) has expertise (or can readily obtain expertise) in land valuation, real estate transactions, agricultural practices, the development review process, tax laws, and charitable giving regulations.

Funding, Outreach and Education: This set of tasks will allow the agency to expand the program and augment some of the financial contributions made by new development. Depending on the potential source of funds, there are varying levels of complexity and limitations. 

These tasks will also involve a comprehensive program of outreach and education. This includes outreach to land owners and farmers, professionals who may advise land owners such as attorneys, real estate agents, appraisers and accountants, other land conservation organizations (such as allied land trusts, American Farmland Trust, special districts, etc.), adjacent cities and the County, local decision-makers, State representatives and the general public. Tasks could include developing brochures, organizing speaker’s bureaus and workshops, speaking or having displays at conferences and community events, holding individual meetings, attending Council or Board meetings, etc. 

1.12 A new local land trust (“East Contra Costa Agricultural Land Trust”) should be formed to negotiate, monitor, hold and manage easements and land. The land trust board should consist of three members appointed by the City, three members appointed by the East Contra Costa Irrigation District (representing agricultural interests), and three members selected by the first six. All six members appointed by the City and ECCID should reside in East Contra County. (The three additional members may reside outside the area.) Other at large, non-voting members could be added to provide additional expertise. The concept is an independent body focused on local agricultural and open space conservation efforts. The board should fairly represent farm and urban interests. The land trust offers the maximum flexibility and potential to seek outside funds and political independence. The board should have the expertise to coordinate successfully with agricultural, funding, regulatory and conservation partners.

Hold, Manage and Monitor Easements and Land: Critical to the success of this program is to manage and monitor assets in a professional, comprehensive manner consistent with the original program objectives. Without this set of tasks, credibility will suffer and the ability of the program to leverage other funding partners such as land trusts, the County, private developers, the State and others will diminish. The land trust must be able to hold conservation easements in a secure manner without undue political influence. The land trust must also be able to monitor those easements on a periodic basis and provide status reports back to its decision-makers. The land trust must also be able to enforce the terms of the conservation easements in a consistent and rigorous manner. 

Finally, the land trust needs to be able to manage lands directly either for brief periods of time or potentially longer periods if land is held in fee title. For example, the trust may be required to buy fee title prior to a sale to a third party (with a conservation easement). In this case, the trust needs to manage the land until the transaction is complete and all land management tasks can be addressed with the new landowner. If the trust acquires fee title and must hold the land for some time, management responsibilities increase substantially. The trust may have to lease land for farming purposes, ensure weed, fire and pest control, deal with neighboring properties, etc. This can be costly and require additional expertise.

1.13 The Committee recommends concentrating on conservation easements to reduce the need for active land management operations. The land trust would hold easements and should have a high degree of credibility in terms of the mission of agricultural land stewardship. The trust would manage and monitor easements and should have expertise with agricultural land practices and credibility in the land owner/farmer community.

Administrative Funding

A successful agricultural protection program requires a consistent funding stream to fund the tasks described in the previous sections (management and monitoring of easements, outreach, legal advise, etc.). Typically, such funding comes from the on-going support available to a land trust or special district or as a part of the conservation easement transaction itself. One option would be that a portion of the mitigation fee charged to the developer is set aside in an administrative account. The Committee felt that this administrative fee should be kept to a minimum, no more than 5%. Often a portion of the transaction is even set aside in a long-term endowment account to generate operating funds many years into the future. For perpetual easements, the responsibilities for management and monitoring continue indefinitely. Therefore, some form of permanent trust account may be appropriate to ensure continued viability of the staff needed to manage and monitor the easements.

1.14 The Committee recommends that City Council allow only a very limited portion of the fees (not to exceed 5%) to be used for administration, easement monitoring and management. With every easement purchase there should be a clear understanding of how the easement will be tracked and what staff or outside resources will be needed. These funding mechanisms should be kept relatively low to direct the great majority of program funds toward land conservation.

Institutional/ Organizational Options

The Committee considered a range of potential organizational options to administer the program:

(1) Using an existing department in the City of Brentwood; 
(2) Creating a new special district for the conservation of agricultural land and 
open space; 
(3) Creating a new Brentwood or East County Land Trust focused on agricultural and open space land conservation in the local area; or 
(4) Relying on the existing Contra Costa Land Trust or another existing land trust by potentially expanding its board and modifying its bylaws to focus on Brentwood area agricultural land.

Tables 1A and 1B illustrate how well each approach compares in terms of completing the basic tasks outlined in the previous section and how well each approach meets certain criteria for achieving an effective organization. The “optimal” organization would be one that has all of the expertise to perform the tasks and presents few limitations; is easy to form (or is already formed); is politically independent and accountable; has broad representation from all stakeholders including the land owner/agricultural community; is compatible with existing agencies and offers the lowest cost operation.

As shown in the tables, no single agency/institution provides all of the functions and meets all of the criteria. It may be necessary to use a combination of approaches to achieve an effective program. It may also be necessary to initiate the program with a relatively simple organization and then modify the roles and relationships as staff expertise is available and as trust and credibility are built up over time.

A land trust devoted exclusively to preservation of agricultural and open space lands in East County for the benefit of local residents would be the best agent for identifying, negotiating and purchasing easements and on occasion, fee title. Land trusts have considerably more flexibility than cities in negotiating and are generally able to spend the time necessary in the land owner community to gain trust and credibility. A land trust is focused solely on the mission of land conservation and does not have to compete with a host of other policy issues, priorities, and mandates for funds and staff. In addition, while no organization is without some political influence, land trusts tend to be less visible and less controversial than cities because they are not involved in regulatory land use decisions. Land trusts also can be set up with a diverse board of directors to achieve a representative balance of the various interests in the area. The one drawback to a new land trust is that one already exists: the Contra Costa Land Trust. The new land trust may appear to be in competition and may compete for limited outside and donor-related funds with the established trust. Second, start-up time can be substantial to recruit new board members, incorporate, hire staff or contract assistance, develop working procedures and the like. And, finally, a new trust may be initially isolated and have a difficult time with outreach and fund-raising.
However, the Committee believed that the advantages of a new trust focused in east County and knowledgeable about local agricultural conditions outweighed any drawbacks. In addition, the Committee came up with a very specific proposal for ensuring that the land trust is representative of different viewpoints and has the necessary expertise.

1.15 The Committee recommends combining the strengths of the City of Brentwood Community Development Department with a new agriculturally-oriented east County land trust to begin operation of the program. The City would administer the fee; the land trust would negotiate, manage and monitor easements and land; the land trust could hold the easements; and both the City and land trust could play a role in outreach, education and coordination. Both the City and the land trust could seek outside funding sources also. For State grant applications, having several entities supporting the application is helpful. For certain non-profits and foundations, a City or a trust may be preferred. Private donations are best handled by a land trust.



Table 1A
Functional Evaluation of Organizational Options

OrganizationalOption Basic Functions 
Acquire & Hold Agricultural Land or Easements Obtain Grants and Dedications Generate Revenues Other Than Mitigation Fees Agricultural Land/CE Management Public Outreach/Education Adopt Agricultural Mitigation Fees
City of BrentwoodExpand Existing City Department Normal government acquisition procedures. Less flexibility than a land trust. May lack credibility with landowners. Potential funding and staffing competition with other City funding priorities. Can compete for federal and state grants. City can accept dedications or in lieu payments as part of land use regulatory procedures. Can raise additional funds although most new sources require voter approval. If rely on City General Fund for operating revenues will compete for funding with other City functions. City may not have existing staff capabilities and expertise in land/ conservation easement management. Potential conflicts with other City functions. May need to hire consultants and or special PR staff to perform this role. Can adopt ordinance to impose agricultural mitigation in-lieu fees.
Create Independent Special Agricultural and Open Space District Normal government acquisition procedures. Independent funding would avoid conflicts with other funding priorities. Can compete for federal, state and local grants. No direct police power dedications. Would require voter approval to create entity. Fund raising powers are determined by enabling legislation and District approval. Could achieve broad Countywide financial support. Specialist agricultural land management staff would need to be retained. Same as above. No ability to collect or implement in-lieu fees. City of Brentwood would collect fees and track revenues. 
Create Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust or East County Agricultural Land Trust This function is generally well performed by a land trust. Not limited by government procedures. Can act creatively in an entrepreneurial manner. Can do private fund raising and can apply for government grants. Can offer tax benefits for bargain sales and charitable donations. Will compete for funds with Contra Costa County Land Trust. No revenue generating ability other than grants and charitable donations. Will need adequate easement monitoring funds and ability to hire qualified staff or contractors to perform this role. Many local land trusts manage 1,000 of acres of land/CEs. Land Trust Board members are well suited for this role since they usually include active and respected members of local agricultural community. Same as above. 
Expand existing Contra Costa County Land Trust or existing another land trust Same as above. Could begin negotiations for land and easements immediately. Same as above but could start fund raising immediately. Would not compete for funds with another local land trust. Same as above. Same as above. Same as above. Same as above.






Table 1B
Institutional Evaluation of Organizational Options

OrganizationalOption Institutional Criteria
Formation Feasibility PoliticalIndependence/ Accountability Representation Compatibilitywith Existing Agencies Cost of Operations
City of BrentwoodExpand Existing City Department Varies: Requires creation of an internal division to acquire and manage agricultural land/easements. Least Independent: Least focused on land conservation mission. Most Accountable: Will be directly controlled by City Council. Most Representative: Will directly reflect City of Brentwood’s concerns. Will lack broad East County representation. Potential Conflict: Land acquisition and land use regulation roles should be kept separate. Low Cost: Use of existing management, staff, equipment and facilities. May need to hire additional specialized staff to negotiate land purchases and manage land and easements.
Create Independent Special Agricultural and Open Space District Difficult: Requires BOS initiation and full LAFCO processing plus voter approval. Board selection and adoption of by-laws can be time consuming.Has statutory permanence. Independent: Completely new entity with independent governing body and funding. Medium Accountability: Will depend on composition of Board. Not directly accountable to City of Brentwood. Varies: Will represent broader East County concerns including those of the City of Brentwood and other local cities. Varies: Potential competition/redundancy with Contra Costa County Land Trust. Costly: Would need to create and manage an entirely new organization. 
Create Brentwood Agricultural Land Trust or East County Agricultural Land Trust Varies: Takes several months to a year to select and recruit Board members, adopt articles of incorporation, obtain tax exempt status and hire staff. Requires special effort on part of motivated citizens willing to donate time and effort. Independent: Not controlled by any government entity. Accountability achieved through “power of the purse strings” i.e. Brentwood City Council would control flow of some funds to the Land Trust. The Land Trust and the City could hold all conservation easements jointly. Highly Representative: Board members will be picked by the City and so will reflect the City of Brentwood’s concerns regarding agricultural preservation Highly Compatible: Non-governmental entity does not replicate or compete with any political or City staff functions. Potential competition/redundancy with Contra Costa County Land Trust. Medium Cost: Will need City funding or other grant funds to get established and during the initial years of operation. Reliance upon volunteer efforts and donations (cash and in-kind) helps reduce operational costs.
Expand existing Contra Costa County Land Trust or existing another land trust Easiest. May require expansion/modification of Board to reflect Brentwood’s concerns. May require modification to adopted goals and mission. May require funds to hire qualified full time staff. Same as above. Low Representation: Existing Land Trust’s mission is not focused on agricultural preservation in the East County. Representation could be improved by placing Brentwood community members on the existing Board and amending the goals and mission statement. Same as above. No competition/redundancy with other local land trust. Least Cost: Use of existing entity eliminates start-up costs and. Reliance upon volunteer efforts and donations helps reduce operational costs.


