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City of Modesto
Memorandum

TO: Peter Cowles, Acting Engineering and Transportation Director

FROM: Jocelyn Reed, Solid Waste Manager

SUBJECT: Review of Water Use and Orchard Acreage on County-Owned “Fink Road Farm”

Summary:
At the September 23, 2003 Council meeting, the Council directed staff to research questions and concerns raised by citizens and the Council about Stanislaus County’s use of Landfill Enterprise Funds in May, 1999 to buy 2,100 acres adjacent to the Fink Road Landfill. A detailed report is attached. A summary of the questions and concerns, and my responses, follows:

Question 1. What was the water allocation for the County-owned “Fink Road Farm”, where was the water being used, and was the amount of water being used approximately what was needed for the farming operations?

Response: I reviewed water bills and water usage reports which I obtained from the County. Based on this review, it appears that the reported water use was within the normal range for the number of acres being irrigated. The Farm Management Contract states that 723 acres of the property are in tree crops and 316 acres were in dryland grain crops. At an average of 3-3 ½ acre feet per acre per year, the 723 acres currently being irrigated would need approximately 2,169-2,350 acre feet of water per year. According to the records I examined, the allocations for the years 2000-2004 from the New Del Puerto and Oak Flat Water Districts ranged from 2,068-2,167 acre feet per year. This is within the normal range for irrigated trees in the region.

The question about water usage appears to have been raised by the high annual amounts paid for irrigation water. The expenditures for water appear to be very high for the number of acres being farmed because of the higher rates charged by the New Del Puerto and Oak Flat Water Districts, which get water from the Delta Mendota Canal and the California Aqueduct. While other water districts in the region charge as little as $4-$8 per acre foot, the two districts that serve the property charge anywhere from $36 an acre foot to $115 per acre foot, depending on the availability of water. This raises the question of how the seller of the property was able to irrigate all of the trees on the property in the years prior to selling the property to the County. This will be discussed in further detail in the response to Question 2, below.

Question 2. How many acres of trees were removed from the property after the property was purchased and what was the condition of the orchards?

Response: I reviewed aerial photographs of the property, Farm Management logs, and other correspondence and records, and reached the following conclusions after evaluating these materials:

a. Number of Acres of Trees - The appraisal appears to have overstated the number of acres of trees on the property by approximately 164 acres. The appraisal valued the property based on 1,276 acres of trees, 169 acres of open, drip-irrigated land, and 655 acres of open dry land. However, two aerial photos taken in the spring and summer of 1998, prior to the appraisal, show approximately 1,112 acres of trees on the property, not 1,276 as indicated in the appraisal. The appraisal was conducted in November-December 1998. It appears that approximately 164 acres in 10 different locations on Parcels 025-012-031 and 025-012-017 were appraised as having trees when they were actually bare and dry at the time of the appraisal. The appraisal valued orchards at $7,000-$8,000 per acre, and open dry land at $800 per acre. The value of this discrepancy would be approximately $1,016,800 based on the per acre valuation of 164 acres as orchard instead of as open, dry land.

According to the appraisal, the appraiser did not survey the property, did not use a title report, and did not warrant the condition of the property. The appraisal states that the appraiser inspected the property, and that “data relative to size and area were taken from sources considered reliable”. It did not identify these sources. The appraisal states that “Supporting documentation is retained in the appraisers’ file.” However, the appraiser stated in a November, 2003 letter that it would not give the County a copy of the files or “allow a client free access to the file.” The appraiser also refused to let the City examine the file.

It also appears that in spite of the appraisers’ numerous disclaimers about the physical condition of the property, the validity of the appraiser’s assumptions about the number of acres of trees was not checked. The accuracy of the acreages claimed in the appraisal would have been easy for the County Assessor’s office to check prior to purchasing the property, had they been asked to do so. The Assessor’s office has a Farm Unit which uses aerial photos and other information to verify acreages for tax purposes. However, according to the Assessor’s office, they were not involved in this appraisal. The appraisal was paid for by the County Public Works Department, but appears to have been coordinated by the Chief Executive Office. City staff were told that Public Works did not have the appraisal report and the City could obtain a copy of the appraisal from the Chief Executive Office. Staff subsequently received the report from the Chief Executive Office.

b. Acres of Trees Removed - The appraisal valued 307 acres of walnut orchards on Parcels 025-012-017 and 025-012-031 at $7,000 per acre. According to the map in the November 2, 1999 Farm Management Agreement, within 6 months of the May, 1999 purchase, these 307 acres of walnuts (fields 60 and 65A) had been taken out of production, and only 24 acres of walnuts were still being farmed. It appears from the Farm Management logs that 161 acres of walnut trees were physically removed shortly after the sale. The roots of these trees were later removed and the fields were leveled in December, 1999. The Logs indicate that another 146 acres of walnuts were physically removed by an orchard removal company in May, 2000. None of these fields were replanted in tree crops; both were converted to dryland barley production.

