Laws, Regulations & Annotations

Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2013

Government Code Provisions

Provisions Relating to Solar-Use Easements


Article 2. General Provisions

Section 51191

51191. Criteria for entering into a solar-use easement. (a) For purposes of this chapter, and for purposes of Chapter 7 (commencing with Section 51200), the Department of Conservation, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, upon a request from a city or county, may determine, based on substantial evidence, that a parcel or parcels is eligible for rescission under Section 51255.1 for placement into a solar-use easement if the following criteria are met:

(1) The land meets either of the following:

(A) The land consists predominately of soils with significantly reduced agricultural productivity for agricultural activities due to chemical or physical limitations, topography, drainage, flooding, adverse soil conditions, or other physical reasons.

(B) The land has severely adverse soil conditions that are detrimental to continued agricultural activities and production. Severely adverse soil conditions may include, but are not limited to, contamination by salts or selenium, or other naturally occurring contaminants.

(2) The parcel or parcels are not located on lands designated as prime farmland, unique farmland, or farmland of statewide importance, as shown on the maps prepared pursuant to the Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program of the California Natural Resources Agency, unless the Department of Conservation, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, determines that a parcel or parcels are eligible to be placed in a solar-use easement based on the information provided in subdivision (b) that demonstrates that circumstances exist that limit the use of the parcel for agricultural activities. For purposes of this section, the important farmland designations shall not be changed solely due to irrigation status.

(b) To assist in the determination described in this section, the city or county shall require the landowner to provide to the Department of Conservation the following information to the extent applicable:

(1) A written narrative demonstrating that even under the best currently available management practices, continued agricultural practices would be substantially limited due to the soil's reduced agricultural productivity from chemical or physical limitations,

(2) A recent soil test demonstrating that the characteristics of the soil significantly reduce its agricultural productively.

(3) An analysis of water availability demonstrating the insufficiency of water supplies for continued agricultural production.

(4) An analysis of water quality demonstrating that continued agricultural production would, under the best currently available management practices, be significantly reduced.

(5) Crop and yield information for the past six years.

(c) The landowner shall provide the Department of Conservation with a proposed management plan describing how the soil will be managed during the life of the easement, how impacts to adjacent agricultural operations will be minimized, how the land will be restored to its previous general condition, as it existed at the time of project approval, upon the termination of the easement. If the Department of Conservation determines, in consultation with the Department of Food and Agriculture, pursuant to subdivision (a), that lands are subject to this section, the city or county shall require implementation of the management plan, which shall include any recommendations provided by the Department of Conservation, as part of any project approval.

(d) A determination by the Department of Conservation pursuant to this section related to a project described in Section 21080.43 of the Public Resources Code shall not be subject to Division 13 of the Public Resources Code.

(e) The Department of Conservation may establish a fee to be paid by the landowner to recover the estimated costs incurred by the department in participating in the consultation described in this section.

* Chapter 6.9 was added by Stats. 2011, Ch. 596 (SB 618), in effect January 1, 2012.