Image from Farm Lot 59’s Facebook page.
In a video posted to Facebook on Wednesday, November 1, Farm Lot 59 owner Sasha Kanno shows what appears to be another attack on the urban farm this year. This time, it was the recently erected farm stand that took the hit.
The damage included broken glass on the cooler and “everything that was left in the stand” being taken, according to Kanno’s video. A police report was not made following the incident, according to Long Beach Police Department spokeswoman Arantxa Chavarria.
In March, Farm Lot 59 held a fundraiser to “Turn on the Power” at Roe Seafood and served specialty cocktails to benefit its efforts to bring electricity to the property. The property had been vandalized in November 2016, causing a little over $2,000 in damages.
In response to a recent Facebook comment asking why this keeps happening, Farm Lot 59 responded, “Because our site is not secure. We are working with the city to get electricity but until then it’s so dark at night anything goes.”
A different commenter asked if cameras could be installed, which Farm Lot 59 replied, “Once we have electricity we will install security lights and cameras but for now (and the last 7 years) we are sitting ducks.”
Request for comments from Kanno on the incident was not immediately provided to the Post.
It may be of note that the incident follows Farm Lot 59’s continued presence in Long Beach becoming a bit shaky. On October 15 Kanno posted that Long Beach Parks, Recreation and Marine had chosen not to renew their lease. A Facebook storm of comments ensued, and included responses from Long Beach officials.
Celine Luna, chief of staff to Councilmember Robert Uranga, explained the farm was not being shut down, but was put out for a Request for Proposals (RFP) process. With its expiring lease, Farm Lot 59 was offered a month-to-month lease with a minimum of six to eight months and the ability to apply to continue to operate the farm.
Mayor Robert Garcia got wind of the issue and responded: “Hey Farm Lot 59, while I don’t know all the details of what is going on, rest assured that I just got off the phone with the city manager and he will resolve this. He assured me that staff is working to ensure the farm can stay while we review the terms of the lease agreement. I will personally get engaged and ensure that moving forward this gets resolved. I want Farm Lot 59 to stay, and we want all our urban farms and spaces to succeed. Thanks.”
Three days later, Kanno announced that Farm Lot 59 would be staying, and thanked Garcia and City Manager Pat West for helping resolve the issue. On October 23, another post from Farm Lot 59 stated a new lease agreement was being drafted as electricity makes its way to both the farm and stand. Kevin Lee, spokesperson for the City of Long Beach, confirmed that Farm Lot 59’s board and the city are still negotiating the new lease.
Bringing electricity to Farm Lot 59 and to other developments near Orange Avenue and East Willow Street has been a project the city has been involved with before this most recent vandalism took place, according Lee.
The Willow Springs Restoration Project, which had its grand opening in October, includes an electrical component tied into an electrical box on California Avenue, near where the farm is located. There’s also an education center in the works where the train depot was located, which also requires electricity.
The city is working with Edison to ensure that Farm Lot 59 is included when, ideally over the next couple months, electricity can be brought to these projects. Since the vandalism, the city has expedited the process, and is working directly w/ Kanno’s board. There also will not be any cost to the farm in getting electricity to the site, however once electricity is there, Farm Lot 59 will have to work on applying for the permit to install the actual lighting, according to Lee.