The Williamson Act Program enables local governments to enter into contracts with private landowners for the purpose of restricting specific parcels of land to agricultural or related open space use. Private land within locally-designated agricultural preserve areas is eligible for enrollment under contract. The minimum term for contracts is ten years. Landowners receive substantially reduced property tax assessments in return for enrollment under Williamson Act contract. Property tax assessments of Williamson Act contracted land are based upon generated income as opposed to potential market value of the property. As of 2013, all counties except Del Norte, San Francisco, Inyo, and Yuba offer Williamson Act contracts. Imperial County filed non-renewal on all Williamson Act contracts, effective January 2011 and is currently not entering into new contracts.
The California Department of Conservation is responsible for interpretation of the Williamson Act, research of related issues and policies, technical assistance in implementing the Act, providing comments for cancellation of Williamson Act contracts, and approval of Farmland Security Zone contract cancellations, however, you will need to contact your local city or county building and/or planning department where the agricultural property is located to apply or inquire if your property is eligible for this program.
Contract provision basics are contained in Government Code Section 51243
For all links regarding the Williamson Act go to: http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/lca/Pages/Index.aspx
For Williamson Act frequently asked questions go to: http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/lca/basic_contract_provisions/Pages/LCA_QandA.aspx
For the history of the Williamson Act go to http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/lca/basic_contract_provisions/Pages/wa_overview.aspx
For contact information regarding the Williamson Act go to: http://www.conservation.ca.gov/dlrp/Pages/contactUs.aspx
For county website/contact information go to: http://www.counties.org/county-websites-profile-information