AGENDA TITLE: ZTA 05-05 Farm Worker Housing



SUBJECT/PROPOSAL/REQUEST: Public hearing on proposal to amend sections 3, 5, and 10 of the Zoning Ordinance to permit the housing of farm workers in facilities intended only for temporary habitation.





Benish, Cilimberg, McDowell, Clark

AGENDA DATE:    June 7, 2006             




ACTION:  X                                INFORMATION:




     ACTION:                               INFORMATION:










In April, 2005, the Zoning Division of Community Development issued a determination that, while the housing of farm workers in structures intended for temporary, seasonal use (i.e., not dwelling units as defined in the Zoning Ordinance) has existed for decades in the Rural Areas of the County, it is not currently a permitted use in the Rural Areas (RA) zoning district. The determination also stated this use is not considered accessory to agriculture. This means that existing farm-worker housing facilities are non-conforming uses, and cannot be changed or expanded (with a few exceptions) under Section 6 of the Zoning Ordinance. Further, no new facilities can be created.


The Zoning Division determination was in response to a request regarding the creation of an on-farm program using seasonal interns who would provide labor while learning about agriculture. However, the determination affects all forms of seasonal farm-labor housing in the RA district.


The determination was appealed to the Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA). On July 6, 2005, the Board of Supervisors considered a Resolution of Intent to pursue this text amendment. The Board referred the issue to the Planning Commission rather than adopting a formal motion. The BZA appeal has been deferred while staff and the applicant have been working on this text amendment as an alternative method to make this use permissible in the Rural Areas.


After working with the applicant and representatives of the farming community, staff presented a proposed text amendment to permit farm-worker housing at a Planning Commission work session on January 17, 2006. The Commission decided to proceed to a public hearing, with one change to the proposed text and more input from the Building Official (see below).


The Commission identified two issues to be addressed before the public hearing: (1) changing the scale of the sketch plan to “at a scale of not more than one (1) inch equals forty (40) feet.”; and (2) establishing that these structures would be subject to building-permit review and not exempt from that review as farm buildings (those used for residential purposes would be reviewed).


On March 21, 2006, the Planning Commission held a public hearing on this amendment. The Commission identified several additional areas for changes to the proposed text:



Changes reflecting those comments were made to a version presented at a Commission hearing on April 18, 2006.




Goal: 2.1          Protect and/or preserve the County's rural character

This text amendment is intended to maintain rural character by protecting the viability of existing and future agricultural operations.




On April 18, 2006, the Planning Commission reviewed staff’s proposal and recommended that the proposal be forwarded to the Board of Supervisors for approval after the following changes were made:


•     Notification of adjacent property owners shall be required after the submittal of the concept plan for temporary farm work housing. Sections 5.1.44(a)(3) and (4) have been added to require this notification process and to specify how adjacent landowners may request Planning Commission review of the concept plan for the use.


•     Modify the definition of “seasonal agricultural work” to include livestock operations activities by inserting the clause, “work related to keeping livestock and/or poultry.” This definition has been changed.


•     In subsection e, strike the phrase (“farm worker”).  That was relating to some additional language in an earlier draft that did not make it. This correction has been made.


•     In in “(up to twenty occupants)” for the by right insert “and five or fewer sleeping structures.”  This change will help clarify the language for the people looking at the rural areas regulations. This change has been made.


•     In 10.2.2 in “(more than twenty occupants)” insert “or six or more sleeping structures.” This change has been made.


•     Under a (iii) “vehicular access to, and parking for, the facility;” change it to read, “Vehicular access and adequacy of travel ways and parking for the facility.” This change has been made, but was moved to section 5.1.44(d)(2)(e), as adequacy is not something to be shown on the plan by the applicant, but a matter to be judged by the Fire/Rescue department as they review the plan. Subsection (d)(2)(e) is the appropriate location for review standards.


The changes have been made in the current proposed text, which is included as Attachment A.




Staff recommends that the Board of Supervisors adopt the proposed changed to sections 3, 5, and 10 of the Zoning Ordinance.




  1. Proposed Code Amendment for Section 3, 5, and 10 of the Zoning Ordinance

PC Actions letter

Planning Commission minutes
    January 17, 2006
    March 28, 2006
    April 18, 2006
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