1.16 The City’s Role: The City of Brentwood would have direct control of the mitigation process because of its regulatory authority over environmental review and development approval. Every development proposal is processed through the City and is required to pay development fees, provide mitigation and meet specific conditions. The fees collected for the agricultural program could be set aside in a dedicated trust account with a certain percentage ear-marked for conservation easement purchase and a certain percentage for administration, monitoring and transaction costs. This dedicated account would be controlled by the City Council. In this way, the elected Council can maintain control of the how the funds are expended, and there is direct accountability to the electorate. 


















Transferable Agricultural Credits Program

TRANSFERABLE AGRICULTURAL CREDITS PROGRAM

The Committee recognized several limitations with the overall mitigation program outlined in the previous section. It is generally oriented toward larger, contiguous agricultural parcels. And, it may not provide adequate funds to purchase easements, particularly in areas of high land value. Many of the areas close to the City are made up of small parcels, with excellent soils, important for visual and quality of life reasons, and likely to be quite costly. The area immediately south of the City bounded by the ECCCID canal, Sellers Avenue and Marsh Creek Road is just such an area (see Figure B). To address this area and provide an additional benefit to farm owners, the Committee developed the idea of “transferable agricultural credits (TAC).” The Committee believes that the south area is a useful location to try a pilot program for this concept. The idea might be broadened to include other areas such as County lands.

The TAC program is not meant to replace the basic mitigation requirement outlined in recommendations 1-1.16. Rather, the program is used to compliment the mitigation effort and focus on land preservation in areas that will be difficult to conserve. 

The TAC program allows parcels that cannot be developed (because the land use is limited to agriculture by the City and/or County General Plans) to be assigned limited “agricultural credits” if a permanent conservation easement is placed on the property. These credits can be transferred as a residential density bonus only to land designated for residential development by the City General Plan and Zoning.

The program can achieve agricultural/open space preservation, growth management, and “smart growth” objectives. Agricultural land can be preserved at minimal public expense. Agricultural landowners benefit because they can make a profit from the sale or “transfer,” of their agricultural credit. This may allow the parcel to remain productive even though it may be very small, close to housing and difficult to economically farm. The agricultural parcel owner can continue to farm it, or leave it as fallow open space, as long as it is not otherwise developed or subdivided. This will prevent premature land conversion and the need for extending urban infrastructure. The urban area benefits because urban lands can be used more efficiently. In Brentwood, residential lands are currently allowed to build-out within a range of densities (e.g. 1-3 units per acre). Typically, unless the developer provides extraordinary benefits to the City, he can only achieve a “mid-range” density (in this case 2 units per acre). By securing TAC’s, the developer could increase the density, say from 2 to 3 units to the acre. This density bonus represents a tangible value to the developer and would establish a market for the transferable credits. 

Under the program, Brentwood (and the County, if it chooses to participate) would designate the agricultural/open space area to be preserved as a TAC “sending area.” The Committee felt that the area south and east of Brentwood was an ideal choice to test the program. The agricultural credit from the sending area can be transferred to a designated “receiving area” and used to increase the density of the receiving area, but never beyond the top end of the range allowed by the General Plan and zoning. 




The specific calculations for how much credit to apply to agricultural parcels and what level of density bonus to allow are still being studied. But the following hypothetical illustrations may help clarify the program. 

A Landowner owns 10 acres of land outside the City in the designated agricultural sending area. If the formula were set at 2 credits per acre, then he would have potential for 20 agricultural credits. Suppose he also owned land inside the City designated for low-density residential use (1-5 units per acre allowed with a mid-range density of 3 units per acre). Without a density bonus, he would be allowed 30 units for his urban parcel. By recording a permanent easement on his agricultural parcel, he could transfer in 20 credits. This would allow the owner to get 50 units on the urban parcel, still within the overall density range, but clearly of higher value. 

In another instance, suppose someone else owns land outside the City, but is not interested in development and owns no developable land in the City. That landowner can be compensated by a Brentwood developer who would buy a conservation easement and transfer the available credits. 

There are still numerous details to work out before this program can be implemented. However, it has promise to compliment and augment the other agricultural protection programs in this report and, if successful, might form a model for similar programs in other areas. The program would entail substantial administration to track credits and transactions, but these administrative costs could be paid out of the development process costs. 

The Committee raised a number of questions in addition to those related to the level of value or credit for each parcel. The first of these questions was whether the County Assessor would modify assessed valuation on properties as a result of granting credit. For the program to function effectively as an agricultural preservation tool, it is advisable not to increase property tax assessments based on offering credit to a parcel. The city would need to initiate discussion with the County to determine how this issue might be resolved. In addition, the Committee raised the issue of whether the initial target area might be expanded if it proves to be successful. Again, further discussion between the City and County would need to occur to determine this.

2.1 The City should further study and, if feasible, adopt a program that allows for transferable agricultural credits in a selected portion of the Brentwood Planning Area. The “pilot” area that should be initially-selected for the program is approximately 2,000 2,160 acres located southeast of the City and is characterized by relatively small, County agricultural parcels at the southern entrance to Brentwood.

Under the program, the City would designate this area as a “credit sending area.” The parcels in the sending area would be designated as having a credit “value” of 2 units per acre. Sending areas should be a minimum of 40 contiguous acres. Developable parcels identified within Brentwood’s General Plan designated for residential use would become credit “receiving areas;” that is, they would be eligible for an increase in residential density (i.e. density bonus) if the developer could transfer in the credits from one or several parcels in the agricultural sending area. The density bonus might increase the urban development density above the current mid-range density to a higher density, but never exceeding the top end of the density established under the General Plan and zoning. To transfer credits, a property owner/developer would be required to purchase or place a permanent conservation easement on the agricultural “sending” parcel(s). The Land Trust Board with concurrence of the city could recommend modifications over time.

The Committee recognizes that numerous details need to be addressed before this program can be placed before the City for adoption. However, the program has several benefits: it would allow for permanent conservation of prohibitively expensive parcels in a strategic location next to the City; it provides an incentive for increased densities within the City to promote a more compact urban form; it compliments the mitigation program described in section 1.0; and it requires no public subsidy other than City management of the process. 


2.2 The City should continue the already begun discussions with the County regarding expanding this transferable agricultural credits concept into other County areas slated for agricultural or open space preservation.

2.3 The City and Land Trust Board should work with the Contra Costa County Assessor and the Board of Supervisors to ensure that a transfer of agricultural credits is not a taxable event that triggers an increase in property tax assessment but instead results in a reassessment at a decreased rate after participating in the TAC or comparable permanent agricultural mitigation transaction.

















Agricultural Enterprise Program

AGRICULTURAL ENTERPRISE PROGRAM

The City of Brentwood has expressed its commitment to agricultural preservation by adopting agricultural protection policies in its General Plan, adopting a Right-to-Farm Ordinance, and initiating this Agricultural Enterprise Program. The most effective and significant role that the City can now play in protecting and promoting local agriculture is to ensure that: 

(1) The farmland mitigation and protection policies in the General Plan are implemented through an agricultural mitigation program as described above;

(2) The Right-to-Farm Ordinance is actively enforced and widely disseminated within the community; and 

(3) The City ensures that future land use planning decisions are sensitive to the needs of growers in the Brentwood area. 

The City will need to play an active role in implementing the mitigation program and ensuring that agricultural mitigation fees are used to make strategic conservation easement purchases that create a permanent edge to the City and protect viable blocks of agricultural land. In addition to these fundamental actions, the City can consider supporting a number of other agricultural programs, as described in this section. 

Farmers often argue that the best way to protect farmland is to ensure that agriculture remains profitable. Unfortunately, there is only a limited role that the City or the County can play to influence the basic underlying economics of agriculture in the Brentwood area. Many major economic factors determine the profitability of farming. They include national and even global market forces, the cost and availability of labor, transportation costs, the price and supply of competing products both nationally and internationally, global consumer preferences, and federal and state agricultural and environmental policies regarding the safety of the food supply and use of chemicals. The influences of climate and soil conditions on agricultural productivity are also beyond the control of local governments. The City of Brentwood can do little to change these underlying basic economic realities. The recommendations put forth by the Committee are not proposed as comprehensive panaceas for protecting agriculture and ensuring its continued existence in the Brentwood area. Rather, they are activities that will help to support local growers and existing agricultural businesses and that provide a positive local policy environment that encourages local growers and farmers to remain in the business and continue making investments in the area. 

In brief, this discussion of agricultural support policies is based on two parameters. 

(1) While important to support agriculture, these programs cannot and should not replace an active and strategic conservation easement acquisition program.

(2) These programs are not intended to support the return or development of large-scale, production agriculture in the Brentwood area. Instead, and these programs seek to support the development of high-value, niche-market agriculture – an approach that many agree is a strategic path for local growers.

This section divides the agricultural support policies and programs into three categories, which are further sub-divided by specific programs:

§ Operational and Financial Support

§ Public Policy Support

§ Marketing Support 

§ Additional Agricultural Support Funds

OPERATIONAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT 
Farmland Security Zones

In 1965, California enacted the California Land Conservation Act to preserve agricultural land and open space and promote efficient growth patterns. The Williamson Act, as it is currently known, allows landowners to create “agricultural preserves” by signing renewable 10-year contracts with local governments. Landowners agree to restrict use of property within the preserves to agricultural or open space uses for the term of the contract. In return the land is assessed at its agricultural use value, which generally results in a property tax reduction for the landowner. The state reimburses counties with Williamson Act acreage for approximately one-third of the total property taxes lost. These reimbursements to the counties from the state are known as subvention payments. As of 1995, about 50 percent of California’s agricultural land was enrolled in the program and more than 70 percent of the state’s estimated prime farmland acreage was under contract. Contra Costa County has over 60,000 acres for farmland and grazing land enrolled in Williamson Act contracts. 

The Farmland Security Zone (FSZ) program (California Government Code Section 51296) is an intermediate-term land conservation program that could provide a valuable benefit to eastern Contra Costa County farmers. It offers a readily available option for landowners interested in limited-term land conservation over and above the benefits of being under a Williamson Act contract .

The FSZ program (established by Senate Bill 1182 of 1998) is available in Williamson Act counties and, thus, could be offered to Contra Costa farmers currently enrolled in Williamson Act contracts. In order to create an FSZ, a landowner, or group of landowners may petition the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors (the Board) to create a farmland security zone for the purposes of entering into farmland security zone contracts. Upon approval by the Board, landowners could request to convert existing 10-year Williamson Act agreements into 20-year contracts. In exchange for the 20-year restriction against development, a landowner would receive the following benefits:

§ Additional 35% reduction in property taxes (below Williamson Act assessment).

§ Prohibition on annexation of land within an FSZ to a city or special district or for use as a public school site.

§ Requirement that new special taxes for urban-related services be levied at a reduced rate, if at all.

Under a change in state law taking effect January 1, 2000 (Senate Bill 649 of 1999), counties would receive an additional $8 per acre in subvention payments for FSZ-enrolled land that is within three miles of a City sphere of influence. Therefore, while Contra Costa County may experience some reduction in property tax revenues due to the FSZ program, the financial impact should be somewhat mitigated by the increased reimbursements for landowners in the vicinity of Brentwood who choose to enroll in the FSZ program. The Contra Costa County Department of Community Development has recently initiated a study process on developing a FSZ in the county. 

