SENIOR CITED FOR CURB STRIP PRODUCE GARDENING -- FIGHTS BACK!!
by Anita Sands Hernandez
This isn't my curb strip. Mine was planted
with fruit orchard and vegetables. It was twice
as wide and 250 long as corner house had two
curb strips not one. But I have no camera so ..?
The City of L.A. (often called HELL-A) cited me for using my curb strip area (corner house so two curb strips) for flowers, fruit trees, pumpkins, tomato plants, whereby passing children (Zelzah has huge foot traffic,) & young apartment dwellers could find free food & learn how to garden.
Unable to afford tomatoes or pumpkins myself, (social security pension of $340 a month as I raised four children as single mother, never worked a day in my life,) --I've done this curb yummies thing for 2 years but now the city is citing me, asked me to pull out these plantings. I have not done so. Instead, I make the city worker come at a given hour to speak with me about themes like geriatric hunger, lack of food stamps for the disabled, the way not having a car erodes your ability to get to a market... little things like that.The city worker had me prune side branches of the peach trees so traffic could see thru the tree, and she let me off. But this happened a few years later. That's the one we WILL talk about.
One unique thing about this situation is, there is no room in THE YARD for growing food. Not in front or back yard of my rented shack for vegies as this sixty year old house has many enormous, old trees and my landlord is 90 and doesn't want to chop anything down. I have no license or car, no roomies, kids are off married in other cities so no driving to a 'PUBLIC GARDEN" and they're charging 4 times last year's rate, which you probably knew. So I need the food. Many a day I just pull arugula leaves out and eat them with some bread and mayo and I call that a protein meal. The occasional radish or beet is a real joy. Beets are $1.69 a bunch, three beets these days! OUCH!
Thus, I grow on the curb. Pedestrians and children pick the bounty all summer long. I feel that if every gardener in the Valley does his extra zucchni, tomato and pumpkin seedlings as curb strip free food, and as I do, maybe a peach, apricot or citrus tree or two, we will happily deal with food inflation, (at an alltime high now) AND inspire hungry children and seniors alike to foodscape in any space they can find, and share produce to boot.MAYBE that is JUST WHAT THE CITY DOES NOT WANT. They want to TAX MARKETS on PROFITS.
Whatever their motive, the City of LA. CALIF threatened me with huge cash fines if they have to come and remove it. I invite all of you with extra plants to plan a curb Victory garden. Photograph yourself there and send graphic by email to City Planning. We can, as a group, achieve victory over MONEY HUNGRY taxing city officials, super costly supermarkets, over inflation, recession and SENIOR HUNGRY BELLIES. Oscar nite the documentary prize winner stated that not ONE SINGLE Wall street bankster who'd defrauded America had been jailed. CHIEF BANKER claimed they failed to realize DERIVATIVES COULD GO SOUTH LIKE THAT! So a negligent policy on high. No one cited. YET WE ARE ALL CITED & I see no citizen has come up against the city's policy. Maybe we should.
P.S. How'd I lose the car? The DMV wanted more than 100$ a year registration for an 83 Honda Civic. 200$ a year insurance. I failed to save anything out of 340$ a month Social security especially after rent, food, utilities. City Hall Fine-seeking bureaus, the same ones that took this senior's car for expired license, asking $4,000 to get a car back that I paid $350 for in 1996 ... probably will threaten to jail me if I don't pay the fine in the WAKE OF THEIR TAKING MY CAR and then the OTHER FINE that they levy on my FOOD GROWING CRIME even tho it just be for growing and gifting food to the hungry (I include myself) and teaching neighborhood kids to foodscape*. If I don't pay the fine, will I have to go to jail to define the only path open to hungry people vis a vis a suppressive and broke City Hall?
Forbidding this new yuppie trend toward xeriscaping* on a curb strip is almost as bad as forbidding peaches, apricots, zucchini, pumpkins & tomatoes from their diet. In most cities and states people plant the whole curbstrip and nobody cares. It may be public property -- agreed, we're responsible for upkeep on it but WHAT UPKEEP? Even left to its own, it's sumptuously GORGEOUS. But instead of wasting petroleum gasoline, money for labor to mow it, --and polluting the air as well, --why not plant it? That area can produce a lot of food, flowers and fruit -- something other than grass that one must water daily and mow monthly.
