The Future is Now: Central Valley Farmland at the Tipping Point?
Executive Summary
Resumen Ejecutivo
Current Trends
     Population Growth
  Farmland Use and Development
  Quality of Farmland Developed
  Efficiency of Urban Development
  "Ranchettes" & Other Rural Development
  Agricultural Trends
Local Plans & Performance
  Analytical Method
  Sutter County
  Sacramento County
  Yolo County
  San Joaquin County
  Stanislaus County
  Merced County
  Madera County
  Fresno County
  Tulare County
  Kings County
  Kern County
Where is The Valley Heading?
Time for Change
  Ideas for Change
What You Can Do
  Rank Your County
  Local Official Contacts
  Local Organizations
  Support AFT
Methodology & Background Data
About AFT in California

Kings County
Comparison of Plans & Performance

Basic Plan Information Highlights

Kings County General Plan - adopted 1993; land use element adopted 2004. Kings County Plan Map

City of Hanford General Plan - adopted 2002

Kings County LAFCo Policies

We are sorry that we were not able to provide planning information for every city in the county. If officials or residents of those cities provide us with relevant data and information, we will make every effort to update this web site.

We are accepting nominations.

[Click for a Table Summarizing County Performance Data and Rank Compared to Other Counties]

Do local plans and their implementation provide certainty by clearly and consistently (without too many changes) indicating where urban development should occur and where agriculture should remain the preferred, long-term use of land?

[Click here for an explanation of this question]
What the Plans Intend
What Is Actually Happening

“Designate all land outside urban and rural community areas as Limited Agriculture, General Agriculture, or Exclusive Agriculture.”  Policy LU 52b, Land Use Element, Kings County General Plan (KCGP), at LU-10. 

“Apply one of the three Agricultural land use designations to areas with productive and potentially productive agricultural soils and grazing lands.”  Policy 14a, KCGP, Resource Conservation Element, at RC-4.

Limited Agriculture around urban and rural community areas to serve as a buffer between urban and intensive agricultural uses; General Agriculture beyond the Limited Agriculture areas. Exclusive Agriculture in a three-mile band around Lemoore Naval Air Station .  KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-10.

“Maintain the Limited Agricultural or General Agricultural designation until all feasible alternative locations for urban and rural community uses have been developed.”  (Policy LU 5.1a, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-10).

"Require urban growth to be contiguous to existing urban and rural community development, and to annex to a city or special district providing services...”  Policy LU 1.1a, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-4.

“Direct future industrial and commercial development to the cities and rural communities.”  Goal LU3, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-7.

“Annexation and development of existing vacant non-open space land and non-prime agricultural land within an agency’s sphere of influence is encouraged prior to development outside the sphere of influence.”  Policy E.1., Kings County LAFCo Policies and Procedures Manual, at 8.

“Proposals involving the conversion of prime agricultural land shall be contiguous to existing city boundaries, designated for urbanization in the city and county general plans and consistent with the sphere of influence.” Policy E.2., Id.

"The purpose of the buffer along the edge of the [city] is to limit growth and development within the [city] Planning Area Boundary." City of Hanford General Plan (HGP), Land Use Element, Policy LU 25.8, at LU-43.

Percentage of urban & built-up land outside city spheres of influence: 43% (Rank 10)

The County has approved 14 general plan amendments since 1994, though information on how much farmland was thus converted to non-farm uses is unavailable.

[Click here to see a map of actual development 1990-2000]

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Do local plans and their implementation avoid development of high quality farmland in favor of less productive land?

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What the Plans Intend
What Is Actually Happening

“Conserve prime agricultural soils; avoid their conversion to nonagricultural use.”  Objective 14.1, KCGP, Resource Conservation Element, at RC-4.

Proportion of all land developed 1990-2000 that was High Quality Farmland: 75% (Rank 8)

High quality farmland as a proportion of all land in county: 67%

High Quality Farmland as a proportion of undeveloped land within city spheres of influence: 67% (Rank 6)

Land Development Quality Index: 1.11 (Rank 5)

Do local plans and their implementation protect agriculture by limiting and buffering incompatible residential development?

