Preventing Sprawl and Protecting Prime Ag Land in Ventura County

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Strawberry FieldIn 1975, the Ventura County Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCo) approved the annexation of prime agricultural land for the development of a 10,000 person “mini-city” without requiring an EIR. The LAFCo and the City of Camarillo claimed that such information was irrelevant at the time because the project was still in the early stages of the land use planning process. Community members, citing CEQA, contended that LAFCo ought to have completed an EIR prior to approving the annexation of property for future development in court. In Bozung v. Ventura County Local Agency Formation, the California Supreme Court agreed with the plaintiffs. An EIR was completed in 1977, noting that the proposed development of prime agricultural land would deprive the County of jobs and tax revenues, require profuse amounts of public spending for the construction of public services like schools and roads, and that developing other sites in Camarillo would have fewer environmental impacts. When the LAFCo saw the proposed annexation application a second time, the Commissioners unanimously voted against it. CEQA continues to prove extremely helpful to LAFCos today, providing them invaluable information about environmental and infrastructure impacts to help inform their decisions.