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.”
Apparently suitable has to conform to the Webster’s dictionary definition, which means “common”. So if your neighbors aren’t growing veggies, neither can you – at least according to Oak Park officials. Bass isn’t backing down, and neither are prosecutors. Now Bass says she faces 93 days in jail if she loses her trial. All this over some lousy vegetables. Don’t these people know we have an obesity epidemic? They should be eating happy meals, not growing veggies in their front yard!
This is why we can’t have nice things, people.
- vegetable garden
- happy meals
- Oak Park woman