Supervisors Endorse Policy on Farmland

Following more than a year of work by the Agriculture Policy Working Group, a committee charged with devising ways to preserve farmland, the Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously endorsed the group's recommendations.

But supervisors decided to wait until next week to decide whether to place a measure on the November ballot asking residents for their opinions of the working group's recommendations.

The three main steps to implement as part of the new "land use ethic" advocated by the group are:

* Creating urban boundaries around the county's 10 cities that only voters could change.

* Strengthening the greenbelt agreements protecting the prime farmland between cities.

* Launching a public education program to better inform county residents about the importance of the local farm industry.

"Clearly, the issue is not whether an effort should be made to preserve farmland and open space, but how," said Rex Laird of the Ventura County Farm Bureau, one of the two dozen participants in the group. "The torch is now passed from the committee to you, the Board of Supervisors, and the elected leaders all over the county."

However, several supervisors noted that unless the recommendations are approved by all cities, it is not within the county's power to unilaterally stop cities from expanding their borders. The Ventura Council of Governments has already endorsed the concept.

"If a city wants to annex land, we don't bring it here for a vote," said Supervisor John Flynn. "But people look to us for agricultural preservation. We need to do something about that."

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