Wednesday, March 30, 2011

City of Oakland Shuts Down Novella Carpenter's Urban Farmstand

By Ellen Cushing
Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 12:45 PM

The war on fun strikes again! The victim this time: None other than mild-mannered urban farmer notorious hoodlum Novella Carpenter and her insurgent backyard chard operation, long known for threatening the lives and livelihoods of Oakland's upstanding citizens with reckless abandon and utter disregard for the rule of law. According to our BFFAEs at SFist, the Oakland-based author, activist, and foodie (and former winner of EBX's prestigious "best hippie" award) has been slapped with non-compliance — and a hefty fine — for violating a city code she didn't even know existed. Here's the deal, via Carpenter's blog:

After getting off the plane from Salt Lake City and making my way home to a cup of tea, I sit down at my kitchen table and I see this guy in a City of Oakland car taking photos of my garden. I go down and he said I’m out of compliance for “agricultural activities”. I’m supposed to get a Conditional Use Permit for growing chard. The annual fee: $2500.

baby chicks = every miscreants secret weapon
  • baby chicks = every miscreant's secret weapon
Last year, when I bought my lot, I went to the planning department to find out what I needed to get a business license and all that stuff. The very nice planning person told me that by the spring, the City of Oakland would be changing the laws about urban agriculture in the city, so I should just wait. Guess that hasn’t happened.

The photo taking city guy said they are going to use me as an example, and that I’ll get fined around $5000 for non-compliance. All of this was triggered by one person, who complained to the animal control, who then passed it on to the city, who is now making my life hell. I said to the guy-one person caused this, that’s not fair. “Life’s not fair,” he replied. What about City Slicker Farms? Or People’s Grocery? I asked, two urban farming non-profits in Oakland. No one has complained about them. And they say one person can’t make a difference!

Carpenter has, wisely, canceled her pop-up farmstand until further notice :-(

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