Action Item: City of Berkeley Community Gardens Amendment

20160502communitygardenOn Tuesday, May 10th, a Community Garden Zoning Amendment will come before the Berkeley City Council. The Ecology Center is urging the Council to vote “yes.” If you are a fan of community gardens and would like to see more of them, we encourage you to contact your Council Member to voice your support.

The amendment to the Zoning Ordinance defines community gardens and makes them legally “by right,” which means only a zoning certificate is required for that land use.

Community Gardens have been an important part of our city’s culture. But they exist in a zoning limbo. There are no clear pathways to establishing new community gardens, even though the existing ones have lengthy waiting lists. This amendment is the first step toward making it easier for Berkeley residents to start community gardens without the barrier of costly permits.

The Berkeley Climate Action Plan identifies local food production as a primary vision and strategy for reducing our carbon footprint and increasing climate resilience. In pursuit of this vision, a working group of the Berkeley Climate Action Coalition researched how other cities define and support community gardens in their zoning codes. The working group included representatives from the Ecology Center, YMCA Youth and Government, the Berkeley Community Gardening Collaborative, and the City’s Planning Department. The Community Garden Zoning Amendment that they crafted borrows from the best practices of other cities and builds upon the Edible Gardens legislation, which City Council passed in 2012.

Please let the Berkeley City Council know that you value local food production and community gardens. Encourage them to vote “yes” on the Community Garden Zoning Amendment as an easy first step. Write, email, call, or attend the City Council meeting Tuesday, May 10th.

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