3.1 The City should work with and support the County, the County Agricultural Task Force, the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations and others in their efforts to create a Farmland Securities Zone (FSZ) program in east County. This program (the so-called “Super Williamson Act”) can offer additional property tax relief to active farms with 20-year restrictions on land conversion. 

Estate Planning 

Depending on the individual landowner’s situation, the placement of an agricultural conservation easement on his or her property may provide income, property, and estate tax benefits. In most cases, the degree of benefit depends on the landowner’s willingness and ability to make a charitable donation of all or a portion of the easement’s value. The Federal Estate Tax is levied on the value of the property retained in the estate. Therefore, reducing the value of a property with restrictions on future development potential may lower, and in some instances eliminate, Federal Estate Taxes. 

The Federal Taxpayer’s Relief Act of 1997 has made certain, qualifying conservation easements more attractive from the perspective of estate planning by permitting estates with land subject to such easements to exclude up to 40 percent of the value of those lands from estate taxation. It should be noted that in order to qualify for tax benefits a conservation easement must be made in perpetuity. The 40 percent exclusion is in addition to the reduction in the value of the land resulting from the easement itself. The maximum exclusion amount was $100,000 in 1998, and it increases regularly until 2002 when it caps at $500,000. To qualify the land must meet location criteria concerning proximity to a metropolitan area or a national forest or park. In some circumstances, the easement can make the difference between being able to pass the family farm onto heirs tax-free and/or having to sell the farm to pay estate taxes. As every landowner’s financial situation is different, a tax advisor should be consulted. The California Oak Foundation, based in Oakland, has a mission of preserving family lands in California and offers seminars in estate tax planning. 

3.2 The City, in cooperation with the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations and others, should facilitate seminars in estate tax benefits for interested growers and/or their financial, legal and tax advisors. Such training is available from the California Oak Foundation and other appropriate conservation organizations. 

Economic Development Strategies

According to the American Farmland Trust, some local governments are incorporating agricultural business strategies into their traditional economic development plans. For example, four local governments in Maryland employ economic development specialists who advise on new products, services, marketing strategies, and management techniques to increase profitability. The City of Brentwood is currently working on various strategies to bring new businesses and employment opportunities to Brentwood. These same economic development strategies can equally be applied to attract agricultural infrastructure businesses, such as equipment and chemical suppliers, agricultural processing plants, agricultural research and biotechnology firms. Typical economic development strategies include loan programs, tax incentives, streamlined permitting, and waiving of certain development impact fees and/or reduced contributions to public infrastructure projects for qualifying businesses. City and/or County sponsored business “incubators” that provide facilities with reduced rents, joint administrative services, and customized technical support could also be developed to promote start-up agricultural enterprises. 

While these type of economic development programs may assist in attracting agricultural businesses to the Brentwood area, it may be difficult to overcome the underlying economics, which suggests that there is an insufficient number of large-scale growers to create and sustain the economies of scale needed by most agricultural support industries. 

3.3 The Committee recommends that the City review current economic development policies and consider expanding them to include agricultural support businesses.

Agricultural Forum

The Committee discussed ways to promote cooperative action by area farmers. Forums for farmers to share innovations in production, marketing, and processing, to devise cooperative responses to common problems, and to formulate economic development have been created in areas such as St. Helena, Calistoga, and the Livermore Valley. Such discussion forums have often served to develop leadership capacity in the agricultural sector, and have contributed greatly to economic vitality in these areas. Such forums can also serve as a means for consultation between public entities (e.g., municipal, county, and state agencies) and the farming community.

3.4 The Committee recommends that the City support the development of a discussion forum for area farmers. To be effective, members of the agricultural community should initiate the forum. However, the City can support this dialogue by active consultation with the agricultural community whenever planning, agricultural and economic development policy issues arise. The City could consider creating a standing Agricultural Advisory Committee to advise the Council on how City policy affects local growers and landowners.

PUBLIC POLICY SUPPORT
City Policies: General Plan

The City of Brentwood’s General Plan sets clear goals for the protection of productive agricultural land in the City’s Planning Area. The agricultural mitigation program is one of the primary means for the City to accomplish this goal. Of all the additional agricultural support policies presented in this report, the most effective way for the City to accomplish this goal is through careful and strategic planning of future urban growth in the Brentwood area. General Plan policies that maintain growth within urban areas, cooperating with neighboring jurisdictions on developing community separators, and prioritizing protection of agriculture in the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area are deserving of continued support and implementation. The City’s current General Plan Update process is an important opportunity to further develop a land use planning approach that prioritizes the protection of agricultural lands. Key issues to consider will be the continued designation of the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area for ongoing long-term agricultural uses, encouraging an urban growth pattern based on compact, well-planned and phased development. 

3.5 The Committee recommends that the City use the General Plan Update process to promote a development pattern that protects important agricultural lands in the Brentwood Planning Area.
Agricultural Buffers

Agricultural buffers or agricultural transition areas can reduce conflicts between urban and agricultural land uses. Separating agricultural from urban uses can help reduce the actual or perceived impacts on residents (spray drift, noise, odor, dust) and on agricultural operations (theft, trespass, restrictions on farming practices). Depending on their design, buffers can also provide associated visual, recreational, and wildlife habitat benefits. 

Both the City of Brentwood and Contra Costa County have provisions in their general plans and other planning documents that support the implementation of agricultural buffers. While the City does not have a formal standard that governs the design or size of agricultural buffers, in practice, the buffers that have been implemented have ranged from 100 to 300 feet. The County’s practices on buffers have been primarily implemented by the County Agricultural Commissioner in the form of spray restrictions on agricultural parcels. These restrictions require no spraying in an area on selected agricultural parcel that can range from 100 to 500 feet from the edge of the property. The actual width is based on the specific chemical applied, the prevailing wind conditions and the presence of sensitive adjacent land uses (such as schools). In cases in which a non-restricted chemical is being applied, a cooperative agreement is often developed with the grower to adapt spraying schedules and notify neighbors to minimize impacts on surrounding areas. 

Critical questions to resolve in the design and implementation of agricultural buffers include the following. 

§ How wide are the buffers? Cities and counties around California require setbacks between urban development and agricultural uses ranging from the minimum of no specified width (Kern and Ventura Counties, City of Santa Maria), to a moderate category of between 100-300 feet (Sonoma and Santa Cruz Counties, cities of Davis and Petaluma); to a high restrictive category of up to 800 feet in San Luis Obispo County. The majority of the setback widths in practice are in the range of 75 to 200 feet. When buffer policies include a range of possible widths, the actual width is based on a combination of the agricultural practices (types and methods of spraying), the sensitivity of the surrounding land use (especially schools), and the design of the buffer (presence of wind breaks to reduce spray drift). The benefits of a wider buffer is that it can more effectively reduce the mutual conflicts between agriculture and urban uses and provide greater associated benefits (e.g., greenbelts/ open space). The difficulty of wider buffers is primarily based on the economic impacts on the developer and the costs of maintaining the buffer area. 

§ What uses and facilities are allowed on them? Some buffer programs distinguish between an “urban/agricultural buffer” area directly adjacent to the agricultural parcel for minimal public use and an “agricultural transition” area for public recreational use between the buffer and the urban areas. The urban/ agricultural buffer can include agricultural uses, trees or hedge rows, roads, drainage channels, storm detention ponds, natural areas such as creeks or drainage swales, railroad tracks and utility corridors. The “agricultural transition” area can include bicycle trails and walking paths but should not be designed to attract high volumes of users and should be designed to prevent trespassing into cropland by including fences, signage, and facilitating regular police patrols. This two-part approach to buffers provides a range of public benefits while still separating urban and agricultural uses. In general, it is advisable for buffers to include facilities that are already in place (such as roads, right-of- ways, drainage channels etc.) which will both minimize the imposition of additional land dedications and ensure that a system is in place to maintain the buffer once established. 

§ On whose land are they located? Setbacks are typically designated on the developer’s land, often as a mitigation measure, or a condition of approval. If this is not done, the grower is doubly burdened by losing the use of productive land with no compensation. This is the case with spraying restrictions that, in the absence of a dedicated buffer between the agricultural and urban uses, are placed on the grower’s parcel. Buffer areas can also be located partially or exclusively on public land (city or county) either by the inclusion of existing public facilities such as roads and other right of ways, or by the deeding portions of a developers’ land for a public purpose such as a municipal park or trail system. Buffer areas can span multiple ownerships. For example, a buffer could include a row of hedges and trees on a grower’s property, a public roadway, and a setback on a developer’s property. 

§ Who is responsible for their maintenance and administration? Responsibility for maintenance and administration are largely dependent on who owns the buffer area. Buffers are often established to include existing public lands and facilities (such as roads or canals). Buffers can also be established on a developer’s property, and either be maintained by the developer or subsequent owner, or dedicated to the city or county. Depending on the use of the buffer, it would then be maintained by the appropriate public entity (such a drainage/flood control district in the case of drainage or flood control structures.) Public maintenance of buffers is often preferable to ensure a consistent standard of care throughout the system. 

3.6 The Committee recommends that the City adopt a clear and consistent buffer policy to separate urban and agricultural uses and reduce nuisance opportunities. The details of the policy should be developed as part of its General Plan Update and implemented during development application review through conditions of approval. Recommended parameters include the following:

§ Width: A width of 75-150 feet between the edge of the agricultural parcel to the ultimate urban property line. This width can vary on a case by case depending on the design of the buffer (for example, the use of a windbreak can reduce the potential for spray drift), and the surrounding uses (wider buffers may be needed around sensitive facilities such as schools). Some flexibility on buffer width should be allowed on small parcels zoned for urban uses that would otherwise be unable to develop.

§ Allowable uses: At least half of the buffer should be free from public use to provide a separation between uses and to address growers’ concerns about trespass, theft and liability. Where feasible, the remainder of the buffer should be used for infrastructure, recreational or other beneficial uses. Existing public infrastructure should be incorporated into the buffer as much as possible (such as roads, detention ponds, and canals). The City’s buffer plan should be coordinated with the City’s Trail Master Plan and the East Bay Regional Park District’s Trail Plan.

§ Land dedication: Buffers should be dedicated from existing public land if possible, or from the developer’s land. Buffers should be created around land planned (and zoned) for future agricultural use. Any development proposed adjacent to existing agricultural land shall provide an Urban Reserve (UR) buffer until such time as the agricultural use ceases at which time the UR area can be considered for urban development.

Circulation

Interviews with growers conducted for the Agricultural Enterprise Program indicated the difficulty of moving farm equipment on increasingly crowded public roads as a significant obstacle to the continued viability of agricultural operations in the area. This is a particular problem in Brentwood where growers often farm on several small parcels spread throughout the area, necessitating the frequent transportation of equipment on public roads. Growers expressed concerns about their own safety as they attempt to exit, enter and crossroads, as well as the safety of their farm stand customers. Development along Brentwood’s urban edge adds additional vehicles to rural roads typically used by growers and attracts new residents who may be less familiar and accommodating of growers’ transportation needs and concerns. On the other hand, it is interesting to note that a community-wide survey conducted for the Brentwood General Plan Update indicated a low level of concern about agricultural vehicles on the road. For example, only 6.5% of all those surveyed defined the issue as a major concern. While this percentage was higher among long-term residents (25 years or more), even in this group, only 15% defined the issue as a major concern. Nonetheless, the unanimity among the growers on this issue suggests that the City should consider ways to address it. 

