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Old Baldy, Canada | photo by Cameron Schaus
Conservation Issues of the Ventana Chapter | santa cruz county

County ups size of logging parcels from 5 to 40 acres

August 2008

Santa Cruz County's increase in the minimum parcel size for a Timber Production Zone went into effect on July 1. Previously properties as small as 5 acres could be zoned for logging, creating many conflicts with nearby residential areas. The new minimum size for logging zoned parcels is now 40 acres.

Local Sierra Club activists argued in favor of increasing the size of a timber production zone to 80 acres in order to minimize conflicts between residents and loggers. State law does not allow timber production minimums any larger than 80 acres.

Although the change was approved over a year ago at a hearing involving extensive public testimony, the Board granted a grace period that ended on December 31, 2007 for rezoning parcels less than 40 acres. As a result, 102 rezoning applications affecting around 2,850 acres of timberland in parcels from 5-40 acres were heard by the Santa Cruz County Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors. Most were approved; a handful were denied due to incompatible uses. At least one application was withdrawn after vocal neighbors protested at a Planning Commission hearing.

Under state law, counties are required to rezone to timber production, on request, all parcels that meet minimum requirements. The only authority counties have is in setting the minimum parcel size for such rezoning and determining which uses are compatible with logging.

Supervisors Stone, Coonerty, Beautz, and Pirie voted to approve the 40 acre minimum.


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