As a statewide organization representing more than 800 private engineering and land surveying firms and some 18,000 professionals, ACEC California is often asked to engage in efforts related to new zoning regulations and regional and urban planning.
There are a lot of legislative attempts to bring clarity to planning processes but because of the sheer weight of legislation already on the books, it takes an extremely well-crafted bill to make the grade. A bill, now before the Assembly, which aims to protect agricultural land, may be well intentioned but doesn’t make the grade.
California should be sympathetic to the desire to guard against and mitigate for the loss of important farmlands. In fact, some good, tested programs are already on the books. The Williamson Act provides a property tax reduction incentive to farmers who want to commit land to agricultural use. The California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires a finding of significant impact if a project converts farm or forest land to another use. And SB 375, establishes a framework for regional planning agencies to integrate transportation, housing and land use plans into performance targets for greenhouse gas emission reductions.
Any additional legislation needs to be accretive to this body of law, not contradictory or duplicative. Through this lens, ACEC California works to ensure that present and future legislative efforts to add to this body of law be balanced, focused, and funded.