Perfect Score, Perfect Fit: The Ultimate Property Right
This article originally appeared in our newsletter, Landmarks, Summer 2007
The 90 acre organic farm owned by Randy Repass and Sally-Christine Rodgers got a prefect score on our Matrix – and was also a perfect fit with their passion to protect farming in the Pajaro Valley. This transaction won’t be completed until later this year, but we asked Randy to tell us why he’s doing it.
Why put a conservation easement on it?
To protect it from development so it can be used for farming as long as practical. After that time it would be left in open space.
Where did you develop this attachment to the land?
I grew up in a rural setting, worked in Wyoming as a youth and have always had strong interest in maintaining farmland and open space.
How does this action fit in with your involvement with Action Pajaro Valley?
As Co-Chair of APV, I was interested in having APV help find reasonable solutions to the need for housing, especially affordable housing, providing land for a healthy economy, and saving our irreplaceable environmentally sensitive and farmlands. After 5 years of collaborative planning the stakeholders of APV (including farmers, environmental groups, businesses, the City of Watsonville, Counties of Monterey and Santa Cruz, and others) agreed on a Growth Management Strategy for the Pajaro Valley and subsequently got Measure U passed by the voters of Watsonville. Measure U and the resulting urban growth boundary gives the City room to grow for 20 to 25 years.
Our farm property is outside the Measure U urban growth boundary. Having seen the detrimental effects of growth in the once farm rich Santa Clara Valley and becoming more aware of local housing pressures, Sally-Christine and I wanted to permanently protect our land. This is the “Ultimate Property Right”! Our putting a conservation easement on this productive and beautiful 90 acre farm will keep this land in farming and help the valley maintain its character in perpetuity.
What have you learned during the process of working on the easement?
In concept, easements are not complicated. In return for restricting development of land, a land owner can receive significant tax benefit. In some cases a land owner can be paid for the rights given up. A land owner can put an easement on as much or as little of their property as they desire. Locations can be reserved for future buildings if desired. Help is available from the Land Trust, attorneys and appraisers specializing in conservation easements. •