Transfer of Development Credits Policies
Big Sur Land Use Plan
Monterey County, California
7.2.5 Transfer of Development Credits (TDC)
TDCís comprise a system that will assist the owners of lots restricted
in their residential development potential by viewshed policies contained
within the plan. They provide an economic/planning incentive under which
density credits can be reallocated within certain boundaries. Additionally,
the use of this technique is intended to encourage the transfer of residential
development potential from large ranch parcels in order to maintain the
viability and stability of agricultural operations.
7.2.5.A Key Policies
1. To provide owners of "critical viewshed lots" fair and real opportunities
to build in Big Sur.
2. To provide incentives for preservation of large ranches in agricultural
operations, and permanently protect their viewshed.
3. To provide economic compensation in the form of density credits for
lots rendered unbuildable due exclusively to LUP Viewshed policies.
7.2.5.B General Policies
1. Any non-critical viewshed parcel in Big Sur is a potential "receiver"
site provided development proposed for it meets the LUPís development and
siting standards and the TDC program rules for obtaining additional density.
2. "Critical viewshed lot" owners would have the right to transfer residential
development potential from such restricted parcels and to build two units
elsewhere in Big Sur or transfer two developments for each lot retired
subject to the criteria of LUP policy 126.96.36.199.
3. Large ranches would have the option to cluster their credits to non-critical
viewshed sites east of Highway One, to apply for development within the
rules specified in the LUP, transfer density credits to their property,
or any combination of these alternatives.
7.2.6 Conservation Easements
Conservation and Scenic Easements and Williamson Act Contracts provide
tax benefits when such enforceable restrictions on the use of land limit
the amount of development on a parcel.
While Conservation and Scenic Easements are in use now in the County
to mitigate adverse environmental impacts, the County should adopt a clear
policy directing the requirement of these easements for the varied resource
protection uses encouraged in the plan. County land use regulations such
as zoning and subdivision ordinances should contain these requirements
as well as others authorized by State legislation, such as restrictions
on future use, and length of the term (at least 10 years) with automatic
renewal. Each deed dedicating open space should include the particular
findings upon which the open space easement is based.
The County should also consider having the Coastal Conservancy, because
of its legislated resource protection role on the coast, named as grantee
of the open space easement. Alternatives could include continuing the County
as grantee but contracting out enforcement to a non profit agency such
as the Coastal Conservancy, or giving the grantor a choice of grantees
from a list of appropriate nonprofit organizations.
State legislation permits Williamson Act Contracts to be executed for
reasons very similar to the ones for which Conservation and Scenic Easements
are permitted. While it is generally thought that property tax advantages
of Williamson Act contracts have been lost in the passage of Proposition
13, the contracts remain a viable enforceable restriction along with open
space easements. Consideration should be given to decreasing both the present
minimum acreage requirement from 40 acres to 20 acres and the length of
such contracts from the present 20-year term to 10 years.
Conservation and Scenic Easements are the appropriate vehicle which
could be made available for coastal resource protection. They are different
from Williamson act contracts in that they must be in perpetuity. Conservation
easements should be included as a requirement in coastal permit applications
in areas containing wildlife habitats, wetlands, and other resource areas
and particularly in scenic areas.
Restoration projects refer to those activities that the County, in cooperation
with coastal residents and other agencies, can undertake in an effort to
mitigate undesirable impacts of existing development or commitment to development
on the quality of the coastal environment and its resources. Examples of
areas that require restoration in order to meet the environmental standards
of this plan have been described in various sections of the plan. For instance,
some areas of the coast committed to development -- by virtue of the existence
of many small undeveloped parcels created for residential purposes -- appear
to lack adequate water to serve continued development without entailing
extremely adverse impacts on the natural environment. There are also isolated
examples where natural ecosystems have been impacted, frequently from recreational
overuse. Portions of the lower Big Sur River riparian area have been seriously
degraded and need restoration work. In other areas, past development has
resulted in structures or buildings that are highly visible and obtrusive
to the quality of the natural environment. In some cases, road construction
has left highly visible scars. Installation of utility poles has also resulted
in the erosion of the visual quality of Big Sur. Perhaps most serious,
are the undesirable impacts on the beauty of the coast resulting from continued
residential buildout in certain areas having numerous small, vacant parcels.
