City of LA Shakes Down Community Gardens

The City of Los Angeles Department of Rec and Parks just announced fee increases for community garden plots. The rental of a 10 by 20 space will go from $25 to $120 a year. In the midst of an economic crisis, when the city should doing everything it can to encourage growing food in the city, we get this.

The good news is that, unlike national politics, we can make a difference by getting involved at a local level. I was alerted to this shortsighted fee increase by my friend Stephen Box who is running for city council in district 4. It’s about time that we got rid of the machine politicians that run Los Angeles and who oversee a vast and incompetent bureaucracy. It’s time for a change. If you live in district 4 vote for Stephen Box next March. If you live elsewhere, attend meetings, write letters and run for office.

Read Stephen Box’s editorial on community gardens here.

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  1. Money, Money, Money, It’s always about the bucks. These community gardens can’t justify these price increases due to ordinary inflation. The real reason is the same all over, corruption and irresponsible spending. Targeted cuts must be made during these times, but those would be politically dangerous to those currently elected. These community projects should be encouraged and expanded, not fee increased to death. The real problem with these programs and others like them is that they teach folks to take care of themselves. That is a threat to all politicians.

  2. We are researching whether this effects any of the many gardens we have built in Council District 13 (most are run not by the city but by local folks and community groups), but this action by Rec and Parks needs to change. This would put gardens in the hands of those with money and take away the very food security these gardens provide for our community. This seems like a unilateral move by the department (who has faced very difficult fiscal times), but this would be a terrible step and we will do what we can to stop this from the council side. Eric Garcetti

  3. Outrageous, but sadly not surprising. As the great recession continues (regardless of what the pundits say about that) I expect to see more and more of this type of grabbing at straws by government at every level. They’ll squeeze taxes and fees from anyone they think they can. It would be nice, if the fee increase can’t be defeated, to see more people taking things into their own hands, guerilla gardening, garden sharing, and squat gardening on any usable vacant lots. Actually, those things would be nice to see even if the increase IS defeated. The more people take things literally into their own hands, the better off we’ll be.

  4. I would assume that with this fee increase there might be an incease in unrented plots. How much will it cost to maintain even in a limited sense the unused garden plots?

  5. Great comments! Sounds like the city might be cutting off their nose to spite their face. Food gardening is already expensive enough compared to subsidized grocery store food; why would anyone pay $125 for a plot?

    Community gardens are just finding a niche here in my small city. Most people are just first generation city dwellers with many country relatives who already grow too many veggies and always have a little extra space. If the government charged for a plot in town there might be riots : ) We also have churches, schools and rec centers that basically just carve out and donate a bit of space for plots. (Of course, the entire population of my state is probably less than the greater LA area, so there is a trade off : )

    Good luck in the campaign! Fight the power : )

  6. Most – if not all – of these community gardens have long waiting lists and I bet many of those folks would be willing to pay the $120 fee. (At Ocean View Farms in West L.A., I believe the wait is two years, if not more.) So, the plots will not go unused; instead, they will go to those who can afford to pay … And displace those who can’t, no matter what their income is or how long they’ve been contributing to the garden, the community and the concept of self-sustenance in their own (little, perhaps, but no less important) ways.

  7. This seems like a good argument for why these community garden plots should be owne by private parties or cooperatives, if the city owns them then the city has a monopoly and can charge anything.

  8. One of our local counties (that would be DeKalb County, GA) recently saw fit to prosecute a man who had the nerve to grow too many fruits and veggies in his own yard. How dare he lower the tone of his neighborhood like that? Local governments are not sympathetic to folks who are trying to grow some relief from the economy. Shame on them!

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