News Brief

L.A.'s Urban Farming Ordinances Lack Cohesion

A new guide tries to make sense of city ordinances so more can build chicken coops in Hollywood and grow veggies in Pasadena.

Urban Farming Sites in L.A. County

As part of their assessment, students mapped all the community gardens, nurseries, school gardens, and farms in Los Angeles, revealing denser cities are more likely to have higher concentrations of formal urban agriculture sites.

Source: Cultivate L.A.

Students from the University of California–Los Angeles (UCLA), have mapped the location of more than 1,200 formal urban agriculture sites and deciphered ordinances and regulations from L.A.’s 88 cities, hoping to foster the burgeoning urban agriculture movement in their county. Their assessment—available on the website Cultivate L.A.—is the first tool of its kind, showing whether chickens are allowed in Hollywood or goats in Beverly Hills.

Researchers found 87% of L.A.’s cities regulate animal farming, and only 25% regulate fruits, vegetables, and other flora, but lack of regulation wasn’t the only problem, according to the report: varying terminology or conflicts with zoning regulations often make ordinances hard to interpret. The researchers developed a regulation reference chart summarizing permitted and prohibited uses in each city and recommend that policymakers adopt universal definitions and take a cohesive stance on agricultural policy for further clarity.

The assessment also includes a comprehensive map of the county’s formal urban agriculture sites. School gardens make up the majority of L.A. County’s urban agriculture activity, numbering 761 sites, while community gardens top 100. The inventory has already attracted advocates like the Los Angeles Food Policy Council, which aims to create a more seamless infrastructure and support system for urban agriculture, and the UCLA Cooperative Extension, which hopes to develop more targeted education programs.

“Much of the existing discussion and promotion of urban agriculture has focused on the qualitative benefits and ambitions of the movement,” said Carol Goldstein, a lecturer in urban planning at UCLA. This study offers quantitative data that could guide urban agriculture efforts across the country.


Published November 1, 2013

Pearson, C. (2013, November 1). L.A.'s Urban Farming Ordinances Lack Cohesion. Retrieved from

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