September 19, 2023

Farm Bureau sues to protect farmland | Local News

The San Mateo County Agricultural Office has filed a lawsuit against the California Coastal Commission, asking it to change its amendment to the Local Coastal Program Implementation Plan, which removes some local discretionary approval requirements for agency land divisions. public for public recreation.

BJ Burns, chairman of the San Mateo County Agricultural Bureau, said in a press release that the amendment allows subdivisions without a permanent conservation easement that would protect agriculture and the values ​​of open spaces, creating plots of unauthorized land. sustainable and significantly altering coastal agricultural land and environmental resources.

“Our board of directors has taken this legal action to protect farmland on the coast of San Mateo County,” Burns said.

The California Coastal Commission, in a staff report, said the amendment makes it easier for public entities to develop low-intensity public recreation projects along the median coast of San Mateo County by removing barriers during a review of the division of non-coastal development land. The committee amended the amendment in January. Farm Bureau lawsuit claims changes violate protections for agriculture in the California Coastal Act of 1976 and result in potentially significant environmental impacts on agriculture and other resources for which mitigation was required under California Environmental Quality Act. The lawsuit was filed March 3 in California Superior Court in Sacramento. The Farm Bureau is asking the court to order the commission to overturn and overturn the amendment and to comply with the requirements of the California Environmental Quality Act.

The San Mateo County Agricultural Office consists of farmers and ranchers focused on promoting and preserving agriculture to improve the agricultural industry in San Mateo County. The California Coastal Commission has the authority to plan and regulate land and water use in the coastal zone, including the construction of buildings, the division of land, and activities that alter the intensity of use. lands.

The lawsuit argues that changes to the amendments would result in “potentially significant environmental impacts on agriculture and other environmental resources for which mitigation measures are needed.” The lawsuit said it would exempt parties from agricultural protection restrictions that promote the preservation of farmland and remove the requirement to register easements for agriculture and open spaces.

Osha Meserve, attorney for the Farm Bureau, said coastal agriculture depends on protections when recreational uses are developed. The lawsuit said the commission failed to consider the impact on agricultural land, geology and soil resources, water quality, political inconstancies and land use. The Farm Bureau also said the amendment is not minor and has major ramifications for farmland.

The commission said this would have no significant environmental effects and that no mitigation measures are required. He said the provisions of local coastal programs protecting agriculture would remain unchanged and that the primary purpose of the amendment is to help facilitate stewardship of farmland and recreational access, such as trails, in relation to it. with specific types of land division.