Contact Us
The Association
Cattle Grazing
Self Sustainment
Photo Gallery
Properties for Sale
Offstream Storage
Next Meeting
Legal Documents



The Williamson Act

(California Land Conservation Act of 1965)

The Williamson Act Program, also known as the California Land Conservation Program (Government Code Section 51220 et. seq.) was created in 1965 as California’s only statewide agriculture and open space land protection program. In 1990-91, nearly 16 million of California’s 30 million acres of farm and ranch land, including more than half the State’s prime farmland, and millions of acres of sensitive watershed lands were protected under this Program from urban development.*

The Program serves to protect agricultural and open space land from urban development by allowing cities and counties to enter into contracts with landowners whereby landowners agree to forgo conversion of their land for a minimum of ten years in exchange for a lower property tax rate. Each year, the contract automatically renews itself unless the landowner has filed a notice of non-renewal, in which case, the contract winds down over a nine-year period.

Participating local jurisdictions receive Open Space Subvention Entitlements annually from the State to partially offset the tax revenue loss they experience by keeping land under contract. Land is categorized in terms of its value to the State. There are three categories including Urban Prime (located near the urban fringe), Other Prime (outside the urban designation), and Open Space which includes grazing land or open space of Statewide significance. Open Space lands include wildlife habitat, wetlands, salt ponds, scenic highway corridors, and recreational lands. The State pays the local government $5.00 an acre to protect Prime farm land and $1.00 an acre for Open Space lands.

To get into the program, a landowner files an application for a Williamson Act contract with the county or city, usually with the planning department. All agricultural land in the State is eligible for coverage, however, State policy requires a 10-acre minimum for prime land and a 40-acre minimum for open space. Local governments can impose additional requirements on contracts, including larger minimum parcel sizes.

* Sourced from UC Davis website on 1 August 2001:


Home ] Up ]

Copyright © 2008 Red Bank Oaks Property Owners' Association
Last modified: 02/21/09