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 5. Cancellation
51283. Cancellation fee; amount; waiver or extension of time. (a) Prior to any action by the board or council giving tentative approval to the cancellation of any contract, the county assessor of the county in which the land is located shall determine the current fair market value of the land as though it were free of the contractual restriction. The assessor shall certify to the board or council the cancellation valuation of the land for the purpose of determining the cancellation fee. At the same time, the assessor shall send a notice to the landowner and the Department of Conservation indicating the current fair market value of the land as though it were free of the contractual restriction and advise the parties, that upon their request, the assessor shall provide all information relevant to the valuation, excluding third-party information. If any information is confidential or otherwise protected from release, the department and the landowner shall hold it as confidential and return or destroy any protected information upon termination of all actions relating to valuation or cancellation of the contract on the property. The notice shall also advise the landowner and the department of the opportunity to request formal review from the assessor.
(b) Prior to giving tentative approval to the cancellation of any contract, the board or council shall determine and certify to the county auditor the amount of the cancellation fee that the landowner shall pay the county treasurer upon cancellation. That fee shall be an amount equal to 121/2 percent of the cancellation valuation of the property.
(c) If it finds that it is in the public interest to do so, the board or council may waive any payment or any portion of a payment by the landowner, or may extend the time for making the payment or a portion of the payment contingent upon the future use made of the land and its economic return to the landowner for a period of time not to exceed the unexpired period of the contract, had it not been canceled, if all of the following occur:
(1) The cancellation is caused by an involuntary transfer or change in the use which may be made of the land and the land is not immediately suitable, nor will be immediately used, for a purpose which produces a greater economic return to the owner.
(2) The board or council has determined that it is in the best interests of the program to conserve agricultural land use that the payment be either deferred or is not required.
(3) The waiver or extension of time is approved by the Secretary of the Resources Agency. The secretary shall approve a waiver or extension of time if the secretary finds that the granting of the waiver or extension of time by the board or council is consistent with the policies of this chapter and that the board or council complied with this article. In evaluating a request for a waiver or extension of time, the secretary shall review the findings of the board or council, the evidence in the record of the board or council, and any other evidence the secretary may receive concerning the cancellation, waiver, or extension of time.
(d) The first two million five hundred thirty-six thousand dollars ($2,536,000) of revenue paid to the Controller pursuant to subdivision (e) in the 2004–05 fiscal year, and any other amount as approved in the final Budget Act for each fiscal year thereafter, shall be deposited in the Soil Conservation Fund, which is continued in existence. The money in the fund is available, when appropriated by the Legislature, for the support of all of the following:
(1) The cost of the farmlands mapping and monitoring program of the Department of Conservation pursuant to Section 65570.
(2) The soil conservation program identified in Section 614 of the Public Resources Code.
(3) Program support costs of this chapter as administered by the Department of Conservation.
(4) Program support costs incurred by the Department of Conservation in administering the open-space subvention program (Chapter 3 (commencing with Section 16140) of Part 1 of Division 4 of Title 2).
(5) The costs to the Department of Conservation for administering Section 51250.
(e) When cancellation fees required by this section are collected, they shall be transmitted by the county treasurer to the Controller and deposited in the General Fund, except as provided in subdivision (d) of this section and subdivision (b) of Section 51203. The funds collected by the county treasurer with respect to each cancellation of a contract shall be transmitted to the Controller within 30 days of the execution of a certificate of cancellation of contract by the board or council, as specified in subdivision (b) of Section 51283.4.
(f) It is the intent of the Legislature that fees paid to cancel a contract do not constitute taxes but are payments that, when made, provide a private benefit that tends to increase the value of the property.
