1. Bullet The Trinitas golf course was built on 95 acres of historical grazing pasture on designated Natural Resources Land, zoned Agricultural Preserve, while under Williamson Act Contract – none of which recognize golf courses as a permitted use. The Williamson Act (WA) was specifically designed to preserve “agricultural and open space lands by discouraging premature and unnecessary conversion to urban uses.”

  2. Bullet Trinitas converts agricultural land to non-agricultural use: Except for the 11-acre olive orchard and 9 acres of ponds, the proposal would convert the bulk of 280 acres zoned for agriculture to commercial, residential, and private recreational use.

  3. Bullet Is growth-inducing: If the project is approved, the pressure to sell or develop adjoining and nearby agricultural land will be heightened, because the project also represents “leapfrog” development far from any existing community or services. Owners of land in close proximity to the golf course will face greater inducements to sell agricultural land for conversion to non-agricultural uses.

  4. Bullet Threatens neighbors’ “Right to Farm” (Zoning Code 17.18.015):  “Any legally existing agriculture land use (farming, ranching, orchard, livestock, row crops, food processing) is considered to have a right to enjoy the productive and economic fruits of labors without fear of infringement on this right by encroaching residential or other non-agriculture development on adjoining parcels and lands in the general vicinity. The right to farm shall take precedence over all other adjoining and nearby land uses.” (RDEIR p.3.8-8) (emphasis added)

  5. Bullet Misrepresents “agri-tourism” and sets a dangerous precedent, because the balance between agriculture and tourism/recreation at Trinitas is seriously out of proportion – an 11-acre olive orchard versus 266 acres of non-agricultural uses. “The primary intent of agritourism is to provide farmers, ranchers, and other agriculturalists with options to supplement their income, which, in turn, would allow them to resist the pressure to sell their land for non-agricultural purposes. Agritourism was not intended to help a private golf course resort masquerade as a quaint rural enterprise.” (See RDEIR comments)

  6. Bullet Is inconsistent with Calaveras General Plan Land Use Element Goal II-3, to: “Preserve and manage those lands identified as Natural Resource Lands for the future good of the general public.” The stated objective is to open a private membership golf club, open to the public “until all memberships are purchased” (RDEIR, p.2-6) (individual memberships $50,000); offering golf lessons “…for members only” and privately sponsored golf tournaments for “groups and corporations.” (RDEIR, p.2-6) This objective neither preserves the natural resource land nor serves the general public.

  7. Bullet Conflicts with General Plan Goal II-20, to: “Provide for the development of recreation oriented commercial uses which are necessarily tied to the location of recreation resources.” It is not a “location-specific recreation-oriented commercial use that can be allowed outside of Community, Special, and Specific Plan areas, and Community Centers.” (General Plan Policy II-20A) There are no “natural features appropriate for associated recreation oriented commercial development.” such as caves, lakes and rivers.” (General Plan Implementation Measure II-20A-1) The golf course is a man-made recreational facility inappropriately located in an agricultural zone.

  8. Bullet Does not fit the “Conversion Criteria” proposed in the draft Agriculture and Forestry Element to the Updated General Plan

(See comments on RDEIR 3.8 - Land Use Planning & Agricultural Resources p.6)

See Planning Commission Hearing Exhibit 9, written comments “Regarding: The Ridge at Trinitas, FEIR, Chapter 3.8, Land Use and Agricultural Resources” for more information on this topic.


Agriculture, Williamson Act  & the Right to Farm

Notable Quotes:

  1. Bullet “Agricultural Preserve Contract 55 expressly specifies that the described property shall not be used for any primary purpose other than the production of agricultural products including timber and compatible uses. Failure to maintain such agricultural production, or acts otherwise inconsistent with such use by owner, may be deemed by County to be a breach of the agreement.”

Aug. 9, 2001 letter from County Planning Dept. to the Trinitas developers


  1. Bullet “Golf Courses are not compatible with the WA. About eight years ago, the Legislature made changes to the WA that clarified that golf courses were not a compatible use and should not be allowed on contracted land. A breach of contract may have occurred since a golf course appears to have been partially or completely built on contracted land before the contract expired in 2006.

Jan. 31,2008 Department of Conservation Williamson Act compliance audit letter to Calaveras County, p.18, referencing Trinitas  by APN number.

Overview     Legal     Water     Traffic   Agriculture    Biological/Other    Events/Noise    Services    Economic

Masthead photo:

This sheep ranch – directly across the road from the main entrance to Trinitas – has been worked by the Ospital family for 3 generations.

Construction and golf course activities at Trinitas disturb the sheep and horses.

“While there is agricultural activity on-site, related to the 12-acre olive orchard, this activity (even if expanded to 20-80 acres as proposed by the applicant) is and would remain subordinate and incidental to the primary use of the property as a golf resort.”

2.9.09 FEIR, Ch. Agritourism

Copyright 2009 - Keep It Rural Calaveras (KIRC)

Unless otherwise noted, all photographs are the property of KIRC.

Documents were obtained from Calaveras County under the Public Records Act, and cited local news sources.