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Urban Farming Program Struggles to Sprout

Los Angeles created a tax incentive to promote urban farms on the thousands of vacant lots around the city. So far, the incentive has been given out only four times.
July 31, 2018, 10am PDT | Casey Brazeal | @northandclark
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Agriculture Exhibition

Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones (UAIZ) is an incentive program meant to turn unused lots into urban farms. The idea was to pay property owners to allow their lots to produce food. "The reality has been different: So far, only four lots have received a tax break under the program," Ludwig Hurtado reports for CityLab.

"The UAIZ program allows owners of plots of up to three acres to claim a property-tax reduction if they use or lease the land for agricultural purposes for a minimum of five years," Hurtado explains. Some see this as part of the problem a five- year lease is a long commitment to property owners that may want to take advantage of changing property markets. "Landowners have the option of ending their contract whenever they wish, but state law requires them to pay back the amount they’ve received in tax benefits, unless their municipality determines that the cancellation was “caused by extenuating circumstances despite the good faith effort by the landowner,” as the code states," Hurtado reports.

Others say the city hasn't done enough to promote the program and explain it to those that might wish to participate. Still, time is not up on the program, it's original legislation slated it to phase out in 2019 it has since been extended to 2029. Whether or not it will become popular in the intervening time remains to be seen.

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Published on Tuesday, July 24, 2018 in CityLab
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