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City Rakes Seed Money from Community Gardens

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."

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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."

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Comments
14

Community Gardens can be a great benefit for a Community IF They are well planned, sited in a good location with fencing and security, which usually means in an upscale neighborhood on private land...

The planting of a "urban" garden in "any old plot of land" usually results in homeless taking all the food grown and the place looking trashy. Poor soil requires digging, tilling and amendments to make it ready to garden and those all cost money.

If a local group is going to be fiscally responsible for the garden plot, then they better be able to provide fencing, security, limits to what chemicals are used by whom, pay for a water meter hook up, its maintenance, and the monthly water bill!

In most cases, it will cost many time the value of whatever is grown to maintain each garden plot and providing supervision plus a lottery to decide what plot is given to what Gardner, for how long, becomes a full time job.

Dec. 10, 2010

simple solution, founder: charge a small fee for maintenance of the garden. if someone doesn't pay, then they can't use it. as far as for how long, i'd say no longer than one harvest/season (?) and then the land is cyclced back to another family.

Dec. 10, 2010

A small fee would not pay for the water, the insurance, the fencing, the security and the management to enforce the rules required...

What might work is have gardeners lease plots on private fenced land.

Having a plot for one season would not encourage folks to improve the soil and serve to only insure an ever changing number of "first time gardeners" to apply... If the City wants to support this then I suggest that they open up part of the overflow parking area across the canyon from the Zoo, next to the City nursery for that purpose.

Dec. 10, 2010

okay, so maybe not a season. Maybe a year... IDK, i'm born and raised in sd, i know next to nothing about growing.

Dec. 13, 2010

A community garden is heart-warming, just like Granny Flats. Where do the gardener's park? In your driveway, if you live next door. No parking spaces required. Oh, by the way, leave your hose out too. They need to water thoe tomatoes. Liability? Forget it. But a very romantic concept. It works great in Santa Monica.

Dec. 10, 2010

Good points for all to consider!

Imagine if all those that lived near canyons had bunches of folks planting the canyons...

Our Canyons are now serving to insulate wealthier neighborhoods from the urban density encroachment that many of home owners that live within walking distance to business's without adequate parking now have to deal with!

Dec. 10, 2010

if it's really a community garden, then people would be able to walk there. Take the family, make them all carry the produce home.

Dec. 13, 2010

"make them all carry the produce home." You are dreaming, most folks don't get much from their gardens because animals, other gardeners and the homeless all help themselves anytime anything looks about ready...

Try asking anyone that has a fruit tree anywhere near a public sidewalk how much fruit they "harvest" after being ripped off by the "Public". I've even had folks tell me I should not plant trees in my yard if I did not want to share the fruit with the neighborhood!

Dec. 17, 2010

I'd say, if the fruit overhangs into public property, it's there for the taking, as well as if it drops into public land... it's along the same idea of a tree overhanging into a neighbor's yard and the neighbor pruning the tree.

if you want the tree untouched, you might want to make sure it doesn't bother/entice anyone else.

and as for people helping themselves by overreaching, i'm more apt to lean towards the belief that people don't take what's not theirs. i tend to believe the best in people will come out when given a chance to proof themselves.

Dec. 17, 2010

I'm not talking about overhanging fruit, I'm talking about a tree 15-20 feet inside the yards sidewalk...

Just like the folks that use a 15+ foot leash (if at they use one at all) and give you a hard time about asking them to clean up after their dog craps on your yard, saying, "Oh, I forgot my bag" or worse, telling you TS (no pun intended)...

Dec. 17, 2010

this is a thought to ponder....society even makes growing a garden a problem...no wonder our more serious problems can't be solved...good thing Johnny Appleseed isn't living in this day and age...we wouldn't ever have taste apple pie!!

Dec. 13, 2010

Society or the size of the Society is what causes the problems. A few folks sharing tools and a garden plot nearby one of their homes is easy because they can control everything but once a large groups want to do anything along with the City then everything becomes complicated with fees, accessibility issues, rights of plot users, security of the area, insurance and a host of other things which taken together demands a "Manager" which then requires salary, pension and all the fiscal issues that employees require.

A great analogy is to look at how many folks and how much equipment it takes to fix a pothole...

Dec. 13, 2010

I'm with Nan - when did something as wholesome as a GARDEN become a subject for discourse?

Dec. 17, 2010

I consider it food for thought, one guaranteed to produce home grown reflection!:-)

Dec. 17, 2010

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