Tulsa woman's garden cut down by city

czechJune 18, 2012

This is unbelievable and I am steaming mad for this woman. It looks like this woman's garden has been established for years. And in one fell swoop, the city of Tulsa cut it down.


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    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:17PM
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that is criminal what they did to her. i hope she wins and that they have to pay, but i doubt that will ever happen.

    Bookmark   June 18, 2012 at 7:39PM
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I don't understand the ordinance that plants can only be 12" tall. It is hard to tell from her pictures if it looked like a weeded lot or actual garden beds. They cut the stuff right up to her house. I would think that you would be allowed to have some sort of landscaping.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:35AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

I'd be in big trouble if that code was in my neighborhood. Everything in my front yard is over 12 inches.

I'm wondering if there is more to this story.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:31AM
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Okiedawn OK Zone 7

Like Lisa, I'm wondering if there is more to the story too. In most cities, the 12" rule applies to lawn grasses and weeds, but not to anything grown in a cultivated bed that is well maintained...meaning it is kept weeded and mulched and clearly is a bed, and not a lawn interspersed with weeds.

I cannot help thinking there is some part of this story we don't know.

It probably didn't help that she already had a history of code violations, and that history likely means someone in Code Enforcement had a grudge against her and was not likely to cut her a break.

Despite all I just said, I think this is a terrible thing that they did to her. I would understand why they cut the grass and anything in it that they believed to be "weeds" (not that I would agree with them doing it, but I understand they could justify that part of it as code enforcement) but I'll never understand why they cut down her trees. I agree with adellabedella that it is hard to understand that you couldn't have some sort of landscaping other than a lawn.

I bet when the whole story comes out, we'll find out the missing piece, if there is one.

Regardless, I hope she wins her lawsuit and they have to replace her plants.

I never could live in a city again, and I certainly could not live in a housing subdivision with a Homeowners Association that has strict landscaping rules because I want to grow what I want to grow where I want to grow it. When you live out in an unincorporated area in a sparsely populated county, no one tells you what you can grow or how low you have to mow your grass or whatever. I like it that way.

Lisa, You have a spectacularly beautiful yard and if Code Enforcement ever touches it, they'll have to deal with me! I'll come fight them on your behalf.


    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 11:56AM
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Lisa_H OK(7)

Thanks, Dawn :)

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:10PM
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Right the 12" rule is only supposed to apply to lawn grass and weeds.

I think it was terrible too. In a city the size of Tulsa there are plenty of Master Gardeners the code officials could have consulted to determine what actually was edible. I hope the woman has "before" pics of all her edible plants to bolster her case.

Like Dawn I couldn't even live in a city much less in an HMO area. If I want to grow tomatoes and green beans in my front yard, I sure don't want anybody saying, "No vegetables in the front yard," as though growing vegetables is a shameful thing. The sooner that attitude changes, the better.

On the TV web site somebody posted that American cities have adopted guidelines established by the United Nations for Property Maintenance. I don't know if that is true or not but when I was in Italy several years ago, I saw lots of front yards with vegetable beds, cold frames, row covers, but everything was neat as a pin. The only exception was one home that was surrounded by a totally unkempt yard, full of overgrown shrubs, sprouting tree seedlings, weeds, grass. When I asked my daughter about it she said a single man whose wife had left him a few years previously lived there. The neighbors thought he'd gone crazy and stayed away from him. Maybe the Italian authorities did too.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 12:48PM
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I've seen several stories like this and it won't surprise me if we DO have the whole story. It's usually a neighbor complaining that it looks tacky or something of that nature. Last year there was a woman in one of the northern states, Michigan I think, who put some nice neatly kept raised beds in her front yard and she was fined a few times and threatened with jail time if she didn't tear them out. Yes, jail time over planting some vegetables on her own property! Her story made big news and I think it got dropped. I hope the Tulsa lady gets awarded enough to make headlines and put "code enforcers" on notice. That's ridiculous. I can't wait to move to the country!

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 8:35PM
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It really does sound like city officials had a grudge against this woman. I've seen some junky yards in my lifetime and it didn't look as if this woman's yard was so terrible. According to the news report, she went before a judge and was told to come back a few months later. And within a few days, her garden was cut down, as well as some fruit trees that bore fruit. It's outrageous. City officials had no jurisdiction to do what they did. I hope her lawsuit sees that she is aptly compensated for her loss. A full garden like that takes years to establish and it can be demoralizing having it razed down in that manner.

I think that as more and more people are growing edibles for health, economic, and political reasons, we'll unfortunately see more and more stories like this coming to light. On the comments section under the story, there are groups popping up to either help her with a legal fund or sending plants to help her garden get restarted. It's great to see that it's been brought to some sort of local attention and that there's some awareness over what these city inspectors did to her garden.

    Bookmark   June 19, 2012 at 10:52PM
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I live in a subdivision in city limits, but thankfully our HMO rules are fairly lax about what you can plant and where as long as it's well-kept and trimmed. There might be a rule saying you have to keep a lawn in the front yard, but there's no restriction on how much of it needs to be lawn and what other things you can plant.

Plus everyone's pretty lax about it on our street. The rules also say you can't install anything more than six feet tall on your property, and our weather station is almost double that. No one cares, though, because they like all the weather info we give them. :)

    Bookmark   June 20, 2012 at 7:48PM
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