Second Ward, Minneapolis

This is the public policy forum of Minneapolis Second Ward (Green) City Council Member Cam Gordon and his staff. We use this space to talk about some of what Cam’s working on, explain his positions, and share a little of what life in City Hall is like. Please feel free to comment on posts, within certain ground rules. See our disclaimer, including ground rules, here: http://secondward.blogspot.com/2006/05/disclaimer.html#links

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Urban Ag in the Press

The Urban Agriculture Text Amendments that come to the Zoning and Planning committee tomorrow are getting a lot of press this week. John Tevlin from the Star Tribune has an article out, as does MinnPost. These join an earlier editorial from the MN Daily in favor of the amendments and article in the Daily Planet (reposted from the Daily).

It's great to see this attention to the issue. For one thing, it helps rebut one of the arguments being made by opponents of the text amendments: that "regular people" just haven't heard about them. It also helps get some of the specific proposals to weaken the amendments out on the table.

I wanted to clarify a few points. I'm quoted twice in the Tevlin piece. The first of those quotes refers to the "doomsday scenarios" being peddled by some urban agriculture opponents. I used that phrase to refer to a specific fear: that if the Council allows market gardens in low-density residential areas, they might take up whole city blocks.

That's just not at all likely to happen. Market gardeners will have to rent or buy pieces of land like anyone else, and the fear that such a low-margin economic activity will crowd out other uses (like single family homes) is just not reasonable. Remember, we're not talking about giving or leasing these folks City-owned land. We're talking about allowing them to rent from private property owners to engage in a job-producing economic activity.

I'm also quoted referring to a study that indicates that the concern about displacement of other uses is unfounded. That study is the Land Capacity Analysis which was completed as part of the Urban Agriculture Policy Plan that the Council unanimously adopted last year. Its key finding is that we have more than enough vacant land to accommodate the expected growth over the next 20 years. From the Executive Summary of the Analysis (emphasis added):
During the next 20 years, forecasts for the City and current land supply data
suggest that city will have more than enough developable land to accommodate growth (Exhibit S-1). Demand for new space would be expected to require between 316 and 568 acres of land, depending on how densely developers build, in terms of housing units per acre, or building square feet per acre of land. Vacant land (779 acres), excess land on developed lots (or infill land, 287 acres) and land that ranks high for redevelopment (includes demolitions or expansions, 163
acres) total 1,229 acres, resulting in surplus land through 2030 of 661 to 914
acres.
Six hundred and sixty-one acres is more than twenty-eight million square feet. If the average market garden is 10,000 square feet, that's about three thousand of them.

We're at no risk of becoming Detroit, but there is land available in Minneapolis for market gardening. The choice for the Council to make about this land is not between a market garden and a single family home, but between a market garden and a vacant lot. From my perspective - and the perspective of growers, would-be growers, and the people we hear from in Ward 2 - market gardens are preferable to vacant lots.

1 Comments:

At 7:53 AM, Anonymous Jeff said...

I could say that it would be very It is used that phrase to refer to a specific fear: that if the Council allows market gardens in low-density residential areas, they might take up whole city blocks. Market gardeners will have to rent or buy pieces of land like anyone else, and the fear that such a low-margin economic activity will crowd out other uses. Thanks a lot for posting.

 

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