Aquaponic Gardening

A Community and Forum For Aquaponic Gardeners

Dear Sac aquaponics community,
As you may know, local urban farmers and supporters are pushing for an Urban Agriculture Ordinance for the City of Sac as well as for the County of Sac.  The City has made some draft modifications to the Sac Urban Ag Coalition's original proposal.  Our initial proposal basically ignored aquaponics; the City has gone ahead added language specifically addressing aquaponics (and its components, aquaculture and hydroponics).  The added language is very minimal, and I think it is mostly benign, but what do you think?  The City is looking for feedback by this Friday, 11/7, in order to keep the proposal on track for Planning and Development Commission approval before the end of the year.  If you have time, please reply to me with your input within the next two days.
All pieces of land in the City are given zoning designations.  The City's current draft UAO proposal includes definitions, specific regulations relating to various aspects of urban ag including AP, and "use tables" for residential, commercial, and manufacturing zones.  A "use table" describes what land uses (like aquaponics, or housing, or whatever) you can have for a piece of land in a specific zone and under what conditions. 

Another thing to be aware of is that there are "primary" and "accessory" uses.  If you have a house on a piece of land zoned residential, then that dwelling is the primary use.  A pool or a garage might be an accessory use there.  Or, if you  a piece of land with no buildings on it and you turn it all into a farm, the farm would be a primary use.

Below are summaries of those parts of the City's draft proposal that concern aquaponics, and attached is a summary use table for 3 representative zones.  So, feeling wonky?  Dive in and let me know what you think.  Thanks.  If you have any questions, just let me know:  email or text 916 533 5268.

Also, the Sac Urban Ag Coalition meets tomorrow (Thursday 11/6) at 10:00 am at the Sac Food Bank & Family Services to discuss the UAO.  You're welcome to join. 


Paul Trudeau
ps  sorry for the late notice!
pps  SUAC is also engaged with the County re: a UAO there; will keep you posted on that

DRAFT City Code, Chapter 17.108 DEFINITIONS

“Aquaculture” means the cultivation of marine or freshwater fish, shellfish, or plants under controlled conditions.

Aquaponics is a subset of aquaculture which integrates aquaculture with hydroponics by recycling the waste products from fish to fertilize hydroponically growing plants.

Hydroponics” means a method of growing plants in soil-less medium or an aquatic- based environment in which plant nutrients are distributed via water.

Market garden” means the cultivation of fruits, vegetables, flowers, fiber, nuts, seeds, or culinary herbs as the primary use in a zone other than an A, A-OS, or ARP-F zone that involves the sale or donation of its produce to the public.

DRAFT Chapter 17.228 Special Use Regulations Article VIII. Urban Agriculture

Aquaculture operations are allowed as an accessory use in residential and residential mixed use zones (R-1, R-1A, R-1B, R-2, R-2A, R-2B, R-3, R-3A, R-4, R- 4A, R-5, RMX, and RO).  

Aquaculture operations in non-residential zones are allowed, subject to the regulations of the underlying zone.

All aquaculture uses shall be contained entirely within an enclosed structure that meets the requirements of chapter 17.624 [Residential Accessory Structure and Use Regs, which you can read in their entirety at , or look at my annotated copy here. - PT], or in a yard that is screened from view of adjacent streets by fencing or landscaping. 

[This is similar to regs for equipment like air conditioners - I think the idea is to minimize visual and noise problems, but I think they could do without the whole requirement to enclose or screen aquaculture setups.]


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Replies to This Discussion

Looks great Paul. Keep us updated.

For some reason I cannot get to the annotated version of the city regs  chapter 17.624

I get an error message trying to access that page

I changed to the google chrome browser instead of the IE browser and it opened. Thanks

Sorry I couldn't chime in earlier, I think it all looks pretty good. I understand wanting to have visual screening. Lets face it, for people who don't geek out on these systems, plumbing and IBCs aren't aesthetically pleasing. Not to say it can't be done in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

Thanks Fishy.  Unexpectedly met with City Planning Dept. staff Thursday afternoon.  Staff takes what we proposed and puts their spin on it to present to Planning & Design Commission for approval.  I asked staff why they put in the screening requirement for aquaponics, and their answer was essentially just what you describe.  So, while we pushed for a couple other changes in non-aquaponics sections of staff's proposal, we didn't push much on dropping the screening requirement for aquaponics.  I think it'll be fine.

Hey Paul, do you have a customary name or abbreviation for SUAC, at least on this forum? I only found this one article when I searched for that. (Sac|Sacto|Sacramento) Urban (Ag|Agriculture) Coalition (plus SUAC) means 7 potential search strings.

just those terms, Jim.  The big City Council vote is this Tuesday, March 24 at 6:00 pm at City Hall, and everyone is encouraged to attend in support of the Urban Ag Ordinance.  See for latest update.  The proposed ordinance is aquaponics-friendly. 

For all urban ag including aquaponics, a few city council members have proposed additional restrictions on on-site sale of produce which we feel are unnecessary:  one is to limit sales to Tuesdays and Saturdays, and another is to not allow sale of produce grown in a front yard (although it is legal to grow such produce).  Based on experience in other cities (San Francisco, etc.), SUAC and many others think that the regulations of on-site sales that we already proposed are more than sufficient to prevent on-site sales from becoming any kind of problem.


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