In May, the city council endorsed the objectives of the “Food and Economic Development in Davis” report created by the FED advocacy group and steering committee.
FED developed five priority actions: Establish Davis as a Sustainable Food Testing Lab, Leading in Climate-Smart Food Practices, Ensure Access to a Healthy Diet for All, Make the City of Davis a Leading Center for Food Entrepreneurship, Support the City of Davis in Becoming a Leader in FoodTech and AgTech, and Establish a Cohesive Food Brand and Narrative.
Staff notes that in reviewing the report, some of the specific recommendations relate to priorities already developed and underway in the city while others seem better suited for working with other agencies or the business community.
Among the major recommendations are making the city a leading center for food entrepreneurship.
They note there are opportunities for Davis to lead in this areas, but “without food incubator spaces, kitchens, a supportive food business environment, food entrepreneurs are electing to go to nearby cities or in some cases to the Bay Area to start their businesses rather than remaining in Davis.”
They argue that “the City of Davis has a tremendous opportunity with the Davis Farmers Market, Nugget Markets, and the Davis Food Co-op to build a supportive culture and to highlight these entrepreneurs through outreach, demo-ing, inclusion, and physical shelf, table or booth space that will encourage those entrepreneurs to come to and stay in our City.”
Another major goal is to support Davis becoming a leader in FoodTech and AgTech.
They note: “The City of Davis has a tremendous asset and partner in UC Davis to create a jobs pipeline and economic growth for the City via the innovative, sustainable food and agriculture sectors.”
They write: “A focus on food and agriculture for the City of Davis’ continued economic development builds on these and other existing strengths.”
“With UC Davis expertise right here, Davis is the place for food entrepreneurs to create value-added products to help sustain innovative farmers,” said Andrew Waterhouse from Robert Mondavi Institute.
Among those recommendations already underway include the food surplus and waste disposal program.
Staff writes, “A priority action item identified in the FED report for 2020 is to enact a Food Waste Ordinance. The FED group has requested implementation of sustainable waste regulations addressing food waste and surplus food disposal and offered to assist with research on reusable food container options and educational outreach.”
As part of the Climate Action and Adaptation Plan (CAAP) Update that is anticipated to get underway in 2020, “food waste and disposal implementation and action measures will be further discussed as part of that effort.”
Another program underway is exploring investment and zoning for a food and agricultural innovation center. Here the efforts underway to develop the Aggie Research Campus fall in line with the desire to “explore the development of a food & agriculture innovation center in partnership with UCD, investors, and industry partners aligns with existing City and Regional economic development goals and priorities.”
Third, establishing a cohesive food brand and narrative by incorporated “recognition of Davis as a food innovation hub as component of community branding programs and initiatives has been addressed during the preparation of the strategic communications plan, where agriculture, life science industries (including AgTech and FoodTech), among other business focus areas are included as a key theme.”
Staff notes that they are working with KP Public Affairs and the Honey Agency “on branding efforts and will be using the recommendations of the consultants to continue to develop this messaging.”
Among immediate actions that are underway are sidewalk vending regulations that would allow the city to create an ordinance and permit process for sidewalk vending carts. They would also look into food truck regulations “to expand opportunities for food trucks to operate in Davis.”
The city is also exploring urban farming on greenbelts.
Writes staff, “One concept coming out of the FED report is to allow urban farming on City greenbelts. Staff has considered developing a pilot program that would allow for residents that abut greenbelt property to obtain a revocable encroachment permit for greenbelt beautification enhancements and/or gardening for a portion of the greenbelt that directly abuts their property.”
Staff is also looking to allow for residents that abut greenbelts “to seek an encroachment permit for gardening and beautification efforts.”
There is no additional action recommended on additional efforts that include the allocation of staff time and funds to provide support for food entrepreneurs, food businesses, and proposed FED group outreach efforts.
Staff notes that some of these are already addressed in existing programs, but other priority actions “will require significant ongoing efforts best addressed by private/non-profit partnerships dedicated to food business development, such as newly formed Land & Ladle.”
Staff stresses that allocating dedicated staff time is not recommended at this point in time.
—David M. Greenwald reporting