Have our city dinosaurs not been paying attention to the DROUGHT? Also to spiking food costs? I hope you can send this article to your friends, I pray that we get lots of Arab Spring, EGYPTIAN SPRING in L.A. ---i.e. protest, support and more people planting curbstrips which would be civil disobedience. Might pave the way for other dissident movements, like NOT TAXING OUR SOCIAL SECURITY CHECKS if we can find a job. Hoping citizens in every state wet their feet in dissidence on any of these issues. ( A HOT LIST OF ISSUES is RIGHT HERE!
My Neighbor B.J is a retired school teacher though he still goes back to the University and does a one semester class on his specialty, drip irrigation, training dozens of young entrepreneurs in this millenium art. Get a truck a wrench and make millions. His house is real small. He has filled up the back yard with food bearing plants and has front yard and curb strip thickly planted. The plants were in pots with drip pipes, folks kept driving up, lifting a few pots into their car, so he fenced the plot with chin high chicken wire. The city told him they would fine him $1,000 ---part for fence's 'over code' height, part for growing crops on the front yard. BJ fought city hall for a long time, then he said oh hell and he paid it. Left the chicken wire up though. I'm glad I can't drive any more as the sight of his huge, lucious full ripe sweet tomatoes behind that fence would drive any hungry senior wild.
I heard a rumor in AUG '13 that Los Angeles City Council had VOTED and passed law to make curb gardening totally legal. And that these huge fines were over with. Then, November of 2013.heard another rumor that gardeners can do a food producing FARM in front of the house and on curb. Heard it WAS the new law. "As long as it does not interfere with passage on sidewalks or pedestrian or auto views of traffic." Turned out it was too good to be true..
The Demon City cited my RESEDA curb garden in OCTOBER 2014 -- a notice saying it was a 400$ outright cash payment the homeowner-landlady owed........no 'fix it' --no way to escape the fine. Just a big cash payment! (At least, that's what she said as she waved it. But when her hand stopped moving, it was right under my nose and I saw 'prune sides of peach trees' and it described size tree to prune-height. She saw me looking and snatched it away.) NOW. I know this, Fail to fix and cut down the bushy factor, the FINE doubles, then triples. NO NEGOTIATION. NO CORRECTING IT to get out of the first, 400$ fine. LANDLADY sent in a crew of 3 men, 7 days of cutting and everything was gone. From a jungle in Bali to a desert in Iraq. I went into a giganormous depression, complete with fever and sore throat. Turns out one worker had MONO and gave it to me when I grabbed a bottle of water while working alongside them in the sun and rode fever for 51 days.
Sick as a dog, I watered the barren land hopeful that a bulb or root will sprout. It's like watering my children's graveyard.And then everything sprouted again. IN six months except for tall fruit trees, it looked the same. At that point landlady screamed at me, 'you did that? You're evicted, get out, go to an old age home, are you dumb, spending all that money on water?" And dumbest of all, "YOU re-PLANTED THOSE (two million) seeds?"
Yeah lady, I had an extra twenty grand lying around (2.69 a package of 50 seeds of CALENDULA at Home Depot)
NOTE: Anita is not alone. Another So Cal citizen battles his own UPLAND City Hall! So far 1300$ in fines out of a possible $4,000 total for his not wanting to have a front lawn at all ---as water is too costly! BACK THEN we'd have advised him to roto-till the brown lawn roots with 50 bucks of manure, cover with the cheapest mulch out there, then xeriscape with cactus and plants wild-collected and cuttings from neighbors. Then, Gov Brown a year later called a drought, capped our water use; now we all have brown lawns and are not being prosecuted. WE ARE ALL TOLD to have brown front lawns and It's called being CIVIC MINDED.
* PS "FOODSCAPE" a teachable art to children who pass by your curb. Turn over old divots of grass to compost. Grab THOSE DRY LEAVES we see in the STREET in Autumn --they are the trick. Rake autumn leaves into containers. Carry to your curb strip. Wet them for a few months. spot bags of leaves on trash nite? Carry home and dump. Spill contents of neighbor's Green garden barrel of lawn clippings onto your curb strip. COMPOST is the secret of curb gardening. A few bags of cheap manure added, help things along. Plus regular watering.
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