Plant a garden, go to jail

August 4, 2011

Oh, the evil of people trying to be self-sufficient, and the obscenity of doing it in public — in front of the neighbors!!

Presenting Reason.TV‘s Nanny of the Month: Oak Park, Michigan, official Kevin Rulkowski, whose objection to Julie Bass’ front-yard garden might cost her 93 days in jail.

Now, I’m not wholly without sympathy for Mr. Rulkowski; I was taught in real estate classes that uniformity in look helps maintain house prices, and I’m sure many of us have had to suffer with neighbors who park junk vehicles on their front lawns or paint their houses garish, eye-hurting colors. (Such as the bright orange house with black trim near me.) So I can see some reason to sensible zoning regulations.

But a garden? Really? Jail time? Seriously??

Rulkowski should leave Ms. Bass and her garden alone and concentrate on a real problem — such as rogue lemonade stands.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

Nanny-stater of the month

October 4, 2010

Reason.TV’s “Nanny of the Month” award has turned a year old, and this month’s winner has a bit of an ironic twist to it. Remember how Mom (or Nanny, for those who had one) would always tell you to eat your vegetables, often invoking starving children somewhere to whom we would have gladly given our portion? Well, in this case, a man in Georgia is in trouble with DeKalb County not for refusing to eat his greens, but for growing too many of them:

I have to admit, this one strikes me as a little bit questionable. The zoning laws were in place before the gentleman in question started his organic garden; couldn’t he have sought a variance beforehand? Sure, zoning regulations can be arcane and picayune, but in a residential area, they exist to protect the value everyone’s properties from people who would use their land in ways that would harm that value, such as installing a home tannery or putting up a 90′ neon-green Elvis.  Much as I sympathize with and support the rights of property owners, they do have a responsibility to check the laws before they do something unusual.

Still, it seems more than a little vindictive for the county to try to punish him after he got the necessary permits. He’s acknowledged the law, no harm was done, so what’s the point? Other than a bureaucrat’s game of “mine’s bigger than yours,” that is.

PS: Now that I think of it, wouldn’t the Oregon officials who made a little girl cry be a natural for this? They’d win the year-end award in a runaway.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)