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CITY COUNCIL AGENDA ITEM NO. 6

Meeting Date: September 25, 2007

Subject/Title: Adopt a resolution adopting a new set of implementation guidelines for Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code as recommended by the standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee.

Prepared by: Linda Maurer, Economic Development Manager

Submitted by: Howard Sword, Director of Community Development

RECOMMENDATION
Adopt a resolution adopting a new set of implementation guidelines for Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code as recommended by the standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee.

PREVIOUS ACTION
On May 8, 2007, the City Council approved the formation of standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee to deal with issues relating to the City’s current agricultural preservation program.

BACKGROUND
Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code establishes the City’s agricultural land conservation policies. While the policies included in this chapter do outline certain requirements and procedures as it relates to the land itself, the chapter doesn’t provide staff with an implementation roadmap necessary to effectively have the Agricultural Enterprise Committee review and consider conservation easements.

The standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee has spent a great deal of its meeting time in the past few months discussing guidelines and parameters in implementing Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code, and has recommended the adoption of “Implementation Guidelines for the City’s Conservation Easement Program,” attached as Exhibit A to this report. This policy document includes:
o Acquisition funding guidelines;
o Easement holding scenarios;
o Administration and stewardship of easements;
o Funding to cover transaction costs;
o Easement transaction procedures with the City; and
o Strategic priorities for easements.

It should be noted that the implementation guidelines are complementary to Chapter 17.730 and do not conflict with the policies outlined in the chapter. Therefore, staff is recommending that the City Council adopt this policy to provide the Committee with an effective way to implement the City’s agricultural conservation program.

FISCAL IMPACT
There is no fiscal impact associated with this item.

RESOLUTION NO.

A RESOLUTION OF THE CITY COUNCIL OF THE CITY OF BRENTWOOD ADOPTING A NEW SET OF IMPLEMENTATION GUIDELINES FOR CHAPTER 17.730 OF THE BRENTWOOD MUNICIPAL CODE

WHEREAS, on May 8, 2007, the City Council approved the formation of standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee to deal with issues relating to the City’s current agricultural preservation program; and

WHEREAS, Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code establishes the City’s agricultural land conservation policies. While the policies included in this chapter do outline certain requirements and procedures as it relates to the land itself, the chapter doesn’t provide staff with an implementation roadmap necessary to effectively have the Agricultural Enterprise Committee review and consider conservation easements; and

WHEREAS, the standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee has spent a great deal of its meeting time in the past few months discussing guidelines and parameters in implementing Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code, and has recommended the adoption of “Implementation Guidelines for the City’s Conservation Easement Program;” and

WHEREAS, the implementation guidelines are complementary to Chapter 17.730 and do not conflict with the policies outlined in the chapter.

NOW, THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the City Council of the City of Brentwood adopts a new set of implementation guidelines for Chapter 17.730 of the Brentwood Municipal Code as recommended by the standing Agricultural Enterprise Committee and shown in the attached Exhibit “A”.

PASSED, APPROVED AND ADOPTED by the City Council of the City of Brentwood at a regular meeting held on the 25th day of September 2007 by the following vote:

Implementation Guidelines for the
City’s Conservation Easement Program

1) Easement Program
a) Qualified Entities
i) All land trusts and conservation groups will be able to apply for funding agricultural conservation easements.
b) Acquisition Funding
i) The City may provide up to 100 percent of the funding required to cover easement transactions. Decisions on the funding level will be made on a case-by-case basis by the Agricultural Enterprise Committee. Various factors such as the current use of the land; the per-acre price; general consistency of the acquisition with the City’s agricultural preservation goals and the strategic priorities outlined in this document; as well as the amount of revenue available, may affect the Committee’s decision.
c) Easement Holding
i) The following are two scenarios in which the Committee will determine which entity holds conservation easements:

(1) Scenario 1: Funded Solely By City of Brentwood
(a) If the City is the only funding source for an easement, then the easement deed will be held by the City of Brentwood. The Committee can recommend contracting with a qualified entity to hold the easement when warranted.

(2) Scenario 2: Layered Funding Sources, including the City of Brentwood
(a) If it is determined that there are more than one funding source available to acquire an easement, the Committee will require a memorandum of understanding between all entities (land trust, City, and State or Federal agency) involved in the transaction, outlining the details of the funding agreement, including but not who holds the easement, as well as the administration/stewardship of the property.
d) Administration and Stewardship of Easements
i) It is the intent of the City of Brentwood to ensure stewardship for conserved properties in perpetuity. The following are two scenarios in which the Committee will recommend which entity provides stewardship and administration for easements:

(1) Scenario 1: Funded Solely by the City of Brentwood
(a) If the City is the only funding source for an easement, then the administrative and stewardship of that easement will be directed by the City of Brentwood. The Committee can recommend contracting with a qualified entity to administer the easement when warranted.

