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Assembly Bill 3445 (Bentley-1992)

Chapter 273, Statutes of 1992

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The Enrolled Bill Report prepared by the Governor's Office of Planning and Research summarized Assembly Bill 3445 as follows:

This bill would require a city or county that receives a notice of nonrenewal from a Williamson Act landowner, serves a notice of nonrenewal upon a Williamson Act landowner, or withdraws a notice of nonrenewal, to record with the county recorder a copy of the notice of nonrenewal or notice of withdrawal of nonrenewal.
(See Exhibit #12, document PE-4)

The analysis prepared by the Senate Committee on Local Government noted the following background of Assembly Bill 3445:

Under the Williamson Act landowners contract to keep property in agricultural or open space use for at least 10 years; the county assessor values the property based on its use. Local officials must record the contracts with the county recorder.

The usual method of ending a Williamson Act contract is nonrenewal in which either the landowner or the city or county decided to end the contract; it winds down over the next nine years. Another method is cancellation, which requires local officials to make detailed findings. If a city or county cancels a contract, local officials must record the cancellation with the county recorder. There is no parallel requirement to record notices of nonrenewal.
(See Exhibit #7, page 1)

Assembly member Bentley's letter to Governor Wilson, requesting his signature on Assembly Bill 3445, provided the following rationale for the bill:

It appears to be an anomaly that a "cancellation" of a contract is required to be recorded, but a "nonrenewal" is not.

The effect of not recording the "nonrenewal" is that since the agricultural contracts will remain a perpetual exception to title if nothing is recorded, local governments incur unnecessary expenses from continuing to answer inquiries to the status of a contract long after it has no further legal effect. Moreover, because the notice of nonrenewal is not recorded, there is an increased risk that the city or county administering the contract may misplace or incorrectly file this notice. This places additional costs on the landowner for legal fees to confirm that a notice of nonrenewal has actually been given.
(See Exhibit #12, document PE-2)

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