The individual residential lots within the Santa Lucia Preserve consist of two use-zones, known as Homelands and Openlands. The Homelands are smaller, less restricted envelopes within a lot that are available for residential development, subject to strict CC&Rs and approval by the Preserve's Design Review Board. Uses within the remaining area of the lot, the Openlands, are heavily restricted by a conservation easement held by the Santa Lucia Conservancy.
A conservation easement is a legal agreement between a landowner and a qualified holder, such as a land trust, whereby certain rights are removed from the property, such as the right to develop, in order to protect certain conservation values, such as wildlife habitat. The Santa Lucia Conservancy holds permanent conservation easements on approximately 7,650 acres within the Preserve (known as the “Openlands”) for the purposes of protecting ecological, scenic, and scientific values for the public benefit.
The Santa Lucia Conservancy is a member of the Land Trust Alliance and has adopted the Land Trust Standards and Practices to guide its operations. In order to comply with these guidelines and IRS requirements, and accomplish its mission, the Conservancy regularly monitors its conservation easement properties to ensure compliance with easement restrictions. While physical management of these easement properties is ultimately the responsibility of the individual landowners, the SLC works proactively and cooperatively with landowners to ensure the stewardship of Openlands by providing management plans and advice to enhance ecological values and comply with easement restrictions.
The Conservancy also works to further minimize impacts to the Openlands through its collaboration with the Preserve's Design Review Board, using this partnership to minimize encroachments onto Openlands from construction activities, invasive horticultural plants, run-off and sedimentation, unnecessary removal of trees, or excessive use of irrigation.