A former turkey farmer has filed a lawsuit against Marin County, California, alleging that a land-use ordinance intended to encourage multigenerational housing on family farms places an unconstitutional burden on landowners by requiring them to farm “in perpetuity.” Benedetti v. County of Marin (Cal. Super. Ct., Marin County, filed July 14, 2017).
In May 2017, Marin County certified a new land-use plan that requires dwelling units on agricultural lands to be owned by a “farmer or operator actively and directly engaged in agricultural use of the property.” The plaintiff alleges that the plan prevents him from building a second house on his property for his son, who is not involved in his farming business. The plaintiff argues that the policies violate his due process, are an unconstitutional taking of his right to develop his property, and may deprive him of his liberty by forcing him off the land he has lived on for 45 years. He seeks a declaratory judgment that the policy violates the Fifth and Fourteenth amendments to the U.S. Constitution and Article I of the California state constitution as well as writs of peremptory and administrative mandate to block the policy.