SAN LUIS OBISPO — San Luis Obispo County is considering some changes to its rules regarding agricultural land clustering.
In this county, ag clustering allows property owners to double the number of allowable houses on a property, as long as they are concentrated on 5 percent of the land, leaving the other 95 percent as open space or in agricultural use.
But rule changes in the works would reduce or eliminate the density bonus, clarify some requirements, allow ag clustering in some parts of the coastal zone, up the minimum lot size for ag clustering to 2.5 acres from 10,000 square feet (roughly 1/4 acre), require properties to be within two miles of an urban reserve line, and require clustered lots to be contiguous to form a single cluster.
The proposed revisions in the coastal zone would also add agricultural clustering to existing lots without creating new ones.
The county’s planning commission will hold a hearing at its Thursday, Aug. 30 meeting to consider the county’s request to make the changes to the land use ordinance and coastal zone land use ordinance. County staff recommends that the planning commission tell the SLO County Board of Supervisors that it should certify that the final environmental impact report for these rule changes was completed in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, and also tell the board that it should approve the changes to the land use ordinances regarding ag clustering.
According to county paperwork, the attempt to allow ag clustering in the coastal zone with no new lots is the result of the California Coastal Commission shooting down an earlier attempt to allow ag clustering with the creation of new parcels. The current proposed rules would treat clusters in the coastal zone as lot line adjustments.
“The proposed inland ordinance amendment does not remove agricultural clustering as an agricultural conservation tool,” county staff said in its report. “Instead, the proposed amendments retain and strengthen the conservation aspects of the ordinance and remove other aspects that don’t focus on agricultural land conservation, such as allowing for small minimum lot sizes and a 100-percent lot bonus. The proposed ordinance also requires strong evidence and special findings be made to ensure there is adequate water available for the clustered lots and the continued agricultural operations on the site.
“The issues addressed by these proposed ordinance changes are basic to ensuring agricultural clusters are conceived and designed in a manner to conserve agricultural resources.”