The best way Brentwood can reduce conflicts between agricultural and urban uses is through the strategic planning of where and how urban development is to occur in and around the City. Directing urban growth away from the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area, County Agricultural Core, and other prime agricultural areas can help reduce traffic on roads important for farm vehicle transportation. However, because it will be impossible to prevent drivers from choosing these routes, the City will need to develop the means to accommodate both agricultural and urban traffic on its roadways. 

The City can improve road design in important agricultural areas (such as along Sellers Road and in the Agricultural Conservation Area more generally). This can include ensuring adequate sight distances especially near farm stand entrances and along roads bordered by orchards where the trees can reduce the visibility of farm driveways and roadway intersections. Stop signs or traffic signals can be installed at high traffic intersections to allow the crossing of farm vehicles. The City can provide more comprehensive signage to alert to the presence of farm vehicles on the roads. The City could also work with the Farm Bureau and other organizations to develop public education materials and events to inform residents about the transportation needs and concerns of growers. 

3.7 The Committee recommends that the City review the road design and signage in agricultural areas to ensure the mutual convenience and safety of agricultural and urban users. 

Consultation

From time to time, the City may develop policies that may have unintended negative consequences for agriculture. In these cases, the City has tried to work in consultation with growers to reduce or eliminate these consequences. One recent example is City’s development of a proposed ordinance to regulate runoff entering its storm water system. This policy was initiated to ensure that the City maintains compliance with the National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) under the Federal Clean Water Act. While many growers were concerned about the initial versions of the ordinance, the City has taken steps to reduce the impact of this proposed ordinance on agricultural operations. This has included City assistance in constructing and funding discharge control structures, and several exemptions such as compliance with State and City Best Management Practices (BMPs) on agricultural run-off. This mode of consultation between the City and growers represents an important precedent for resolving policy issues in ways that meet the needs and concerns of both parties.

3.8 The Committee recommends that the City continue to actively consult with the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations, growers, U.C. Cooperative Extension, the County Agricultural Commissioner and other agricultural interests on projects that may impact agricultural operations in the Brentwood area. The Committee also recommends that the City create project conditions of approval that support continued agricultural uses within City Limits.

County Policies: Land Use Designations 

Most growers in the Brentwood area own or lease parcels outside the City limits on unincorporated County land and are therefore regulated by the County’s General Plan land use designations and zoning. The two primary County land use designations that affect farmland are “Agricultural Lands” for areas able to support agriculture and “Agricultural Core” for prime farmlands. Uses such as agricultural processing facilities; agricultural equipment and services businesses; and agricultural tourism (e.g. farm stands, tasting rooms, guest ranches, horse training and boarding facilities, farm home-stay/ bed and breakfast inns) are allowed by issuance of a land use permit on areas designated as “Agricultural Lands” in the General Plan. Lands designated as “Agricultural Core” in the General Plan do not allow these uses. 

There are also a range of zoning districts that specify both minimum parcel size (from 1 acre up to 80 acres) and permitted and conditional uses. In zoning districts with smaller minimum parcel sizes, agricultural tourism facilities such as farm stands are a permitted use, while in the districts with the larger minimum parcel sizes (A-4, A-20, A-40, A-80) agricultural tourism facilities such as farm stands are allowed only by issuance of a land use permit. 

These General Plan and zoning standards are important components of a strategy to protect agricultural areas from encroachment by urban or other incompatible uses. Preventing the subdivision of agricultural parcels into non-viable agricultural units or for non-agricultural purposes are important policy objectives. However, these land use and zoning standards can also impede the ability of farmers to develop, invest in, and maintain agricultural enterprise opportunities. This is especially important given the small operation size, high production costs, low market prices and competition from larger-scale agricultural operations facing Brentwood growers. Examples of these impediments include the limitations on farm stand size, the requirement of selling only produce grown on the associated farm, the inability to produce and sell prepared foods, limitations on signage, the extensive cost and time involved in obtaining a land use permit, and the inability to pursue some agricultural tourism related activities (such as farm stores) in the Agricultural Core. 

3.9 The Committee recommends that the City, in consultation with the Farm Bureau local agricultural organizations and other agricultural representatives, work with the County to analyze options to revise the County zoning code to better support agricultural tourism activities in the Brentwood area. In most cases, this would involve revising the zoning code to better implement the agricultural support goals and policies in the General Plan. Options to consider in this analysis might include ways to streamline the land use permit process for agricultural tourism facilities such as farm stands, agriculturally-themed bed and breakfasts and wine-tasting rooms in the Agricultural Lands areas. Any revisions to the County zoning code should include provisions to ensure that such facilities are developed in support of maintaining a viable agricultural sector as opposed to promoting the sub-division of agricultural parcels, reducing minimum parcel sizes, or converting to non-agricultural uses. Traffic safety concerns near existing and new agricultural enterprises must also be addressed. 

3.10 The City should also work cooperatively with County departments such as Environmental Health, Building Inspection, Community Development and Public Works to review agency policies and procedures to ensure their support of the agricultural sector. Examples of such policies and procedures would include the standards used by Environmental Health to review farm stands, and the definition and implementation of agricultural building codes enforced by the Building Department.

Farm Worker Housing

Interviews with growers conducted for this study indicated that availability of housing for farm workers is a problem for the viability of their operations. Numerous other studies have documented the lack of quality and quantity of farm worker housing throughout the state. Typically, labor contractors bring in farm workers to Brentwood from the Stockton area and other cities in the Central Valley. Individual farm workers often commute in from other urban areas in Contra Costa County. For the growers, this lack of a local labor force increases the costs and uncertainty about a reliable labor supply. For the workers, the lack of local housing options adds transportation costs and time to their already precarious work arrangements. Tight housing supply also promotes overcrowding in units that are both high-priced and of sub-standard quality. The recent passage of Assembly Bill 1505 (1999) requires cities and counties to assess the existing stock of housing for farm workers and to include provisions in their General Plan Housing Elements to meet these needs. 

Approaches to increasing the supply of housing for farm workers have included the following:

§ Farm-site units or camps. These arrangements avoid any commute for workers but are often far from services, schools, and shopping. Stricter housing regulations have also made many growers wary of providing such facilities. Some innovative dormitory-type facilities for single-male workers have been designed to provide high quality, inexpensive housing and a range of services. However, even these projects have faced opposition from neighbors as being too intrusive. In addition, such camps are typically only open to single male workers which excludes families from the agricultural labor force. 

§ State or County-run Housing Centers. These arrangements provide relatively high quality housing and services to farm worker families. Conversely, they exclude single male workers. In addition, because they are only open half of the year, they do not accommodate families seeking to become permanent residents. Finally, space is limited in these facilities and the number of units and centers is decreasing.

§ Low-income/affordable housing. Many farm worker advocates support the development of additional low-income/ affordable housing in urban areas as the preferred mode of housing farm workers. Such a strategy provides workers with higher quality living accommodations and access to services, shopping, and off-season employment. Both single workers and families can be accommodated. In addition to the usual affordable housing sources (e.g., City Redevelopment Agency funds, Community Development Block Grants and state Housing and Community Development Grants), low-income housing targeted specifically for farm workers can qualify for special programs through the US Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development program. Other funding options include Federal Farm Labor Housing Act Sections 514/516 (loans and grants for rental housing); Section 502 (loans and grants for home-owner assistance), and California Endowment funds for farm worker housing and health program (distributed through the Rural Community Assistance Corporation.) Other options include “sweat-equity” homebuyer and multi-family unit rehabilitation programs administered by cities and counties. 

3.11 The Committee recommends that the City work with the County in consultation with farm worker organizations, the Farm Bureau other local agricultural organizations, and affordable housing organizations to develop plans to increase the supply of quality farm worker housing as part of a broader low-income/affordable housing strategy in existing urban areas. Innovative plans for on-site farm accommodations might also be considered. 


MARKETING SUPPORT

Regional Marketing 

The close proximity of east Contra Costa County to major urban communities in the Bay Area has both advantages and disadvantages. The major disadvantages are the increasing number of conflicts between urban and agricultural uses, increased traffic congestion that is particularly difficult during harvest time, and the high cost of land, labor, and other factors of production. On the positive side, there is a ready-made market of urban dwellers with disposable income looking for recreational opportunities and who have an appreciation for high-value, healthy, local produce.

While there are a number of programs that can be considered to promote and market East County Agriculture, it must be recognized that at best these programs can help to supplement local growers’ incomes but cannot be expected to replace local farmers’ incomes from traditional farming activities. There are several agricultural marketing programs, including: direct marketing, farmers’ markets, community-supported agriculture, and agricultural-tourism. Each of these programs is described below. 

Direct Marketing and Agricultural Tourism 

It has been noted that most fruit and vegetable production in Contra Costa County does not enjoy a competitive advantage in terms of yields per acre compared to statewide production, except from three crops: apples, apricots, and corn. Therefore, an agricultural enhancement strategy should provide opportunities for fruit and vegetable growers to market their produce to local and specialty markets. According to the American Farmland Trust, growers who market agricultural products directly to customers usually receive higher prices than farmers who sell wholesale. Growers in the Brentwood area are already participating in a direct marketing program by pooling their resources to produce the annual Harvest Time brochure, which maps and describes most of the picked and U-pick produce locations and participating farms, and maintains a web site with up-to-date information on Brentwood farms and the best time to procure local produce. 

Other direct marketing activities may include “branding” greater Brentwood products to enhance the cache of locally grown produce. In Sonoma County, for example, the Board of Supervisors created a marketing program for the County’s agricultural industry in 1989. The goals of this program, known as Select Sonoma County, were to increase farmers’ revenues by financially supporting and promoting agricultural products grown and/or processed in Sonoma County, so as to encourage Sonoma County farmers to stay in agriculture instead of converting their land for non-agricultural uses. The program requires a significant investment of about $200,000 annually, of which 50 percent is funded by Transient Occupancy Tax revenues and the remainder is funded by grants, special events, and dues from its 350-members. The Select Sonoma program uses the funds to advertise the County’s products, educate consumers, sponsor special events, and produce a monthly newsletter. The success of the Select Sonoma program is due in part to the size of its operation (about 150 members are growers and the rest are retailers, restaurateurs, and bed and breakfast operators), which may be difficult to duplicate in the Brentwood area. Farm tourism, or agri-tourism, was originally established in Europe, New Zealand, and Australia and is now becoming popular in New England and in coastal California, such as Marin, Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino counties. According to Desmond Jolly of the Small Farm Center, University of California at Davis, agri-tourism can be defined as any farm-based businesses offered “for the enjoyment and education of the public, to promote the products for the farm, and thereby generate additional farm income.” Agri-tourism works best in scenic farming communities close to large urban areas. Entrepreneurial growers are offering educational and recreational services, such as school tours, hay rides, crop mazes, petting zoos, ranch vacations (overnight farm homestays), bed and breakfast operations, as well as U-pick operations, roadside stands, pumpkin and harvest festivals, and various other activities such as birdwatching hikes and farm tours. 

Most farmers who choose to offer agri-tourism activities do so for the dual purpose of educating urban dwellers about the importance of agriculture in the local economy and to boost farm income. However, not all farmers want to, or are able to pursue agri-tourism, which can be distracting from the main business of running an agricultural operation. At best agri-tourism enables some farmers to supplement their income while educating urban dwellers about the importance of supporting local farmers; however, it cannot, by itself ensure the long-term viability of local agriculture. While it may not be appropriate to spend limited agricultural mitigation funds on promoting agri-tourism in Brentwood, two possible activities that could bring tourists to the area are described below. 

