The Healthy Foods, Healthy Soils Toolkit features many informational sections developed to help planners, industry professionals and lay persons alike understand food recovery and organic materials management. It also includes two case studies and a draft model ordinance. If you're a planner, or involved in a municipal government updating zoning and land use codes, the language provided in our model ordinance is free for you use and adopt verbatim or modified, and it's our hope that you will, as it has been written with helping your jurisdiction comply with California mandates and best management practices for composting and other organic materials management methods in mind. 

Following below are synopses of the two case studies. Click the picture above to go to the model ordinance. At the bottom of the page are links to other sections of the toolkit. And for a complete site map of the toolkit, please visit our index page

Click on the pictures below to go to the full case studies. Synopses follow below.

Imperial Beach Case Study Synopsis

The HFHS team reviewed Imperial Beach’s municipal code and general plan, conducted interviews with staff, discussed the city’s existing composting and resource management efforts, and compiled city data as well as that relevant to composting, community gardening, and other issues related to management of recoverable food and compostable materials. All data was analyzed and based on findings, recommendations were formulated.

Currently updating its General Plan, leadership is moving to revitalize the city into a vibrant coastal community that residents are proud to call home. While land is limited within the city confines, the city strongly supports recreational, environmental and agricultural initiatives taking place in the adjacent Tijuana River Valley

Sustainability, climate change, sea level rise, environmental justice and equity, composting and soil health and healthy food access, among others, are all emerging topics of interest and importance as this community strives to find justice and establish means to thrive. From a healthy food, healthy soils perspective, the language in the existing municipal code limits composting opportunities in and around the community.

With limited space and resources, the city will benefit from policies and programs that strengthen the community’s participation in diversion programs while reducing the burden on centralized hauling and infrastructure needs. Efforts could range from education and incentives on enhanced backyard and small onsite composting initiatives, linking life cycles through joint garden and composting programs at schools to empower the youth, development of urban agricultural incentives and community gardens, as well as supporting nearby agricultural and environmental initiatives underway in the Tijuana River Valley.  

A model zoning ordinance for Imperial Beach will recognize the lack of available space for a large-scale facility within city-limits and support smaller stand alone or accessory uses. Small to medium scale processing sites in connection with agriculture not only promotes community, it can provide meaningful employment currently not available to city residents. This case study demonstrates opportunities to integrate healthy food, healthy soils into the city’s revitalization efforts while further benefiting the overall sustainability strategy.

Chula Vista Case Study Synopsis

Once a thriving agricultural region, billed as the “Lemon Capital of the World” in the early 1900s, and a major celery producer in the 30s and 40s, Chula Vista transformed into a bedroom community in the 60s and development shot from the coast eastward with thousands of homes in master-planned communities beginning some 20 years later.

Today, with a population of more than 267,000, Chula Vista is the second largest city in San Diego County, but its agricultural heritage still creeps through in the form of initiatives to promote community gardening, many agricultural uses still permitted by right, and its commitment to “making healthy choices an easy option through convenient access to healthy food…”

The city was underway with community outreach on potential initiatives for urban agriculture at the time of this writing.  And city staff interviewed confirmed survey of vacant lots was completed and anticipated its AB 551 Urban Ag Incentive Zones, will be in effect in early 2018.

Under Chula Vista’s Zoning Code (Title 19), agricultural uses are permitted by right or with a conditional use permit in the Agricultural Zone. Crop and tree farming is defined as a use with incidental buildings; yet 19.16.030 requires a conditional use permit (CUP) for such buildings and requires an area no less than one acre. 

The city’s Health and Sanitation Code (Title 8) describes certain composting activities, and when a permit is required. Composting is generally well defined and rightly differentiated as material of value from solid waste. Chula Vista’s exclusion of recyclables and compostable from garbage and solid waste definitions serves a model for the region.

The CUP permit process for Recycling Collection Centers is well defined and tiered by facility size. Small recycling collection centers require administrative approval, while large centers require approval from the Planning Commission. 

A similar, tiered permitting approach would be well suited for composting facilities, which would rely on CalRecycle criteria for facility size, technology type, and feedstocks to determine facility tiers and placement in land use zones. Further recommendations are included in the full case study