BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 551
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          Date of Hearing:   April 17, 2013

                           Susan Talamantes Eggman, Chair
                      AB 551 (Ting) - As Amended:  April 9, 2013
          SUBJECT  :   Local government: urban agriculture incentive zones.

           SUMMARY  :   This bill allows a county to establish by ordnance an  
          Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone for the purpose of supporting  
          urban agriculture.  Specifically,  this bill  :  

          1)Makes legislative findings and declarations that it is in the  
            public interest to promote urban farms enterprise sectors.

          2)Defines Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) as an area  
            within a county that is comprised of individual properties  
            designated by the county as an agricultural preserve for  

          3)Allows a county, after a public meeting, to establish a UAIZ  
            by ordnance to enter into voluntary enforceable agreements  
            with landowners for the use of specified lands for small scale  
            commercial agriculture production. 

          4)Allows a county, after adopting a UAIZ ordnance, to enter into  
            contracts with landowners to enforceably restrict the contract  
            lands to uses consistent with urban agriculture.  Contracts  
            are required, but not limited to, the following provisions.

             a)   A term of at least 10 years;

             b)   The land is at least one tenth of an acre in size;

             c)   Requires the entire contract property be committed to  
               agricultural use; and,

             d)   Prohibits commercial use for contracted land, except for  
               uses that comply with the terms of the contract. 

          5)Requires UAIZ contracts to not prohibit structures that  
            support agricultural activities, including, but not limited  
            to, toolsheds, greenhouses, produce stands, and instructional  


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          6)Requires UAIZ contracts to allow the use of organic pesticides  
            or fertilizers allowed by the United States Department of  
            Agriculture's National Organic Program, if the use of  
            pesticides or fertilizers are prohibited by the UAIZ contract.

          7)Requires that in a tax assessment of UAIZ contracts  
            properties, assessors must consider the enforceable  
            restrictions that affect land valuation.

          8) Adds UAIZ contracted lands as an enforceable restriction that  
            affects land valuation, which assessors are required to  

           EXISTING LAW:

           1)Authorizes cities and counties to enter into agricultural land  
            preservation contracts with landowners who agree to restrict  
            the use of their land for a minimum of 10 years in exchange  
            for lower-assessed valuations for property tax purposes.

          2)Requires a county assessor to consider, when valuing real  
            property for property taxation purposes, the effect of any  
            enforceable restrictions upon the property. These restrictions  
            include, but are not limited to, zoning, contracts with  
            governmental agencies, and various other restrictions imposed  
            by governments.

           FISCAL EFFECT  :   Unknown. This bill has been keyed fiscal by  
          Legislative Counsel. 

           COMMENTS  :   According to the author, many properties in urban  
          areas lie undeveloped for many years due to various reasons.  
          These properties can blight the surrounding neighborhood.  This  
          bill seeks to create an incentive for the owners of these  
          properties to use their properties for urban agriculture in  
          order to create a green space and a local food source for the  

          The author states that by allowing a county to enter a contract  
          with the landowner, in which the property must be used for urban  
          agriculture in return for a lower property tax rate.  Supporters  
          state that by reducing the landowner's property tax rate,  
          property owned may be encouraged to convert the land to an urban  
          agricultural use.  The reduced tax rate could serve as an  


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          incentive to lease the land for urban agriculture rather than  
          leaving the property unused.

          A recent report by Policy Link identified a growth in urban  
          communities across America in which urban agriculture is taking  
          root as an inventive solution to increase access to healthy  
          food. The report also stated that urban agriculture is helping  
          to revitalize the economic and social health of communities.  
          This bill will further aid that growth.

          Supporters state that the opt-in approach taken by this bill  
          offers a conservative way to help expand urban agriculture  
          across the state. This bill will act as another tool in the box  
          for counties who are looking to create open space and small  
          scale economic opportunities in their jurisdiction.  

          San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance (Sponsor)
          Alchemist Community Development Corporation
          Anya Kamenskaya, Future Farmers and DIG Cooperative
          City Slicker Farms
          Cythia Hubach, Founder Elysian Valley Community Garden
          Garrett Broad, Los Angeles
          Hunger Action Los Angeles
          Little City Gardens
          Mission Pie, San Francisco
          Oakland Roots The School of Urban Sustainability
          Oakland Roots, The School of Sustainability
          Ocean Beach People's Organic Food Market
          Phat Beets Produce
          Planting Justice
          Planting Justice
          Sacramento Natural Foods Co-Op
          San Diego Hunger Coalition
          Santa Clara County Open Space Authority
          Social Justice Learning Institute
          Soil Born Farms
          SPUR, San Francisco
          Supervisor David Chiu, San Francisco
          Sustainable Economies Law Center
          Ubuntu Green
          Ubuntu Green


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          Victory Gardens San Diego
          Women Organizing Resources Knowledge and Services
          One Individual
          None on file

          Analysis Prepared by  :    Victor Francovich / AGRI. / (916)