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Agricultural Buffer Setbacks

To further protect commercial agricultural land from potential conflicts with non-agricultural uses, a 200 foot agricultural buffer setback is required between habitable uses (includes outdoor areas) and land designated as an Agricultural Resource Type in the County General Plan. The buffer is measured from the proposed habitable area and/or habitable structure to the property line of the parcel designated as an Agricultural Resource Type. Proposals to construct within the 200 foot buffer will be considered by the Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission (APAC) at a public hearing.

Examples of common uses that will require approval of an Agricultural Buffer Reduction from the Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission at a Public Hearing:

  • Single Family Dwellings
  • Second Units
  • Habitable Accessory Structures
  • Outdoor spaces associated with a habitable use such as patios, decks, and swimming pools.
  • Commercial, industrial, recreational, or institutional structures
  • Outdoor areas associated with a commercial, industrial, recreational, or institutional use such as public parking, dining patios, and other areas designed for intensive human use.

Examples of uses that will require administrative level approval of an Agricultural Buffer Reduction (no public hearing):

  • Additions to existing residential construction including single family dwellings and habitable accessory structures.
  • Additions to existing structures for private recreational facilities
  • Agricultural Caretakers’ Mobile Homes

Exceptions to the Agricultural Buffer Requirement:

  • Additions of 1,000 square feet or less to an existing legal Single Family Dwelling that already encroaches into the 200 foot agricultural buffer setback as long as the addition does not encroach further into the 200 foot buffer setback.

In most cases, agricultural buffer reductions can be approved if features are proposed or present that mitigate potential negative impacts to adjacent or surrounding commercial agricultural land. Existing mitigations can include changes in topography, permanent substantial vegetation, or other physical barriers between the agriculture and non-agricultural uses. Proposed mitigations include the establishment of a physical barrier, typically a 6 foot tall solid wood fence with a vegetative buffer and the recordation of a Statement of Acknowledgement on the property title which acknowledges the potential for conflicts between the agricultural and non-agricultural uses.

Resources:
County Code Section 16.50.095

Recommended Agricultural Buffer Planting List

 

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