Sprouting Change

City Hall

On November 18, 2014 Oakland City Council met at City Hall, One Frank H Ogawa Plaza, to vote on amendments to Oakland’s zoning policies that require urban farms and gardens to obtain a CUP or Conditional Use Permit that could cost upwards of $3,000 and can take months to process and approve. Esperanza Pallana, Director of the Oakland Food Policy Council, had planted a seed over four years before by advocating change to the policy and gathering hundreds of petition signatures. “Our concern is that growing food is considered a conditional privilege that only the wealthy can afford when in fact it is a right,” explains Pallana . Even with ownership of the lot or the owner’s permission and despite the size of the farm or garden the city requires an expensive Conditional Use Permit, making urban farming inaccessible to many Oakland residents . Hundreds of vacant lots consistently fill with trash, but replacing them with gardens is prohibited. ’“To acknowledge the right to grow our own food is particularly profound because the United States does not view food as a basic human right. It would be a significant statement for our city to not only view food as a basic right, but that growing it ourselves is a right. I hope Oakland can set an example for national food policy,” she says’ . On November 18th Oakland City Council acknowledged this basic human right and approved the proposed policy changes. This monumental decision recognized growing, cultivating, and the selling of fruits, vegetables, and herbs and maintaining up to three beehives as something that Oakland residents are entitled to. The “Right to Grow” decision removed a barrier, allowing access to healthy foods that had previously been impossible for some residents to obtain and decreased the significant gap between the access to nutritious food and wealth in Oakland.

Street Address:

1 Frank H Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612
[map]

Cite this Page:

Augusta Hohn, “Sprouting Change ,” Street Stories: Oakland, accessed December 12, 2017, http://streetstoriesoakland.com/items/show/7.

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