I have read this story and understand the
fight. As you (or to let others know) I serve on a City Council and the ACGA
board with you. This is why I sometimes jokingly refer to myself as ACGA’s
token conservative. I hate this kind of government. Ironically our city had the
same issue many years before I came on the council. I man planted tomatoes in
his park strip for landscaping requirements. The city made an issue of it and
told him to remove them. It drew nation attention by ending up in the National Enquirer,
I believe. Eventually, enough publicity embarrassed the city to just forget
about it. I believe that that is what may happen in this case. You do need to change
the ordinance though so it does not happen again. Salt Lake
and some of the surrounding cities have had to take a look at their landscape
ordinances in the face of multiple years of drought. We all had to accept the
hard and painful reality that grass may be pretty, but may not be wise. It took
some major work for this movement to occur. One of those things that happened
was that the local water district created a water wise demonstration garden and
publicized it. It is truly a beautiful project. Also there has been a
state wide “Slow the Flow, Save H2O” campaign that saturated the
media for many years now. We all have the jingle stuck in our heads.
But despite all of this, the movement to
alternate front yard landscaping is slow. I don’t think it is because the
policy makers do not agree with the issue but rather, (speaking as one) it is
that usually we are not as proactive as we would like to be. We will change
things easily once they become an issue and an antiquated ordinance is made
known by the fact that they are being enforced. But get us to take the energy
to go to the mat over something that is on the books that “nobody will
ever bother with”…Good luck. Even in my writing this, I am reminded
that at the beginning of the year this year, our city recorder brought to my
attention some of the outdated laws that we still have on our books. Yes in South Salt Lake City it is technically illegal for kids
to bounce balls on the sidewalk for fear they will interfere with the horses,
or some stupid thing like that, I don’t remember exactly what. We
get so caught up in the weekly battles, that we forget that one day, under the
wrong circumstances, some “all wise” ordinance enforcement officer
will make misery where he should not. And worse, sometimes that happens under
the direction of those above him just for political reasons.
Some basic advise for the woman in your
town fighting this:
Continue to work with one council person.
This may back fire though if you have a polarized council and others won’t
back him/her just out of spite. ( I have seen it regularly, but on common sense
issues, usually those are not to extreme in the in fighting)
Show her garden off as an example of good
planning and waterwise efficiency. How could the city now deny the positive
attributes of her landscape now that so many have seen it and support it assuming
you can showcase that support. Look to the water district, (unless of course it
is city water), perhaps see that she be given an award at council meeting for
bringing an issue to light. (Council people love to give awards…it makes
us feel like we have been a part of something even when we haven’t).
Have the city go a step further and
propose a resolution encouraging others to “be wise in landscape and
choose those plants that will benefit the community and environment as a whole
by planting plants that will beautify and still conserve natural resources”.
Keep in general too. You draw it up and then present it to your council in an
open meeting for adopting. Although they may, it will be more difficult for
them to say no to it publicly. Oh yeah, have the media there if they can. Get the
reporter who wrote the story to do a follow up.
MOST IMPORTANT…Continue to get more
publicity, but focus on the changes as a good thing, not the that she has taken
on. If she can do this, she can befriend more of the council. Show it as a
collaborative effort. It will only draw more attention to the conservation
efforts as a whole.
Lastly, let her know and believe, she can
make a difference. I have seen “common citizens” come in and point
out problems in the ordinances and have had them changed. I have also seen them
beat city hall. This was a great example to me, as I was the only council
person against the issue anyway. But one citizen did what my arguing could not.
Let her know that she can not only take this issue and reduce the chances of it
happening again, but can also draw attention to a greater issue…conservation
Anyway, good luck
firstname.lastname@example.org [mailto:email@example.com] On Behalf Of Bill Maynard
Sent: Tuesday, June 29, 2004 1:24
Subject: [cg] VEGETABLES IN THE
Vegetables are an eye sore?
Recently a home owner in the downtown area of Sacramento was cited for
having planted her whole front yard (50’x25’) with a vegetable
garden..corn, squash, tomatoes, onions etc..
Cited as a nuisance.. and eyesore….she planted the
front yard as her back yard was shady and had a swimming pool taking up the
rest of her yard. She had 30 days to remove the garden for face
fines…she managed to get a extension on this as she went to city hall to
complain and possible lawsuit got cityhalls attention.
One answer is more community gardens.. but in this older
part of town…vacant lots do not exist for a community garden. In
poorer parts of town.. others grow veggies in their front yards…but in
this older upper class area…complaints from at least 1 neighbor has
started this process. I have viewed her yard.. and right now its fine..
very green and flowering plants – a very nice garden… but it is
different among all the homes with lawn.
So now a meeting has been called to review the code…a
garden radio talk show host, master gardener, city councilman, local newspaper
garden writer, code enforcement officer, and myself along with the home owner
will meet to discuss possibly changing the long time city code that permits landscaping-grass
and shrubs and concrete(not to excess 50% of the front yard)
And possible rewrite the code to include water wise
gardening and vegetables..for the front yard
I am Looking for other cities that have this veggie option
in their codes… and comments on this topic from the listserve. I
will keep you posted.