Agriculture is a key industry in Sonoma County which produces and processes food, fiber, plant materials, and which includes the raising and maintaining of farm animals including horses, donkeys, mules, and similar livestock.
Many agricultural lands throughout Sonoma County are eligible to build a number of different agricultural housing units. Agricultural housing units are exempt from density rules if they are directly related to the management and care of the agricultural operation. Some agricultural housing types may receive various development fee waivers depending on the size and type of unit.
Agricultural Resources Element
An Agricultural Resources Element was added to the General Plan in 1989 to acknowledge the importance of agricultural production in Sonoma County. The policies of the General Plan are intended to encourage a healthy agricultural sector by ensuring economic stability and protecting the long-term productivity of the County’s agricultural lands. The General Plan’s Agricultural Resources Element establishes goals, objectives, policies, and programs that promote and protect the current and future needs of the agricultural industry.
Additional Policies, Code, and Permit Requirements
Additional policies, codes, and permit requirements related to agricultural uses include:
Agricultural Preserve Program
The goal of the County’s agricultural preserve program is the long-term preservation of agricultural and open space lands. The program is governed by the California Land Conservation Act (also known as the Williamson Act), the County’s Agricultural Preserves and Farmland Security Zones Uniform Rules (PDF: 232 kB), and the recorded contract between the owner and the county, which runs with the land.
The California Land Conservation Act allows the County and owners of agricultural and open space land to voluntarily enter into agreements that restrict the owner’s use of the land for agriculture.
County Code provides for an agricultural exemption of building permit requirements for buildings designed for and constructed for agricultural livestock or equipment storage buildings (example: barns).