Williamson Act And Farmland Security Zones

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The Williamson Act is a statewide program enacted in Monterey County in 1968 in which the owner enters into a contract with the county to maintain his land in agricultural production. In exchange the owner is eligible for a reduction in his taxable values. Contracts enacted in 1968 were for a term of ten years. Contracts after 1968 were for a term of 20 years. Contracts automatically renew each year unless the owner files a notice of non renew with the Board of Supervisors. To qualify to enter into a contract the owner should have a minimum of 100 acres (40 acres for prime), and should have a gross agricultural income of $8,000 per year for 3 of the last five years. Owners may go together to create enough land to qualify. The compatible uses available are specified in the contract.
The Farmland Security Zone became effective in Monterey County in 1998. This measure ensures that prime farmland will get an additional 35% reduction in taxable value. For additional Information on the Williamson Act and the Open Space Subvention Act, please visit California's Board of Conservation Website.

The local administration is done through the Board of Supervisors by the Planning Department. The Assessor’s Office annually computes the taxable values.

Williamson Act properties receive the lesser of the fair market value, the factored base year value, or the Williamson Act value. The Williamson Act value is determined by dividing the income (gross income - 3% for management and insurance) by a capitalization rate. The rate is composed of a yield rate based on the four-year average of long-term Treasury bond yield rate, plus a component for risk, plus 1% for taxes. Trees and vines in the Williamson Act are also capitalized using the restricted rate.
If the property is in the Farmland Security Zone then the Williamson Act calculation is done and the property gets the lower of 65% of the base year value or 65% of the Williamson Act value.

To obtain an application for a new Williamson Act contract, contact: 

       Clerk to the Board of Supervisors
       PO Box 1728 
       Salinas, CA 93902

New contracts become effective the fiscal year (July 1-June 30) following the lien date (January 1). The Williamson rate is available at about September 1 of each year. Once the cost of living adjustment is known then the values can be updated. The values are recalculated each year.
References Assessor’s Handbook AH 521; R&T Code Article 1.5 starting at Section 421; SBE Rule 51, 52, 54.