There’s a lot happening regarding urban farming policy in the Bay Area. Since we’ve opened our office in March, we’ve seen the adoption of AB 551, The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act, on the state level. Simply put, the law states that property owners who lease their land to urban farmers for a 5 year tenure pay agricultural property tax rates for the site. If they decide to develop the property before the 5 years are up, all they have to do is pay back the tax credit.
The cool thing about this law for established urban farmers is that this gives them a longer time frame to cultivate the site. It makes it easier to invest in a drip system or, in my case, plumb a waterline from an ancient water main behind an old train station since you have five years to recuperate the cost. This law also makes it easier for young entrepreneurs to get access to the land, as they have a hook for property owners who may need a little push to take a chance on an untested venture.
San Francisco was the first to write the law into local code. Now we need Oakland and Los Angeles to do the same!