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

Yolo County
Comparison of Plans & Performance

Basic Plan Information Highlights

Yolo County General Plan - adopted 1983; Agriculture and Open Space elements adopted 2002
[Yolo General Plan Map - 5.7 MB file]
Update Now In Progress
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[Link to Update Process]

City of Woodland General Plan - update adopted 2002
[Woodland General Plan Map]

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.

Agreements between Yolo County and its cities limit new development to areas within the cities' spheres of influence.

Both Yolo County and the City of Davis require mitigation of farmland conversion at the rate of one acre preserved for every acre developed.

The Yolo Land Trust is among the Valley's leading farmland preservation organizations with 3,500 acres of farm and ranch land under conservation easements.

[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

"Nonagricultural land use activities are prohibited from agriculturally designated lands in Yolo County, except as specifically defined in [land use policies]. Policy LU 7, Yolo County General Plan (YCGP), at 15

"New residential or suburban subdivisions are prohibited in the agriculturally designated areas." Policy LU 14, YCGP, at 16

"Commercial, non-agricultural industry, schools and urban-density residential uses shall be directed away from agricultural lands and located in existing areas zoned for commercial, industrial and residential uses." Policy AP-8, YCGP, Ag Element, at 4-4

"The City shall establish a permanent urban limit line around Woodland to permanently circumscribe urban development and preserve surrounding agricultural lands." Policy 1.A.12, City of Woodland General Plan (CWGP), at 1-12

Percentage of urban & built-up land outside city spheres of influence: 16% (Rank 4)

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

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The City of Woodland has a measure that would establish an urban limit line for development on the June 2006 ballot. At issue is whether this good idea would push development onto high quality farmland rather than in another direction.

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

[Click here for an explanation of this question]

What the Plans Intend

What Is Actually Happening

"It is the policy of Yolo County to vigorously conserve and preserve the agricultural lands ... especially in areas presently farmed or having prime agricultural soils and outside of existing planned urban communities and outside city limits." Policy LU 6, YCGP, at 15

Proportion of all land developed 1990-2000 that was High Quality Farmland: 72% (Rank 7)

High Quality Farmland as a proportion of all FMMP mapped land in county: 52% (Rank 7)

High Quality Farmland as a proportion of undeveloped land within city spheres of influence: 72% (Rank 8)

• High Quality Farmland as a proportion of all undeveloped land within city spheres of influence in 2000: 72% (Rank 8)

Land Development Quality Index:  1.39 (Rank 9)

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

 "The minimum parcel size for Yolo County agricultural zones is 20 acres ... to ensure that parcels are large enough to sustain themselves [aggriculturally] while minimizing incompatibility between adjacent land uses." YCGP, Ag Element, at 3-12.

"Residential land uses in the agricultural areas shall be limited to dwellings only for preservation of the family farm, for farm employees and those persons who own the farmland, up to a limit established by ordinance and implemented by Conditional Use Permit. All such dwellings shall be encouraged to locate on lands unsuited for agriculture and/or in 'clustered' configuations to minimize the conversion of agricultural lands." Policy LU 17, YCGP, at 17

"The County shall utilize an Agricultural Conservation Easement Program to help protect and preserve agricultural lands." Policy AP-2, YCGP, Ag Element, at 4-3

"The City shall discourage leapfrog development ... extending into agricultural lands to avoid adverse effects on agricultural operations." Policy 1.I.1, CWGP, at 1-31

Developed 1.5-10 ac ranchette acreage: 1,421 (Rank 2) (See note in table)

Ranchettes as a percentage of urbanized land: 5% (Rank 4)

Yolo's A-P zone (80 acre minimum parcel) comprises 477,218 acres; A-1 zone (20 acre minimum) comprises 128, 336 acres. YGCP, at 3-12.

Yolo County's zoning ordinance requires mitigation for agricultural land conversions at the rate of one acre for each acre converted by granting conservation easements or paying a comparable in lieu fee. YCGP, at 3-19

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

"Yolo County shall direct high density residential uses for non-automobile oriented lifestyles ... to be located in the designated community centers in each urban place." Policy LU 27, YCGP, at 18.

"The City shall encourage development of the city in a compact, cohesive pattern ... promote infill development and reuse of underutilized parcels ... promote mixed-use developments and creative developments ... [and] shall promote walking, bicycling and transit use." CWGP, at 1-12

"35 percent of all housing units shall be multi-family." CWGP, Housing Element, at 2-41

People per urbanized acre 2000: 5.9 (Rank 7)

People per urbanized acre, new development 1990-2000: 7.5 (Rank 8)

Undeveloped land within city spheres of influence: 16,477 acres (Rank 2)
as a percentage of 2020 need at current efficiencies: 120% (Rank 2)

Vehicle Miles Traveled Per Household 2000: 30,550 (Rank 11)
Change from 1990: 1.9% (Rank 5)

Though 35% of the planned residential units in the City of Woodland's new Spring Lake plan are multi-family, 79% of the land within the plan area is earmarked for low-density (<5 DU/ac) residential development. Table 3.1, Spring Lake Specific Plan, CWGP, Housing Element, at 3-7

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 perrcentage change is given) or the absolute number (where no change is given).

Land Development Quality Index measures 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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