The California Land Conservation Act of 1965, better known as the Williamson Act, created a program for counties to protect viable agricultural land by offering a tax incentive to property owners for keeping their land in agricultural production. The Act provides an arrangement where private landowners voluntarily restrict their land to agricultural and compatible open space uses through a Land Conservation Contract with the county.
About the Contract
The Williamson Act contract is an enforceable restriction on land and is binding on successors to both the landowner and the local government. The minimum term for a contract is 10 years, and the contract is automatically renewed annually, unless either party gives advance notice on non-renewal. Contracts may also be canceled immediately, terminating the restriction to agricultural uses, only if the local legislative body finds that it would be consistent with the Act and in the public interest.
History of Williamson Act
Humboldt County Board of Supervisors 1st adopted guidelines for the Williamson Act locally on June 24, 1969. From 1972 to 1981, nearly 243,000 acres were put under Williamson Act contracts in the county. Currently, there are just over 273,000 acres in the program in 145 established preserves.
On May 20, 2003 the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors formally established the Williamson Act Advisory Committee. The purpose of the Committee is to provide input into the process of implementing and administering the Williamson Act Program in Humboldt County and when appropriate, to serve as an advisory committee to the board on all matters pertaining to the local administration of the Williamson Act. This includes making recommendations to the board on applications for entry into the Williamson Act program, applications for non-renewal, cancellation, lot line adjustments; applications for additions to existing preserves; and, recommendations to the board about program policy and procedures as needed. The board established the following preference for making appointments to the Committee:
2 Cattlemen (1 from the North part of the county and 1 from the South)