Contra Costa Times - Community farms get boost from planning panel

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Thursday, October 30, 2014 6:56 PM

"The adoption of the proposal will be a huge step forward in ensuring the availability of wholesome and nutritious food throughout our community regardless of socio-economic status."
This quote is from a public appearance at the Oakland Planning Commission meeting on Sept. 17th. I didn't even know there was a reporter in the audience. 

Privately, the night was all about Esperanza's shoes!  Nice, eh???

Cliff Note Clarification - Urban Agricultural Proposal goes to City Council November 5th.

Posted by Kitty Sharkey , Monday, October 27, 2014 6:52 AM

If you live in Oakland and believe it is your right to grow your own food, then please plan on attending the Oakland City Council meeting on November 5th, 2014.  We need your support!

There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around about the proposed changes to the Urban Agriculture regulations.  So I'm going to attempt to summarize what these changes mean for those of us who are interested in growing our own food.  The proposed changes ARE about removing the Conditional Use Permit requirements.  They are NOT about changing the laws concerning livestock. I hope the summary below helps to clarify the proposed changes and dispel some of the rumors and misinformation going around.

It is important to focus on what the proposed changes ARE, and not to get tangled up in debates over topics that ARE NOT part of the proposed revisions!!!


  • NOTE:  Your own backyard IS NOT considered a community garden!  See separate section below.
  • Community gardens are intended for growing food for your own personal consumption and/or donation (i.e. NOT a business).
  • The definition would change from "more than 1 person" to "1 or more persons". 
  • There is language prohibiting the use of large mechanized farm equipment.
  • LIMITED SEASONAL SALES would be permitted up to four times per calendar year.
  • Under the CURRENT REGULATIONS a C.U.P is required for ALL Community Gardens.
  • The BIG CHANGE - Under the PROPOSED REGULATIONS,  Community Gardens would be permitted BY RIGHT throughout most of the city WITHOUT A CONDITIONAL USE PERMIT.  The exceptions are in heavily industrialized zones and public parks.  
  • Growing plant based crops and having up to three bee hives would be permitted WITHOUT a C.U.P.
  • Any livestock in a NEW community garden (chickens, more bee hives, etc) WOULD REQUIRE a C.U.P.  
  • Please note that this regulation concerning livestock IS NOT A CHANGE in the policy as the current regulations require a C.U.P for ALL Community Gardens regardless of whether or not livestock is involved.
  • These rules would apply to NEW community gardens
  • Existing community gardens are grandfathered in AS IS.  Note that livestock is permitted because a C.U.P is already in place.


  • This is the designation used for gardens that are a business (i.e. SALES) 
  • Plant based crops are permitted.
  • Livestock IS NOT permitted.
  • A Conditional Use Permit is NOT REQUIRED FOR MOST AREAS in the city.

  • This is the designation used for gardens that are a business (i.e. SALES) 
  • Plant based crops AND LIVESTOCK are permitted.
  • A Conditional Use Permit is REQUIRED.
  • Changes to the language to include small scale bee keeping of up to three hives for the purposes of honey collection, pollination, and raising bees for sale.
  • There are NO CHANGES to any regulations regarding growing/raising food for your own personal consumption at a privately owned residence. 
  • Existing regulations regarding the raising of livestock on your own property and for your own personal consumption ARE NOT CHANGING!
  • Details of the existing Oakland Municipal Code in regards to livestock can be found IN THIS POST from way back when this whole process started.
  • The Oakland Planning Department has INFORMALLY INTERPRETED the current Municipal Code as prohibiting the slaughter of livestock unless it is performed in a licensed facility.  This is still a point of debate for some residents BOTH FOR AND AGAINST the processing of meat for personal consumption on private property.
  • The proposed changes DO NOT ADDRESS THIS CONTROVERSY!
  • If in doubt, there are USDA Custom Exempt processing facilities available relatively locally that are licensed to process meat for personal consumption.  You can search the online database HERE for locations.  Enter CDFA as the inspection agency.
  • Note that the SALE of meat or dairy products is strictly regulated by State and Federal law unless it is processed / produced in a USDA licensed and inspected facility.
  • For additional information concerning livestock slaughter and meat processing requirements in California, check out the user friendly chart at THIS LINK.
  • Once again for emphasis - There are NO CHANGES to any regulations regarding growing/raising food for your own personal consumption at your own private residence.