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Understanding California conservation easements

by | Jun 23, 2021 | Real Estate Law

Residents of this part of Los Angeles enjoy access to several preserved areas including Forrestal Nature Reserve and Palos Verdes Estates Shoreline Preserves. However, purchasing land in these areas comes with special rules. Developers seeking properties in Palos Verdes Estates and surrounding areas should understand the terms of California conservation easements.

Review the common terms of conservation easements in California prior to investing in land with this type of agreement.

Land use with a conservation easement

When a landowner signs a conservation easement, he or she preserves private use of the land while allowing some public rights. However, the easement does not necessarily allow public land access. Often, the easement provides for the protection of land and wildlife habitat while maintaining the property owner’s right to hunt, irrigate, fence, graze or take advantage of other land uses.

Terms of a conservation easement

An easement enters public record with Los Angeles County and transfers with ownership of the property. That means when a developer buys a property with an easement, the firm must continue to abide by the terms of the easement.

For example, the owner typically must allow the steward or holder of the easement to ensure agreed-upon conservation measures and otherwise administer the land. An agricultural easement, one common type of easement in California, prevents the development of the land other than for farming purposes.

California law allows property owners to claim a tax credit for the conservation easement, which often makes up for the limited use. Carefully study the terms of the easement carefully before moving forward with this type of investment.