Mayor Lee Signs Urban Agriculture Legislation for Greater Local Food Production In SF

4/20/11— Mayor Edwin M. Lee today signed into law an amendment to San Francisco’s planning code that will explicitly allow for “urban agriculture” in all areas of the City and the sale of produce from urban gardens in all zones.

“The Urban Agriculture Ordinance will allow for greater local food production within City limits,” said Mayor Lee. “This legislation will not only help support our community through the increased production of fresh, locally grown produce, but will also revitalize vacant arable land and create green jobs.”

“Urban agriculture provides significant health, environmental and economic benefits,” said Board of Supervisors President David Chiu, who co-sponsored the Ordinance. “This bill puts San Francisco on the map as a national leader in urban agriculture, and is a tangible example of how government can create more sustainable communities.”

The Urban Agriculture Ordinance amends the San Francisco Planning Code to recognize various scales and intensities of local food production, from small scale gardens to larger-scale urban agriculture. The legislation allows for the sale, pick-up and donation of fresh food and horticultural products grown on-site in all districts, and for the sale of “value-added products” such as jams or pickles where the primary ingredients are grown and produced on-site in all districts except districts zoned for exclusively residential uses. Food and horticultural products grown that are used for personal consumption remain unregulated. 

“The Urban Agriculture Ordinance will help San Francisco grow healthy food within our own boundaries,” said San Francisco Planning Department Director John Rahaim. “The Ordinance establishes parameters for urban agriculture that will ensure that these gardens are operated in a way that is compatible with and complimentary to our City's urban neighborhoods.”

The San Francisco Planning Department, in coordination with the Department of Public Health, Department of the Environment and San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, worked with numerous community stakeholders to draft the Ordinance.

“With this change, San Francisco makes it clear that gardens and urban farms are welcome in all parts of the city.  The new law not only encourages people to connect with food and build community by cultivating fruits and vegetables in their neighborhoods, but also allows entrepreneurial gardeners to earn a little extra cash or to make a living selling what they grow,” said San Francisco Urban Agriculture Alliance (SFUAA) Co-Coordinator Eli Zigas. “We commend Mayor Lee, Supervisor Chiu, and the Planning Department for their leadership on urban agriculture.”

The Ordinance is an instrumental part of the City’s efforts to encourage local food production in the region.  In July 2009, former Mayor Gavin Newsom issued Executive Directive 09-03, Healthy and Sustainable Food for San Francisco, which directed all City departments to implement actions consistent with the goal of fostering local food production in San Francisco. The Ordinance, co-sponsored by Mayor Lee and Supervisors David Chiu, Eric Mar, Ross Mirkarimi and Malia Cohen, passed the Board of Supervisors on April 12th.