Laws, Regulations & Annotations
Property Taxes Law Guide – Revision 2015
Government Code Provisions
Provisions Relating to the California Land Conservation Act of 1965 (The Williamson Act)
Chapter 7. Agricultural Land*
Article 3. Contracts
51244. Term of contract. (a) Each contract shall be for an initial term of no less than 10 years. Each contract shall provide that on the anniversary date of the contract or such other annual date as specified by the contract a year shall be added automatically to the initial term unless notice of nonrenewal is given as provided in Section 51245.
(b) (1) If the county makes a determination pursuant to subdivision (e) of Section 16142 or subdivision (d) of Section 16142.1, contracts shall be for a term of no less than 9 years for contracts currently 10 years in length or 18 years for contracts currently 20 years in length, as the case may be. For new contracts entered into during a year in which this subdivision is in effect, the initial contract length shall be either 9 or 18 years. Each contract shall provide, except in the initial year of the determination, that on the anniversary date of the contract or such other annual date as specified by the contract, a year shall be added automatically to the initial term unless notice of nonrenewal is given as provided in Section 51245.
In any subsequent year during the reduced term of contract in which increased revenue is not realized by the county pursuant to Section 51244.3, 2 or 3 additional years shall be added to the contract on the next anniversary date, as necessary, to restore the contract to its full 10-year or 20-year contract length.
(2) In any year in which this subdivision is implemented, the county shall record a notice that states the affected parcel number or numbers and current owner's names, or, alternatively, the same information for those parcels that are not affected.
(3) An addition to the assessed value shall be conveyed to the auditor, consistent with the 10-percent reduction in the length of the restriction, equal to 10 percent of the difference between the valuation pursuant to Section 423, 423.3, 423.4, or 423.5 of the Revenue and Taxation Code, as applicable, and the valuation under subdivision (b) of Section 51 or Section 110.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code whichever is lower. If the valuation under subdivision (b) of Section 51 or Section 110.1 of the Revenue and Taxation Code is lower, the addition to the assessed value shall be zero. The increased amount of tax revenue that results from the decrease in restriction shall be separately displayed on the taxpayer's annual bill.
(4) A landowner may elect to serve notice of nonrenewal instead of accepting a 9-year or 18-year contract, as the case may be. In that case, the additional assessed value shall not be added to the property as provided for in paragraph (3).
For purposes of this subdivision, a landowner may serve notice of nonrenewal at any time. However, a landowner who withdraws that notice prior to the effective date shall be subject to term modification and additional. assessed value. Once served and effective, a landowner nonrenewal notice may not be withdrawn except for cause and with the consent of the county. A county may adopt amendments to its uniform rules to facilitate implementation of this subdivision during the 2011–12 fiscal year, and thereafter as necessary.
(5) In addition to any other notice requirements, a county shall provide a landowner under contract with timely written notice of all of the following:
(A) Any initial hearing by the county on a proposal to adopt or rescind the implementation of this subdivision.
(B) Any final decision regarding the adoption or rescission of implementation of this subdivision.
(C) The landowner's right to prevent the reduction in the term of his or her contract pursuant to this subdivision by serving notice of nonrenewal as specified by Section 51245. This notice may be combined with the county's notice in subparagraph (B).
(6) A county shall not modify or revalue a landowner's contract pursuant to this subdivision unless the landowner is given at least 90 days' notice of the opportunity to prevent the modification and revaluation by serving notice of nonrenewal and the landowner fails to serve notice of nonrenewal. The county may use the primary owner of record from the assessment roll to identify landowners entitled to receive notice under this subdivision. A landowner shall be advised of the landowner's right to avoid continued imposition of this subdivision in any future year and thereafter by serving a notice of nonrenewal for that contract year. Failure of the landowner to serve timely notice of nonrenewal in any year shall be considered implied consent to the implementation of this subdivision for that year.
The 90-day notice requirement may be reduced to 60 days if the county adopts a procedure to allow landowners to serve a notice of nonrenewal until February 1, 2012.
(7) This subdivision shall not apply to any of the following:
(A) Contracts that have been nonrenewed.
(B) Contracts with cities.
(C) Open-space or agricultural easements.
(D) Scenic restrictions.
(E) Wildlife habitat contracts.
(F) Atypical term contracts, including, but not limited to, 20-year initial term contracts declining to 10 years, or reencumbrances pursuant to Section 51295, if the county's board of supervisors determines the application of this subdivision to them would be inequitable or administratively infeasible.
History.—Stats. 1967, p. 3216, in effect November 8, 1967, provided that each contract shall be for an "initial term" of ten years and that "renewal options" would provide "a year" rather than an "additional 10-year period." Stats. 1968, p. 1243, in effect November 13, 1968, substantially revised the second paragraph. Stats. 1969, p. 2811, in effect November 10, 1969, added "no less than" before "10 years" and deleted the former second paragraph. Stats. 2010, Ch. 722 (SB 863), in effect October 19, 2010, designated the former first paragraph as subdivision (a) and added subdivision (b). Stats. 2011, Ch. 11 (SB 80), in effect March 24, 2011, deleted subdivision (b). Stats. 2011, Ch. 90 (AB 1265), in effect June 15, 2011, reinstated former subdivision (b) and substituted "2011-12" for "2010-2011" after "during the" in the fourth sentence of the second paragraph of paragraph (4), deleted "nonrenewal" after "This" and substituted "county's" for "nonrenewal" after "with the" in the first sentence of subparagraph (C) of paragraph (5), deleted "Until February 1, 2011," before "The" and added "until February 1, 2012" after "of nonrenewal" in the first sentence of the second paragraph of paragraph (6), and deleted former paragraph (8) thereof which provided that this subdivision shall remain operative only until January 1, 2015; and added subdivision (c). Stats. 2014, Ch. 322 (SB 1353), in effect January 1, 2015, substituted "9" for "nine" after "less than" in the first sentence of the first paragraph and substituted "2 or 3" for "two or three" after "Section 51244.3," in the first sentence of the second paragraph of paragraph (1), added "423.4" after "423.3" in the first sentence of paragraph (3) of subdivision (b); and deleted former subdivision (c) which repealed this section on January 1, 2016.
Note.—Section 9 of Stats. 2010, Ch. 722 (SB 863), provides that it is the Legislature's intent to make the options in Sections 2, 3, 5, and 6 of this act available, but not required, for use by counties and landowners for the 2010–11 fiscal year, if feasible, and no later than the 2011–12 fiscal year.
Note.—Section 9 of Stats. 2011, Ch. 90 (AB 1265) provides that this act is an urgency statute necessary for the immediate preservation of the public peace, health, or safety within the meaning of Article IV of the Constitution and shall go into immediate effect. The facts constituting the necessity are:
County assessors in counties that participate in the Williamson Act need to be given certainty about the administration of the program by July 1, 2011, in order to properly assess affected properties.
* Unless otherwise noted Chapter 7 was added by Stats. 1965, p. 3377, in effect September 17, 1965.