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Environmental & Resource Protection
Agricultural FAQ’s

The following answers are general and based on County Codes and General Plan Policies. Please come in and speak with a Planner at the Zoning Counter if you have a particularly unique case.

Q: Can I put an agricultural caretakers unit or farm worker housing on my property?
A: There are three different types of farm worker housing: Temporary Agricultural Caretakers’ Mobile Homes, Farm Workers Quarters, and Farm Worker Camps. The primary different between Farm Worker Quarters and a Farm Worker Camp is the number of farm workers that will be housed. A farm worker camp is the term used to define a multi-family dwelling unit type of situation, such as dormitories, while farm worker quarters usually involves less than 5 farm workers and their families. Farm worker or caretaker housing should be located on un-farmable portions of a parcel and should provide adequate buffering from on-site agricultural activities.
Agricultural Caretakers’ Mobile Home: a mobile home maintained as temporary living quarters for person employed principally for security needs and/or farming and related activities on the parcel on which the unit is located. This is an accessory use to the main dwelling on the property or in place of the main dwelling. Temporary agricultural caretakers’ mobile homes can be permitted for up to five years with the option to apply for a permit renewal. These units are subject to the following requirements

Farm Workers Quarters: Permanent single family dwellings or temporary or permanent mobile homes maintained for occupancy by persons employed principally in farming and related activities. Changes in state law now allow farm worker quarters to provide residence to farm workers who are not principally employed on the parcel on which the farm workers quarters are located.
Farm Worker Camp: Permanent or temporary living quarters for the occupation of more than five farm workers and their families, including single family dwellings, multi-family dwellings, dormitories, mobile homes, or travel trailers maintained for occupancy by persons employed principally in farming and related activities. Changes in state law now allow a farm worker camp to provide residence to farm workers who are not principally employed on the parcel on which the farm workers camp is located.
Once you have established the desired development, you will need to come to the Planning Department and speak with a Planner to establish the density of the site as well as identify as site-specific constraints.

Q: Can I put an accessory dwelling unit on a CA zoned property?
A: Outside the Coastal Zone, accessory dwelling units (ADUs) are permitted on commercial agricultural land with a building permit, per state ADU law. Inside the Coastal Zone, discretionary approval is required. If the parcel is designated Agriculture (A) in the County General Plan, the unit must be located within 100 feet of the main dwelling unit unless additional distance is required to meet the minimum agricultural buffer setback standards in SCCC 16.50.095. Additionally, the project may require approval from the Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission (APAC) if an Agricultural Buffer Determination is required.

Q: Is it possible to locate an agri-tourism type of commercial business on an agriculturally zoned parcel (ie. bed and breakfasts or schools/workshops with an agricultural education component).
A: At this time, there are very few “agri-tourism” type uses that are permitted on agriculturally zoned properties. Zoos, natural history museums, and visitor accommodations such as bed and breakfast inns are permitted on Agriculture (A) zoned parcels with prior approval from the Zoning Administrator. Wineries are permitted on all agriculturally zoned parcels with varying levels of review required; however, public events and workshops at wineries are limited. We recognize that the agriculture industry has evolved to include these types of commercial uses in a way that supports commercial agricultural and farming on a parcel; therefore, we are hopeful that an upcoming update of the agricultural sections of the County Code will include these types of commercial agricultural uses. However, at this time, most agri-tourism type uses are considered to be commercial and the current code does not allow for most commercial uses on agriculturally zoned parcels.

Q: Can I construct a house on my Commercial Agriculture (CA) zoned parcel?
A: Outside of the Coastal Zone, one single family dwelling can be constructed on a agriculturally zoned parcel (CA, A, or AP zoning) with a building permit only as long as the residence meets all required site standards (setbacks, etc.) and does not encroach into any 200 foot agricultural buffers from surrounding Agricultural Resource Lands. Inside of the Coastal Zone, the construction of a single family dwelling on a CA or AP zoned parcel requires approval from the Zoning Administrator with a recommendation from the Agricultural Policy Advisory Commission; therefore, two public hearings would be required. If an Agricultural Buffer Reduction is also required, the reduction would be wrapped into the permit. Please see the Agricultural Buffer Setback page for additional information.