L.A. City Council introduces plan to encourage urban farming

Motion introduced to create small-scale urban farms throughout Los Angeles

Two Los Angeles City Council members want to transform empty, blighted lots into flourishing urban farms.

A motion introduced Wednesday by Councilmen Felipe Fuentes and Curren Price calls for landowners to receive tax breaks for leasing vacant property for agriculture. 

"There are thousands of vacant, unproductive lots throughout Los Angeles," said Fuentes, who represents the 7th District, which covers the Northeast Valley. "By converting empty parcels into urban farms, we can encourage local economic development, green our communities and provide produce in neighborhoods that lack access to fresh foods."

Last year, the state Legislature approved the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act, which authorized a tax adjustment for private property owners who lease land for commercial or noncommercial agriculture use for at least five years. The council members want that law implemented locally.

In Los Angeles, parcels would be eligible for the tax break if they are between 0.10 and 3 acres in size, dedicated to agriculture and animal husbandry, free of dwellings not intended for agriculture or educational purposes, and located within a zone that allows for agricultural use.

The Los Angeles Food Policy Council estimates that 8,600 parcels in Los Angeles would be eligible.

Price, whose 9th District seat represents South L.A., said the motion would benefit residents in low-income areas like the one he serves.

"Representing a food desert community, I understand firsthand the need to expand food options for our residents, Price said. "This action will help us transform underused and blighted plots of land that often attract crime into thriving green spaces, encouraging green enterprises and helping us improve the look and feel of our neighborhoods."

The approval of the county Board of Supervisors will be needed to implement the state law in Los Angeles. 

"This policy moves Los Angeles forward on many community, health and food-access goals," said Clare Fox, director of policy and innovation at Los Angeles Food Policy Council.

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