2 months ago

PLF files lawsuit against Marin County's forced farming requirement

By Jeremy Talcott Attorney
Aerial view of Mr. Benedetti’s Marin County farm.

Today Willie Benedetti filed his challenge to Marin County’s new Land Use Plan requirement that landowners remain “actively and directly engaged” in agriculture. The complaint asks the superior court in Marin County to declare the requirement facially unconstitutional.

The County’s new Land Use Plan requires landowners within the agricultural zone promise to remain “actively and directly engaged in agricultural use” of their property as a condition on building new agricultural dwellings. For Willie Benedetti, this means a choice between working forever, or retiring and giving up his property.

“I love my work and my business, and I’m in no hurry to give up the reins,” said Willie Benedetti.  “But I am alarmed at how the county’s forced-farming scheme could derail my eventual retirement and our plans for an orderly succession so we can keep serving the public as a valued family-owned business, well into the future.  This interference in my family’s freedom and our future is unfair, unjust, and, I believe, unconstitutional.  It’s a privilege to be working with PLF to make that case to a court of law.”

PLF is representing Mr. Benedetti for free in this challenge, which was filed in the superior court of Marin County. The complaint alleges that the active farming requirement is an unconstitutional condition under the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments, and that the requirement is both an unconstitutional deprivation of Mr. Benedetti’s liberty and unconnected to any harm caused by building a new home.

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Benedetti v. County of Marin, California

Marin County’s new Land Use Plan requires landowners who currently use their land for agricultural purposes to remain “actively and directly engaged” in agriculture in perpetuity. This requirement is tied to building permits within the county’s agricultural zone. For PLF client Willie Benedetti, owner of Benedetti Farms and Willie Bird Turkeys, the mandate means he must choose between working forever or retiring and giving up his property. Benedetti is suing the county and the California Coastal Commission for this unconstitutional condition on his right to use his property.

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