LA May Soon Allow Residential Farmers Markets

Residents may soon be able to grow and sell goods from their homes

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The City Planning Commission on Thursday passed an ordinance that allows farmers markets in residential zones citywide and simplifies approval of farmers markets in agricultural, commercial, manufacturing and parking zones.

Now, the ordinance moves "to the PLUM (Planning and Land Use Management) committee and full council" before it is put into effect," said Thomas Rothmann, City Planner for the City of Los Angeles.

Farmers markets are currently banned in residential neighborhoods. However, this proposal does not mean that anyone can hold a pop-up fruit stand in his or her front yard.

In order to be granted permission to host a farmers market, residents must meet certain criteria to ensure their stands are up to par with regulation and also preserve neighborhood character.

Homeowners who seek to sell food from their homes must attend a public hearing and undergo an evaluation of performance standards before they obtain city approval.

The standards that must be met include following the ordinance’s prescribed hours of operation, light, trash, signage, noise, maintenance, deposit and parking regulations.

Concerns have been raised as to whether or not these markets will commercialize residential zones.

"We changed the ordinance based on concerns expressed," said Rothmann. "One concern was, right now, we allow farmers markets, through a permit, in the parking lot of churches and schools only in residential zones. We made sure it was just as easy as it’s always been for them to set up there."

Tara Kolla of Silver Lake Farms said that the new ordinance enables an urban famers market feel in residential neighborhoods that will attract foot traffic, not road blockage.

"What this is doing is helping artisanal growers and homesteaders to share with their neighbors and people in the community whatever excess harvest goes to waste," said Kolla. "People aren’t going to drive to it. They’re going to walk or cycle to it."

Kolla thinks this ordinance provides an opportunity for small business owners.

"Sometimes it’s difficult to get onto the larger farmers markets, and this is a great launching pad for someone that wants to go into the pickling, preserving or jam making business," Kolla said.

This ordinance is the second of its kind to provide urban farmers a place to grow and sell their goods. The first was passed last May that allowed Los Angeles residents to grow crops on their property and sell them off-site within city limits.

"Truck gardening will play an interesting part in this," said Rothmann. "These two ordinances can work together to help the food crisis in some of our neighborhoods."

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