This tree removal was apparently carried out by the seller, who was allowed to continue farming the property through the end of the crop year in November, 1999. Subsequently, the County entered into a Farm Management Agreement with the seller to continue to farm the property. Under both the Sales Agreement and Farm Management Agreement, the County had to authorize this tree removal.

Orchard appraisals normally take into account the age and variety of the trees, their condition, production records, and the cost of production inputs, such as the price and availability of irrigation water. If these trees had become non-productive prior to the appraisal, and the plan was to remove them because of their condition, age (the trees were approximately 30 years old), or some other factor, this should have been revealed to the appraiser by the seller and reflected in a lower appraised value of the property. The difference in value between 307 acres of walnuts at $7,000 per acre and 307 acres of open, dry land at $800 per acre would be approximately $1,903,400.

It appears that water availability may have been one of the contributing factors in the removal of these orchards. As discussed above in Section a, above, according to water purchase and use records, the annual allocation from the New Del Puerto and Oak Flat water districts would probably not be adequate for irrigating orchards on any more than the 723 acres which remain in nut crops. In addition, this water is expensive compared to water from other districts. The conversion of this acreage to dry land crops like barley would reduce the need for water.

c. Condition of Trees - The appraisal indicated that there were 1,276 acres of trees. Approximately 164 of these acres that were characterized as having trees were actually bare and dry. Another 307 acres of trees were quickly taken out of production after the property was purchased by the property. This means there should have been approximately 805 acres of trees left to farm when the Management Agreement was executed. However, the Management Agreement refers to 723 acres of trees.

A possible explanation for this last discrepancy is that there are also portions of the almond orchards on Parcels 025-012-016 and 025-012-031 which appear from the 1998 aerial photographs to have been in very poor condition. A November 13, 2001 letter from the farm manager to the County discussed the possibility of removing these “older, less productive trees”. However, notwithstanding the apparent poor condition of these fields, the appraisal valued them at $7,500-$8,000 per acre. As with trees that were scheduled to be removed, the appraisal should have reflected a lower value for orchards that were in poor condition. It is possible that this poor condition would account for the remainder of the discrepancy between the number of acres reported in the appraisal and the 723 acres reportedly as in orchards in the Farm Management Agreement.

Report on Water Use and Orchard Acreage at the County Owned “Fink Road Farm”

Background

In May, 1999, the County bought approximately 2,100 acres of land to the west and northwest adjacent to the existing 219 acre landfill. They bought this land from Fred Vogel for approximately $6,600 per acre. The County had previously bought 350 acres for a landfill expansion from Fred Beltran in 1997 for approximately $380,000. The County justified buying the additional 2,100 acres by saying they needed part of the property and that Vogel would “only sell all of his holdings” and not just the part the County wanted (Exhibit A).

However, as noted in the 2002-2003 Grand Jury report on this subject (Exhibit B), in 1996 Vogel had in fact offered to sell 394 acres of his property for approximately $2,800 per acre. According to the Grand Jury report, Vogel later offered to negotiate a price between $900-$2,800 per acre. At that time, the County declined Vogel’s offer to sell at the lower price. Although the County stated that it would not use condemnation to get the part of the Vogel property it wanted to use for the landfill, in the subsequent negotiations leading to the purchase of the 2,100 acres in 1999, the County sent Vogel a letter listing the parcels it wanted to buy “under threat of condemnation” (Exhibit C). It then purchased these parcels in May, 1999, for $6,600 per acre, paying a total of approximately $14 million for property that had been appraised at $10.75 million (Exhibit D).

Originally, the County proposed to build a landfill with a footprint of approximately 1,000 acres. This would encompass the 219 acres of the current landfill, the 350 acres bought in 1997, and about 400 acres of the Vogel property (Exhibit E). The proposed landfill would have a capacity of 100 million tons. The stated objective of the landfill was to bring in 5,000-6,500 tons of garbage a day from outside the County (Exhibit F).

