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Environmental & Resource Protection
Agricultural Resources

Agricultural lands within Santa Cruz County contain productive soils that are limited and irreplaceable natural resources. Agricultural lands are areas which have been determined to be most suitable for a diversity of commercial and non-commercial farming operations such as the production of food, fiber, and ornamental crops, livestock, small family farming, and animal raising. Maximum protection to existing and future agricultural enterprises should be provided to parcels zoned for agriculture.

There are two primary agricultural zone districts within the County: Commercial Agriculture (CA):

CA zoned lands are specifically reserved for commercial agricultural pursuits such as the cultivation of plant crops, commercial raising of animals for grazing and livestock, and apiculture. Most CA zoned lands are also designated as an Agricultural Resource Type in the County General Plan. The Agricultural Resource designation identifies the quality of soil on the parcel and level of agricultural viability based on soil type. Permitted uses and structures on CA zoned lands are limited to those associated with commercial agriculture production. Agricultural Viability Determinations are required to prove that the parcel is not viable agricultural land and to facilitate a rezoning out of CA or a land division.

Agriculture (A): Lands which are zoned Agriculture (A) have been determined to be appropriate for the commercial or non-commercial cultivation of plant crops, animal raising, apiculture and associated uses thereof. The non-commercial component of the Agriculture zone district distinguishes these parcels from CA zoned parcels.

*The Residential Agriculture (RA) zone district is a Residential zone district and the uses are provided in County Code Section 13.10.322.

When considering development on CA or A zoned property, please note that although agriculture should be the primary use of the property, single family dwellings and associated structures are permitted in most cases. 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 CA zoned land. The buffer is measured from the proposed habitable area /structure to the property line of CA zoned land. Proposals to construct within the 200 foot buffer will be considered by the Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission (APAC) at a public hearing.