A proposed ordinance in Encinitas may pave the way for the city to return to its agricultural roots by setting up a new type of permit that would allow recipients to have even larger farms and gardens, sell from larger stands and host twice as many so-called “agri-connect” events per year. File photo
A proposed ordinance in Encinitas may pave the way for the city to return to its agricultural roots by setting up a new type of permit that would allow recipients to have even larger farms and gardens, sell from larger stands and host twice as many so-called “agri-connect” events per year. File photo
Community Community Encinitas News

With ordinance, city could return to ag roots

ENCINITAS — A proposed ordinance in Encinitas would pave the way for the city to return to its agricultural roots — and also likely set up a debate over whether farming and suburbia can coexist.

The City Council recently approved the framework for an urban agricultural ordinance that would, among other things, grant homeowners the right to have a garden less than an acre in size or a farm on land between one to five acres, sell the wares of said farm for 12 hours a week and conduct six agricultural related events a year with 25 or fewer people in attendance.

The proposal would also set up a new type of permit that would allow recipients to have even larger farms and gardens, sell from larger stands and host twice as many so-called “agri-connect” events per year.

Proponents of the ordinance believe that the rules would bring the city more in line with the spirit of its land-use documents, which acknowledge the city’s agricultural heritage and discuss accommodating such uses.

They also point to the revival of agriculture across the country in many cities, which prompted a number of cities to revamp their existing rules governing agriculture use.

One such city was San Diego, where city officials in recent years adopted a new ordinance that granted homeowners the right to farm on their properties or on vacant land.

Not everyone, however, supports the concept.

Nancy Whitfield lives on Park Lane, next to Coral Tree Farms, where neighbors and the farm operator clashed this year over whether the farm was permitted to exist there.

Whitfield says the new rules would open up a Pandora’s Box that would infringe upon the rights of neighbors who moved to the area because of its suburban feel.

“The impact on the existing residential community is devastating,” Whitfield said. “We used to be a nice little ag community, but we chose to make money for the city and keep it financially afloat by building homes.”

Whitfield said the unintended consequences of such an ordinance could be wholesale businesses popping up in residential neighborhoods.

“You are not talking about agriculture…you are speaking about business in a residential zone,” she said.

Several of Whitfield’s neighbors echoed her sentiments, telling the City Council that the ordinance sounds good on paper — until a farm opens up next door to you.

 

“I suggest you let a farm be present on your street before you vote on something like this,” Brian Crouch said.

Members of the City Council, during their deliberations on the new rules, said they were cognizant of the precarious balancing act between urban farming and residential living.

Two of the council members — Kristin Gaspar and Mark Muir — suggested the city host several workshops and postpone the vote on the framework until the council heard from a larger cross-section of residents.

The city had held several public meetings of a two-council member subcommittee that crafted the framework. The meetings attracted a number of stakeholders and supporters of urban agriculture, but didn’t have many neutral residents.

Teresa Barth and Lisa Shaffer, who served on the subcommittee, believed prolonging the public input process was a tactic to kill the ordinance.

Both sides, however, ultimately came to a compromise in which the city would develop a draft ordinance that it would then release at a public workshop to give the public opportunity to weigh in on the details of the rules prior to a public vote.

1 comment

Alex Fidel October 29, 2014 at 11:48 pm

The city acts like our masters, dishing out bits of our freedoms. The People are the masters over the government, not the other way around. Our freedoms are inalienable. As long as you don’t harm someone or their property or the environment, you have the freedom to do what you want. ‘Doesn’t making nature illegal seem unnatural to you?’ said Bill Hicks.

While I support Coral Tree, that was an instance of political connections getting special favors that the general public isn’t afforded. You should be able to plant a seed, as long as it is non-GMO, without permits.

The council is made up of pseudo-environmentalists, who only stand for the planet superficially when it will get them political points. GMOs and pesticides are killing off the bees. If the bees die, we die, enough political games with our ecosystem. We must ban GMO seeds. The council is proposing banning pesticides off city property only – playing games with our lives for political points. We should ban pesticides in the whole town, including sale of Monsanto’s RoundUp.

Allow industrial hemp for green jobs. Research the endless capabilities that industrial hemp creates, and the multi-layered job market that will result from it’s growing, harvesting, processing, turning into product, selling/marketing the product, and retail/end user sale of the product.

We as a People must stand for farm freedom and against Monsanto. Make it easier to form organic food co-ops. Ban fracking – billions of gallons of toxic wastewater went in our groundwater supply. Hold polluting corporations accountable.

Why are no councilmembers against Monsanto? Martin Luther King said, silence is betrayal. Consider yourselves betrayed.”

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