Portland to update code for urban food endeavors
By Christina Williams
Editor, Sustainable Business Oregon
Portland officials are seeking input on zoning code updates to support urban agriculture.
Portland's Bureau of Planning and Sustainability released a report Thursday laying out concerns about city zoning codes that apply to urban food production and trade — from backyard chickens to neighborhood farmers markets.
The city's hunger for all things local has lead to a proliferation of farmers markets, market gardens and chicken coops across the city.
"It's an effort to look at the code and update it to reflect the kinds of activities we see happening in Portland," said Steve Cohen, manager of food policy and programs for BPS.
Cohen said that farmers' markets, for example, are taking place on a temporary basis and often require land use reviews before they can be permitted.
"We want to look at this situation and determine if we can make sure they have more of a stable site for the future," Cohen said.
The report also discusses concepts for updating code related to:
- Market gardens — which raise produce for sale — and community gardens.
- Food membership distribution locations — for both community supported agriculture arrangements and bulk food-buying clubs.
- Keeping animals and bees in residential areas, which is limited under current city code.
The city is working on the zoning overhaul in partnership with other regional organizations. Its goals are aligned with Multnomah County, which launched a regional Food Action Plan in January. Both efforts look to improve access to healthy food.
The report is available for download from the BPS website. The department is holding public sessions to discuss potential zoning code changes. Cohen said he expects all changes to be made by next spring.
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