Implementing the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zone Act

Project Summary

In response to the prevalence of food deserts - where access to affordable, healthy food is severly limited - the California Legislature implemented the Urban Agricultre Incentive Zones Act (Assembly Bill 551) which gives tax incentives to metropolitan land owners that put land towards agricultural cultivation. The adoption of this bill in Los Angeles propels the city towards its 2025 Sustainable City pLAn goal of a 25 percent increase in agricultural sites and the increased green spaces also improve urban ecosystem health. This research looks at the adoption of the bill in other areas in California to inform the L.A. Food Policy Council about best implementation strategies. The implementation of the bill will increase urban green spaces and aligns ecosystem and human health with economic incentives. The study outlines the major benefits of this bill which encourages landowners to transform unused space into agriculture lots, provides fresh, local produce to areas in-need, pushes the development of new sustainable technoligies and practices, and reduces food waste. In relation to market impacts, the research shows that the bill increases popularity in innovative urban farming techniques which reduces water and soil needs for agricultural production. The research primarily analyzes steps taken by other cities and was used in Los Angeles City Council meetings.  

Research Team

Lindsay Liegler
Environmental Sciences, Life Sciences

Advisor: Matt Petersen
President and CEO of the Los Angeles Cleantech Incubator (LACI), Former Chief Sustainability Officer for the City of Los Angeles

Progress and Results

This research on the Urban Agriculture Incentive Zones Act (UAIZ) helped to bolster the LA Mayor's Office of Sustainability and LA Food Policy Council in their efforts to draft, advocate for, and implement sustainable food policy. After research was conducted over the summer of 2016, the ordinance entered into a year-long adoption process, reaching many milestones along the way. The City Council had its final hearing in June 2017 and the ordinance became effective as of August 6, 2017.

Applications for the program are now open and the potential to expand urban agriculture throughout the city is enormous. The LA Food Policy Council has identified several projects (existing urban farms and community gardens) that have shown interest and would qualify for tax incentives. This program has many environmental, social, and economic benefits to the city of Los Angeles including new green spaces, community engagement, and increased self-sufficiency.

Project Photo showing rows of crops in an urban farm plot


Award Year