Two goats wait outside of the center during the meeting.
"Urban farmers should pay a nominal yearly fee, perhaps $100 per participating farm, to fund animal husbandry inspections."
This was one of the many ideas submitted at Thursday night’s city of Oakland urban farming community meeting.
Despite an agenda covering contentious topics, the roughly 300 attendees walked throughout the North Oakland Senior Center and evenly voiced their concerns with current urban farming regulations, intermittently stopping at one of the five tables set-up to capture the issues that the city should consider in its new urban agricultural policy.
"In my 20 years of zoning work, this is the biggest meeting I've seen," Eric Angstad, Community and Economic Development Agency Deputy Director, said. "Urban agriculture is an issue people feel strongly about and in this case, we have a major conflict that is bringing even more people out."
Email, blog and listserv outreach for this event was carried out by both the agency - CEDA - staff and urban agriculture allies with appeals sent out right up to the event via Facebook.
Claudia Huttner attended the event to support her neighbors Jeannie McKenzie and Frankie Morrow of Pineheaven Farm. Huttner noted that through the farm, her daughter learned how to make goat cheese and utilized the experience in school by focusing her Capstone science project on milk enzymes.
Novella Carpenter also attended, as did many other Oakland homesteading notables.
"This is a debate about how we access food and the right of diverse communities to produce affordable, wholesome food," said Esperanza Pallana of East Bay Urban Agriculture Alliance. These words were echoed by many throughout the room.
What's next for the process?
The city will review the public comments from this meeting and will present a proposal to the current municipal and zoning codes. This proposal will be presented to the public for comment in October according to CEDA's current estimates. From there, the proposal will move to a formal public hearing process including going to the zoning update committee and general planning committee before going to the City Council. At the earliest, the new proposal will be reviewed by Council in December.
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