Brandi Gabbard, St. Pete Council District 2, has initiated new amendments to the city’s Land Development Regulations to address food insecurity in Pinellas County — the urban agriculture related amendments would allow residents to grow fruits and vegetables on their property, and sell them to the public. This initiative would help areas of the Sunshine City that aren’t within a reasonable distance to a grocery store/farmers market, otherwise known as food deserts.
“5:00pm today will be the 2nd Public Hearing regarding LDR 2020-05 Urban Agriculture Related Amendments!” wrote Gabbard in a Facebook post. “I am proud to have sponsored this LDR change and am very excited for this vote to finally take place. It is time to make real change in food access in our city.”
The bill unanimously passed its second reading on February 11.
Updating community garden guidelines
One major change is opening up community garden guidelines. Currently, it operates on a not-for-profit basis. The amendment would remove that restriction.
The purpose of these text amendments is to expand opportunities for the production and sale of produce in the City by removing regulatory barriers as follows, via the City of St. Pete website:
Community Gardens: eliminate not-for-profit requirement, which eliminates barriers created by the 501-C (3) process, extend date of initial permit expiration and lower fees
Commercial Gardens and Greenhouses: allow as a permitted use in Industrial Traditional (IT) and Industrial Suburban (IS) zoning districts, rather than a Special Exception, which will eliminate the public hearing before the Development Review Commission and create Use Specific standards to address compatibility, screening, noise and odor concerns
Sale of Produce:
– in residential districts, allow on-site sales of produce (including honeybee products) on residential properties with limits on frequency, up to 36 times per calendar year;
– in commercial districts, expand options for selling produce, from vehicles, and on vacant property under the Roadside Vending provisions, and lower associated fees
Landscape maintenance: changes to address staking of plants
Accessory structures: expand allowances to design and setback standards to include gardening structures including Hoop Houses, Cold Frames, Greenhouses, Vertical Vegetable Structures and raised planter beds.