Oak Park, Michigan: Their front yard was torn up after replacing a sewer line, so instead of replacing the dirt with grass, one Oak Park woman put in a vegetable garden and now the city is seeing green. The list goes on: fresh basil, cabbage, carrots, tomatoes, cumbers and more all filling five large planter boxes that fill the Bass family’s front yard. Julie Bass says, “We thought we’re minding our own business, doing something not ostentatious and certainly not obnoxious or nothing that is a blight on the neighborhood, so we didn’t think people would care very much.” But some cared very much and called the city. The city then sent out code enforcement. “They warned us at first that we had to move the vegetables from the front, that no vegetables were allowed in the front yard. We didn’t move them because we didn’t think we were doing anything wrong, even according to city code we didn’t think we were doing anything wrong. So they ticketed us and charged me with a misdemeanor,” Bass said . . . City code says that all unpaved portions of the site shall be planted with grass or ground cover or shrubbery or other suitable live plant material. Tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers are what Basses see as suitable. However, Oak Park’s Planning and Technology Director Kevin Rulkowski says the city disagrees. He says, “If you look at the dictionary, suitable means common. You can look all throughout the city and you’ll never find another vegetable garden that consumes the entire front yard.”
So what is suitable? From another local news report: . . . we asked Rulkowski why it’s not suitable. “If you look at the definition of what suitable is in Webster’s dictionary, it will say common. So, if you look around and you look in any other community, what’s common to a front yard is a nice, grass yard with beautiful trees and bushes and flowers,” he said. God forbid your yard doesn’t include beautiful trees, bushes and flowers. It’s your job, Oak Park citizens, to give Kevin Rulkowski pretty things to look at. According to Bass’s blog, she’s demanding her right to a jury trial. So the city plans to throw the book at her. Our attorney spoke to the prosecutor today. (for the record, my crush on him is totally finished after today.) – His position: they are going to take this all the way. Officially, this means i am facing 93 days in jail if they win. No joke.
***Commentary by readers :
@| peoplerrrstupid | July 8th, 2011 at 8:30 am What a stupid, clueless f. ing city worker. THIS is what’s wrong with our country. Come tell me what I can plant in my yard, and I’ll politely show you the quickest way to get the eff off property.
A) I applaud the woman for demanding her right to a jury trial.
B) the prosecutor’s office should be ashamed of itself.
C) The city planning guy should to, but he’s obviously too stupid.
D) I hope some nice lawyer will donate his/her services to this woman and offer to counter-sue the city for their malicious attack on common sense.
my letter to mayor: Dear Sir, After reading an article about your city and your prosecution of a woman for growing vegetables in her front yard, I am shocked and embarassed that this can happen in America. With all of the green initiatives that municipalities are pushing these days, this woman should be held as a model. Furthermore, your staff is an embarassment, especially with his statements that “suitable” means “common” according to his dictionary. He must have a completely different dictionary than the rest of America. As a matter of fact, the vegetable garden meets the very definition of the word in so many ways. As a suburb of Detroit, I would think that there are more serious issues facing your community than whether or not a woman grows a vegetable garden in her front yard. With today’s budget issues, I am not sure why you are employing a staff that has nothing better to do. Its a waste of tax payers money, its bureaucracy run amock…you work for your citizens, not the other way around. Not that you guys are alone with that issue. Get rid of these wastes of space and possibly hire more police officers, or for heavens sake possibly stick the money in the bank. Now there is a novel concept for government. As a citizen, I can tell you that I would respect and vote for a mayor who came out opposed to such ridiculousness and guided his overzealous desk jockeys back on task. Please step back away from your ordinances and your red tape and your career municipal officials and just look at this issue and how ridiculous it is. Thanks, James
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I’m beginning to hate USA when I read articles like this. Where are the Hell’s Angels or Black Spades or even the Woodstock citizens of USA? Whats going on with you guys in ‘the West’? Run for candidacy and don’t let up fighting against such abusers and bullies. Sue the police department and Oak Park’s Planning and Technology Director! Can’t grow veggies?!? Whats wrong with them? This is psychological warfare, identify people who act like that and vote them to hell ! Oh heres an example of the same kind of behaviour in Malaysia too. See the link below : http://img825.imageshack.us/img825/1378/gambier1.jpg I suggest Julie Bass go to Amnesty International and file for refugee status to see which country would allow her to migrate for being persecuted andf threatened with a jail term. Anyone from UNHCR want to contact Julie Bass? I think she needs help and that Oak Park needs to be sued for something related to Human Rights.