LA County officially adopts AB551: Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones, promoting community revitalization, green space, and access to nutritious food through local, urban food growing.
The LA County Board of Supervisors unanimously passed the final ordinance and program details of the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program. With this new program, property owners can lease their land to farm or community garden operators in order to receive a reduction on property taxes. The principle objective behind the program, enabled by Assembly Bill 551 passed in 2014, is to increase urban access to local fresh fruits and vegetables while revitalizing vacant lots that might otherwise be blighted.
“The Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Program has the ability to be a significant tool in addressing the alarming issues of insufficient food access and blight that permeate too many ofour communities,” said Los Angeles County Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas.
The program addresses one of the largest barriers to potential urban farmers–access to land– and incentives private land-owners to be a part of the solution. Property owners with parcels of three acres or less can lease (or use) the plot for agricultural purposes for a minimum of five years to receive a property tax adjustment; their land will be reassessed at the rate of the average statewide irrigated agriculture land, resulting in potentially significant savings. The Board of Supervisors passed the ordinance with the provision that it be modified to expand eligibility to include properties within former redevelopment areas. With roughly 57,000 eligible parcels, according to the County Assessor’s June 2015 report, the Los Angeles Food Policy Council (LAFPC) anticipates that many growers and property owners will take advantage of this incentive.
“Urban growers need land and lease security, and communities – particularly low-income communities – need better access to fresh fruits and vegetables. Property owners with vacant lots can be a part of the solution by converting these spaces into vibrant gardens and farms,” said Clare Fox, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Food Policy Council.
Today’s action means the County is prepared to accept applications from unincorporated neighborhoods. The new policy also sets the stage for all 88 cities, including Los Angeles, to move forward with the creation of their own local adoption of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZs).
A motion was submitted to the Los Angeles City Council requesting the Planning Department to report back on how to implement UAIZs in this designation.
The Los Angeles Food Policy Council is assisting in tracking potential sites across the County. If you live near or pass by a vacant lot, please send the cross streets to firstname.lastname@example.org to determine eligibility.