January 8, 2019 Sonoma County LIA Zoning Amendments Farm Opportunities

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January 8, 2019 Sonoma County LIA Zoning Amendments Farm Opportunities
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On January 8, 2019 Sonoma County’s Board of Supervisors approved amendments to Sonoma County’s Zoning Code expanding opportunities for visitor serving uses and in align with standards of  policies for uses in agricultural zones.

This action will provide additional income opportunities for farm operators, while ensuring consistency with the General Plan.

1. Hosted rentals. The proposed ordinance would add hosted rentals as a permitted use in the Land Intensive Agriculture (LIA) zone. Hosted rentals are already allowed within the Diverse Agriculture (DA) and Land Extensive Agriculture (LEA) zones. Hosted rentals require that the owner remain in the residence, which encourages greater compatibility with onsite agricultural operations.

2. Marketing accommodations. The ordinance amends the standards for private marketing accommodations to align with other transient uses and also restrict the size of the unit, kitchens, and the number of accommodations allowed per operation. Marketing accommodations are overnight accommodations for distributors, investors or other industry representatives in promotion of the on-site production or processing. They require a use permit and must meet all required standards.

3. Farm stays. The ordinance provides additional flexibility by allowing the farm stay within a dwelling other than the main home. Add an additional standard requiring an Agricultural Promotion Plan as part of the farm stay zoning permit application. Farm stays function as a hosted rentals but must be directly related to agriculture and must promote agricultural products.

4. Vacation Rentals. Does not allow new vacation rentals within the LIA zone. Existing permitted vacation rentals within this zone can continue and under existing regulations will expire on sale or transfer of the property. A vacation rental allows the transient use of a permanent dwelling unit.

Sonoma County’s The Board of Supervisors approved the above, as recommended by the Planning Commission, with the following changes: • Removal of the following language from the farm stay ordinance (Exhibit A): “as its primary source of income.” Essentially removing the requirement that the ag use produces more income than the farm stay.

• Addition of the following language (in bold) in the farm stay ordinance (Section 6 last, last sentence): An Agricultural Promotion Plan shall be prepared and submitted with the farm stay application that demonstrates the primary use of land is agriculture and that the use promotes and educates guests about local agriculture.

• The Planning Commission will work with the agricultural community on implementation of the farm stay ordinance.  All of these changes will be in effect in 30 days from January 8, 2019 (it may take longer for the new language to show up in our code online).

The biggest change is that hosted rentals will now be allowed in the Land Intensive Agriculture zone. These applications can be submitted (and approved over the counter) starting Wednesday, February 6, 2019.

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