In July, 2002, the Modesto City Council adopted a resolution opposing the proposed expansion. Similar resolutions were adopted by Patterson and Newman. On October 8, 2002, when the 1,000 acre landfill proposal was discussed in a public hearing, the Board of Supervisors voted to limit the current expansion of the landfill to 129 acres on the 350 acres it bought in 1997. An expansion of this size, combined with the current 20 year capacity of the existing landfill, would provide disposal capacity through at least 2070 at the current loading rate.

During the public hearing, County staff was directed to develop concepts for potential uses of land not needed for the landfill. These potential uses included a race track, a business or industrial park, a recreational area, a wild animal park, or a juvenile work farm. The County has subsequently indicated that the Landfill Enterprise Fund would be reimbursed for any land not actually used or reserved for landfill expansion purposes. Only a small portion of the property was identified by the County Public Works Department as suitable for landfill use.

However, additional concerns have been raised about this purchase and the use of Landfill Enterprise Funds. At the September 23, 2003 Council meeting, the Council directed staff to research questions and concerns raised by citizens and the Council about Stanislaus County’s use of Landfill Enterprise Funds. These questions and concerns were about water use and the acreages and current condition of orchards on the property. The following is Solid Waste staff’s report on these issues.

A. Water Use - A concern was expressed about water use on the property. Expenditures for water appeared to be well above the normal amounts that would be spent to irrigate 723 acres of orchards. Questions were raised about the amount of water being used and where the water was being used.

Response: Solid Waste staff obtained records from the County for the water use at the Fink Road Farm over the last 4 years. These records indicate that farm receives water from two districts. Portions of the property are in the New Del Puerto Water District (55 acres in parcel 025-012-016, 89 acres in 025-012-017, 12 acres in 027-033-012, 286 acres in 025-012-031, and 5 acres in 025-012-033). The remainder of the farm is in the Oak Flat Water District. The rates charged by each of these districts differ.

1. New Del Puerto Water District -

According to the records for this District (Exhibit G), the annual allocation for the portion of the property in the New Del Puerto Water District is based on the irrigation of 447 acres. Based on these records, it appears that the actual acre feet per acre that are available in a given year varies based on the amounts available from the Central Valley Project. In addition to the annual allocation, water that is not used in a given year can be carried over to the following year. There is also a provision for the purchase of additional water and critical needs water. The purchaser is also charged a flat fee per acre based on the number of acres being irrigated.

Charges for water from this district are as follows:

Contract Allotment - $35.00/Acre Foot
Carryover Water - $35.00/Acre Foot
Carryover Water Charge - $ 8.60/Acre Foot
Additional Supplies - $40.00/Acre Foot
Critical Needs Supply - $35.00/Acre Foot
Water Availability Charge - $11.50 Per Acre

The records indicated that the Water Availability Charge is due in advance. Similarly, Carryover Water, Carryover Water Charges, Additional Supplies, and Critical Needs Supply are paid for in advance. Carryover Water and Carryover Water Charges for water that is not actually used is credited to the user’s account. A partial payment for the Contract Allotment is made in advance of its use, and subsequent use from the Contract Allotment is billed on a monthly basis.

As noted above, the actual allocation is based on the assumption that 447 acres of land is being irrigated. However, based on acreages shown on the map in the November, 1999 Farm Management Agreement (Exhibit H), it appears that only the part of the acreage on which the allotment from this District is based is actually irrigated. The parcels and portions of parcels within this district that were planted in trees during these years total about 260 acres. An additional 165 acres were designated for dryland barley production. The supplies available, the actual use, and the number of acre feet per irrigated acre are indicated in the table below. Based on this summary, it appears that the water usage on this portion of the Fink Road Farm property is within the normal range for almond production. Almonds normally use about 3 acre feet of water per acre per year.

Summary of Fink Road Farm Water Use – New Del Puerto Water District
Year Contract Allotment Carryover Water Additional Supplies Critical Needs Supply Total
Supply Used Remaining Acre Feet Per Irrigated Acre
2000-2001 901 115 0 0 1,016 513 503 1.97
2001-2002 679 199 200 52 1,130 872 256 3.36
2002-2003 971 100 100 0 1,171 905 266 3.48
2003-2004 1,040 200 150 0 1,390 Unk. Unk. Unk.