History.—Added by Stats. 1987, Ch. 1308, in effect January 1, 1988, operative July 1, 1993. Stats. 1991, Ch. 216, in effect January 1, 1992, added "is" after "deferred or" in paragraph (2) of subdivision (c); substituted "board or council" for "local agency" after "by the", "that the", and "of the", in paragraph (3) of subdivision (c); substituted "nine" for "eight" after "first", substituted "eighty-five" for "seventy" after "hundred", substituted "($985,000)" for "($870,000)" after "dollars", substituted "1992–93" for "1993–94" after "(e) in the", added "any other . . . Act for" after "year, and", substituted "continued in existence" for "hereby created" after "which is", in the first sentence of subdivision (d); substituted "The money in" for "Moneys from" before "the fund", substituted "is" for "are" after "the fund", substituted "for the support . . . the following:" for "to support" after "Legislature", in the second sentence of subdivision (d); created paragraph (1) of the second sentence of subdivision (d) from the remainder of the second sentence in subdivision (d); deleted "When additional revenues are available for deposit in the fund up to two hundred fifty thousand dollars ($250,000) shall be available for appropriation by the Legislature for support of" from the former third sentence of subdivision (d), and created paragraph (2) of the second sentence of subdivision (d) from the remainder of the former third sentence of subdivision (d); substituted "as provided in subdivision (d)." for "that up to eight hundred seventy thousand dollars ($870,000) per year shall be deposited in the Soil Conservation Fund." after "Fund, except" in the first sentence, and deleted "board's or council's" after "days of the", and added "by the board or council" after "contract", in the second sentence of subdivision (e). Stats. 1999, Ch. 1018 (SB 985), in effect January 1, 2000, deleted "as deferred taxes" after "treasurer" in the first sentence of subdivision (b); substituted "65570" for "66570" after "Section" in the first sentence of paragraph (1) of subdivision (d); substituted "cancellation fees" for "deferred taxes" in the first sentence of subdivision (e); and deleted former subdivision (f), which provided for the 1993 operative date, and added subdivision (f). Stats. 2003, Ch. 471 (SB 1062), in effect January 1, 2004, added the third and fourth sentences to the first paragraph of subdivision (a), and substituted "that" for "which" after "the cancellation fee" in the first sentence of subdivision (b). Amended by Stats. 2004, Ch. 230 (SB 1107), in effect August 16, 2004, substituted "two million thirty-six thousand dollars ($2,036,000)" for "nine hundred eight-five thousand dollars ($985,000)" after "The first" and substituted "2004–05" for "1992–93" after "subdivision (e)" in the first sentence and substituted "all" for "both" after "the support of" in the second sentence of the first paragraph, substituted "The cost" for "The total cost" before "of the farmlands" in the first sentence of paragraph (1) and added paragraphs (3) and (4) to subdivision (d). Stats. 2004, Ch. 794 (SB 1820), in effect January 1, 2005, substituted "landowner and the Department of Conservation" for "assessee" after "notice to the" in the third sentence, substituted "landowner and the department of the opportunity to request formal review from the assessor" for "assessee of the right to appeal the fair market value of the land under Section 1605 of the Revenue and Taxation Code and that the appeal shall be filed within 60 days of the date of mailing printed on the notice or the postmark date therefor" after "shall advise the" in the fourth sentence of subdivision (a). Stats. 2005, Ch. 245 (SB 49), in effect September 22, 2005, added "and advise the parties, that upon their request, the assessor shall provide all information relevant to the valuation, excluding third-party information" after "the contractual restriction" in the third sentence and added the fourth sentence commencing with "If any information" and added "also" after "The notice shall" in the fifth sentence of subdivision (a). Stats. 2006, Ch. 77 (AB 1803), in effect July 18, 2006, substituted "two million five hundred thirty-six thousand dollars ($2,536,000)" for "two million thirty-six thousand dollars ($2,036,000)" after "The first" in the first sentence of subdivision (d). Stats. 2008, Ch. 503 (AB 2921), in effect January 1, 2009, added paragraph (5) to subdivision (d).
Construction.—Although the State Board of Equalization has the statutory authority to compel an assessor to determine a cancellation value in accordance with law, such authority does not confer the exclusive right to bring an action for this purpose. The State Department of Conservation is empowered by statute to enforce the provisions of the Williamson Act and thus, it also has standing to bring an action to challenge the assessor's cancellation valuation required under this section. People ex rel. Dept. of Conservation v. Triplett, 48 Cal.App.4th 233.
Note.—Section 3 of Stats. 1983, Ch. 864, provided no payment by state to local governments because of this act; however, a local agency or school district may pursue other remedies to obtain reimbursement.
Note.—Stats. 2005, Ch. 245 (SB 49), see note after Section 51203.
Construction.—In amending subdivision (d) (Stats. 1971, p. 4890, First Ex. Sess.), the Legislature intended that taxes deferred under both a contract between a city or county and a landowner and an agreement between such parties were covered by the subdivision. It did not intend to except agreements between a city or county and a landowner entered into prior to 1971 from the application thereof. Orange County v. Cory, 97 Cal.App.3d 760.
* Unless otherwise noted Chapter 7 was added by Stats. 1965, p. 3377, in effect September 17, 1965.