Navigating the Urban/Agriculture Interface: As California’s population grows, counties and cities across the state are grappling with the difficult challenge of preserving California’s rich agricultural tradition while providing adequate housing for their residents in accordance with state housing mandates. Housing and commercial development has slowly (or sometimes quickly) crept into traditional agricultural land especially in jurisdictions seeking to avoid infill development. Recognizing the vital importance of agriculture, the state, counties and cities have adopted laws, regulations and policies to protect agriculture, such as the Williamson Act, the Right to Farm Act, local Right to Farm Ordinances, and local General Plan Agriculture Elements and zoning ordinances. However, these laws do not always resolve potential conflicts. Rather, the increasing population around agricultural lands, and staff and decision-makers’ lack of knowledge about agriculture can turn the regulatory balance against protecting the industry. This has been particularly true with hemp.
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