2. Oak Flat Water District –

Records reviewed for this District (Exhibit G) show that, like the New Del Puerto Water District, the annual allocation for the portion of the property in the Oak Flat Water District is based on the irrigation of 447 acres. Similarly, the actual acre feet per acre that are available in a given year varies depending on the amounts available from the Department of Water Resources. Water that is not used in a given year can be carried over to the following year, and there are provisions for the purchase of additional water and dry year water. A flat fee per acre based on the number of acres being irrigated. The 2003 charges for water from this district were as follows:

Contract Allotment - $52.00/Acre Foot
Carryover Water - $52.00/Acre Foot
Additional Supplies - $115.00/Acre Foot
Dry Year Water - $115.00/Acre Foot
Water Availability Charge - $50.00 Per Acre

The records also indicated that a partial payment for the Contract Allotment and Water Availability Charge is made in advance of its use, and subsequent use from the Contract Allotment is due by July 1 of a year. Carryover Water from a previous year is billed at the same rate as the Contract Allotment. Additional Water and Dry Year Water, when available, are by arrangement with the District.

As noted above, the actual allocation is based on the assumption that 447 acres of land is being irrigated. However, based on acreages shown on the map in the Farm Management Agreement (Exhibit H), it appears that 463 acres are actually irrigated. The supplies available, the actual use, and the number of acre feet per irrigated acre are indicated in the table below. Based on this summary, it appears that the water usage from this District on this portion of the Fink Road Farm property is somewhat below the normal range for almond production. Almonds use about 3 acre feet of water per acre per year.

Summary of Fink Road Farm Water Use – Oak Flat Water District *
Year Contract Allotment Carryover Water Additional Supplies Dry Year Water Total
Supply Used Remaining Acre Feet Per Irrigated Acre
(463 Acres)
2000-2001 1052 0 0 0 1052 1052 0 2.27
2001-2002 484 0 465 52 1209 1191 18 2.57
2002-2003 853 18 0 0 911 911 0 1.94
2003-2004 777 0 0 0 777 777 0 1.68
*Source, summary of water use provided by Stanislaus County Department of Public Works, Exhibit .
3. Conclusions -

Based on staff’s review, it appears that the water usage from the two Districts is within or slightly below the normal range for irrigated orchards.

B. Orchard Acreages – A concern was raised about the number of acres of trees on the property at the time of the purchase, whether or not trees had been removed, and the condition of the remaining trees.

Overview
On January 11, 1999 Griffin & Way submitted their appraisal (Exhibit D) of the Vogel property to County Public Works Director George Stillman. The appraisal, which valued the nine Vogel properties at $10.75 million, stated; “The values for the subject parcels have been estimated at the upper end of the indicated range.”

The appraisal based the value of the property in orchards on 1,276 acres of nuts, including 417 acres of walnuts and 859 acres of almonds. These orchard areas were appraised at $7,000-$8,000 per acre, using prices from 18 comparable sales. In addition, 169 acres were appraised as “open and irrigated”, with a value of $3,000 per acre. The remaining 655 acres were appraised as “open and dry”, with an appraised value of $800 per acre.

The appraisal stated that no title report was supplied for the property; the property was inspected but not surveyed; and that the appraisal should not be considered a report on the physical condition of the property. It stated that data about the property was obtained from “sources considered reliable”.

On May 25, 1999, the County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the Vogel property at a “negotiated” price of $14 million, or $3.25 million more than the “high end” appraised value (Exhibit A) . The reasons given for the higher price were that “Vogel has expressed to staff that he is interested in selling all of his land on the west side of I-5, and not portions”, and that the County did not want to condemn the property because it would cost more. However, Vogel had previously offered to sell part of the property to the County for $900-$2,800 per acre (Exhibits I and B). In addition, the $14 million purchase was ultimately made under “threat of condemnation”(Exhibit C).

Six months later, on November 2, 1999, the County entered into a “Farm Management Agreement” with Vogel (Exhibit H). This contract was for the management of “723 acres in almonds and walnuts and 165 acres in dry beans (or other row crop)”.

The January, 1999 appraisal indicated that there were 1,276 acres in nut crops on the property, yet the farm management contract executed later that year stated that there were 723 acres in nut crops. This discrepancy between the acres of trees cited in the appraisal and the acres of trees citied in the farm management contract appears to be as a result of several factors:

• There were not 1,276 acres of land in nut crops in November-December, 1998, when the appraisal was conducted.
• Within 6 months of purchasing the property, approximately 307 acres of walnut orchard was removed from production.
• Portions of the remaining orchard are spotty, with trees in poor condition.

