City Council committee approves urban garden proposal

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SAN DIEGO – More community gardens might soon be sprouting around San Diego, as the city moved forward Wednesday to convert blighted properties into agriculture zones.

The City Council's Smart Growth and Land Use Committee approved a plan to use vacant properties for agriculture use.

Under the new Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone, property owners would allow their land to be used strictly for agriculture for at least five years. In turn, owners would see their property taxes cut by as much as 50 percent under an agriculture lease.

“Give the property owners some incentive to turn it into a community garden, fulfill a need. We hear people asking for them all the time. It’s a win-win," said Councilman Scott Sherman, who introduced the proposal.

Where many see an eyesore, the CEO of Project New Village sees opportunity. Diane Moss supports a plan to turn the city's empty lots into community gardens.

"This property has probably been vacant since the early 90s," said Moss, looking at an empty lot in the Mount Hope neighborhood. "I would love to see this be a community orchard. It’s a wonderful thing, in terms of quality of the food, knowing where your food comes from."

Properties would have to be between one-tenth of an acre and three acres.

The proposal is expected to go before the full City Council for a vote in February. It must also pass a vote from the County Board of Supervisors.