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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. Maximum protection is provided to existing and future agricultural enterprises on parcels zoned for agriculture.

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

  • Commercial Agriculture (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. Permitted uses and structures on CA zoned lands are limited to those associated with commercial agriculture production. Proposals to rezone out of CA, land divisions, or non-commercial agricultural uses typically require an Agricultural Viability Determination to prove that the parcel is not viable agricultural land.
  • Agriculture (A) zoned lands 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 A zone district distinguishes these parcels from CA zoned parcels.

When considering development on CA or A zoned land, please note that although agriculture should be the primary use of the property, single-family dwellings and associated structures are conditionally permitted in most cases. Non-agricultural uses are subject to a 200-foot setback from CA zoned land and proposals to reduce that setback are considered by the Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission (APAC) at a public hearing. Additional information on agricultural buffer setbacks is available here.

The Residential Agricultural (RA) zoning designation is considered a residential zone district and uses are subject to those allowed in residential zone districts as described in County Code Section 13.10.322.