Code of the District of Columbia

§ 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).