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San Francisco Says Grow a Farm, Reap a Tax Break

And food too! 

A farm near City Hall

A farm near City Hall


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Need another reason to grow your own kale? How about a little green from the city? San Francisco was the first municipality in the country to offer tax breaks to urban farmers (Sacramento recently followed suit). Under the new law, which went into effect in September, owners of empty lots ranging from a 10th of an acre to 3 acres who turn their property to agriculture use for five years can have it reassessed as irrigated farmland—slashing their property taxes.

Of course, there’s a catch. “You can’t just sprinkle some sunflower seeds around and call it urban agriculture,” cautions Eli Zigas, food and agriculture policy director for the urban planning and policy group SPUR. City farmers are required to either donate (or sell) their bounty or provide an educational benefit to the community. But if your farm passes muster, you can pocket some serious lettuce: The first applicant to be approved, a local doctor who transformed his Potrero Hill lot into a permaculture community garden, stands to save a big chunk of his $6,000 annual tax bill. 


Originally published in the June issue of San Francisco 

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