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Council News Release


FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:   
5/12/2009  3:29:00 PM
FOR MORE INFORMATION CONTACT:
Rob Gala, Conlin Office, (206) 684-8805 Dana Robinson Slote, (206) 615-0061

Councilmember Richard Conlin

CITY DROPS FEES FOR FOOD GARDENING IN PLANTING STRIPS
Department of Transportation moves to help reduce costs and encourage food gardens

SEATTLE In another victory for the Local Food Action Initiative, City Council President and Environment, Emergency Management and Utilities Committee Chair, Richard Conlin, has convinced SDOT and Mayor Nickels to drop fees for food gardens grown in planting strips.

In previous years, many residents had been told that growing food in planting strips was not allowed. In reality, such gardens were permissible within SDOT safety guidelines, but discouraged by the department. In 2008, Conlin requested that SDOT clarify and communicate those guidelines to the public and shift to encourage planting strip gardens. The new modified rules are the result of that request.

The changes are one of many steps that Council, through the Local Food Initiative, is taking to encourage Seattle residents to plant vegetables and other edible foods. Council President Conlin said, The new rules will make it easier for people to grow their own food in Seattle. Gardening in front yards and planting strips is a great way to build community. Im pleased that SDOT was able to meet our objective of increasing local food production in a way that does not compromise transportation safety.

In response to requests by the Council and community, SDOT and the Mayor had proposed rule changes that would require fees and permits for food gardens. However, Conlin, author of the Local Food Action Initiative, consistently advocated for fees to be dropped in order to reduce costs for those seeking to grow their own food. Council also requested that SDOT educate citizens about these modified rules to encourage food gardening.

Today, SDOT delivered its report to Council on these changes, which will make it easier to Seattle residents to participate in food gardening. The changes include:

  • Allowing food gardening activities that meet set-back and height requirements;
  • Eliminating the need for most food gardeners to obtain Street Use permits;
  • Providing free Street Use permits for tree planting and hardscape installations.

Planting strip height requirements include maintaining plantings so that they do not exceed two feet in height within 30 feet of intersections. For driveways, plants within ten feet of driveways shall be clear of sight obstructions between 32 and 82 inches high from the ground. In addition, plants should be set back three feet from curbs, one foot from the edge of the sidewalk, and five feet from utility poles or fire hydrants. More information on height and set-back requirements is available in the Seattle Right-of-Way Improvements Manual .

Planting strip height requirements include maintaining plantings so that they do not exceed two feet in height within 30 feet of intersections. For driveways, plants within ten feet of driveways shall be clear of sight obstructions between 32 and 82 inches high from the ground. In addition, plants should be set back three feet from curbs, one foot from the edge of the sidewalk, and five feet from utility poles or fire hydrants. More information on height and set-back requirements is available in the Seattle Right-of-Way Improvements Manual .

Conlins Local Food Action Initiative is currently working with several community organizations to secure federal money for a variety of projects focused on providing healthy food to low-income residents through gardening, education, and outreach to neighborhood corner stores. The Initiative also includes a request to the Department of Neighborhoods to make recommendations on what publicly-held lands can be converted for the use of local food production.

Council meetings are cablecast live on Seattle Channel 21 and Webcast live on the City Councils website at www.seattle.gov/council. Copies of legislation, archives of previous meetings, and news releases are available on www.seattle.gov/council. Questions about Council news releases can be directed to Kimberly Reason, Council Communications, at 206-684-8159, or by e-mail at kimberly.reason@seattle.gov.

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