Monday, February 28, 2011

NY Food Procurement Policy Debated in City Council

The New York City Council’s Committee on Contracts today held a hearing to discuss two measures designed to increase city procurement of local and regionally produced food.

The first is a local bill (Introduction No. 452) to require the city chief procurement officer to encourage city agencies to make best efforts to purchase New York State food, defined as food grown, produced, harvested, or processed in New York. The bill refers only to New York food because New York State authorizes cities to preferentially procure food produced within the state’s boundaries.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Urban Ag and the General Plan: San Francisco

Hayes Valley Farm

San Francisco’s charter requires that ordinances affecting land use must be consistent with or conform to the policies of the city’s General Plan. Last week’s Planning Commission resolution urging the Board of Supervisors to enact a new urban agriculture planning code included an assessment of how the revised code relates to the General Plan. Not surprisingly, the Commission concluded that promoting urban agriculture through zoning changes that make it easier to locate urban farms and gardens would conform to the General Plan.  But the resolution went further by affirmatively stating that urban agriculture helps to achieve a number of San Francisco’s broad goals and objectives.

Friday, February 25, 2011

San Francisco Near Adoption of Urban Agriculture Planning Code

Alemany Farm, San Francisco
On February 17, 2011, the San Francisco Planning Commission passed a resolution approving a new urban agriculture planning code that would allow a range of urban gardens and farms to be located throughout the city.  The new code creates an agricultural use category with two sub-uses (Neighborhood Agriculture and Urban Industrial Agriculture) that represent different scales and intensity of food production. 

The Planning Commission's action is an important step toward integrating various scales of food production into San Francisco’s landscape, creating certainty about where and to what extent urban land can be used to grow food.  San Francisco residents are environmentally conscious and the Bay Area is where the word “locavore” was coined, yet even the most fervent sustainable food supporters can have NIMBY tendencies when urban farms sprout near their homes.  The code change will hopefully create consistent expectations and ensure that gardens and farms can locate throughout the city and improve -- not detract from -- the quality of life for which San Francisco is famous.