[Click here for an explanation of this issue]

What the Plans Intend
What Is Actually Happening

“Protect agricultural lands by maintaining large parcel sizes and preventing the development of incompatible uses.”  Goal LU 5, KCGP, Land Use Element, page LU-10.

“The primary and highest use of land designated for agricultural uses is agriculture and related support services and uses.  In these areas residential uses are accessory and secondary to agricultural uses.”  Policy LU 6.1a, KCGP, Land Use Element, at Lu-11.

“Ensure that housing located on farmland is for the use of those engaged in farming.  Encourage the construction of seasonal farm employee housing as needed.”  GOAL LU 8, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-12.

“Continue the implementation of the “Right to Farm” ordinance and publicize its contents to property owners in areas designated for agricultural land.”  Policy LU 6.1d, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-11.

Prohibit the designation of new areas as “Rural Residential.”  Objective LU 11.1, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-14.

"Very low density residential development shall be required near the [city] Planning Area Boundary to provide a transition between agricultural or rural areas and urban development." HGP, Land Use Element, Policy LU 2.2, at LU-21.

Developed 1.5-10 ac ranchette acreage 1996: 4,534 Acres (Rank 4)

Ranchette acreage as percentage of Urban & Built-Up Land: 16% (Rank 6)

Do local plans and their implementation promote efficient "smart" development that minimizes farmland conversion while making communities more livable and sustainable?

[Click here for an explanation of this issue]
What the Plans Intend
What is Actually Happening

“In order to prevent uncoordinated, sprawling growth and to delay costly expansion of district facilities, encourage infilling of vacant or underutilized parcels where water and sewer area available by providing incentives such as reduction of development application fees of 25%.  Policy LU 1.8d, KCGP, Land Use Element, at LU-6. 

"Encourage the development of a variety of higher density multi-family residential uses in an attempt to maintain 30% of the total housing stock as multi-family units in the City." HGP, Land Use Element, Policy LU 4.1, at LU-22.

People per urbanized acre 2000:
3.9 (Rank 10)

People per urbanized acre of new development 1990-2000: 8.5 (Rank 6)

Vehicle Miles Traveled Per Household 2000: 23, 979 (Rank 5)
Change from 1990: -4.1% (Rank 1)

Of the 1,695 acres in the county zoned for residential use, 81% are zoned for medium low, low or very low density. KCGP, Table 7

Undeveloped land within city spheres of influence: 41,481 acres (Rank 5); as percentage of 2020 need at current efficiencies: 637% (Rank 10)

89% of the the land dedicated to future residential use in the City of Hanford is earmarked for low density housing (averaging 5 DU/ac). HGP, Table LU-2, at LU-6.

Approximately 25 single-family homes on infill lots have been processed over the past year in the City of Avenal. Housing Element, Housing Plan, at 6-6.

Note on Ranking: The Central Valley counties included in this report are ranked to enable a comparison of their performance in preserving farmland and encouraging "smart growth." A rank of 1 (among the 11 counties studied) indicates the best relative performance, a rank of 11 indicates the worst relative performance. Rankings are based on percentage change (where it is given), amount of change (where no percentage change is given) or the absolute number (where no change is given).

Land Development Quality Indexmeasures how well the local jurisdictions in a county have avoided the development of High Quality Farmland (HQF) by taking advantage of the available options for encouraging development of lower productivity land. It is the ratio of the percentage of development during 1990-2000 that occurred on HQF to the percentage of all land in the county mapped by FMMP that is HQF. The latter excudes undevelopable areas such as deserts and mountains. An LDQI greater than 1.0 indicates that the county is not taking full advantage of its alternatives.

Vehicle Miles Traveled Per Household is closely correlated with efficient development patterns that minimize auto trips between home, work, schools and shopping (as well as with levels of air pollution). [Click here for more information]

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