Full Mitigation of Farmland Development: A Proposed Approach

Given the inexorable growth in California's population, the main challenge facing farmland preservation is how to encourage land development that is more efficient - that consumes less land per person - for all uses, residential, commercial and civic. In the Central Valley, for example, for every acre developed, only 8 new residents are being accommodated - an astonishing waste of what is arguably the best farmland on Earth. A mechanism must be found to significantly increase development efficiency, while accommodating the expected population in affordable housing. Graduated mitigation fees that reflect the full opportunity cost of land consumption offer one such approach. The full impact of farmland development is not being mitigated by the current approach of charging fixed fees based only on preserving an amount of land equal to that being developed. There should also be mitigation for the opportunity cost of developing at low density, as measured by the amount of additional farmland that will have to be developed to accommodate the same population growth. Properly structured, mitigation fees would not just fully compensate for the farmland actually consumed by development, but also
encourage more efficient development that is, in effect, "self-mitigating".

Downloadable Documents: 
Edward Thompson, Jr.
Davis, CA: American Farmland Trust
Page Numbers: 
Publication Date: 
January 1, 2007
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