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NR 2001-70
November 26, 2001

Contact: Carol Dahmen
Mark Oldfield
Don Drysdale
Ed Wilson
(916) 323-1886

PACE OF URBANIZATION SLOWS IN KINGS COUNTY
695 Acres Urbanized from 1998-2000, New DOC Map Shows

SACRAMENTO -- The pace of urbanization slowed in Kings County, with 695 acres of land -- most of it farmland -- converted to urban uses from 1998-2000, according to a map released today by the California Department of Conservation. The map is designed to help local governments evaluate land-use planning decisions.

The Farmland Mapping and Monitoring Program (FMMP), part of DOC's Division of Land Resource Protection, maps 44.1 million acres of California's public and private land to produce a major study every two years.

In Kings County, a net total of 665 acres of farmland -- including 235 acres of prime farmland, the most productive type -- were reclassified as urban land by the FMMP. An additional 72 acres of land classified as "other" -- a category that includes wetlands, low-density "ranchettes" and brush or timberlands unsuitable for grazing -- was reclassified to urban.

Since the FMMP began in 1984, 12,057 acres have been urbanized in Kings County. During the 1996-98 mapping cycle, the total was 1,016 acres.

Looking ahead, 318 acres -- including 225 acres of prime farmland -- are committed to non-agricultural use. Often, this is land earmarked for development. In some cases infrastructure development, such as sewer installation, may be underway.

Kings County was among the first to be mapped in the 1998-2000 cycle. Of the 890,786 acres mapped in the county, 607,501 (68.2 percent) were cultivated, 238,301 (26.8 percent) were used for grazing, 28,939 (3.2 percent) were urbanized and 15,979 (1.8 percent) were classified as "other."

The map has been sent to Kings County planning officials, and interested parties such as the county Farm Bureau, Local Agency Formation Commission, planning consultants and area resource conservation districts have received copies.

"We do this mapping to help counties plan and prepare for their expected growth in the coming years," explained Department of Conservation Director Darryl Young. "This information is a tool that can help Kings County and other local governments balance the needs of a growing population with those of the agricultural economy."

Kings County's agricultural land will continue to face development pressure in the foreseeable future. The California Department of Finance projects that the county's population will grow from its current 129,800 to 202,800 by 2020.

According to the California Department of Food and Agriculture, the gross value of Kings County's agricultural production was more than $885 million in 2000, ranking it 12th among the state's 58 counties.

Following are examples of agricultural land being urbanized in Kings County:

  • Eleven of the 19 conversions of farmland to urban land noted during this update occurred around the city of Hanford. New developments included Stonecreek (about 80 acres), Vintage Estates (15 acres) and Bridgegate Estates (5 acres).

  • Two new schools -- the 12-acre Pioneer Middle School and the 10-acre Joseph M. Simas Elementary School -- were built in Hanford.

  • Ten acres of new homes were built in Armona.

  • About 30 acres of new housing and a 20-acre sports complex were noted in Lemoore. Additionally, about 40 acres of grazing land were turned into new homes and a new apartment complex in Lemoore.

The latest statewide study by the FMMP, Farmland Conversion Report 1996-98, was released last fall. About 70,000 acres were urbanized throughout the state; more than 43,000 acres of the new urban land, an area about the size of the city of Modesto, were developed on agricultural land.

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