A Dec. 20 editorial ("New ag element helps keep farming viable") discussed passage of a general plan amendment by the Board of Supervisors to require agricultural land mitigation. Under this amendment, land converted from agricultural zoning to residential uses must be mitigated. An agricultural easement can only be placed on existing like agricultural land, effectively resulting in no net increase in farmland. Meanwhile, for the past decade, thousands more acres have come into production than have been urbanized.
The cost to purchase an easement on agricultural land will be factored into the price of new homes, and the burden will ultimately be absorbed by home buyers. Farmers and others with agricultural land will reap the benefits of the amendment by receiving mitigation revenue to maintain only the status quo on their land.
The supervisors who voted to support this form of wealth transfer all own agricultural land and it's foreseeable they could potentially benefit from the decision. Additionally, one of the supervisors, also a commercial builder, led the charge to exempt his industry from the mitigation requirement, citing the need to create jobs.
Jobs, we agree, are important. People in those jobs need somewhere to raise their families, but apparently shelter ranks secondary to revenue enhancement for farmers.
and DON GRAY
and three co-signers,
Building Industry Association of Central California executive committee
Editor's note: After this letter was submitted, the BIA filed a lawsuit against Stanislaus County over the ag mitigation requirement.
The supervisors who voted for the revised ag element are Jim DeMartini, Jeff Grover and Tom Mayfield. Grover is owner of Solecon Industrial Contractors.