(2) Scenario 2: Layered Funding Sources, including the City of Brentwood
(a) If it is determined that there is more than one funding source available to fund an easement, the Committee will recommend that the City and other funding agencies will decide the most appropriate stewardship plan through a memorandum of understanding between the funding entities and the land trust/stewardship group to administer the easement.
e) Transaction Cost Funding
i) The City will provide transaction cost funding based upon the budget submitted by the entity bringing forward the easement for consideration. Typically, these costs range between three and seven percent of the easement value under consideration.

ii) The purpose of the funding is to help cover the transaction costs associated with securing the easement. The qualified entity shall provide the Committee a scope of work associated with the easement transaction, including a timeline, and an estimate of activities, out of pocket expenses, as well as administrative hours needed to accomplish the easement transaction.

iii) In terms of the payment, the Committee shall consider reimbursement of fixed costs prior to securing the easement and consider payment for administrative hours upon execution of a deed of conservation easement for the property. However, the Committee may determine that certain administrative costs be provided prior to the execution of the agreement if there are extenuating circumstances associated with the easement transaction. All payments to a qualified entity are subject to the City’s purchasing policy, as well as require necessary agreements or contracts with the City.

f) Easement Transaction Procedures
i) Entity presents potential easement to the Agricultural Enterprise Committee
(1) A qualified entity bringing forward an easement for the City’s consideration of funding must first meet with the City’s standing Committee. This Committee will direct the qualified entity on whether or not to pursue a letter of intent with the interested property owner.
ii) Letter of intent approval
(1) The City will provide the qualified entity with an approved letter of intent template for the property owner’s signature. Any amendments to the letter of intent template will require Committee approval. The letter of intent will outline, at minimum, the following:
(a) A mutual understanding of transaction’s timing
(b) Available funding sources for the easement – (City, other agencies, combination)
(c) Property owners’ intent for future use of the property, including but not limited to:
(i) Requirements for a planting plan
(ii) Provisions sought for the subject property to grant the easement (building site envelopes, farm buildings, etc.)
(iii) Neighbor notification action
(iv) Agreement on stewardship funding
(v) Easement’s position with lenders
(vi) Appraisal criteria to be used in establishing easement value based on the agreed upon provisions by the Committee. The appraisal will be selected from a qualified list of certified appraisers with experience in valuing agricultural conservation easements.
(vii) Preparation of preliminary title report
(viii) Other legal and financial considerations

iii) Receive transaction fee approval from Committee
(1) Upon the execution of a signed letter of intent, the qualified entity shall provide the Committee with a written scope of work, including a timeline, as well as an estimate of activities, out of pocket expenses and administrative hours to accomplish the easement transaction. Typically, this amount should range between three and seven percent of the easement transaction. The approval for the transaction fee will be forwarded by the Committee with a recommendation to the full City Council for approval. Any amendments to the scope of work require a recommendation of the Committee and approval by the City Council.

iv) Property Appraisal
(1) The property owner and the qualified entity will direct the appraisal process based on the criteria outlined in the letter of intent. Any change to the appraisal method will require approval by the Committee.

v) Provide final draft of Deed of Conservation to City staff
(1) City staff and the City Attorney will review and comment on the final language included in the easement deed. City staff will ensure that the deed documentation is consistent with the approved letter of intent.

vi) City staff to obtain Council approval by resolution
(1) Prior to the close of escrow, City staff will bring forward the easement deed to the City Council with a recommendation of approval by the Committee. This will need to be adopted by resolution by the City Council, as will the allocation of funding for the easement. Upon the adoption by resolution, a check request is required by the qualified entity and funds will be sent directly into escrow.
g) Committee’s Strategic Priorities for Easements
i) In addition to the minimum criteria outlined in the City’s Agricultural Mitigation Ordinance, Chapter 17.730, the City will consider the following strategic priorities for placing easements on agricultural land. Priority should be given to properties:

(1) that are already planted and currently in productive agriculture;
(2) that are a minimum of 10 acres;
(3) that agree to invest easement funds into planting the land;
(4) that agree to invest easement funds into value-added development (i.e. wineries, commercial kitchens); and
(5) that agree to invest easement funds in a manner that promotes agricultural economic vitality for the Brentwood region.
 

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