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June, 2007



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By Judy Borello

Promises have been made over the years and never kept. Just ask the local American Indians about that along with many more deceived people by our illustrious politicians and their appointees..
In Wade Holland's guest editorial column last month, he states (relating to why ranchlands should have their homes restricted to 3,500 sq feet) that a "new" owner will probably always build a super-sized residential compound surrounded by acres of private recreational facilities. "When this happens" he says, "agricultural production on the land typically disappears."

Wade Holland did not tell the whole story purposely. The ranchlands, under a mandate by the County, MUST keep 95% of their land in agricultural production, no matter who owns it!

Another deceptive analysis by the County: our ranchlands, of which most are held in multiple parcels, are paid for individually by each parcel's owner, some owners paying for multiple parcels. IT IS IN THE COUNTY'S BAG OF TRICKS to combine them into one parcel, without the ranchers' permission, in order to reduce the total of allowances and "rights" of the rancher. When this happens, it is considered a "taking."

Obviously, each parcel is individually under the same regulations and restrictions already mentioned. When the County arbitrarily combines all the owned parcels into one, the restrictions and regulations become onerous in the extreme. It puts a serious burden on the rancher that can easily put him or her out of business and the land up for sale. It becomes just another land grab by the County to devalue ranchlands and drive ranchers out of business.

This scam has already hurt one rancher who wanted to sell one parcel out of 4 parcels (200 acres out of 800 acres) in order to keep his family ranch solvent and operational. He needed the money to invest in upgrading facilities. A local couple, devoted to organic farming, was willing to buy the 200 acres until they heard the County's scheme of considering all the rancher's lands to be one, thus disallowing the building of a decent-sized home and sufficient out buildings to farm. The nice couple dropped out of the deal and the rancher was left wringing his hands and feeling disserved by a County that, in public, professes a "partnership" with agriculture.

I do believe some of the environmentalists are being used and duped by the powers-that-be who drew up these unjust proposals to take away the land use rights of the ranchers. The true environmentalist and steward of the land is the rancher, who not only talks the talk, but they day in and day out walk the walk!

The County draws a picture that portrays taking the land-use rights from the ranchers somehow making the ranchland "greener" and more agriculturally productive. Not so! With the mandate and a myriad of other restrictions such as the Williamson Act and C.A.P.Z. zoning, 95% of ranchland MUST STAY IN AGRICULTURAL PRODUCTIVITY! There are already enough restrictions to protect against development of "Estate Playgrounds" on ranchlands. Some of the environmentalists will just follow the "green" bouncing ball myth without balanced thinking on the issue, believing that to go against ranchers is somehow "a good" in itself. Actually, this unbalanced thinking simply causes an even bigger rift between the landowners and the environmentalists. If the environmentalists really thought about it, they would realize that if it wasn't for the ranches out in West Marin, Tomales Bay and its surroundings would not be as beautifully clothed in lush hills of green. It is because of the devotion of the ranchers to their land that industry and/or development has not happened.

When Gary Giacomini was County Supervisor of our district for many, many years, he tried to bring the environmentalists and the ranchers together in view of their common interests. I would sure like to see Steve Kinsey do more of that than allow the rift between the two factions to grow bigger and more intense.

The issues of house size restrictions, parcel conglomeration, trails over private property, etc., does not make anything greener except Marin Agricultural Land Trust's pockets. Because if the ranchers' land has these proposed land-use restrictions placed on them, those lands will naturally appraise for less!!

As I've stated before, ranchers with these restrictions on their land will have a tough time trying to borrow from a bank. Ranchers need loans in time of drought, flooding, crop destruction, disease, animal viruses, barns, fencing and water reservoirs. These restrictions are unconstitutional and constitute "a taking." The issue of private property rights is neither a Republican nor Democratic issue, but an American issue!

With Steve Kinsey and other supervisors coming up for re-election, they probably start counting the votes of the environmentalists and the socialists and those who have no understanding of what ranching is all about! It seems easy for them to sacrifice the rights of ranchers because the ranchers are outnumbered. Still, it is simply not the right thing to do, nor the moral or legal thing to do. But when it comes to politics, very few have the integrity to do the right thing, sadly.

When Steve Kinsey testified in 1997 in front of a Congressional hearing, he stated that the environmental groups and the Board of Supervisors wanted the ranchers on the East Shore of Tomales Bay forced into the National Park against the ranchers' will. Thank God that the head of the Congressional hearing took the stance that as interesting as all that was, he wanted to hear from the landowners themselves because it was the landowners themselves who would be most impacted. When the ranchers testified and said that two-thirds of the ranchers were against the Park Bill to force them into the National Park, and that the ranchers already lived under serious restrictions on their lands, the Park Bill did not go through. I thank God to this day that the head of that Congressional hearing had the respect, deep-concern and integrity of his office to not allow our own County to trample the ranchers of West Marin.

If Steve Kinsey means what he says now about being a friend to agriculture and a partner with agriculture, he can redeem himself with the ranching community and live up to his self-designation as a "Friend of Agriculture" by helping us beat back this proposed "taking" of our land use rights.

P.S. My Australian shepherd, Murphy, broke out of his yard in Point Reyes Station on May 18th and has not returned home. He is 2 1/2 years old, multi-colored and weights about 55 lbs. He had a collar on him with his rabies shot tag. I've offered a $100 reward for his return, but believe me when I say that he is worth a lot more to me than money. He's shy and will probably run away, but if you see him, please call me at 663 8333! Thank you.

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