By Nelson Buss, firstname.lastname@example.org
You’ve probably seen lawn signs and TV ads promoting Ventura County Measures C and F. Both measures are subject to contentious debate between open space advocates and local farmers, and these measures could have an impact on local property values as well. Several people have asked me recently about how the election will impact the real estate market going forward. My standard response is, barring extraordinary global events, the Conejo Valley and greater Ventura County real estate market is most strongly impacted by very specific, local pressures. On the ballot this year are a set of countywide measures, Measures C and F, that are going to dictate growth and development in the county for least the next decade, possibly as far into the future as 2050. I want to provide a summary of the two countywide measures and what their likely effect will be on local real estate.
The first is Measure C, which is backed by SOAR. Soar got its start in Ventura back in 1995, when that city passed an initiative to force all zoning changes within city limits to a popular vote. It was modeled on an earlier Napa Valley law that had withstood a Supreme Court challenge. After Ventura, all the local municipalities and unincorporated areas have since adopted similar provisions. Most of these provisions are set to expire in 2020. Measure C seeks to extend these provisions until the year 2050. The most obvious impact of this measure is that it preserves the semi-rural character of the county, which stands in sharp contrast to Los Angeles and Orange Counties. There are currently over 100,000 acres of agricultural land in production in Ventura County.
The other measure on the ballot is Measure F, which is backed primarily by the owners of local farms. This measure has a timeline of 20 years, through 2036. It also has a provision requiring a public vote for zoning changes, but also includes a few provisions that local farmers claim is essential to ensure their survival over the coming decades. It calls for water infrastructure support for the agricultural land currently in use, and looks to set aside 225 acres of current agricultural land to be converted to processing facilities. Measure F also provides for consideration of land that currently is adjacent to local schools to be converted to a different zoning through the county. Up to 300 acres could potentially be impacted.
Both measures are strict on the allowances that they give private landowners regarding their property. One allows for no variance from current policy, while the other loosens some restrictions and benefits the current property owners by increasing their revenue stream options from agricultural endeavors, and loosening restrictions on land that is not currently usable due to urban encroachment. How a voter feels about these options may depend largely on how they weigh private ownership rights versus their desire to curb growth in their own backyard.
Photos courtesy https://twitter.com/sustainvc2016, http://www.soarvc.org/, and http://www.totallylocalvc.com/farm-tours-highlight-local-agriculture/.