Code of the District of Columbia

Subchapter I. General.


§ 48–401. Definitions.

For the purposes of this subchapter, the term:

(1) "Department" means the Department of Energy and Environment".

(2) "Horticultural techniques" means the scientific, artistic, and technological methods used to cultivate and manage an agricultural space, such as growing from the ground, hydroponics, container farming, vertical farming, or growing in greenhouses or raised beds.

(3) "Produce" means any substance produced for human consumption and nourishment using horticultural techniques, such as vegetables, fruits, grains, mushrooms, honey, herbs, nuts, seeds, and rootstock.

(3A) "Substantially free of contamination" means that the levels of arsenic, lead, and heavy metals in the soil fall within the acceptable parts per million range identified in regulations promulgated by the Mayor.

(4) "Urban farm" means any property in the District of Columbia that is used for the growing, cultivating, processing, and distributing of produce for profit, not for profit, or for educational purposes.

(5) "Vacant land" means land located in the District of Columbia that:

(A) Consists of at least 2,500 contiguous square feet of unimproved land; and

(B) Is not the subject of a pending agreement for development or sale.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-210, § 2, 34 DCR 699; Apr. 30, 2015, D.C. Law 20-248, § 101(a), 62 DCR 1504; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-257, § 2(a), 64 DCR 2049; Sept. 11, 2019, D.C. Law 23-16, § 6093, 66 DCR 8621; Apr. 16, 2020, D.C. Law 23-80, § 2(a), 67 DCR 2494.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 33-901.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 10-166.01.

Effect of Amendments

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-248 rewrote this section.

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 6093 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Congressional Review Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-112, Sept. 4, 2019, 66 DCR 11964).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 6093 of Fiscal Year 2020 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-91, July 22, 2019, 66 DCR 8497).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of D.C. Law 20-248, § 302, see § 6183 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-127, July 27, 2015, 62 DCR 10201).


§ 48–402. Urban Farming and Gardens Program established. [Repealed]

Repealed.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-210, § 3, 34 DCR 699; July 27, 2010, D.C. Law 18-209, § 505, 57 DCR 4779; Apr. 30, 2015, D.C. Law 20-248, § 101(b), 62 DCR 1504; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-257, § 2(b), 64 DCR 2049.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 33-902.

Section References

This section is referenced in § 38-825.03.

Effect of Amendments

D.C. Law 18-209, in par. (3)(D), substituted “Office of the State Superintendent of Education” for “Board of Education of the District of Columbia”.

The 2015 amendment by D.C. Law 20-248 rewrote this section.

References in Text

“Section 419 of the District of Columbia Comprehensive Plan Act of 1984,” referred to in the introductory language, is found in § 3 of D.C. Law 5-76.


§ 48–402.01. Urban Farming Land Lease Program.

(a) There is established within the Department the Urban Farming Land Lease Program ("Program"), which shall enable a qualified applicant identified pursuant to subsection (c) of this section to enter into a lease agreement with the District to create and maintain an urban farm on vacant land identified pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

(b)(1) The Department shall, in consultation with the Department of General Services and the Office of Planning and no less frequently than annually, identify vacant land in the inventory of real property assets maintained pursuant to § 10-551.05, that is suitable for use as an urban farm.

(2) Before entering into a lease agreement under this section in which the lessee plans to grow produce in the site soil of the leased property, the Department shall test the site soil to determine whether the soil is substantially free of contamination.

(c) To be eligible for the Program, an applicant shall:

(1) At the time of submission of an application:

(A) Be a resident of the District; or

(B) In the case of an applicant that is not an individual, be organized or incorporated in the District;

(2) Have experience in agricultural production;

(3) Not be precluded from obtaining a license or permit pursuant to § 47-2862; and

(4) Meet any additional criteria the Department establishes pursuant to the rules issued pursuant to subsection (g) of this section.

(d) A lease agreement entered into pursuant to this section shall, at a minimum:

(1) Be for a base period of at least 5 years, and may have an option or options for the Department to renew the lease; provided, that no single option period shall have a duration of greater than 5 years and the total lease term, inclusive of all option periods, shall not exceed 14 years;

(2) Prohibit the sale or consumption of produce grown in the site soil of the leased property if the Department determines that the site soil is not substantially free of contamination;

(3) Permit the sale on or off the leased property of produce grown in the site soil of the leased property if the Department determines that the site soil is substantially free of contamination; and

(4) Permit the sale of produce on or off the leased property of produce grown at the property when the lessee:

(A) Does not plant in or use the site soil, but instead uses, for example, raised beds, greenhouses, or hydroponic towers; and

(B) Ensures that produce does not come into contact with the site soil.

(e) Property leased pursuant to this section shall be exempt from real property taxation and possessory interest taxation.

(f) The Department shall make available to the public on its website information on the Program, including:

(1) The list of available vacant land identified pursuant to subsection (b) of this section;

(2) A list of vacant land currently being leased under the Program; and

(3) Information on how applicants may apply to the Program.

(g) The Mayor, pursuant to subchapter I of Chapter 5 of Title 2, may issue rules to implement the provisions of this section.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-210, § 3a; as added Apr. 30, 2015, D.C. Law 20-248, § 101(c), 62 DCR 1504; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-257, § 2(c), 64 DCR 2049; Apr. 16, 2020, D.C. Law 23-80, § 2(b), 67 DCR 2494; Dec. 3, 2020, D.C. Law 23-149, § 6122(a), 67 DCR 10493.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Urban Farming Land Lease Congressional Review Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-140, Oct. 23, 2019, 66 DCR 14322).

For temporary (90 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Urban Farming Land Lease Emergency Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Act 23-100, July 24, 2019, 66 DCR 9732).

Temporary Legislation

For temporary (225 days) amendment of this section, see § 2 of Urban Farming Land Lease Temporary Amendment Act of 2019 (D.C. Law 23-27, Nov. 26, 2019, 66 DCR 13118).


§ 48–402.02. Limitations on expenditures.

Total real property tax abatements provided for certain urban farms established pursuant to § 47-868 and the tax-exempt status conferred by § 47-1005(c) shall not exceed $150,000 each year.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-210, § 3b; as added Oct. 22, 2015, D.C. Law 21-36, § 6182, 62 DCR 10905; Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-257, § 2(d), 64 DCR 2049; Dec. 3, 2020, D.C. Law 23-149, § 6122(b), 67 DCR 10493.)

Emergency Legislation

For temporary (90 days) addition of this section, see § 6182 of the Fiscal Year 2016 Budget Support Emergency Act of 2015 (D.C. Act 21-127, July 27, 2015, 62 DCR 10201).


§ 48–402.03. Non-liability of the District.

Nothing in this subchapter shall be construed to create governmental liability or a cause of action against the District related to the safety of food produced on land leased from the District pursuant to this section.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-210, § 3c; as added Apr. 7, 2017, D.C. Law 21-257, § 2(e), 64 DCR 2049.)


§ 48–403. Mayor to propose rules; submission to Council; approval.

Within 90 days of February 28, 1987, the Mayor shall develop proposed rules to implement the provisions of this chapter. The proposed rules shall be submitted to the Council of the District of Columbia (“Council”) for a 45-day period of review, excluding Saturdays, Sundays, legal holidays, and days of Council recess. If the Council does not approve or disapprove the proposed rules, in whole or in part, by resolution within this 45-day review period, the proposed rules shall be deemed approved.


(Feb. 28, 1987, D.C. Law 6-210, § 4, 34 DCR 699.)

Prior Codifications

1981 Ed., § 33-903.