San Mateo Supes Consider Agri-Tourism

San Mateo County Supervisor are expected to vote this week on possible changes to farmland zoning that would free farmers to tap into the growing agritourism business.  
More and more pumpkin farmers in Half Moon Bay have added rides and other attractions to bring in tourists and dollars.
“It’s inexpensive family entertainment,” says Chris Gounalakis, owner and operator of Arata Pumpkin Farm. “And of course at the same time they make a trip by coming way out here to buy our pumpkins. Otherwise they can go to Safeway and buy the pumpkins for half price.  And they wouldn’t make the trek to come over to our place if we were just pumpkins only.”
State law offers tax incentives to farmers for keeping prime agricultural land in production. But specific uses are set by county contracts. 
Arata Farms has come under the most fire in recent years for using up more land for attractions than agriculture – including a giant hay-bale maze.
If approved, the new rules would allow for such uses if they’re considered compatible with agricultural operations.
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