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.

Urban farmer Novella Carpenter, who was dinged by Oakland for a $2800 permit. Photo: Ghost Town Farm

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.”

Oakland North reports one of the hotly debated topics was animal husbandry: Should Oaklanders be permitted to raise, slaughter, and sell animals? Or not?

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.

You can share your ideas with the city of Oakland by attending a workshop in the future, or emailing your ideas to the planning department.


Oakland Reevaluating Urban Farming Rules 25 July,2011Molly Samuel


Molly Samuel

Molly Samuel joined KQED as an intern in 2007, and since then has worked here as a reporter, producer, director and blogger. Before becoming KQED Science’s Multimedia Producer, she was a producer for Climate Watch. Molly has also reported for NPR, KALW and High Country News, and has produced audio stories for The Encyclopedia of Life and the Oakland Museum of California. She was a fellow with the Middlebury Fellowships in Environmental Journalism and a journalist-in-residence at the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center. Molly has a degree in Ancient Greek from Oberlin College and is a co-founder of the record label True Panther Sounds.

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