More great news from our state organization, California Guild!
On September 27th Governor Brown signed legislation (Assembly Bill 465) authored by San Francisco Assemblyman Phil Ting (D), extending by 10 years a 2013 State law authorizing local governments to enter into agricultural land use contracts with landowners who agree to restrict development and permit use of their land for small scale agricultural purposes.
Members plant urban garden at Guild Headquarters, Sacramento
Under AB 465, sponsored by the California Guild and its partners, eligible local governments may enact a local ordinance authorizing the creation of Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZs) in urban areas defined as those with populations of 250,000 or more in exchange for lower assessed property taxes.
A year following enactment of the 2013 law, the City of San Francisco became among the first to create a local Urban Agricultural Incentive Zone. Among the City’s findings, the ordinance noted: “…it connects City residents to the broader food system, provides green space and recreation, provides ecological benefits and green infrastructure, offers food access…” and other benefits.
Many cities now provide property tax breaks for urban agriculture, including Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose and the counties of Sacramento, Santa Clara and Los Angeles.
WHY IS URBAN AGRICULTURE NEEDED?
According to a May 2011 report by the United States Department of Agriculture, nearly one million Californians live in food deserts where there is no nearby market or grocery store offering fresh food options.
Nearly 45% of the 976,467 Californians with low access to retail fresh food are low income. Food deserts can be found in 371 California census tracts and the vast majority (85%) are in urban areas.
California Guild President Bob McFarland noted, “Children are growing up in California’s inner cities on a daily diet of french fries and sodas. This bill will not only provide nutritional, healthy, fresh food for these kids, but it may just teach them how to grow it.”
A priority of the California Guild is to ensure that all Californians enjoy access to food that is healthy, affordable and culturally satisfying.
BROAD COMMUNITY BENEFITS
Urban agriculture provides numerous benefits not only to those growing food, but also to the cities and counties where urban farms exist. City gardening and farming offers benefits such as vibrant green spaces, education about fresh food, and the skills and resources required to produce it.
A recent study finds that 54% of the world’s population lives in urban areas, a proportion that is expected to increase to 66% by 2050.
In addition to several other supporting groups, Moms Across America, the Biosafety Alliance, Valley Vision, the Sacramento Community Guild and Organic Sacramento were among organizations joining the California Guild in support of Assembly Bill 465.
Guild Legislative Advocate Diane Rude notes, “The California Guild is dedicated to bringing urban agriculture to more cities and counties across California.”
Urban agriculture is becoming a practical solution to give communities more choice – while having a positive effect on greenhouse gas emissions through increasing the availability of local food and reducing the need to rely solely on food that originates from long distances.
“The average meal has traveled 4,200 miles just to get to the table”, Diana added.
The California Guild is a grassroots organization with nearly 4,000 members proudly serving 80+ communities, state wide. The Guild provides assistance to farmers and protection for consumers. Membership is open to all. For more information phone (916) 4-GUILDS or email us at info@CaGuild.org.