Remember Hayes Valley Farm?
For a good three-plus years, the plot of unused land bounded by Laguna, Octavia, Fell, and Oak Streets received new life as an urban farm, through an agreement with the city.
Now, a just-passed California law could make experiments like Hayes Valley Farm more common.
Rather than see those unused lots of land in California cities remain blighted, officials are looking to incentivize property owners to allow urban agriculture on their sites.
“The Legislature finds and declares that it is in the public interest to promote sustainable urban farm enterprise sectors in urban centers.”
That’s the language included in a new state law that was approved by Governor Jerry Brown at the end of September. Assemblyman Phil Ting explained the legislation in a Hayeswire op-ed a couple of months ago.
The law allows land owners to pay reduced property taxes in return for allowing urban farming activities on their unused sites for a minimum of 5 years. To achieve this lower tax rate, assessors would calculate the land’s value “based on the average per-acre value of irrigated cropland in California” — which is bound to be lower than the value of your average acre in San Francisco.
This law would be optional; cities and counties would have to choose whether to opt in or not before these sweet contracts would start being issued. But if local governments get on board, we could be seeing a lot more urban farms throughout the state in the not-too-distant future.