1. Acres of trees on the property at the time of purchase- The appraisal was conducted in November-December 1998. The appraisal report was sent to the County in January, 1999. As noted above, the appraisal based the value of orchards on 1,276 acres of walnut and almond orchards.

However, in spite of the numerous disclaimers about the physical condition of the property and the statements that the appraiser had not surveyed the property, it appears that the information presented in the appraisal was not checked. An October 24, 2003 letter (Exhibit J) from the County Public Works Department, which contracted for the appraisal, states: “You requested ‘the appraisers’ complete file including all the documentation supporting the conclusions made in the appraisal summary to you by Griffin and Way on January 11, 1999.’ The County does not have the documents requested and, therefore, cannot fulfill your request.”

Staff also requested that the appraiser allow the City to review the supporting documentation for the appraisal. In a November 20, 2003 letter (Exhibit K), the appraiser declined the City’s request, stating that “While we are wiling to respond to inquires form our client regarding the development of our opinion of value we would not provide a client a copy of our files nor would we allow a client free access to the file”.

Staff requested agricultural production records statements from the County Assessor’s office. These production records statements are used in determining the annual tax assessment on agricultural properties. According to an October 27, 2003 letter from the County Assessor (Attachment L), because of laws protecting confidentiality, he could not provide the City with these records, which would have shown the number of acres claimed by the seller to be in production in 1998, the year preceding the sale and the appraisal.

The letter noted that the County Assessor’s office was not involved in the appraisal of the Vogel property. In this letter, the Assessor states that, “…the best way to independently verify the acres of trees is by using aerial photographs. In this case, we have an aerial that will show you the trees in April or May of 1998, no more than eight months before the appraisal was made.”

Staff then reviewed the County’s aerial photographs of the property. Staff compared the County’s spring, 1998 aerial photo (which appears on the County’s online Geographic Information System website) with the acreages in walnuts and almonds described in the appraisal. Based on these aerial photos, there were major differences between the acres in trees described and valued by the appraisal and what was actually on the property at the time of purchase (Exhibit M). This aerial photo shows 11 separate areas covering approximately 248 acres in Parcel 025-012-031 that did not have trees on them at the time the photo was taken. The appraisal said that only 90 acres on this 1,001 parcel were “open”. In addition, the appraisal said that Parcel 025-012-017 had 50 acres of walnuts and 40 acres of almonds. The aerial photo shows that approximately 6 acres of this parcel had no trees.

It thus appears that about nine months prior to the appraisal, there were approximately 164 fewer acres of trees than were described in the appraisal. A similar aerial photo from the US Geological Survey’s website (Aerial Photo 1), which was taken in August, 1998 (less than 4 months before the appraisal was conducted) also shows less acreage in trees than was claimed in the appraisal.

The County Assessor’s office also has other aerial photos of the property that were taken over the years (Aerial Photos 2, 3, and 4). An aerial photo taken in 1989 shows that there were once trees on portions of the property that were bare and dry when the appraisal was done. A subsequent aerial photo taken in 1993 shows that trees apparently had been removed or allowed to die in several of these fields. A 1997 aerial photo shows additional portions of almond and walnut acreage which apparently had been removed or which were in decline.

The impact of this discrepancy in acres of trees is significant. An acre of land planted in trees was valued by the appraiser at $7,000-8,000; whereas an acre of land that was open and dry was valued by the appraiser at $800. It thus appears that, in addition to paying $3.25 million more than the high end appraised value of the property, the County paid for approximately 164 acres of orchards that did not exist at the time of the purchase.

The following table compares the acreages of trees and open land claimed to be on the 2 parcels by the 1999 appraisal with the approximate acreages of trees and open land shown in the 1998 aerial photos. The difference in the dollar value is also shown, and is based on the values for walnut orchards and open, dry land cited in the appraisal.

Parcel
Number Nuts Open, Dry
Dollar Value of Discrepancy
(1999)
Acres $7,000 Per Acre* Acres $800 Per Acre
025-012-031
Appraisal 911 0
Aerial 753 158
Difference <158> <$1,106,000> +158 $126,400 <$979,600>
025-012-017
Appraisal 90 0
Aerial 84 6
Difference <6> <$42,000> +6 $4,800 <$37,200>
Total <164> <$1,148,000> +164 $131,200 <$1,016,800>
* Conservative estimate based on appraisal value for walnut orchards. Some of these acreages may have been planted in almonds, which were appraised at $7,500-$8,000 per acre.

