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Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Rule Changes Threaten Santa Barbara County Farmlands

Last Chance to Comment on Revised EIR for Santa Barbara County Agricultural Rule Changes


WHAT: Santa Barbara County is considering changes to the rules that apply to lands protected under agricultural preserve contracts. These contracts provide tax relief to landowners, in exchange for their commitment to maintain their lands in agriculture. The County was poised to approve changes to the existing rules, which would expand the types of activities allowed on these lands, in December 2006; however, EDC and our clients successfully challenged the Final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) on the grounds that it failed to disclose all of the cumulative changes the County is considering that would allow conversion of agricultural lands to non-agricultural uses. The County recently released a Revised EIR that is intended to address these cumulative concerns.

WHEN: Comments are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, September 4, 2007. Comments should be submitted to:

David Matson, Project Manager

Office of Long Range Planning

County of Santa Barbara

30 E. Figueroa St., 2d Floor

Santa Barbara, CA 93101-2010

Fax: (805) 568-2076


The EIR is available on the web at:

Talking Points: The Revised EIR still fails to include many proposed program changes and projects that may cause a cumulative loss of agricultural lands in the County. In addition, the Revised EIR falls short of analyzing all of the cumulative impacts of these proposals. Please write to the County planning staff and ask them to revise the EIR to include the following:

* All related programs and projects under consideration, whether or not they are currently subject to formal review. The County has been developing many of these programs for a number of years, and has sufficient information to disclose the potential impacts to agricultural resources. Under the California Environmental Quality Act, environmental review may not be deferred until after a decision is made.

* All cumulative impacts that may result from these proposals, including impacts to biological resources, surface water resources, open space, fire and safety, and historic resources. The County is considering several programs that will lead to substantial residential and industrial development on ag lands, and yet the Revised EIR does not address any of these potential impacts.

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rexfrankel at

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