Agri-tourism in Brentwood would benefit from any activities that promote the East County region as a tourist destination and attract visitors to the area. For example, the Delta Science Center, which is proposed to be built along the delta shore in Oakley and would carry out significant marine and delta aquatic education and interpretive programs, could become a major regional attraction. Effective marketing of the Brentwood area as a place to stay overnight, eat a meal, and/or shop for locally produced goods could encourage some of these future visitors to extend their visit to the area. Farmer’s Markets were discussed as another possible marketing and distribution approach for the area. However, the Committee did not feel comfortable recommending that idea because it might compete against the already-established tourist-related businesses and may not be that effective.

A recent change in state law (AB 1258) expanded the definition of “restricted food service transient occupancy establishment” to include agricultural homestay establishments. This bill amends Section 113870 of the Health and Safety Code and means that farmers offering guest accommodations may serve meals at any time (i.e., breakfast, lunch, and dinner) without having to meet all the strict public health requirements of a commercial kitchen, providing that agriculture is the primary source of income for that establishment. Prior to this amendment, agricultural homestay establishments could not offer any meals besides breakfast, unless they had a certified commercial kitchen. The Harvest Time brochure could be expanded to include local farms that offer homestays.

3.12 The Committee recommends that the City work with the Farm Bureau, local agricultural organizations, the County, Chamber of Commerce and area growers to encourage the development of agricultural retail businesses by promoting local agricultural events and other direct marketing programs by advertising them on the City’s web site, through other regional media, and through the promotion and distribution of the Harvest Time brochure and map. 
The Committee recommends that the City work with the Chamber of Commerce and the Farm Bureau to market the unique historic and scenic values associated with Brentwood agriculture in regional and statewide tourism promotion venues.

Community Supported Agriculture

A relatively recent form of direct marketing, so-called community supported agriculture, eliminates the store or market and allows farmers to deliver products directly to consumers’ doors. There are several types of programs ranging from those in which the customer has a relationship with a specific farm and those in which the customer receives a selection of produce from several local farms. In the first type of program, which provides the most support to the farmer but has the least amount of flexibility for the consumer, the customer pays a share of the harvest at the beginning of the year and receives a weekly box of vegetables and fruits throughout the growing season. In the second type of program, the customer pays a weekly fee to receive a box of seasonal produce bought direct from several local growers. 

3.13 The City should support and facilitate a local growers’ organization in the Brentwood area that would allow individual growers to offer a selection of farm products to urban customers in the region. This might involve community information, providing facilities for events, or other activities.

Agricultural Research & Product Development 

Some communities have chosen to support their local agricultural community by offering grants for agricultural research and enhancement projects. In San Diego County, for example, the Resource Conservation District (RCD), together with the California State Coastal Conservancy (CSCC), has created the Carlsbad Agricultural Research and Grant program for the benefit of agriculture in the City of Carlsbad. Carlsbad is known predominantly for nursery and floriculture crops, strawberries, tomatoes, and other high-value specialty field crops. The objectives of the program, which was developed about 10 years ago, are as follows:

§ To improve the production efficiency and economic viability of Carlsbad’s agriculture by developing practices that lower production costs, increase yields, or improve product quality and marketability.

§ To improve the technologies involved in the processing and storing of Carlsbad agricultural products.

§ To aid and encourage the marketing of Carlsbad agricultural products.

§ To conserve Carlsbad soil and water resources. 

Grants are generally for $25,000 or less and projects with matching funds are given preference. Typical projects funded by Carlsbad Agricultural Grant Program have included creating and implementing school garden programs, developing a local flower variety which lessened local growers dependency on imported root stock, and researching and testing a solution to the whitefly problem.

3.14 The Committee recommends that the Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Program Mitigation funds be used primarily for conservation easement acquisitions. To the extent that supplemental funds can be raised, these could be used to promote an agricultural research and marketing program similar to the program in Carlsbad. In particular, the City could allocate funds to support the development of high-value specialty crops such as wine grapes, flowers (including fruit tree branch blossoms), and herbs. 


ADDITIONAL AGRICULTURAL SUPPORT FUNDS
State Grants 

The Department of Conservation, through its Division of Land Resources Protection (DLRP), offers financial assistance to local governments and landowners for farmland and open space protection. The California Farmland Conservancy Program (formerly known as the Agricultural Land Stewardship Program) is a voluntary program that seeks to encourage the long-term, private stewardship of agricultural lands through the use of agricultural conservation easements. The California Farmland Conservancy Program (CFCP) was created in 1996 originally as a trial program. It has now received permanent funding, although the amount varies from year to year. The 1999-2000 State Budget allocated $1.5 million to the CFCP; this, combined with funding remaining from prior years, means that the program has a total of about $10 million available for conservation easement purchases for the entire State of California. The primary focus of the CFCP is the preservation of irrigated agriculture. The grants are available only for the purchase of perpetual conservation easements. Local governments and non-profits are eligible to apply for CFCP grants. 

3.15 The City of Brentwood, in conjunction with the existing Contra Costa County Land Trust and/or the newly formed East County Land Trust, should submit applications for California Farmland Protection Program grants for purchases of conservation easements in the greater Brentwood area.

Federal Grants 

The Farmland Protection Program (FPP) is a voluntary program that helps farmers keep their land in agriculture. FPP funds are from the Federal Government’s Commodity Credit Corporation (CCC), which funds several United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) conservation programs. Total funding for the FPP was established in the 1996 Farm Bill, at $35 million over 6 years. Currently, all available funding has been utilized, and it is unknown if the Farmland Protection Program will receive additional funding in the future. However, Congress is currently considering the Conservation and Reinvestment Act (CARA) HR 701, which includes the proposal to fund $100 million annually for voluntary conservation easements. If this bill is enacted there could be funding available either through the FPP or other similar programs for which Brentwood could apply. 

The FPP provides funding to state, local, or tribal entities with existing farmland protection programs to purchase conservation easements. Priority is given to applications that strive for perpetual easements, although a minimum of 30 years is required. All lands enrolled must have a conservation plan developed, according to the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Field Office Technical Guide. The NRCS (within the USDA) is designated as the lead agency in implementing this program.

To participate, landowners submit applications to state, local, or tribal entities and agree to limit the use of their land. State, local, or tribal governments may make applications for grants under the FPP to acquire conservation easements on productive farmland. Other requirements are as follows:

§ Prime, unique, or other productive soil.
§ Part of a pending offer from a state, local, or tribal farmland protection program. 
§ Privately owned.
§ Large enough to sustain agricultural production.
§ Accessible to markets for what the land produces and have adequate infrastructure and agricultural support services.
§ Have surrounding parcels of land that can support long-term agricultural production. 

3.16 The City and newly-formed land trust should track available sources of federal, state and foundation funding and pursue such funding for farmland protection as it becomes available. 

Private Foundations

Certain foundations offer funds for purchasing conservation easements on agricultural land. The Packard Foundation, for example, offers grants for agricultural preservation under their Conservation Program’s Transactions Grants. The Conservation Program has an emphasis on acquisitions of agricultural land over 100-acres in size in undeveloped or rapidly developing areas. The new 5–year Conserving California’s Landscape’s Initiative designates $175 million over a 5-year period for acquisitions in four regions. Historically, the Foundation has concentrated its charitable giving to acquisitions along the Central Coast and in the Sierra regions. The Foundation’s geographic interests are expected to expand in future years and could potentially include parts of Contra Costa County. Other foundations that have given funding for land conservation are the Hewlett, Irvine, Wallace Genetic, and Heller Charitable Foundations. 

Local Technical Support/Capacity Building

One of the most valuable roles that the City and County could play in supporting the Agricultural Enterprise Program would be offering technical support and training in fundraising and grant proposal writing to the Contra Costa County Land Trust and/or other newly established local land trust. Experience has shown that those land trusts with qualified and experienced full-time executive directors and staff are generally the most effective in achieving their land conservation goals. While volunteers can perform a valuable support role, it is unlikely that they can consistently devote the time and energy required to negotiate conservation easement purchases, follow transactions through to their conclusion, and meet grant proposal, tax filing, and reporting deadlines. In addition to offering technical support the City and County could jointly fund a full time executive director for the Contra Costa County Land Trust and/or other newly established local land trust until the trust was well established and self-supporting.

3.17 The City should explore various options to fund an executive director position for the new land trust. One viable option to explore is to share staff resources between the existing Contra Costa County Land Trust and the newly established Brentwood-area land trust ("East Contra Costa Agricultural Land Trust").
















Conclusions and Next Steps

CONCLUSION AND NEXT STEPS

This report summarizes the work of the Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Advisory Committee. It contains over thirty specific recommendations designed to protect agricultural land and the agricultural character of the Brentwood area. The recommendations are divided into three categories: (1) a program to mitigate for the loss of farmland from urban development under Brentwood’s General Plan; (2) a program to provide transferable agricultural credits in a key area adjacent to Brentwood; and (3) a series of policies, studies and actions to promote and maintain agricultural activities in the area. 

Many of these recommendations will require considerable follow-up action on the part of City staff, the Planning Commission, City Council and others. Many of the actions will also require active cooperation of the Farm Bureau, Chamber of Commerce, U.C. Cooperative Extension, Contra Costa County, and local growers and landowners. The framework set forth in this report is only a start. The following initial actions are needed to put these policies in place.

Immediate

The City Council should pass the Interim Mitigation Ordinance and begin plans for a citizen vote on the topic. This will allow the City to begin to collect mitigation fees from developers and to apply these fees to purchasing conservation easements. The City should provide adequate staff resources to implement the ordinance and pursue some of the initiatives described in this report. This might include dedicating most or all of the time of a staff member from the Community Development Department to administering the mitigation fee, overseeing the purchase and monitoring of conservation easements, providing technical support to the land trust, coordinating the various agricultural enterprise initiatives, and seeking supplemental funds for the program. 

Short-term

The City should integrate the land use planning recommendations contained in this report into its General Plan update. These recommendations include establishing agricultural buffers, focusing urban development in existing urban areas, and continuing to protect the City Agricultural Conservation Area.

Long-term

The City should enhance its collaborative efforts with the County on land use and agricultural protection policies. This could include revising County zoning and development regulations and General Plan elements to better support agriculture, passing a County agricultural mitigation ordinance, and formalizing an agricultural buffer policy.
The City should develop on-going means to collaborate with entities such as the Chamber of Commerce, the Farm Bureau, and U.C. Cooperative Extension on economic development strategies that build on and enhance the area’s agricultural sector.
On-going

The City should create a standing Agricultural Advisory Committee to serve as a liaison to area growers, and to provide guidance on the agricultural mitigation program and other policy matters concerning agriculture. 



















Appendix

REFERENCES

Documents 

American Farmland Trust 1997. Saving American Farmland: What Works.

Barrett, Thomas S., Nagel, Stefan 1996. Model Easements Conservation Easements and Historic Preservation Easement. Washington, D.C.: Land Trust Alliance

California Oak Foundation 1999. Preserving Family Lands in California.

City of Brentwood 1993. City of Brentwood General Plan 1993-2010

Contra Costa County Department of Agriculture 1998. 1998 Crop Report. 

Contra Costa County 1995. Contra Costa County General Plan. 

