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Long Beach program would give tax breaks for urban farms plotted on vacant lots

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Photo of urban garden, Farmlot 59, in Long Beach.

The City Council on Tuesday voted to enact the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone program, which would allow for the small-scale cultivation of crops, the raising of certain types of livestock, bees, dairy producing animals or poultry, and would also allow the sale of produce through field retail stands or other farm stands.

By Courtney Tompkins
Press Telegram
Oct 5, 2017

Excerpt:

“We know we have vacant lots that have remained vacant for some 20 years; they are a strain on our code enforcement, a blight on our corridors and our neighborhoods,” Richardson said on Tuesday. “And we also know on the other hand urban agriculture is exciting … it really inspires people to really get involved in their neighborhoods.”

The council on Tuesday also took action on a separate but related item that authorized the creation of a vacant lot registry that will track how property owners care for their empty lots. The goal is to curb negative impacts associated with these often blighted lots by setting maintenance standards and requiring routine inspections. Officials estimate 618 lots would qualify for the registry.

A handful of large cities across the state have adopted similar programs in recent years, following the 2013 passage of Assembly Bill 551, the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act. The state law, enacted in 2014, authorized cities and counties to encourage landowners to allow small-scale farming on vacant lots. Under the program, a landowner’s property tax would be assessed on the agricultural value of the land rather than the full market value.

Long Beach began working to form a local program in 2016, shortly after the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors adopted an ordinance for all unincorporated areas and authorized the county’s 88 cities to establish their own programs.

Read the complete article here.