Discretionary projects that would result in direct or indirect loss of Important Farmland in exceedance of the acreage loss thresholds listed in the table below shall ensure the permanent protection of offsite farmland of equal quality at a 1:1 ratio (acres preserved: acres converted) through the establishment of an offsite agricultural conservation easement. “Offsite” means an area that is outside of the project’s permit boundaries if applicable, would not be disturbed by the project with respect to agricultural soils or production, and that otherwise complies with the below-stated requirements. Discretionary projects to develop and provide housing for use by farmworkers and their families are not subject to this agricultural conservation easement requirement.
If the Planning Division, in consultation with the Agricultural Commissioner, determines that a discretionary project would result in direct or indirect loss of Important Farmland in exceedance of the acreage loss thresholds listed in the table above, the project applicant shall prepare and submit a report for the review and approval of the Planning Division in consultation with the Agricultural Commissioner which identifies a minimum of one proposed potential mitigation site suitable for ensuring the permanent protection of offsite farmland of equal quality at a 1:1ratio (acres preserved: acres converted) through the establishment of one or more offsite agricultural conservation easements. The preservation of more than one site agricultural conservation easement may be considered in order to meet the required number of acres. The applicant shall also deposit funds with the County to contract with a qualified third-party agricultural economic consultant to review and advise the Planning Division and Agricultural Commissioner regarding the establishment and implementation of the agricultural conservation easement(s). The contents of the report shall be determined, reviewed, and approved by the Planning Division in consultation with the Agricultural Commissioner (hereafter referred to as the “reviewing agencies”), and shall include information necessary for the reviewing agencies and a qualified entity responsible for holding the conservation easement (e.g., a land trust organization) to determine the viability of the proposed mitigation site(s) for the establishment of a permanent agricultural conservation easement.
Among the factors necessary for approval by the reviewing agencies, the proposed mitigation site(s) shall be located in the County of Ventura unincorporated area, must not already have permanent protection, must be equivalent to or greater than the type of Important Farmland (e.g., Unique farmland) that would be converted by the project, and must be of sufficient size to be viable for long term farming use as determined by the County. Among other terms that may be required by the reviewing agencies in consultation with a qualified entity, the terms of an agricultural conservation easement shall include a requirement that it run with the land. There must also be a provision for annual monitoring by the qualified entity or its representative to ensure adherence to the terms of the conservation easement. Project applicants are responsible for all costs incurred by the County and the qualified entity to successfully implement this mitigation measure. Proof of the successful establishment of an agricultural conservation easement shall be provided to the Planning Division prior to issuance of a zoning clearance for inauguration of the project.