Analysis of Dr. Wood’s Study for GPA 96-03

GPA 96-03, the County’s preferred alternative, and its alternatives are based on minimum lot sizes for Williamson Act agricultural preserves derived from Dr. William Wood’s study. The project proposes 10-acre minimum lot sizes west of the County Water Authority (CWA) line. Lands east of the CWA line would have a 40-acre minimum lot size or a 10-acre minimum lot size if it can be demonstrated that there is evidence of adequate soils, topography, and water availability to support the proposed agriculture.
Dr. Wood’s study concludes that a 10-acre minimum in an agricultural preserve is adequate to protect long-term agricultural use. This was based on false assumptions and, therefore, comes to a wrong conclusion.

First, he argues that the majority of “farmers” have another job or source of income. He completely ignores the level of income as a factor in viable agriculture. This sets up the inclusion of “hobby” farms for the average size farm acreage in San Diego.

Second, the argument of the impossibility for a small farm to show a profit tends to be a self-fulfilling prophecy – small lots tend to have a high price per acre. In contrast, larger size parcels will tend to have a lower cost per acre, and the farmer will find the cost of the land easier to afford.

Third, and especially absurd, is the excuse that ranching will continue as long as one can eat away at its assets – the land. This logic only means that ranching is a holding pattern for future development.

Fourth, the argument that 10 acres is a good size because it attracts more “rural” people has nothing to do with agriculture. All this means is that 10 acres is a good rural residential lot size.

Fifth, the larger size parcels being detrimental to agriculture as they provide an attraction for large-scale subdivisions is flawed logic. Under this logic, the backcountry carved into 10-acre parcels would be ideal. These parcel sizes would not attract large-scale developers but would only be suitable for ranchettes not viable agriculture.

Finally, the 10-acre minimum lot size for lands west of the CWA and 40-acre minimum east of the line do not meet the requirements of the Williamson Act for agricultural preserve lands.

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