Climate Action Plan - Measure T-1.2

Acquire Agricultural Easements


The Purchase of Agricultural Conservation Easement (PACE) Program promotes the long-term preservation of agriculture within the unincorporated county. Willing agricultural property owners place an easement on their property to preserve the land for agriculture use and thereby eliminate future residential, commercial, or industrial development potential. The County purchases the easement to provide compensation to the landowner, making continued agricultural use more viable.  
  • 2020 Target: 443 acres by 2020 
  • 2030 Target: 4,873 acres by 2030

Agricultural Land Conserved

How are we doing?

Since 2014, the County has placed a total 793 acres of agricultural easements in the unincorporated county, well beyond the 2020 target! The PACE Program began placing agricultural easements on properties in 2013 at an average cost of $2,859 per acre.

How is this measured?

Greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reductions for this measure are quantified based on the reduced development potential associated with the preservation of agricultural lands. Agricultural easements placed by the County under the PACE program reduces GHG emissions through the preservation of land that otherwise could be developed. GHG emissions reductions are realized by avoiding the transportation, energy use, waste, and water consumption emissions associated with urbanization.
Conserving 443 acres of agricultural land is equal to avoiding emissions from 18 dwelling units annually. Conserving an additional 4,430 acres of agricultural land by 2030 amounts to avoiding emissions from 198 dwelling units annually.

Why is this important?

Agriculture is the 5th largest component of the county’s economy. San Diego agriculture feeds families, supports livelihoods, and stores carbon in the soil. According to the 2017 Crop Report, the top ten crops in the region include: ornamental trees and shrubs; indoor flowering plants; bedding plants and perennials; avocados, cactuses and succulents; lemons; tomatoes; oranges; and other cut flowers. Preserving land for agriculture in the unincorporated county ensures that food and crops can continue to be viable.

Where are we going?

The goal for 2030 is to place easements on 4,430 acres of agricultural land between 2021 and 2030. Preserving agricultural property for agriculture supports the local economy and protects our natural resources. By supporting small-scale farmers and sustainable farming practices, the County helps to increase access to healthy and affordable food.