A county board of supervisors may designate areas of timberland in their counties as timberland preserves. The zoning designation is known as a Timberland Production Zone (TPZ). The land in a TPZ is restricted in use to the production of timber for an initial 10-year term and is considered "enforceably restricted."
Land that is subject to enforceable restrictions is assessed by considering values of comparable lands subject to similar restrictions. Thus, if the value of your property is lower, so are your taxes.
If the land is rezoned, i.e., removed from timberland production classification, a tax recoupment fee is payable based on a statutory factor multiplied by the last pre-timberland production classification assessed value of the property and on the number of years remaining in the 10-year term (Sec. 51140 through Sec. 51146, Govt. Code).
"Timber" - means trees of any species maintained for eventual harvest for forest products purposes, whether planted or of natural growth, standing or down, on privately or publicly owned land, including Christmas trees, but does not mean nursery stock.
"Timberland" - means privately owned land, or land acquired for state forest purposes, which is devoted to and used for growing and harvesting timber, or for growing and harvesting timber and compatible uses, and which is capable of growing an average annual volume of wood fiber of at least 15 cubic feet per acre.
"Timberland production zone" or "TPZ" - means an area which has been zoned pursuant to Section 51112 or 51113 and is devoted to and used for growing and harvesting timber, or for growing and harvesting timber and compatible uses.
Valuation of "Enforceably Restricted" Timberland: (Sec. 434 and 434.5 Rev. & Tax Code)
Five site quality classifications, ranging from Site I as the most productive to Site V as the least productive or inoperable have been established for the Redwood Region, the Pine-Mixed Conifer Region, and the Whitewood Subzone of the Redwood Region (Sec. 434.5, Rev. & Tax. Code; Sec. 434, Rev. & Tax. Code).
The statute also sets forth the specific value per acre under each of the five site quality classifications for the three regions; these statutory values are subject to adjustment. By November 30 of each year, the SBE must certify to local assessors the current timberland values so determined (Sec. 434.5, Rev. & Tax. Code).
The value per acre of timberland zoned under the provisions of Section 51110 or Section 51113 of the Government Code shall be determined from the following schedule:
Redwood Region - means all those timberlands located in Del Norte, Humboldt, Sonoma, Marin, Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Mateo Counties and that portion of Mendocino County which lies west and south of the main Eel River.
Whitewood Subzone of the Redwood Region - means that timberland located within the Redwood Region within which the assessor has determined that redwood did not exist as a species in the composition of the original timber stand, or which has not been replanted with redwood for commercial purposes.
Pine-Mixed Conifer Region - means all other timberlands outside the Redwood Region.
Redwood Region 2005
Site I $266
Site II $216
Site III $189
Site IV $164
Site V (and inoperable) $ 52
Pine-Mixed Conifer Region
Site I $145
Site II $102
Site III $ 80
Site IV $ 56
Site V (and inoperable) $ 30
Site I $189
Site II $139
Site III $117
Site IV $ 87
Site V (and inoperable) $ 46
To determine the actual tax burden per acre, the zone values are then multiplied by 1% to get the amount of tax per acre that the owner pays. This 1% is a statutory minimum applied throughout the state and can be taken for a state average.
Change of zoning from timberland production
Upon rezoning, land formerly zoned as timberland production land will be assessed on the same basis as real property is assessed (Sec. 51140, Govt. Code; Sec. 51141, Govt. Code; Sec. 51142, Govt. Code). A tax recoupment fee, which is payable to the county in which the rezoning has taken place, will then be imposed. The fee is a multiple of the difference between the amount of the tax last imposed on the property before it was zoned for timberland production and the amount equal to the assessed valuation of the rezoned property times the tax rate of the current levy for the tax rate area.