Diehl, Janet, Barrett, Thomas S. 1988. The Conservation Easement Handbook: Managing Land Conservation Easement Programs. Washington, D.C.: Land Trust Alliance

Eisenstein, Bill 1999. Agricultural Enhancement and Open Space Conservation in the Tri-Valley. Tri-Valley Business Council.

Handl, Mary 1994. Conflicts and Solutions: When Agricultural Land Meets Urban Development. M.S. Thesis. Department of Community Development, U.C. Davis. 

Land Trust Alliance 1990. Appraising Easements: Guidelines for Valuation of Historic Preservation and Land Conservation Easements. Washington, D.C.: Land Trust Alliance. 

Lind, Brenda 1991. The Conservation Easement Stewardship Guide: Designing, Monitoring and Enforcing Easements. Washington, D.C.: Land Trust Alliance. 

Loux, Jeff 1995. City of Davis: Farmland Conservation Program. Assisted by City of Davis Planning Staff, Yolo Land Trust, and Economic Planning Systems, Inc.

Management Economics Group 1990. The Economic Viability of Agriculture in East Contra Costa County, California.

Meyer, Edward 1999. Contra Costa County Agricultural Commissioner. “Memo on Agricultural Revenues: 1988, 1993, 1998.”

Peck S. 1989. California Farm Worker Housing. California Institute for Rural Studies Working Paper #306.

Perrin, S., J. Ruiz, D. Williams 1998. “Building Solutions for Farm Worker Housing” Rural California Report Vol. 9, No. 4.

Rilla, Ellen 1999. “Bringing the City and the County Together, California Coast & Ocean, Summer 1999.

Schuyler , Laurie 1998. Vision of the East County Farmlands as Economic Engine and Tourist Mecca, April 1998.

U.C. Center for Cooperatives 1995. An Assessment of Migrant and Farm Worker’s Needs for Housing. 


Websites/ On-line Sources

Agricultural Land Stewardship Program (California Department of Conservation). Department Website: http://www.consrv.ca.gov/dlrp/cfcp/

Agricultural Land Stewardship Program 1997. “Permanent Conservation Easement Preserves 216 Agricultural Acres in Yolo County” on the Department Website: http://www.consrv.ca.gov/news/97064.htm

Agricultural Economic Development Fact Sheet, Farmland Information Center, American Farmland Trust (see http://www.farmlandinfo.org).

AR/WS Appraisers

Diaz, Diaz and Boyd, Inc.

First American Real Estate Solutions


Personal Communication/ Interviews

Albiani, Denis. Agricultural Council of California.

Barrios, Anna. Federal Policy Coordinator, American Farmland Trust.

Bailey, Carl. Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office.

Bloomfield, Tom. Grower.

Brady, Bob. Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office.

Caprile, Janet. U.C. Cooperative Extension.

City of Brentwood Community Development Department: Community Development Director Mitch Oshinshy, Chief of Planning Mike Leana, Senior Planner Winston Rhodes. (Project Manager) 1999, 2000. 

Corchesne, Al. Grower

Demartini, Russ. Retired grower.

Drake, Robert. Contra Costa Planning Department.

Dwelly, Mark. Grower.

Enos, Ron. Enos Real Estate.

Fertado, Richard. Fertado Real Estate.

Gomes, Wade. City of Brentwood City Council.

Grossman, Lawrence I. Grossman Financial Management.

Haag, Jerry. Planner.

Keisling, Stan. Rural California Housing Corporation.

Kidd, Quintin. Mayor, City of Brentwood. 

Kopchick, John. Contra Costa County Department of Community Development.

Knoll, Rick. Grower.

Kutsuris, Catherine. Contra Costa County Department of Community Development. 

Maggiore, Marty .Grower.

McPoland, Mike. City of Brentwood City Council.

Meyer, Edward. Contra Costa County Agricultural Commissioner. 

Mitchell, John. San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office.

Mooers, Tom. Greenbelt Alliance.

Mora Sara. Contra Costa Farm Bureau.

Nunn, Meredith. Grower. 

Nunn, Ron. Grower.

Petrias, Rosemary. Contra Costa County Planning Department.

Petrovitch, Pete. City of Brentwood City Council.

Pierce, Rose. Retired Grower.

Riva, Ralph. Grower Wente Vineyards.

Roche, Patrick. Contra Costa County Community Development Department.

Schilling, Susan. Coldwell Banker.

Vink, Eric. American Farmland Trust.

Willmette, Bruce. Adams, Bambas, and Willmette Real Estate and Consulting.

Williams, Daniel. California Institute for Rural Studies.

Wolf, Peter. Grower.

Young, Steve. City of Brentwood City Council.





































Analysis of “Agricultural Land Values and Mitigation Fee Scenarios”


1. Introduction
The City of Brentwood is exploring the feasibility of an agricultural preservation program to mitigate the loss of agricultural lands within the City. This issue has been a concern for many years because the City is underlain and surrounded by prime agricultural soils. Production of high-value crops continues in and around the City, despite the urban growth that has occurred in recent years. The City addressed preservation of productive agricultural lands in its General Plan, adopted in 1993. The General Plan includes goals and policies delineating and requiring the preservation of agricultural lands. Moreover, the General Plan initiated a variety of implementation techniques to achieve goals and policies. This economic analysis provides information related to one such technique, the “transfer of development/in-lieu fee ordinance” (see sub-policy 1.1.4, Brentwood General Plan Conservation Element).

This economic analysis provides key economic data and evaluates feasibility of implementing an agricultural mitigation program in Brentwood, as part of a broader effort being conducted by the City to establish such a program. 

This economic analysis: 

· Provides a geographic delineation of the agricultural areas, as defined by the City and Contra Costa County.

· Describes recent land sales within the agricultural areas.

· Estimates the cost of conservation easements within the agricultural areas.

· Estimates mitigation fee revenues, given likely development scenarios within the City of Brentwood and several fee structure options.



2. Summary of Findings
1. The average sales price for agricultural land in Brentwood area was $11,365 per acre, and the average parcel size was 20 acres.

Agricultural land sales were reviewed in three areas: (A) the City Agricultural Conservation Area; (B) inside the City Planning Area but outside the City Agricultural Conservation Area; and (C) the County Agricultural Core Area outside the City Planning Area (see Figure 1). Data in this analysis was provided by the City of Brentwood, on-line property data services, several recent appraisals prepared for the City, the Contra Costa County Assessor, and several local real estate brokers. Agricultural properties sold to family members or including built improvements, such as a large house or swimming pool, were excluded from the analysis.

Nineteen parcels totaling about 375 acres were sold in the Brentwood area during 1994 to 1999, as shown in Figure 2 and Figure 3. Parcels sold are categorized into three groups and labeled with geometric shapes depending on the sales price per acre. The first group is agricultural land sales greater than $15,000 per acre. The second group is sales ranging from $10,000 to $15,000 per acre. Finally, the third group contains sales of less than $10,000 per acre. While one parcel sold for more than $20,000 per acre, the majority of parcels had sales prices between $10,000 and $15,000 per acre. The lowest sales price was $5,300 per acre, as shown in Table 1. The average price per acre is also reflective of what local brokers suggest is the typical price for agricultural land with no major improvements. All 19 parcels sold are listed in Table 2, which contains the last sales price, year sold, and current use. Each parcel is assigned a code depending on the location:

· Code A parcels are located in the City Agricultural Conservation Area.

· Code B parcels are located in the City Planning Area outside the City Agricultural Conservation Area.

· Code C parcels are in the County Agricultural Core Area and outside the City Planning Area.

Table 3 displays the assessed values of parcels sold in Areas A, B, and C. The average assessed value of these properties is approximately $9,000 per acre. Several assessed values were not available for the Code B and C parcels, so these parcels are excluded from the analysis of assessed values. Assessed values are an indication of market value but are generally less than fair market value because increases in assessed value are limited to a two percent annual increase under Proposition 13. 


























Otherwise, assessed values are updated only in the event of a transfer of ownership. Assessed values are therefore close to market values only for those parcels that have sold recently.

2. The price of a conservation easement in the City Agricultural Conservation Area could range from between $4,000 to $7,000 per acre. 

The estimated conservation easement values described in this study represent a range based on average land values in the area. Individual property appraisals may yield different results. The value of a conservation easement is defined as the difference between the “pure” agricultural value—based on income generated from agricultural production—and the fair market value, which may include future development potential. The agricultural land sales in the Brentwood area appear to reflect values that exceed expected values based on the capitalized income of the agricultural production alone. The difference between the fair market value, as represented by comparable sales in the Brentwood area, and the “pure” agricultural land value, based on income, is reflective of the potential for future urban conversion. The comparable sales values may also reflect the demand for small “ranchette” estates by buyers whose incomes are not derived primarily from agriculture. 

Based on sales of comparable agricultural land in an area far removed from urban pressures, it is estimated that a conservation easement in the Brentwood area could range from 33 to 58 percent of total fair market value. In the last five years, agricultural land in the City Agricultural Conservation Area just east of Brentwood sold for a weighted average sales price of about $12,000 per acre. 

3. Revenue generated from an agricultural mitigation fee was estimated to range from $7.3 million to $72.0 million, depending upon the per acre fee charged. 

Based on projected future residential and commercial developments in the City of Brentwood and inside the City’s sphere of influence, potential agricultural mitigation fee revenues were calculated under three unit fee scenarios ranging from $1,000 to $10,000 per acre for residential, while commercial fees were calculated at 50 percent of residential fees. Assuming an average conservation easement value of about $5,500 per acre, approximately 1,330 to 13,100 acres of agricultural land could be preserved in the Brentwood Area using the revenues from these mitigation fees. If the lower fee amounts are adopted, supplemental funding sources may be required.

3. City Agricultural Conservation Area
The City Agricultural Conservation Area is immediately west of the City of Brentwood inside the City’s Planning Area. The majority of the City Agricultural Conservation Area overlaps with the County’s Agricultural Core Area, although a small area north of Sunset Road is outside the County’s Agricultural Core Area (see Figures 1 and 2). As of June 1999, the City Agricultural Conservation Area consists of 148 parcels totaling about 2,500 acres, as shown in Table 4. Total acreage excludes parcels which are less than five acres in size. The parcels are owned by about 107 landowners. Detailed information of each parcel in the City Agricultural Conservation Area is listed in Table 5.
City of Brentwood General PLan Policies for Agricultural Conservation Area
According to the Brentwood General Plan 1993 to 2010, the Agricultural Conservation Area (AC) encompasses lands with continuing commercial agricultural potential. The intent of this category is to retain primary agricultural use to the greatest extent possible. This is done by focusing public and private efforts to protect such land from the impacts and pressures of the nearby urban area, as well as to enhance the income potential from agricultural use. In order to protect the Urban Limit Line, no annexations or urban-type development will be allowed in this area. Allowed uses would include orchards, golf courses, grazing land, open space, agricultural land, and parks. 

Prior to 1990, the majority of the parcels in the City Agricultural Conservation Area were zoned by the County for either one residential unit per every four acres (A-4) or one residential unit per every eight acres (A-8), depending on the location. As a result of this zoning, many smaller “ranchette” rural residential parcels were created, which constrained the intensity of farming in the area (e.g., restriction of pesticide spraying). Only five parcels in the Agricultural Conservation Area are currently under Williamson Act contracts and two of these are due to expire on December 31, 1999 (see Figure 3). 

