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Friday, April 10 • 9:50am - 10:30am
PS35.0 Urban Agriculture (UA): Innovative Use of Private Property for the Public Good

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Rania Ahmed, University of San Francisco; Alicia Lehmer, University of San Francisco

Cities have turned to urban agriculture (UA) as a means of revitalizing neighborhoods and addressing unmet food needs of urbanites. Farming in the city has gained momentum and has become an impactful force on urban social landscapes, economics and health. However, UA has also sparked debates over the appropriate development of highly valuable private spaces in order to achieve public good. In 2014, the City of San Francisco created a tax incentive to encourage property owners to use undeveloped lands in UA that can provide increased food access to local communities. This tax incentive represents the political prioritization of UA in the City of San Francisco to meet a pressing residential need. Nonetheless, opposition to the tax incentive raises significant questions: What is the role of UA in a global city with a severe housing crisis? What institutional support does incentivizing UA need to address a public demand on extremely scarce urban land? This paper examines these questions through the analysis of qualitative data gathered through interviews with impacted San Francisco residents, nonprofits, and landowners; the analysis of public documents; and a review of the existing literature on the costs and benefits of UA in the United States. Existing literature indicates that UA can help revitalize disinvested neighborhoods and provide supplemental nutrition and food access to low-income residents suffering from food insecurity. In addition to these community benefits, we posit that public policies that incentivize UA benefit urban residents by providing a unique opportunity for cities to reframe the relationship between the public and private spheres in shaping the urban landscape. Findings include policy structures that make UA a favorable land use for public officials, landowners, and residents alike to create new public/private dynamics, promote public good, health, and cultivating social,rather than private, capital within the city.


Rania Ahmed

Ecocity Builders

Friday April 10, 2015 9:50am - 10:30am EDT
Biscayne Ballroom (2nd floor)