Oakland is taking another look at its urban agriculture rules. The clash between Oakland's regulations, which were written in 1965, and the current popularity of urban homesteading came to a head in March when urban farmer and author Novella Carpenter was threatened with a fine.
The city has already made some changes; it's now legal to grow and sell vegetables on an empty lot with a conditional use permit. (Carpenter got in trouble for farming on an empty, commercially zoned lot, rather than on one connected with her home.) But Oakland is looking at broader changes to the current zoning regulations.
The Oakland Planning Department hosted its first community workshop to gather ideas and feedback on farming in the city last week. Reporter Irene Florez from Oakland Local went to the meeting:
Despite an agenda covering contentious topics, the roughly 300 attendees walked throughout the North Oakland Senior Center and evenly voiced their concerns with current urban farming regulations, intermittently stopping at one of the five tables set-up to capture the issues that the city should consider in its new urban agricultural policy.
"In my 20 years of zoning work, this is the biggest meeting I've seen," Eric Angstad, Community and Economic Development Agency Deputy Director, said. "Urban agriculture is an issue people feel strongly about and in this case, we have a major conflict that is bringing even more people out."
An advisory council for the city is collecting ideas, and will submit a draft proposal in October. That will be presented in another public meeting before it goes to the City Council.