Although the majority of parcels in the City Agricultural Conservation Area are currently zoned for one residential unit per 40 acres (A-40), only 14 parcels, or nine percent of all the City Agricultural Conservation parcels, are over 40 acres. Parcels range in size from 5 acres to 94 acres in the City Agricultural Conservation Area. The average parcel size is 17 acres while the median size is 10 acres. Three of the major 











property owners own an estimated 700 acres or 28 percent of the City Agricultural Conservation Area. The largest property owner owns 20 percent of the total acres in the City Agricultural Conservation Area, or almost 500 acres. In 1998, the weighted average assessed land value was estimated at $6,300 per acre.

The predominant uses in the City Agricultural Conservation Area are orchards (apples, peaches, and cherries), vineyards, and row crops (tomatoes and vegetables). Some parcels contain a residential unit such as a single family home or a mobile home. 
County Agricultural Core Area
There are approximately 10,000 acres in the County Agricultural Core Area, which includes the majority of the City’s Agricultural Conservation Area. According to the Contra Costa General Plan, the County Agricultural Core Area is comprised primarily of prime (Class I or II) soils in the Soil Conservation Service Land Use Capability Classifications, which are considered the very best soils for farming a wide variety of crops. Much of the land in this designation is under active cultivation of intensive row crops, such as tomatoes and vegetables. 

The policy underlying the County’s Agricultural Core designation is to preserve and protect the farmlands of the County, which are the most capable of and are generally used for the production of food, fiber, and plant materials. Agricultural operations in the Agricultural Core shall, in accordance with Measure C 1990, be protected by requiring a higher minimum parcel size than the Agricultural Lands designation to attempt to maintain economically viable, commercial agricultural units. The creation of small uneconomical units will be discouraged by land use controls and by specifically discouraging minor subdivisions and “ranchette” housing development. The majority of the parcels in the Agricultural Core are zoned A-40 and some are zoned A-80. Residential uses are allowed in the Agricultural Core according to the following standards:

1. The maximum permitted residential density shall be one unit per 40 acres.

2. Subdivision of land, which would create a cluster of “ranchette” housing, is inconsistent with this plan.

4. Residential and non-residential uses proposed in areas of special flood hazards, as shown on FEMA maps, shall conform to the requirements of the county Floodplain Management Ordinance and the further requirements outlined in the “Delta Recreation and Resources” section.
4. Agricultural Land and Easement Value
There are typically two approaches to determining the value of agricultural land: the income method and the comparable sales method. In the income method crop budgets, which include all the costs of production, yields, and gross revenues from a given crop, e.g., an apple orchard, are used to estimate an annual income which is then capitalized to derive a value for the land. This income-derived value is adjusted for the size of the agricultural operation. In the comparable sales method, recent sales of similar agricultural land in a specified geographic area are analyzed to determine market value for the subject property. Comparable sales data may need to be adjusted for differences in parcel size, soils, number and quality of improvements, and location. The comparable sales approach is generally considered the better approach since derived income values can vary significantly due to differences in the basic assumptions regarding yields, production methods, and unit costs. The comparable sales approach has been used in this analysis of agricultural land values in the Brentwood area (see Table 2). 
city agricultural conservation area (Code A)
From 1994 to 1999, four City Agricultural Conservation Area parcels were sold (Code A parcels). Sales prices ranged from about $10,200 to $14,500 per acre, with a weighted average price of $12,100 per acre. All four parcels are located east of Sellers Avenue, three are located south of Delta Road, while the fourth parcel is located south of Balfour Road. The largest parcel sold was 20 acres compared to the smallest of 10 acres, and overall the average parcel size for these four properties was about 15 acres.
inside city planning area outside the city agricultural conservation area (Code B)
All agricultural land sales between 1994 and 1999 west of the City Agricultural Conservation Area were analyzed (Code B parcels). A total of 103.6 acres comprising 6 parcels were sold in this study period. All six parcels are located west of Sellers Avenue and sales prices ranged between $5,300 to $20,500 per acre, with an estimated weighted average sales price of $10,800 per acre. Parcel sizes ranged from a low of 7.47 acres to high of 38.13 acres, with an average parcel size of 17 acres. Most of these properties are planted in orchards and vineyards. 
County Agricultural Core area (Code C)
All agricultural land sales between 1994 and 1999 in the County Agricultural Core Area and outside the City Planning Area were analyzed (Code C parcels). A total of 9 parcels totaling 210 acres sold during this study period. Sales prices ranged from a low of $7,700 per acre and a high of $15,300 per acre. The average weighted price of these agricultural land sales was $11,445 per acre, which is about the same as the overall average for all three areas. The average parcel size of all parcels sold in the County Agricultural Core Area is about 23 acres. The 9 parcels are scattered throughout the unincorporated area of Contra Costa County, immediately east and south of the Brentwood Planning Area. 
Conservation easement value 
DEFINITION
A conservation easement is a legal agreement a property owner voluntarily makes to restrict the type and amount of development that may take place on his or her property. By granting an easement in perpetuity, the owner may be assured that the resource values of his or her property will be protected indefinitely, no matter who the future owners are. Each easement’s restrictions are tailored to the particular property. An agricultural conservation easement may restrict subdivision and development while allowing for structures and activities necessary for and compatible with the agricultural operation.
Value
According to the American Farmland Trust (AFT), the price of a conservation easement generally ranges from 40 to 60 percent of a property’s fair market value. As a general rule, conservation easements are purchased for about 50 percent of the property’s fair market value. The value of a conservation easement is defined as the difference between the value of agricultural land based on use value, i.e., the capitalized income from agricultural production and the fair market value including future potential development rights.

To determine the value of a conservation easement in the County Agricultural Core Area, EPS researched comparable agricultural land sales, i.e., similar soils, water availability, and climate in rural areas far removed from urban development pressures. According to an appraiser in the San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office, agricultural land with minimal potential for future urban conversion in San Joaquin County is currently selling for $5,000 to $8,000 per acre. The lower end of the range represents typical values for row crops while the higher end of the range represents agricultural lands located on level land with Class I or II soil used to grow orchards. Recent sales of agricultural land in row crops in unincorporated Contra Costa County just north of the Agricultural Core Area and north of the aqueduct indicate an average value of about $7,800 per acre.

Based on the analysis of Brentwood Area agricultural land sales during the last five years, as described above, agricultural land in the Agricultural Conservation Area has a weighted average sales price of about $12,000 per acre. After subtracting agricultural land values of $5,000 to $8,000 per acre, the estimated conservation easement value would range from about $4,000 to $7,000 per acre, or 33 to 58 percent of total fair market value.
Interviews
Interviews were conducted with real estate brokers familiar with the Brentwood area as well as with landowners and farmers. This information augments the statistical sales data presented above and provides a sense of how key players in the agricultural land market think about the value and the feasibility of continuing agricultural operations.
Broker Interviews
Several local agricultural real estate brokers were interviewed to obtain their perspective on agricultural land values in and around the City Agricultural Conservation Area. A summary of these discussions follows.
Minimum Agricultural Parcel Size 
Most farmers need at least 30 to 40 acres of land to consider conventional “production” farming. Properties less than ten acres are generally not viable for conventional farming, since the cost of farm equipment, operations, and maintenance will be greater than the financial returns from the crops. However, parcel size may be misleading since many absentee property owners lease their land to adjacent landowners who can then farm on larger properties and achieve economies of scale. Furthermore, there are several specialty “boutique” farmers in the Brentwood area who are successfully farming on parcels less than 40 acres in size.
Land Values 
All real estate brokers interviewed for this study agreed that agricultural land values in the Brentwood area generally range from $8,000 to $20,000 per acre, with a high of $30,000 per acre. The price variance is dependent on a number of factors:

1. Sales price varies by land size with the price per acre dropping as parcel size increases. For instance, smaller parcels of about ten acres are selling for about $20,000 to $50,000 per acre, while larger parcels of over 200 acres are selling for $8,500 per acre. 

2. Agricultural land with power lines above ground is worth less than properties with below-ground utilities.

Brokers do not perceive a price gradient with agricultural land prices increasing closer to the City of Brentwood. Brokers stressed that each parcel has its own value depending on parcel size, improvements, crops grown, and type of soil. 
Landowner and Grower Interviews
The consultant team interviewed a number of key individuals including landowners, growers, and local brokers knowledgeable about agriculture sales in the Brentwood/ Contra Costa County area. Results of these interviews are as follows.
Agricultural Land Sales
Current land prices range from about $8,000 to $15,000 per acre for land in agricultural production, whereas agricultural land selling mainly for non-agricultural purposes (e.g., residential development) is about $75,000 to $95,000 per acre. 
Agricultural Land Use
Agricultural land in the Brentwood region may be divided into two categories: conventional farming and specialty farming. 

· Conventional Farming or “production farming” is generally carried out on farms larger than 40 acres. Conventional farmers grow large quantities of agricultural commodities that are dependent on and sold to local, regional, national, and international markets. Growers tend to diversify crops grown in accordance to seasonal changes and may use major packing firms to get their product to market or for further processing. Growers typically work with brokers to sell to supermarkets and grocery stores. Conventional farmers are often influenced significantly by global economic trends; for example, Fuji apple growers are experiencing a decline in demand for their product due to the recent economic downturn in Asia. 

· Specialty Farming or “boutique farming” is generally conducted on farms smaller than 40 acres. Specialty growers tend to market their commodities through less conventional ways by advertising on the Internet, catalog sales, u-pick, roadside stands, farmers markets, and smaller wholesalers. Many specialty growers also produce organic commodities that require production on a smaller scale. It is possible to conduct specialty farming on parcels less than ten acres. Several private individuals and businesses are currently farming on small parcels in the Brentwood area and are producing and selling organic farm products to restaurants and specialty produce stores. These organic agricultural commodities have a higher value because growers are able to sell their products, such as peaches, nectarines, and plums, at premium prices. Other private businesses and individuals produce agricultural products like pistachios in gift baskets and sell them via the Internet or catalogs. 
5. Potential Mitigation Fee Revenues 
The proposed agricultural mitigation fee would be imposed on future urban development in the City of Brentwood. For the purpose of this analysis, both residential and commercial projects are included in the fee program. The number of acres and units that could potentially be subject to an agricultural mitigation fee was based upon a database prepared by City staff of all lands designated for residential and commercial development by the City of Brentwood’s General Plan.
Residential Development Projections
All properties designated for future residential development were categorized according to six categories of “development status” reflecting degree of “entitlement” (see Table 6). Category 1 and Category 2 properties have fully approved residential development permits and are either under construction or have tentative maps, thus cannot be subject to a future agricultural mitigation fee. Category 3 properties have fully approved residential planning permits and have either paid, or have agreed to pay, a voluntary “interim” agricultural mitigation payment of $1,000 per developed acre. It is assumed that Category 3 properties will also not be subject to any future agricultural mitigation fee. As of the September 23, 1999, the City had collected $143,348 in “interim” agricultural mitigation payments, which will be available for implementing an agricultural preservation program. 

Category 4 properties have fully approved residential planning permits and could be subject to a future agricultural mitigation fee. Category 5 properties do not yet have planning approvals but are designated for future residential development in the General Plan and therefore could also be subject to a future agricultural mitigation fee. Finally, Category 6 properties are outside the City limits but are inside Brentwood’s Sphere of Influence and could potentially be designated for future residential development. Since imposing a fee on Category 6 properties would either require annexation or a joint-powers agreement with the County, it is currently assumed that these properties will not be subject to the proposed agricultural mitigation fee, but for illustrative purposes, an estimation of fee revenue for this category is provided. In summary, it is estimated that approximately 6,700 acres and 16,700 dwelling units could potentially be subject to an agricultural mitigation fee if adopted.




