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Novella Carpenter’s Farmstand Canceled Due to the City of Oakland

“I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use Permit for growing chard. The annual fee: $2500.”

By Novella Carpenter
Ghost Town Farm Blog
March 29, 2011


I thought I was just being paranoid, but it looks like the City of Oakland workers do read my blog (hi guys!) and will be coming to the pop up farmstand to bust me for illegal activities.

Here’s the deal: After getting off the plane from Salt Lake City and making my way home to a cup of tea, I sit down at my kitchen table and I see this guy in a City of Oakland car taking photos of my garden. I go down and he said I’m out of compliance for “agricultural activities”. I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use Permit for growing chard. The annual fee: $2500.

Last year, when I bought my lot, I went to the planning department to find out what I needed to get a business license and all that stuff. The very nice planning person told me that by the spring, the City of Oakland would be changing the laws about urban agriculture in the city, so I should just wait. Guess that hasn’t happened.

The photo taking city guy said they are going to use me as an example, and that I’ll get fined around $5000 for non-compliance. All of this was triggered by one person, who complained to the animal control, who then passed it on to the city, who is now making my life hell. I said to the guy–one person caused this, that’s not fair. “Life’s not fair,” he replied. What about City Slicker Farms? Or People’s Grocery? I asked, two urban farming non-profits in Oakland. No one has complained about them. And they say one person can’t make a difference!

Read the complete article here.


1 Kathy { 03.30.11 at 8:30 pm }

She’s not above the law so should stop complaining about it and get to work to change it.

Sure, she’s angry but her outrage alone and that of people commenting on her blog are not going to change anything.

2 Birgitt { 03.31.11 at 9:09 pm }

Thanks for posting this. Last year, the City of Oakland jumped on the Urban Ag bandwagon, commissioning a study of vacant land for use as community gardens, turning over an underused park in West Oakland to City Slicker Farms to turn into a mini-farm to feed residents and supporting City Slickers in their efforts to buy a 1.4 acre site with a $4 million grant they received.

And now a city worker turns up at the home of Oakland’s most famous and influential Urban Ag practitioner, a woman who has fed poor residents in her Food Desert for years and starts threatening her?! WHY? Novella went down to the city to find out about permits and was told the rules were changing this spring and to wait a while.

So one hand does not know what the other hand is doing? Or is this just another case of Oakland shooting itself in the foot?

Why not work WITH Novella to expand Urban Ag in Oakland? Goodness know there are a lot of hungry people in the city.