Community garden advocacy groups want the city to ease the burden on those looking to start urban gardens. They claim the gardens help neighborhoods become sustainable, promote a healthy lifestyle, soak up storm water, and raise property values.
In response, a coalition of urban gardeners created a petition and have gathered more than 1100 signatures, all in support of easing the requirements on those looking to till undeveloped city land, including blighted redevelopment project areas.
The "Make San Diego Community Garden Friendly" campaign urges city officials to streamline the permitting process, establish an affordable permit fee, and commission a citizen taskforce to identify potential garden plots.
Most importantly, the campaign asks that the City trim the deposit for a community garden permit.
Currently, the City requires applicants submit professional plans with a $5000 deposit, which, according to the petition, goes toward paying City staff's rate of $82 to $144 per hour.
"The initial deposit of $5000 for a community garden permit is stopping future gardens before they even begin," said Diane Moss during the December 8 Land Use and Housing Committee meeting.
Moss was recently successful in securing a plot of land in Mount Hope and procuring a $50,000 pledge from Southeastern Economic Development Corporation, with some help from District 4 representative Tony Young.
"Many more gardens can't even be considered because zoning prohibits community gardens in commercial zones," Moss told committee members. "The need for land development permits is unnecessary and administratively burdensome."
Some members of the community, however, are drawing a line in the sand in regards to community gardens.
During the meeting, Jim Varnadore, chair of the City Heights Planning Committee warned committee members about an outcropping of urban gardens in San Diego neighborhoods.
"Kindly don't do anything on that without consulting the [neighborhood] committees and the communities," said Varnadore. "Not all of us have the same view of community gardens. Not all of us are happy seeing the gardens started. Some of us have to look at them when they are harvested and finished and ugly."