Commercial Development Projections
Commercial projects designated as light industrial, office, or retail are summarized into two categories to estimate mitigation fee revenues. The first category consists of projects within the City of Brentwood limits, at an estimated 470 acres. The second category is projects outside the City limits and within the Sphere of Influences. These projects are on 235 acres and would be included in the program in the event of the annexation of these areas. 
Agricultural Mitigation Fee Scenarios
If the projected residential and commercial developments are realized, and depending on the designated fee per acre, the City of Brentwood would expect to receive agricultural mitigation fee revenues ranging from $6.6 million to $65 million as shown in Table 7. 
Residential Development Fee
For illustrative purposes, three fee scenarios for residential development were estimated using a high fee of $10,000 per acre, or $4,000 per unit; a medium fee of $5,000 per acre, or $2,000 per unit; and a low fee of $1,000 per acre, or $400 per unit. Based on an average density of 2.51 units per acre, the resulting potential total fee revenues at buildout range from $6.7 million for the low fee to $64.9 million for the high fee (see Table 8). If an average conservation easement value is assumed to be about $5,500 per acre, the City could potentially permanently preserve between 1,200 and 11,800 acres of agricultural land in the City Agricultural Conservation Area. If the City wishes to mitigate for the loss of all agricultural land resulting from future residential development (assuming a 1:1 mitigation ratio), then approximately 6,700 acres of agricultural land in the Brentwood Area would need to be protected. The cost of acquiring conservation easements on 6,700 acres of agricultural land could be about $36.9 million assuming an average conservation easement value of $5,500 per acre. These preliminary findings suggest that supplemental funding sources may be required to meet this goal, especially if the lower fee amounts are adopted.
Commercial Development Fee
Three fee scenario ranges were also estimated to determine the total amount of the mitigation impact fee. It is assumed that commercial projects would pay the same fee as the residential fee. The projected total mitigation fee ranges from low of $704,890 to a high of $7,048,900 million (see Table 8). 












6. LIST OF CONTACTS AND REFERENCES
BROKERS AND APPRAISERS
Ron Enos, Enos Real Estate, (925) 634-4611
Richard Fertado, Fertado Real Estate, (925) 634-4112
Susan Schilling, Coldwell Banker, (925) 634-0400
Bruce Willmette, Adams, Bambas and Willmette Real Estate & Consulting, 
(209) 478-9204
LandOwners and growers
Peter Wolfe, Grower, Suncrest Peaches
Rose Pierce, Retired Farmer
Mark Dwelley, Grower
Marty Maggiore, Grower
Non-Profit and Public Organizations
Eric Vink, American Farmland Trust, (530) 753-1073
Robert Drake, Contra Costa County Planning Department, (925) 335-1214
Rosemary Petrias, Contra Costa County Community Development Department, 
(925) 335-1216
Patrick Roche, Contra Costa County Community Development Department, 
(925) 335-1242
Bob Brady, Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office, (925) 313-7540
Carl Bailey, Contra Costa County Assessor’s Office, (925) 313-7535
Winston Rhodes, City of Brentwood, Community Development Department, 
(925) 516-5405
Catherine Kutsuris, Contra Costa County Community Development Department 
(925) 335-1210
Ed Meyer, Contra Costa County Agricultural Commissioner, (925) 646-5250
John Mitchell, San Joaquin County Assessor’s Office, (209) 468-2630
Data Sources
First American Real Estate Solutions (on-line real estate data service)
Diaz, Diaz and Boyd, Inc.
AR/WS Appraisers

RESOLUTION NO. ___

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD ADOPTING THE BRENTWOOD AGRICULTURAL CONSERVATION FEE AND AMENDING RESOLUTION NO. 2198 TO REVISE THE MASTER FEE PROGRAM.

WHEREAS, the City Council has adopted ordinances and resolutions establishing and revising fees required to be paid by sponsors of new development; and 

WHEREAS, Brentwood Municipal Code Section 17.730.030, provides for the payment of an agricultural land mitigation fee; and

WHEREAS, on June 8, 1993, the City of Brentwood adopted the Brentwood General Plan 1993 – 2010, which provides for the development of a program to preserve agriculture on lands designated for agriculture in the City and/or County General Plan; and

WHEREAS, the City has prepared an Agricultural Enterprise Program Report which includes an economic analysis of agricultural land values and the fair market value of agricultural conservation easements; and

WHEREAS, the City of Brentwood Agricultural Enterprise Program and supporting data were available for inspection and review for ten (10) days prior to this public hearing; and 

WHEREAS, a public hearing has been noticed and held in accordance with Government Code Sections 66016, 66017, and 66018; and 

WHEREAS, the City Council has considered the information provided to it by those testifying, and has reviewed and considered the information provided in the staff report and has read and considered the Agricultural Enterprise Program and the economic analysis of agricultural land values and mitigation fee scenarios within it.

NOW, THEREFORE, THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD DOES HEREBY RESOLVE AS FOLLOWS:

Section 1. Findings:

The Council makes each of the following findings:

A. The purpose of the agricultural conservation fee is to protect productive agricultural land within the City of Brentwood Planning Area by funding conservation easements.

B. The agricultural conservation fee implements Policies 1.1.4, 1.1.5, and 1.2.4 of the Conservation/Open Space Element of the General Plan.


C. It is appropriate that developers who convert productive agricultural land to urban uses help offset the permanent loss of land for the future production of food and fiber.
D. After considering the economic analysis of agricultural land values and mitigation fee scenarios within the Agricultural Enterprise Report, City staff reports and the testimony received at this public hearing, the Council approves and adopts said report, and incorporates such herein.

E. The Agricultural Enterprise Report, staff reports and the testimony establish:

1. That there is a reasonable relationship between the fee’s use and the type of development on which the fee is imposed; and

2. That there is reasonable relationship between the need for preservation of productive agricultural land and the impacts of conversion of productive agricultural land; and

3. That there is a reasonable relationship between the amount of the fee and the cost of purchasing conservation easements to protect productive agricultural land within the Brentwood Planning Area; and 

Section 2. Fee Imposed:

New development resulting in the conversion to urban use of over one acre of productive agricultural land shall pay an Agricultural Conservation Fee of $5,000 per acre. The fee shall be charged upon approval of the applicable City entitlement. Payment of the fee shall also be required for developers of approved projects who have been conditioned to mitigate for the loss of agricultural land.

Section 3. Definitions:

A. “Agricultural land” shall mean those land areas of the County specifically designated as Agricultural Core (AC) or Agricultural Lands (AL) as defined in the Contra Costa General Plan; those land areas near the City designated as Agricultural Conservation (AC) as defined in the Brentwood General Plan; and/or other lands upon which agricultural activities, uses, operations or facilities exist or could exist at the time of adoption of this ordinance that contain Class I, II, III or IV soils as defined by the United States Department of Agriculture Natural Resource Conservation Service.

B. “Agricultural operation” shall mean normal and customary farming and agricultural activities that may occur during any 24-hour period of the day. Normal and customary farming and agricultural activities include, but are not limited to, the cultivation and tillage of the soil, the production, irrigation, cultivation, growing, harvesting, and processing of any agricultural commodity for wholesale or retail markets, including viticulture, horticulture, the raising of livestock, fur bearing animals, fish or poultry, and any commercial agricultural practices performed as incident to or in conjunction with such activities including preparation for market, delivery to storage or to market, or to carriers for transportation to market.

C. “Conversion of agricultural land” shall mean the discontinuance of agricultural operations on agricultural land due to urban development or entitlements granted for urban development.

D. “Productive agricultural land” shall mean agricultural land with capability classifications of I, II, III, or IV as defined in the United States Department of Agriculture Soil Survey of Contra Costa County, California dated September 1977.

Section 4. Collection of Fees:

A. The Agricultural Conservation Fee shall be determined on the basis of the fee schedule in effect at the time the building permit or other development permit is issued or entitlement is granted which results in the conversion of productive agricultural land. The Community Development Director or other official designated by the City Manager shall determine the amount of the fee in accordance with the standards set forth in this Resolution.

B. The Agricultural Conversion Fee shall also be paid as a condition of an extension or renewal of a public permit issued after passage of this Resolution if a fee has not been paid previously.

Section 5. Exemptions:

A. To the extent a development demonstrates it has rights vested at an earlier, specified amount of the Agricultural Conservation Fee pursuant to a previously adopted fee level or an agreement by and between the City and the developer, this fee may not apply.

B. The fee shall not be required of any project involving the replacement or rehabilitation of existing structures on previously converted productive agricultural land.

Section 6. Exceptional Fee Circumstances:

A. Nothing in this Resolution shall be construed to affect the City’s discretion, upon proper application for senior housing, congregate care facilities or affordable housing pursuant to Government Code Section 65915, to adjust this fee.

B. Certain development projects which provide substantial benefits to the local agricultural industry including farm worker housing may seek an adjustment to this fee on a case by case basis.

Section 7. Use of Fee Revenues:

The revenues raised by payment of these fees shall be segregated into a separate agriculture conservation account and the revenues, along with any interest earnings on such account, shall be used to pay for the cost of preparing and purchasing conservation easements. Reasonable costs, not to exceed 5% of fees collected each year, may be used to fund outside consultant studies related to the preparation and purchase of conservation easements, costs of agricultural enterprise program implementation, and ongoing administration of the agricultural conservation fee program.

Section 8. Periodic Review, Subsequent Analysis and Adjustments to Fees:

The fee established herein is adopted and implemented by the Council in reliance on the comprehensive studies that have been prepared by the City and consultants to the City. The fee established by this Resolution shall be automatically adjusted each year based on the Consumer Price Index to account for inflation but may not be increased by more than ten percent during any twelve-month period. At least every five years, the City shall conduct a new land valuation study to determine agricultural land values and revise the agricultural conservation fee as necessary based on the results of these further studies. Such revisions shall apply to any prior approved projects subject to the agricultural conservation fee.

Section 9. Effective Date of Fee:

The fee provided in this Resolution shall be effective on October 17, 2001, which is at least sixty (60) days after the adoption of this Resolution.

Section 10. Severability:

All portions of this Resolution are severable. Should any provision of this Resolution be adjudged to be invalid and unenforceable, the remaining provisions shall be and continue to be fully effective, and the fee shall be fully effective except as to the portion that has been judged to be invalid.

Section 11. California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) Compliance:

The City Council finds that this action has been reviewed per the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Pursuant to Section 15061(a)(3) of CEQA this activity is covered by the general rule that CEQA applies only to projects which have the potential for causing a significant effect on the environment. Where it can be seen with certainty that there is no possibility that the activity in question may have a significant effect on the environment, the activity is not subject to CEQA. In addition, pursuant to Sections 15168(c) and 15162 of the CEQA Guidelines, the project is within the scope of the 1993 Brentwood General Plan Program EIR. No substantial changes have occurred to the circumstances under which that EIR was certified and no new information, which was not known and could not have been known at the time that the EIR was certified as complete, has become available relating to the environmental effects of this project. Therefore, the Program EIR for the 1993 General Plan is adequate for the approval relating to the project.

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood that the City of Brentwood Master Fee Schedule Resolution No. 2198 is hereby amended to add the Agricultural Conservation Fee adopted by this resolution.

PASSED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at a special meeting held on August 16, 2001 by the following vote:

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