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Community garden supporters protest possible 100 percent fee increase


Community garden supporters are protesting a proposal by Portland Parks & Recreation to increase plot fees 100 percent — from $100 to $200, at the most.

The proposal is included in a list of options for cutting next year's PP&R budget by 5 percent. Mayor Charlie Hales has directed all general fund bureaus to submit proposed 5 percent budget cuts to generate money to help fund the $20 million commitment to reduce homeless authorized by the City Council after the state of housing emergency was declared in October.

Community garden supporters say the increase it too high, however, and will force lower-income gardens to drop out of the programs, despite PP&R's interest in increasing scholarships.

Current fees vary by plot size:

• ADA Accessible Raised Bed = $20

• Starter Plot (50 sq ft) = $12

• Single Plot (100 sq ft) = $25

• Standard Plot (200 sq ft) = $50

• Double Plot (400 sq ft) = $100

All of the proposals will be discussed at two budget advisory meetings:

January 12 – 6:00-8:00pm – Public Budget Meeting, St. Philip Neri Parish, Carvlin Hall, 2408 S.E. 16th Ave.

January 14 – 5:30 – 8:00pm – Bureau Advisory Committee #4, Portland Building (1120 S.W. Fifth Ave.), 2nd Floor, Conference Room C.

You can read the PP&R 2016-2017 budget reduction package at www.portlandoregon.gov/parks/article/559446.

The community garden proposal reads as follows:

Revenue - Increase Fees for Community Gardens - $70,000

Raise community garden plot fees at all 50 gardens by 100% to increase gross earned revenue by $110,700. To minimize impacts to low-income populations, we will increase the allowable scholarship award for people at the lowest income level from 75% to 85% and assume the number of participants requesting assistance to raise from 20% (current) to 33%. We expect to see increased plot turnover from people who do not qualify or want to apply for scholarship assistance. We will also likely need to increase outreach in moderate-income parts of the city where we had not previously focused to find people to fill garden plots. Turnover and new gardeners will require staff to recruit and train garden leaders which may make them less available for other tasks.