Ban on Inspecting Farm Buildings Lifted

Responding to concerns that Ventura County may be unusually hard on farmers seeking to erect or enhance agricultural buildings, the Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to study the issue further.

Supervisors decided to have the Agricultural Policy Advisory Committee, a five-member panel that meets twice monthly, examine whether the county should loosen its code enforcement procedures for certain agricultural structures.

County planners will also take a look at their policies and return to the board in 90 days with a recommendation on what, if anything, should be changed.

In the meantime, supervisors on Tuesday lifted a moratorium on building code enforcement on farm properties with the exception of agricultural buildings where people neither live nor work.

"We're not looking at homes or places where people might be working, but places where they might be storing the hay, things like that," said county planner Tom Berg.

Some farmers have complained that the county's codes are unusually strict compared to what their colleagues around the state must endure, creating an uneven competitive situation.

"I see much more strict enforcement in Ventura County than anywhere else," John Boething, who farms in four other California counties, told the board.

But a recent comparison of the county's policies with other jurisdictions found it was about average on the whole, with the possible exception of "shade buildings," or structures to protect agricultural products from the sun.

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