Los Angeles County property owners may have a reason to become urban farmers: a tax break on community gardens. Officials in the area want their residents to have increased access to fresh produce. Just this week the county’s board of supervisors moved “toward implementing a state law that allows local governments to create ‘urban agriculture incentive zones,’ lowering taxes on plots of 3 acres or less if the owners agree to dedicate them to growing food for at least five years,” Los Angeles Times reports.
It has been determined that 56,950 parcels could be used for community gardens throughout Los Angeles County. Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas proposed the program and told Los Angeles Times that it “seeks to provide a carrot—literally and figuratively [and it will] increase the amount of healthy fruits and vegetables grown within urban areas while reducing the number of vacant lots that often become blighted.”
So far the plan has been met with many advocates – a good sign if the plan goes through. The details, such as zone boundaries and possible tax cut caps, are still being worked out. If there is no cap, Los Angeles Times reports that it could lead to up to $13.3 million in property tax income losses if just 10 percent of the properties participate in the program. However, Ridley-Thomas told the newspaper that “anticipated public health, environmental, quality of life and economic benefits for the participants and surrounding communities” would offset the tax revenue loss and that community gardens would increase property values in these neighborhoods.
Do you think the county should move forward with the plan? Should a plan like this be put in place in every community?