Nielsen's Williamson Act Bill Passes, Sent To Governor

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

On Tuesday, Assemblyman Jim Nielsen's (R-Gerber) Assembly Bill 2530 passed out of the Assembly with a 78-0 vote.  The bill, intended to save the Williamson Act, will now head to the Governor's desk for signage.  The bill is a result of months of negotiations between Assemblyman Nielsen and agricultural groups such as the California Farm Bureau Federation and Resource Landowners Coalition.

"Close to fifty years ago the Williamson Act was passed to save agriculture in California," said Assemblyman Nielsen. "Fifty years later, Assembly Bill 2530 was passed to save the Williamson Act.  Agriculture is the backbone of California's economy and the livelihood of many.  Preserving land for food production is essential to the well being of a thriving society."    

The Williamson Act is a partnership between landowners, counties, and the state. Landowners agree to forego the possibility of developing their land in return for lower property taxes, while the counties agree to give up a portion of their property tax revenue in return for the advantages of keeping rural land in agricultural production.

AB 2530 would allow counties to voluntarily implement new contracts that are ten percent shorter in return for a ten percent reduction in the landowner's property tax relief. The adoption of the new shorter contracts would require a majority vote of the county board of supervisors and would only be allowed in years when counties receive replacement of less than one-half of their foregone general fund property tax revenue from the program.  This provides an incentive for California counties to continue to accept and renew Williamson Act contracts.