Regarding "Subdividing Humboldt," July 11:
My wife's family has farmed on the Oxnard Plain continuously for 127 years, one of the longest family-owned farms in Ventura County. Twice we faced the potential that this excellent farmland was in jeopardy, first during the Great Depression, and second, by the ever encroaching industrial development on the outskirts east of Oxnard. In the 1970s the farm was assessed at development value, and our taxes being greater than revenue made us question whether we would be able to continue farming. The 1965 Williamson Act saved us from pressure that caused most of our neighbors to sell their original family farms.
Registering under the Williamson Act allowed us to continue to farm the land we love by keeping our property taxes lower at the value of farmland, not at the much higher land developer's value. We have been fully aware that if we were to sell to developers, we could profit tenfold, but would be obligated to pay all the back taxes we saved during the time under the protection of the act. It's simple: Continue to farm or pay what is due and reap the windfall of millions of dollars from development.
The Tooby Ranch was registered under the Williamson Act at the time Bob McKee purchased it and though he does have the right to develop it, first he is obligated to pay all the back taxes saved during the time the ranch was under the act. Once paid up, he can develop the land to his heart's content. The rules are simple, either you are in agriculture or you are in development. I believe that if Mr. McKee had followed the rules of the Williamson Act, he would have saved $6 million more and the county could have saved over $3 million. What a waste of time and money!
Bob McPherson, Bayside