Finally, even natural events, such as landslides, mudslides, or lightning
caused fires, result in changes or damage to the landscape and its resources.
Such events may necessitate remedial action if environmental quality or
scenic beauty is to be restored.
A variety of restoration techniques are available, and the County should
support and encourage these.
7.2.7.A Private Voluntary Action.
Individual landowners are encouraged to voluntarily undertake those
activities on their property which can help mitigate the types of environmental
or visual problems discussed in this plan. In many cases, simple landscape
screening or repainting of a structure would do much to restore scenic
beauty in highly visible areas. Screening of private roads as needed would
also be beneficial. Private work, in some cases, is needed in riparian
areas to alleviate impacts to streams. In other areas, improved control
of erosion or soil loss from sites during rain storms would help protect
water quality in coastal stream.
7.2.7.B Action by Other Government Agencies.
All other government agencies are requested to undertake needed coastal
restoration work in their areas of jurisdiction in order to realize the
objectives of this plan. State Parks and Recreation, Caltrans, and the
U.S. Navy, in particular, are requested to work toward the restoration
of environmental and scenic qualities of lands they manage.
7.2.7.C Site Planning
The County can achieve necessary restoration on private and State lands
by requiring such work as a condition of permit approval. This technique
should be used within reason whenever possible.
7.2.7.D Transfer of Development Credits (TDC)
TDCís should be encouraged to avoid new development on critical viewshed
lots and on large ranches.
Acquisition by a public agency of privately-held land may be beneficial
as a restoration project where it reduces the commitment to development
created by the presence of many small undeveloped parcels. In certain instances,
acquisition may be the only reasonably effective tool for avoiding problems
relating to viewshed development. This plan proposes that acquisition be
used as a means of avoiding development on highly scenic viewshed parcels
for which no other planning remedy can be found. Acquisition can be carried
out by Monterey County, by various State agencies, such as Parks and Recreation
or the California Coastal Conservancy. The County should take a favorable
posture toward acquisition of undeveloped viewshed parcels that are totally
within the viewshed. The County should invite purchase of these parcels
by State agencies and, in particular, should support the assistance of
the Federal Government through the U.S. Forest Service in acquiring such
parcels within their boundaries either in fee or simply through the purchase
of development rights or easements.
Because the County lacks sufficient funds to compensate landowners for
not developing undeveloped parcels in the critical viewshed and because
the County lacks funds to acquire scenic easements over large parcels,
it hereby requests its representatives in the California State Legislature
and the United States Congress to seek state and federal funds to assist
the County and be administered by the County in the implementation of the
Local Coastal Program and, where necessary, to compensate landowners for
protecting the agricultural and scenic resources of the Big Sur Coast.
The County shall seek necessary acquisition funds through the Land and
Water Conservation fund or its successor agency, by making every effort
to ensure that the implementation of the Big Sur L.U.P. is placed high
on the list of priorities of the State Comprehensive Outdoor Recreation
7.2.7.F Coastal Conservancy Projects.
The Coastal Conservancy has been established with a broad range of powers
and capabilities, all aimed at the conservation of important coastal resources.
The Conservancy can perform planning studies, purchase land for various
purposes, consolidate small parcels into larger more desirable parcels,
and can resell them on the private market to "rollover" and regain its
capital outlay. The result of this process is to overcome the environmental
concerns resulting from poor lot configuration or excessive numbers of
parcels in important restoration areas. The Conservancy should work cooperatively
with the County on restoration programs by nomination of potential Conservancy
projects and participating in the development of the project.
7.2.7.G Nonprofit Private and Public Conservancy Foundations.
Private organizations should assist in the conservation of important
natural and cultural values. These organizations can purchase land in fee
or simply acquire easements to avoid development in sensitive areas. Monterey
County should support and encourage the activities of these organizations
in Big Sur.
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