Talk to the Planning Department


This business with Julie Bass, renegade kitchen gardener who dared put raised beds in her front yard, is all over blogland.  I particularly adore Plantgasm's blog badges, pictured below, but click through to grab one for your own blog:


Julie has her own blog where you can keep up with the latest developments.  But if you really want to make a difference?  Send an email.  Pick up the phone.  Think about it:  this is one thing you can do for the world today that is clearly, unambiguously, good.  Obviously cities should not devote effort to punishing people for growing vegetables in the front yard.  Quite the opposite; they should be encouraging it.

So you really want to help?  Go tell them.

Send an email to planning director Kevin Rulkowski, whose contact info is here.

But be sure and copy City Manager Rich Fox.

And while you're at it, you might as well let the mayor and the city council know how you feel. (Scroll down to see those links.)

I just did it, and it feels real good.


  1. It did feel good.

    Here in Sacramento, this same battle was fought 2-3 years ago, with the veggie gardener winning. There is now a Front Yard Ordinance allowing vegetables as front yard “landscaping”.

  2. Hi, can you post the actual e-mail addresses? Tech-challenged folks like me can’t just click through to mail. Thanks!

  3. Have you heard of The Bucket Garden? I have found many positive things, not to mention success stories, about this system. You can grow all kinds of vegetables with this system in any climate year-round and all you need is a 4×8 space. My absolute favorite thing is the fact that it is low cost and low watering. The Garden Master, a man with years of experience came up with a way that any gardener can be successful without the stress and high cost most associated with gardening.

  4. “government workers have a responsibility to enforce the law” NY gov. Cuomo (this was on another topic). So why harrass the government worker for doing their job? Work on getting the law changed if you don’t like it. Now, these bureauocrats could be all total little tin gods on power trips or they could be doing what their elected officials tell them to do. Very unlikely that the planning director and the city manager are elected, they are most likely appointed by the mayor and are “at will” employees. Meaning they are not union, do not have collective barganing so if they tick off the mayor they can be fired.

  5. Tibs, this is not a matter of enforcing the law, I suspect. Most local zoning/planning ordinance regarding what people are allowed to put in the front yard only indicate that people aren’t allowed to let their front yards be an eyesore or a public nuisance. Unfortunately, a lot of people are brainwashed into thinking that the only appropriate front yard is one of grass and use local law as their bully pulpit, which, to my mind, is a gross overextension of government authority.

  6. Tibs – The issue is not that there is a specific law against veggie gardens in front yards. The issue is that the ordinance is so vague as to be laughable. It only requires “suitable” plants. The city has deemed “suitable” to be synonymous with “common”, and has declared that Julie’s yard must have plants similar to her neighbors. She actually checked w/the city before starting the project & they could not find anything that said she could not put in a raised-bed veggie garden.

  7. I think what Tib’s meant was ” don’t kill the messenger”.
    It’s true the ordinance is ‘vague’. It needs to be reviewed, reworded and updated so those who have to enforce the laws can do so intelligently and responsibly.

    I can see both sides of the controversy here. One man’s protections is another mans restrictions.

    If I were to reword the ordinance I would suggest that if a non traditional ( a definition of tradition to follow ) is to be installed a visual barrier such as a fence ( heights noted ) or an evergreen shrub border should be installed so as to protect the perceived values of the adjoining neighborhood and would allow the homeowner the liberty to garden/ sculpt/ trash/ whatever in her front yard without inflicting harm ( financial, visual ) to the adjoining neighbors.

    The bottom line is that people are concerned with their property value. By its very nature a vegetable garden is a seasonal / ephemeral garden. If you instill some guidelines then there is protections for all and restrictions for none and liberty for all.

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