Toward a Food Policy "First Step" in Oakland, California: A Food Policy Council's Efforts To Promote Urban Agriculture Zoning

Nathan McClintock, Heather Wooten, Alethea Harper Brown


Urban agriculture (UA) is cropping up in backyards, vacant lots, rooftops, and city parks across North America. Despite popular interest, zoning often serves as an obstacle to UA's expansion. In this reflective case study, we document the efforts of the Oakland Food Policy Council (OFPC) to develop recommendations for urban agriculture zoning in Oakland, California, as a means of fostering UA's expansion. First, we focus on the role of zoning in urban agriculture planning, draw¬ing on best practices from around the country. Then we provide an overview of Oakland's food system and place the OFPC within the context of local food justice initiatives. Next, we outline the process by which the council prioritized food system goals before focusing more specifically on its efforts to create new zoning definitions and operating standards for UA, including both successes and obstacles to gaining the attention of city officials and moving the policy agenda forward. We conclude by reviewing the OFPC's lessons learned.


Urban Agriculture; Food Policy Councils; Food Systems Planning; Land Use Planning; Zoning

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