2. Land appraised as productive orchard/removed from production shortly after purchase - The appraisal indicated that there were five different walnut orchards on Parcels 025-012-017 and 025-012-031 valued at $7,000 per acre. These plantings are listed in the “Summary of Individual Subject Properties” on page 24 of the appraisal (Exhibit D), which indicates that 301 acres of these walnuts were planted in the early 1970’s, and 107 acres were planted in the early 1980’s, for a combined acreage of 408 acres. However, the aerial photographs of the property taken in February and August, 1998 show approximately 333 acres of walnuts on the property just prior to the appraisal. The discrepancy between the aerial photographs and the appraisal is discussed in Section B. 1, above.

Apart from this discrepancy, shortly after the County bought the property, the majority of the 333 acres of walnut trees were removed from the property. In November, 1999, six months after the County bought the property, it entered into a Farm Management Agreement with the former owner. In this Agreement, a map indicates that that the contractor would be farming 723 acres of trees. Of these, 699 acres were in almonds, and the remaining 24 acres were in walnuts.

Based on a map shown in the Agreement, it appears that 307 acres of walnuts (fields 60 and 65A, and approximately 3 acres of field 65) had been taken out of production by November, 1999, and only 24 acres of walnuts in field 65 were still being farmed. It also appears from the Farm Management logs that 161 acres of walnut trees were physically removed from field 60 (which includes117 acres in Parcel 025-012-031 and 46 acres of 025-012-017) shortly after the sale. The Logs state that the roots of these trees were removed and the fields were leveled in early December, 1999 (Exhibit N). The Logs show that another 143 acres of walnuts in field 65A were physically removed by an orchard removal company in May, 2000. It also appears that during this removal in field 65A, approximately 3 acres were removed from field 65. None of these areas where trees had been removed were replanted in tree crops; instead, they were converted to dryland barley production.

The seller, who was allowed to continue farming the property through the end of the crop year in November, 1999, had the initial 161 acres of trees removed. Subsequently, the County entered into a Farm Management Agreement with the seller to continue to farm the property. Under both the sales agreement and Farm Management Agreement, the County had to authorize this tree removal. Notations in the Logs indicate that the seller/farm manger discussed this removal with the County.

Based on the timing of the removal, it appears there was a reason for the removal that was known to the seller and which should have been reflected in the appraisal. Orchard appraisals normally take into account the age and variety of the trees, their condition, production records, and the cost of production inputs, such as the price and availability of irrigation water. If these trees had become non-productive prior to the appraisal, and the plan was to remove them because of their condition, age (the trees were approximately 30 years old), or some other factor, this should have been reflected in the appraised value of the property. The difference in value between 307 acres of walnuts at $7,000 per acre and 307 acres of open, dry land at $800 per acre would be approximately $1,903,400.

Water availability may have been one of the contributing factors in the removal of these orchards. Up to the point that these orchards were removed, there were approximately 1,112 acres of trees on the property. As discussed above in Section A, above, according to water purchase and use records, the annual allocation from the New Del Puerto and Oak Flat water districts would probably not be adequate for irrigating orchards on any more than the 723 acres which remain in nut crops. In addition, this water is expensive compared to water from other districts.

3. Trees in decline – The appraisal indicated that there were 1,276 acres of trees. Approximately 164 acres which were characterized as having trees were actually bare and dry. Another 307 acres of trees were quickly taken out of production after the property was purchased by the property. This means there should have been approximately 805 acres of trees left to farm when the Management Agreement was executed. However, the Management Agreement refers to 723 acres of trees. A possible explanation for this discrepancy is that in addition to the acreages of trees that either not there when the property was appraised, or which were removed after the sale, there are also portions of the almond orchards on Parcels 025-012-016 and 025-012-031 which appear from the 1998 aerial photographs to have been in very poor condition. A November 13, 2001 letter from the farm manager to the County discusses the possibility of removing these “older, less productive trees” (Exhibit O). However, notwithstanding the apparent poor condition of these fields, they were valued at $7,500-$8,000 per acre. It is possible that this poor condition would account for the remainder of the discrepancy between the number of acres reported in the appraisal and the 723 acres reportedly as in orchards in the Farm Management Agreement.

orchardsummary.pdf is a printable version of this document. This is a 10 page file so please be patient when downloading the file over a modem.