How Far Can City Codes Go in Regulating Your Property Rights?

21 Nov

Gazette Staff

Miami, Fla.—May the government prohibit you from peacefully and productively using your own property to feed your family?

That is the question the Institute for Justice (IJ) and a Miami Shores couple have taken to state court in their challenge to Miami Shores’ unconstitutional ban on front-yard vegetable gardens. The law prohibits homeowners from growing vegetables in their front yards, but trees, fruit, and garden gnomes are just fine. Homeowners who grow front-yard vegetable gardens face fines of $50 per day.

For 17 years, Hermine Ricketts and her husband Tom Carroll maintained a beautiful front-yard garden, where they grew vegetables for their own consumption, along with other plants. But in May 2013, Miami Shores’ Code Enforcement officers inspected Hermine and Tom’s property and informed the couple that they were engaging in an illegal activity: Growing vegetables in the front yard.

The city enacted the ban to protect the aesthetic character of Miami Shores Village. Yet it allows everything from trees and fruit to gnomes and flamingos in front yards. Just not vegetables. That sort of irrational distinction is unconstitutional.

“Miami Shores’ ban on front-yard vegetable gardens doesn’t make any sense. A yard does not become unsightly just because you can eat some of the things you grow there,” said IJ Attorney and lead counsel on the case, Ari Bargil.
The city threatened Hermine and Tom with fines of $50 a day, or about $1,500 per month, if they did not uproot the garden. Unable to bear the cost of such hefty fines, Hermine and Tom destroyed 17 years’ worth of passion and hard work.

“When our garden was in full production, we had no need to shop for produce. At least 80 percent of our meals were harvested fresh from our garden,” said Hermine. “This law crushes our freedom to grow our own healthy food. No one should have to expend time and energy dealing with such nonsense.”
The Florida Constitution protects the property rights of homeowners like Hermine and Tom, who want to use their property in a peaceful, productive manner without arbitrary intrusion by the government.

IJ’s challenge to Miami Shores’ front-yard vegetable garden ban is part of its new National Food Freedom Initiative. This nationwide campaign that will bring property rights, economic liberty and free speech challenges to laws that interfere with the ability of Americans to produce, market, procure and consume the foods of their choice. IJ is also challenging Oregon’s ban on advertising raw—or unpasteurized—milk and Minnesota’s severe restrictions on “cottage food” producers.

“Hermine and Tom are part of a nationwide movement of small-scale food producers and consumers who are tired of the government dictating what foods they can grow, sell and eat,” said IJ Senior Attorney Michael Bindas, who heads IJ’s National Food Freedom Initiative. “This isn’t just about Hermine and Tom’s front-yard garden. This is about the right of all Americans to peacefully use their own property to support themselves and their families.”

Advertisements

3 Responses to “How Far Can City Codes Go in Regulating Your Property Rights?”

  1. Joe MolonLabe via Facebook November 21, 2013 at 10:28 pm #

    Great article.

    It’s absurd some of things petty tyrants on a “board” will try impose on people.

  2. Nicole Singer Sanders via Facebook November 22, 2013 at 5:54 am #

    Ridiculous, in these difficult economic times (and yes its still hard no matter how much the media lies) local govts should be encouraging people to grow their own food and raise animals for consumption.

  3. Chuck Pullen via Facebook November 22, 2013 at 10:16 am #

    The CA town of San Rafael just passed a law saying you can no longer smoke in your own home (If it’s a multi-unit) The rights of the individual are slowly being eroded away… This Facebook page discusses many egregious displays of local government preventing people from farming on their own property: https://www.facebook.com/GrowFoodNotLawns

Your Feedback is Always Appreciated!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: