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September, 2007



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Moo Town News

'Perception - Deception'
Being aware that in September the Countywide Plan Update will be in the hands of the Marin Board of Supervisors, the ranchers have united with land-use rights organizations and some well-versed land-use attorneys.
The Countywide Plan Update as proposed will be very destructive to agriculture and the ranchers themselves. When, in the mid-90s, we fought a grueling battle to stay out of the grab claims of the Point Reyes National Seashore, then we had two-thirds (2/3) of the ranchers' support. Now, with this even more threatening move by the County, we have upward of 95% of the ranching community supporting us.

Now that people are becoming aware of the plight of the ranches in the Point Reyes National Park, many have come to us and said, "No wonder the ranchers along the East shore of Tomales Bay fought so hard to stay out of the Park." Some of these people are the same ones that wanted the cancerous tentacles of the National Park to surround us for a lifetime of struggle to stay alive and viable as a ranching community. The anaconda squeeze that this proposed update of the Countywide Plan is even more devastating to ranchland than the Park Bill!

When a Marin Supervisor takes office, he or she swears an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States, which includes the 5th amendment, the protection of private property rights. There is a new legal precedence: that, if a government official, such as a local Supervisor, county planner or staff member knowingly or illegally takes land use rights away from a person, he can be sued as an 'individual' whether in office or if he has already left that office.

Meeting Supervisor Steve Kinsey over a month ago, he stated that CAPZ-60 zoning, which is the zoning on our own ranches along the coast, was going to be spread to ranches in the interior of Marin County. Thinking it over, Steve then conceded that the zoning was too harsh and restrictive to put on other ranches in Marin County. Golly gee, Steve, the coastal ranches are living under the CAPZ-60 zoning, which you call 'harsh' and the 'too restrictive,' but now you want to put much harsher restrictions on top of the A-60 restriction. Does it make sense to you that when the zoning on ranches is considered 'harsh,' that you should just add more and wider restrictions? What a crock!

It should be noted that the environmental community is being duped by the powers-that-be to follow the bouncing ball that 'big ranch homes negatively impact agriculture.' It is just the opposite.

When a rancher is forced by restrictions that disallow his sons and daughters from being housed on the family ranch - THAT is what is going to destroy agriculture in Marin.

Is it really fair, or is it discrimination against the ranchers, when owners of small parcels, even lots that don't equal an acre, can build a house 4,000+ square feet to 8,000 square feet and maybe even bigger, while the owner of a thousand acre working ranch is to be forced to build a smaller house of 3,000 square feet. Yes, this is definitely discriminatory! It makes no sense that the bigger the land, the smaller the house. It is also illegal and a taking of private property rights, and uncompensated as well.

The real truth is that the powers-that-be want the ranchlands under full government control, whether by the Federal, State or County. The Federal government tried to control the ranchlands around Tomales Bay via the former Park Bill. That didn't work, so now the County is trying. The same powers-that-be (Bob Berner of MALT and Supervisor Kinsey) want to diminish the value of ranchland so that our ranchland appraisals come in lower to devalue our land. That way, MALT can get it for pennies on the dollar!

It seems ironic to me that Marin county is the richest county in the United States and it pays its ranchers cheaper than Sonoma county. Sonoma pays 70% of the appraisal value for development rights, while Marin, through MALT, pays 40% of appraisal value. To be able to borrow money is of utmost importance for a rancher. I received a letter from Agricap, a financial corporation that loans money on agricultural lands, signed by Mario Padilla, Senior Vice-President. In his own words (and I quote), 'Restrictions such as limiting house size, and conservation easements on land will negatively impact the value of ranchland.' Mr. Padilla said he would testify to this statement in front of the Board of Supervisors.

It is mandated by the County of Marin that a ranch must stay in 90% agriculture. Somehow, the County has the perception that such restrictions are going to protect agriculture and keep it viable. The restrictions are not about protecting agriculture; it is about governmental control and m-o-n-e-y. The 'protection of ag' thing is a political myth for the voters.

The County's principal appraiser, Nelson Gremmels puts the worth of Marin's ranchland at $10,000 an acre. Sonoma County would pay $7,000 an acre just for the development rights with NO cap on house size.

P.S. Incentives like low-cost housing on ranches instead of more and more restrictions would be a lot more positive for ag and the community.

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