D.C. Law 21-257. Urban Farming and Food Security Amendment Act of 2016.

D.C. Law 21-257. Urban Farming and Food Security Amendment Act of 2016.

AN ACT

To amend the Food Production and Urban Gardens Program Act of 1986 to update existing law pertaining to urban farming, to create an urban farming leasing initiative for District-owned land, to specify criteria for applicants to participate in the initiative, to exempt property leased pursuant to the initiative from real property and possessory interest taxation, and to create a reporting requirement; to amend Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code to abate 90% of the tax on private land used as an urban farm and to repeal tax credits for donations of certain food commodities grown in the District.

BE IT ENACTED BY THE COUNCIL OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, That this act may be cited as the "Urban Farming and Food Security Amendment Act of 2016".

Sec. 2. The Food Production and Urban Gardens Program Act of 1986, effective February 28, 1987 (D.C. Law 6-210; D.C. Official Code § 48-401 et seq.), is amended as follows:

Amend § 48-401

(a) Section 2 (D.C. Official Code § 48-401) is amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 2. Definitions.

"For the purposes of this act, the term:

"(1) "Department" means the Department of General Services.

"(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.

"(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.".

Repeal § 48-402

(b) Section 3 (D.C. Official Code § 48-402) is repealed.

Amend § 48-402.01

(c) Section 3a (D.C. Official Code § 48-402.01) is amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 3a. 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 Department to create and maintain an urban farm on vacant land identified pursuant to subsection (b) of this section.

"(b) The Department shall, in consultation with the Office of Planning and no less frequently than annually, identify vacant land in the inventory of real property assets maintained pursuant to section 1026 of the Department of General Services Establishment Act of 2011, effective September 14, 2011 (D.C. Law 19-21; D.C. Official Code § 10-551.05), that is suitable for use as an urban farm.

"(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 D.C. Official Code § 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 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 on the leased property until the lessee provides the Department with proof that the soil has been tested for, and found to be substantially free of, contamination from arsenic, lead, and heavy metals; and

"(3) Permit the sale of produce on or off the leased property after the lessee provides the Department with proof that the soil has been tested for, and found to be substantially free of, contamination from arsenic, lead, and heavy metals.

"(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 Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), may issue rules to implement the provisions of this section.".

Amend § 48-402.02

(d) Section 3b (D.C. Official Code § 48-402.02) is amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 3b. Limitations on expenditures.

"No more than $400,000 in Fiscal Year 2016 and $350,000 in each fiscal year thereafter shall be used by the Mayor to implement the Urban Farming Land Lease Program established pursuant to section 3a and to administer the real property tax abatement for certain urban farms established pursuant to D.C. Official Code § 47-868, and the tax-exempt status conferred by D.C. Official Code § 47-1005(c).".

New § 48-402.03

(e) A new section 3c is added to read as follows:

"Sec. 3c. Non-liability of the District.

"Nothing in this act 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 section 3a.".

Sec. 3. Title 47 of the District of Columbia Official Code is amended as follows:

Amend § 47-868

(a) Chapter 8 is amended as follows:

(1) The table of contents is amended by striking the section designation "47-868. Reduced tax liability for agricultural uses." and inserting the section designation "47-868. Reduced tax liability for certain urban farms." in its place.

(2) Section 47-868 is amended to read as follows:

"Sec. 47-868. Reduced tax liability for certain urban farms.

"(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, if real property is used as an urban farm, then 90% of the real property tax otherwise levied pursuant to § 47-811 on the portion of the real property exclusively in use as an urban farm shall be abated for each real property tax year that such portion of the real property is used as an urban farm; provided, that if an urban farm is located in an improvement to real property, the abatement shall be applied only to the real property tax otherwise levied pursuant to § 47-811 on the portion of the improvement in use as an urban farm.

"(b)(1) An abatement permitted under this section shall not exceed the tax liability for the entire parcel of real property on which the urban farm is located, taking into account any other applicable abatements, exemptions, or reductions.

"(2) If real property is put to use as an urban farm at some time other than at the beginning of the tax year, the 90% tax abatement provided for in subsection (a) of this section shall be pro-rated according to the portion of the real-property tax year that the real property is in use as an urban farm, notwithstanding any other provision of this section.

"(3) No abatement under this section shall exceed $20,000 per parcel of real property, per tax year.

"(4) No abatement shall be permitted for an abutting parcel of real property with common or related ownership that is not in use as an urban farm.

"(5) If the amount of tax to be abated for any half tax year for all properties certified under subsection (f)(1) of this section exceeds the total amount of funds available as certified under subsection (f)(2) of this section, the available funds shall be allocated pro rata among all properties certified under subsection (f)(1) of this section.

