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  • From: Adam36055@aol.com
  • Date: Mon, 5 Jul 2004 11:01:29 EDT

Shane laid out the process pretty well. Getting small things done that are good, within a legislative context, or a code change, unless there is big money in it for that change, is hard. 

In a democracy, it takes time to change ordinance and the rules that we all agree to follow. Discarding an old-style ordinance about front garden vegetable gardening  will be hard, simply because of the weight of custom, the amount of folks who buy into the green front lawn as a way of life.  To read mainline gardening magazines, the guy or gal who turns their front lawn into a perennial plant garden is "visionary."

Maybe if a few folks decided that their front garden veggies would have a "row for the hungry," and argue that this "front lawn ordinance," was taking the food out of the mouths of the community's homeless, senior citizens, children, families and the food insecure.

Adam Honigman

Date: 7/5/04 12:12:50 AM Eastern Daylight Time
From: utahgardens@comcast.net
To: bMaynard@WoodRodgers.com, community_garden@mallorn.com
Sent from the Internet


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 ACGAâs 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 âSlow the Flow, Save H2Oâ 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 donât 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 ânobody will ever bother withââGood 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 donât remember exactly what.  We get so caught up in the weekly battles, that we forget that one day, under the wrong circumstances, some âall wiseâ 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 wonât 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 awardsâit makes us feel like we have been a part of something even when we havenât).


Have the city go a step further and propose a resolution encouraging others to âbe 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 resourcesâ. 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 IMPORTANTâContinue 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 âcommon citizensâ 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 issueâconservation efforts.


Anyway, good luck

Shane Siwik

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