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San Diego City Council eases restrictions on community gardens

SAN DIEGO -- Those wishing to create community gardens in their neighborhoods will now be able to do so with greater ease after the San Diego City Council voted unanimously on Tuesday to lighten restrictions that previously regulated such projects.

Councilmember Todd Gloria, who has been a proponet of the changes for more than two years when he served as chair of the Land Use and Housing Committee, believes the council's decision will benefit San Diegans.

"For years, I have been getting the message from San Diegans that community gardens can improve the quality of life for individuals who otherwise would not have an opportunity to garden," said Gloria, whose council district includes a number of urban communities such as City Heights, North Park and Hillcrest.

"By permitting community gardens by right in commercial and residential zones throughout the City, this ordinance will eliminate some of the largest barriers to establishing community gardens in San Diego."

Yesterday's ordinance permits community gardens in all commercial and residential zones by right as a limited use, provided gardens comply with the use requirements in the Municipal Code throughout the City. The ordinance would also allow for the onsite sale of produce that is grown on site in commercial and industrial zones, but not in residential zones.

According to Voice of San Diego, residents or nonprofits who wish to develop a community garden will not need a permit to do so. Gardeners will only need to follow a basic set of rules, such as a posting a sign with the garden's name and it's leaders contact information, and have areas for storing equipment and trash.

The regulation changes also took away the requirement for gardens to have their own water meters. Community gardeners will now be free to make their own watering arrangements should they choose not to invest in a city water meter. Gloria's office says that a city meter generally costs around $14,000.

Gardeners will also no longer be required to fence off and lock their gardens. Fences can be erected at the discretion of the garden, but are not required.

"[Community gardens] can be a source of healthy, nutritious foods; serve as catalysts for neighborhood advancement; and stimulate social interaction and provide opportunities for cross-cultural connections," Gloria said. "Despite these benefits, we’ve also been told that establishing gardens is too expensive and that there are not enough potential locations.

"Because of this, most community gardens have long waiting lists, and I frequently hear requests for more."