"(c) The abatement described in subsection (a) of this section may be apportioned semiannually.

"(d)(1) To be eligible to apply for an abatement under this section, an applicant shall, before the property is put to use as an urban farm, submit a proposed annual planting plan to the Department of General Services ("Department") for approval. The annual planting plan may include season-appropriate uses of an urban farm, such as providing cover crops, a bee hive, or growing seedlings in a greenhouse.

"(2) After an applicant submits a proposed annual planting plan, the Department shall have 30 calendar days during which to object to the proposed annual planting plan and request modifications to the annual planting plan. If no objection is made within 30 calendar days of submission, the annual planting plan shall be considered approved.

"(3) Once approved, the applicant shall retain the annual planting plan for at least 3 years and shall provide the annual planting plan in the event of an audit.

"(e)(1) A real property owner requesting a tax abatement under this section shall apply for and provide documentation supporting the tax abatement claim in the form and manner prescribed by the Department pursuant to rules established under subsection (h) of this section.

"(2) A real property owner receiving a tax abatement under this section shall make such reports concerning the use of property as may be prescribed by the Department pursuant to rules established under subsection (h) of this section.

"(3) A property owner denied an abatement under this section shall have the appeal rights provided by § 47-1009.

"(f)(1) The Department shall certify semiannually to the Office of Tax and Revenue ("OTR"), in a form and medium prescribed by OTR, each property or portion thereof eligible to receive a real property tax abatement pursuant to this section, as well as the period of time for which the property is eligible for a tax abatement under this section.

"(2) The certification required by paragraph (1) of this subsection shall be accompanied by a statement from the Department specifying the amount of funds available under section 3b of the Food Production and Urban Gardens Program Act of 1986, effective October 22, 2015 (D.C. Law 21-36; D.C. Official Code § 48-402.02), for real property tax abatements for the properties identified pursuant to paragraph (1) of this subsection.

"(3) Before certifying that a property is eligible for a real property tax abatement pursuant to this section, the Department shall ensure, at a minimum, that:

"(A) The soil on the real property has been tested and found to be substantially free from arsenic, lead, and heavy metals and safe for use in the growth of produce fit for human consumption; and

"(B) The real property was in use as an urban farm continuously throughout the abatement period pursuant to an approved annual planting plan.

"(g) For the purposes of this section, the terms "urban farm" and "produce" shall have the same meaning as provided in section 2 of the Food Production and Urban Gardens Program Act of 1986, effective February 28, 1987 (D.C. Law 6-210; D.C. Official Code § 48-401).

"(h) The Mayor, pursuant to Title I of the District of Columbia Administrative Procedure Act, approved October 21, 1968 (82 Stat. 1204; D.C. Official Code § 2-501 et seq.), may issue rules to implement the provisions of this section.".

(b) Chapter 18 is amended as follows:

(1) The table of contents is amended as follows:

(A) Strike the section designation "47-1806.14. Tax on residents and nonresidents – Credits – Tax credits for farm to food donations." and insert the section designation "47-1806.14. Tax on residents and nonresidents – Credits – Tax credits for farm to food donations. [Repealed]." in its place.

(B) Strike the section designation "47-1807.12. Tax on corporations and financial institutions – Credits – Tax credit for farm to food donations." and insert the section designation "47-1807.12. Tax on corporations and financial institutions – Credits – Tax credit for farm to food donations. [Repealed]." in its place.

(C) Strike the section designation "47-1808.12. Tax on unincorporated businesses – Credits – Tax credit for farm to food donations." and insert the section designation "47-1808.12. Tax on unincorporated businesses – Credits – Tax credit for farm to food donations. [Repealed]." in its place.

Repeal § 47-1806.14

(2) Section 47-1806.14 is repealed.

Repeal § 47-1807.12

(3) Section 47-1807.12 is repealed.

Repeal § 47-1808.12

(4) Section 47-1808.12 is repealed.

Sec. 4. Fiscal impact statement.

The Council adopts the fiscal impact statement in the committee report as the fiscal impact statement required by section 4a of the General Legislative Procedures Act of 1975, approved October 16, 2006 (120 Stat. 2038; D.C. Official Code § 1-301.47a).

Sec. 5. Effective date.

This act shall take effect following approval by the Mayor (or in the event of veto by the Mayor, action by the Council to override the veto), a 30-day period of congressional review as provided in section 602(c)(1) of the District of Columbia Home Rule Act, approved December 24, 1973 (87 Stat. 813; D.C. Official Code § 1-206.02(c)(1)), and publication in the District of Columbia Register.