During my first-ever visit to San Francisco last year, I was impressed by how environmentally forward-thinking the region is — particularly compared with the region I live in on the East coast. There are many programs put into place that aren't available where I live that make being sustainable easier.

I thought about that when I read that there's another forward-thinking policy being put into place in San Francisco. As of next week, owners of empty lots will get a property tax break if they allow the spaces to be turned into an urban farm for five years.

According to SF Gate, the policy is part of the state-wide Urban Agricultural Incentives Zones law that "encourages would-be urban farmers to turn trash-covered empty parcels into gardens with the assurance they won't be forced out after putting in a lot of time and money."

In addition to saving property owners money, the new law will benefit the communities where the urban farms are grown. They'll provide food security and access to fresh produce in addition to transforming trash-ridden empty lots into beautiful working farms that can help real estate values in the neighborhood.

You may not think of the wealthy in San Francisco as food insecure, but insecurity is there. And remember, this is a state-wide law. Other cities are watching what happens in San Francisco. Los Angeles County is the most food-insecure county in the country. Turning many of the 8,600 empty lots within the city of Los Angeles into urban farms would go a long way into alleviating that problem.

I love where I live, but I do wish we would have some of the West coast's sustainable initiatives embraced here. In addition to this great urban farming incentive, the entire state of California is set to go one-time-use plastic bag-free if the governor signs a bill into law. I can't usually get the grocery stores in my region to understand that I don't want my foods double-wrapped in plastic bags before they're placed in my reusable bags. But, that's a topic for another post.

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Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.

San Francisco gives lot owners an incentive to create urban farms
The city is offering property tax breaks if lot owners allow their empty spaces to be turned into farms — and the rest of the state is watching.