GONZALES — At its April 17 meeting, Gonzales City Council adopted an Agricultural Resource Mitigation Ordinance, which adds a new chapter — Agricultural Resource Mitigation — to the Gonzales Municipal Code Zoning Regulations.
“This step is a major commitment by the City of Gonzales to preserve and protect significant prime agricultural lands surrounding our community to ensure agriculture remains our key economic driver, while allowing for much needed residential and commercial growth to occur,” said Councilmember Scott Funk and member of the City’s Agricultural Committee.
In 2014, the City of Gonzales and the County of Monterey entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) to work cooperatively regarding future planning, growth and development opportunities in and around Gonzales. The MOA came about as the City and County were negotiating how to expand the City’s sphere of influence into unincorporated lands east of Gonzales.
Included in the agreement, the City has agreed to implement an Agricultural Land Conservation Program for development of land within the City’s urban growth boundary/sphere of influence.
“Passing the ordinance would follow through on our commitment to the County of Monterey in our joint Memorandum of Agreement to ensure the landscape of the Salinas Valley continues to support agriculture through smart growth,” said Liz Silva, councilmember and member of the Agricultural Committee.
The ordinance was crafted with significant public participation and involvement, bringing together many community stakeholders with important perspectives on the needs of the region. In 2019, an Agricultural Committee to advise the City Council was created and was comprised of two city councilors, Gonzales’ community development director, a representative from agriculture, a representative from Ag Land Trust, a representative from the building industry, a representative from the County Ag Commissioner’s Office, and District 3 County of Monterey Supervisor.
“This ordinance strengthens the City’s commitment to the Local Agency Formation Commission of Monterey County (LAFCO) and supports LAFCO goals to safeguard the protection of farmland as the City moves forward on much-needed annexation and affordable housing projects,” said City Manager Trevin Barber.
The ordinance is necessary before the City can take any applications to LAFCO and is needed to support affordable housing and any other future annexation. It is also needed to make sure the City can meet its state-mandated housing demands and ensures that the City prioritizes the development of affordable housing in its future growth plans, including farmworker housing, by exempting it from cost-prohibitive requirements.
Gonzales is the first city in the Salinas Valley to adopt an Agricultural Resource Mitigation ordinance and is an active participant in County of Monterey’s efforts to adopt a similar ordinance.
A copy of the ordinance is on the City’s website gonzalesca.gov.