January 29, 2018 – SDUT – David Garrick reports – Urban gardens could sprout up across San Diego on more than 2,000 blighted properties under a new property tax incentive the City Council unanimously approved on Monday.
The goals of the program include boosting access to healthy food in low-income areas and encouraging greater civic engagement by bringing residents together to grow and harvest fruits and vegetables on individual plots of land.
“This is a win-win,” said Councilman Scott Sherman of Allied Gardens. “The property owner gets a break in property tax, they provide an asset for the community and everybody benefits. I don’t see how there’s anything not to like about this.”
Councilwoman Georgette Gomez of City Heights said the incentive would also help bolster neighborhoods, especially those in low-income areas where blighted properties are more common and full-service grocery stores are scarce.
“Not only are we talking about knowledge, but we’re also talking about creating place-making that brings the community out and gives them an opportunity to get to know each other,” Gomez said.
Some of the city’s poorest neighborhoods have been designated “food deserts” by the U.S. Department of Agriculture because there’s a dearth of locally grown fresh produce and an abundance of fast food and junk food retailers.
The incentive was also praised by the San Diego Food System Alliance and the Climate Action Campaign, two local nonprofits.
Diane Moss of Project New Village said recent urban gardens established in low-income neighborhoods, including one in the Mount Hope area of southeastern San Diego, show that the program has potential.
“People said it couldn’t be done and we’re growing Japanese kiwi down on Market Street,” Moss said. “We think this will be a real boost to the neighborhood-level food supply chain.”
For information on local community gardens, visit sdcgn.org.
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