BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    

                                                                  AB 551
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          Date of Hearing:   May 15, 2013

                                  Mike Gatto, Chair

                    AB 551 (Ting) - As Amended:  April 29, 2013  

          Policy Committee:                              Local  
          GovernmentVote:7 - 0 
                        Agriculture                           7 - 0 

          Urgency:     No                   State Mandated Local Program:  
          No     Reimbursable:              


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

          1)Prohibits a county from establishing a UAIZ within any portion  
            of a city or the city's spheres of influence, unless that city  
            has adopted an authorizing ordinance. 

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

          3)Requires assessors to consider the enforceable restrictions  
            placed on an urban agriculture parcel when assessing the  
            property for property tax purposes.  

           FISCAL EFFECT  

          Restricting the allowable uses of land within urban areas to an  
          agricultural use is likely to reduce the assessed value of the  
          land and potentially the amount of property tax owners pay on  
          those parcels. 

          Property tax revenues are allocated to units of local government  
          according to existing law on the distribution of local property  
          tax.  To the extent this bill reduces the revenues flowing to  
          school districts, there would be a corresponding cost to the  
          General Fund as the property tax would otherwise offset General  


                                                                  AB 551
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          Fund obligations to schools, pursuant to the Proposition 98  
          minimum funding guarantee.  The actual impact to the General  
          Fund is unknown because it will depend on the number of counties  
          adopting urban agriculture ordinances and the number of  
          properties entering into contracts limiting the use to urban  
          agriculture.  The loss of revenue could be anywhere from several  
          hundred thousand dollars per year to millions of dollars. 


           1)Purpose  . According to the author, many properties in urban  
            areas lie undeveloped for many years for 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  

            This bill allows a county to enter into 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 owners may be encouraged to convert the land to  
            an urban agricultural use.  The reduced tax rate could serve  
            as an incentive to lease the land for urban agriculture rather  
            than leaving the property unused.

           2)Background  . Urban agriculture is the practice of cultivating,  
            processing, and distributing food in or around a town or city.  
            Urban agriculture can take the form of community gardens,  
            where residents of a neighborhood cultivate individual plots  
            in a communal garden for individual consumption.  
            Alternatively, urban farms can be operated by one individual  
            or a group of individuals who produce agricultural products to  
            sell to consumers. 

            Proponents of urban agriculture note that this type of  
            agriculture increases the amount of food available to people  
            living in cities, and allows fresh vegetables, fruits, and  
            meat products to be made available to urban consumers. It has  
            the potential to decrease food deserts and food swamps.  
            Because urban agriculture promotes energy-saving local food  
            production, urban and peri-urban agriculture are generally  
            seen as sustainable agriculture.


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           3)Clarifying Amendment . As currently drafted, the bill may not  
            apply to the city and county of San Francisco since the bill  
            refers to counties only.  The bill should be amended to  
            specifically state that it applies to both a county and a city  
            and county.

           Analysis Prepared by  :    Julie Salley-Gray / APPR. / (916)