“Save Open-Space and Agricultural Resources” (SOAR) is a set of laws that protect open space and agricultural lands in Ventura County by vote of the people.
- In the county, SOAR requires the Board of Supervisors to get the approval of voters countywide before they can urbanize lands that are zoned for open space, agriculture or rural land uses.
- In the cities, SOAR establishes “City Urban Restriction Boundaries” (CURB) lines around the cities and requires the city councils to get the approval of city voters before they can urbanize lands outside the city’s CURB line.
No. SOAR does not change regulations governing property, nor does it affect the process by which property is bought and sold.
No. SOAR does not change any regulations governing agricultural land. Farmers can do anything that is allowed within their agricultural zoning.
No. Land values for coastal counties are similar across Southern California. Typically lands zoned for no growth, like open space and agricultural lands, are less valuable than lands zoned for residential and commercial development.
In the last eight years alone, Ventura County and its ten cities permitted over 15,000 housing units with SOAR in place. Additionally, SOAR has exemptions for affordable housing.
SOAR keeps cities in Ventura County separate and distinct with greenbelts between them. By preventing sprawl, SOAR also lessens traffic congestion and air pollution. SOAR preserves local farmland that supports a $2 billion agricultural industry and conserves natural resources like drinking water and wildlife habitat. SOAR also helps keep development from encroaching on and impacting Naval Base Ventura County, our county’s biggest employer. Additionally with SOAR, park agencies and conservancies have greater opportunities to acquire open space for parkland and public access.
If SOAR disappeared, developers would rush in to rezone open space and agricultural lands for more housing tracts and shopping centers. Developers would also pour millions of dollars into election campaigns to influence elected officials who would no longer need a vote of the people to rezone these lands.
Two new sections were added to the County SOAR initiative passed in 2016, to assist the agricultural industry by providing exemptions from a vote of the people for farmworker housing and processing of locally grown food. Additionally, Thomas Aquinas College was exempted from the County SOAR initiative, so it can develop its existing campus; approximately 800 acres of farmland in the vicinity of Conejo Creek were moved outside of the Camarillo CURB so that Camarillo voter approval will be needed to develop it; and a 53-acre area in the southwest portion Santa Paula was moved inside the Santa Paula CURB.
SOAR does not lock in land use. SOAR locks in the citizens’ right to vote on changes to land use. Having the right to vote on these changes is a core value of the citizens of Ventura County. It keeps Ventura County special. People will certainly want that right to vote at least until 2050. There have been 11 SOAR votes since SOAR passed in 1998. Six of them were approved and five of them were rejected. Napa County extended their SOAR initiative 50 years, through 2058. SOAR works.