New Urban Agriculture Program to Turn Vacant Lots into Community Gardens, Commercial Farms

planters

Photo courtesy of the City of Long Beach.

Vacant lot owners in Long Beach can now apply for the city’s new Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone (UAIZ) program, which reduces the property tax on lots committed to urban agriculture for five years.

In May of last year, city council requested city staff to explore the feasibility of implementing the program, an item sponsored by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson, Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, Former Vice Mayor Suja Lowenthal and Councilmember Roberto Uranga.

“I encourage all vacant lot owners to take advantage of this rare opportunity,” Vice Mayor Rex Richardson said in a statement. “This UAIZ program creates a win-win situation, fostering economic growth in Long Beach while paving the way for more locally grown produce.”


 

Last month, the council passed the UAIZ ordinance to create the program and update the city zoning code to adopt urban agriculture uses. The UAIZ aims to provide opportunities for economic growth, community development, as well as increase access to local organic produce while reducing blight on vacant properties, according to the release.

“This initiative supports sustainability within our community by helping to increase access to healthy foods for residents and reducing emissions from food transportation,” Gonzalez said in a statement.

To qualify for the program, vacant lots must:

  • Be between 0.10 to 3 acres in size.
  • Have no habitable structures; all on-site structures must be accessory to agricultural use.
  • Not have any part of the lot listed on the Department of Toxic Substance Control’s EnviroStor Database.
  • Be within Long Beach City limits and comply with City zoning codes.

Urban agriculture can be defined by varying types of farming activities, including community and educational gardens, commercial farms with farm stands and more.

“The program is now open and we are looking forward to possibly getting our first contract through this year,” Larry Rich, sustainability coordinator, said in a statement. “These vacant lots have the potential to provide great community benefits, and we hope to help realize them through urban agriculture.”

The program will help match vacant lot owners with local farmers and gardeners to run agricultural programs on eligible lots. Local green thumbs interested in the program can check the city’s UAIZ page regularly and sign up here for updates on current opportunities.

For more information about the program, contact the Office of Sustainability at [email protected] or call (562) 570-6396.

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Asia Morris has been with the Long Beach Post for five years, specializing in coverage of the arts. Her parents gave her the name because they wanted her to be a world traveler and they got their wish. She has obliged by pursuing art, journalism and a second career as a competitive cyclist.
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