Sunday, August 5, 2012

Landlord Charged for Front Yard Garden - Tenant & Neighbors Fight Back

You can only retain freedoms if you act to preserve them.Karl Tricamo

Image: Karl Tricamo
Heather Callaghan
Activist Post

Stay-at-home dad Karl Tricamo was another unsuspecting gardener just going about his favorite hobby and following the rules. He loves to garden with his 55 heirlooms and dislikes GMOs and pesticides.

But, like so many others now, he was pushed around and literally stalked by "Code Enforcers" out to aggressively eradicate any "nuisance" that doesn't match the rest of their desired Stepford neighborhood. This is after he, also like many targeted for garden deconstruction, painstakingly followed the rules.

“I just thought it would be an excellent way to help provide for my family,” he said. “People have been gardening since the beginning of human civilization, and the First Lady has even been setting an example by gardening at the White House! I never expected it to be so controversial.”

City officials in Ferguson, Missouri do not care if someone is trying to feed his family on his turf; so they literally cited Tricamo's landlord with 'Failure to meet the minimum standards of the City of Ferguson exterior appearance code.'

Now, doesn't that sound like a highly subjective code? It would, had it been an actual code instead of an intimidation tactic.

Karl's neighbors seemed to be in accordance with his fruitful yard plan. One of them even allowed Tricamo to plant tomatoes in her garden as a "show of solidarity."


Perhaps more neighbors felt compelled to lend support after the board sent a letter to Tricamo and all nearby residents saying:
The owner of 309 Louisa wishes to utilize his property, currently zoned R-1D, for agricultural purposes by planting tall crops which will cover the entire front yard of the property. City Staff has determined that such use is not allowed within that zoning district under Chapter 49, the Zoning Ordinance for the City of Ferguson and, otherwise, constitutes a nuisance. The owner appeals that determination.
City officials changed their citings a lot, and really never could give Tricamo an actual code that prohibited a garden, especially since the ordinances specifically allow for vegetation, with no height requirements. So they obnoxiously tried to paint his yard into a large-scale commercial farm saying he needs permission to engage in "agriculture!"

Adding to that absurdity, the enforcers cased his place week after week; they would drive by, or park out front and watch the yard.

Karl did not cave when he received nuisance warnings and commands to first lay down hay and plant grass, and later to rip up his vegetables. But, as he documents on his blog, the constant harassment and drive-bys for months were not easy on him and his family.

Tricamo and his landlord, Jesse Brandt, were represented by Libertarian attorney Dave Roland of Freedom Center of Missouri who argued with the board on the basis of constitutional rights with supporting evidence that there were no code violations. Neighbors and family pitched in their support at the board meeting.

With all the help, Brandt and Tricamo's citations and fines were struck down in a Board of Adjustment decision by a  4-1 vote!

"We felt vindicated," Karl said. "I had taken steps from day one that everything would be within ordinance. They just tried to throw everything at us and hoped something would stick."

The one opposing vote came from an upset Joe Schroeder:
The board felt that, technically, he had the law in his favor - But I think that all of us on the board agreed that the garden is an eyesore. It goes against common sense, really, to put a garden in the front yard instead of the back.
So the law should be based on someone else's "common sense"? Or what is aesthetically pleasing to a board member?

Karl addressed the all-too typical response from people who'd rather go along to get along - the ones who say, "Why don't you just grow in the back yard?" Or, "Why not just flowers and grass?" The point is, that to him, he is within community ordinances and not trying to appease or placate others' demands. He wishes others would appreciate the diversity of plant life he diligently cultivated. If this weren't such an ordeal, and if bureaucrats weren't over his shoulder, he would prefer to let what we call "weeds" survive as they do in nature; as they do serve a purpose and are not aesthetically displeasing to everyone.

Freedom lover Roland is proud of people who face intimidation by taking on city hall. He said of the victory:
I’m proud of Mr. Tricamo and Mr. Brandt, because in standing up for their own constitutional rights, they have given hope to everyone else who might face a similar situation.
These "code enforcers" need to realize that in an effort to make a job for themselves with undue power tactics and by charging fines, that they are in fact alienating their tax-paying hardworking residents who can either vote them out or leave the local economy. Is it really worth the petty tyranny?

You can follow his story on his blog, Vegetable Yarden.


You can read other articles by Heather Callaghan HERE

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28 comments:

Anonymous said...

With this logic Joe Schroeder: If your wife is an eyesore...can we throw her in the backyard.
The real reason for this petty tyranny is to keep people from being self sufficient and not relying on government for anything. It's also to stomp us down and force us to be docile and subservient to the government control freaks.
It's also just an excuse to steal through "fines".
This sort of crap is what the real intention of the 2nd amendment is about. To defend onself from government tyranny large or small.

-Flek

Anonymous said...

I like gardens in the front yard as much as the next gardener. What I can't determine is if the houses next door and across the street would lose their value because of this garden?

Anonymous said...

The one thing all these gardeners have in common is that they planted typical "row" gardens in the FRONT yard. Zoning is clear about these sorts of things in most cities and if anyone cared enough to LOOK IT UP themselves, they'd find there are safety issues to be considered. I've never had an issue with my gardens, because the ones in the back yard are hidden from the front, and the ones in the front yard are landscaped to fit in with what the city would consider "normal" landscaping. I've never had an issue, and am often complimented BY ZONING OFFICIALS about how nice it looks. Use the front yard for fruit bearing trees, plant them so they fit in with the landscape, and stop putting up a bunch of stuff that neighbors can't see around when they're backing out of their driveway.

Anonymous said...

Plant where you get the best sun, his photos all look like he planted in front for that reason.

Leslie said...

I would think this would be a no-brainer. The issue is whether you can use your own property for a reasonable purpose, so long as it's not damaging someone else. For every person who would find a well-tended vegetable garden an "eyesore," there's at least one who would find it a lush paradise. If the issue is not being able to see to back out of a driveway, then the rules should be a height restriction near the street, and nothing more. We need to start accepting that one-size doesn't fit all--that other humans have just as much right as we do to what we like, and we don't have rights to go around controlling the snot out of every tiny aspect of our environment. So long as the garden is not untended, if the neighbors have a problem, they should buy a place in one of those stepford neighborhoods where you sign a contract not to blow your nose without permission of the homeowners' association.

Anonymous said...

ok, so, only grass and flowers in the front yard. i think i'll plant white wheat and sunflowers. that should comply with the grass and flowers, huh?

Anonymous said...

"only grass and flowers"

Is this guy aware that most vegetable plants have flowers? And this ignoramus is allowed to dictate to property owners how they can and cannot use their own land?
Exactly what is so ugly about a veggie garden? I think it makes much more sense than using up city water on keeping a useless lawn green.

Anonymous said...

My house is my castle, and your house is your castle. what you elect to do or not do in your castle, is none of my damn business. And what I do in my castle is also none of yours. While you can try to justify that you have the right because of xyz to say otherwise does not change the fact my castle is mine, and yours is yours. The biggest problem is not the nosey people, or the buracrats , its the people who will line up to enforce this crap only for 30 pieces of silver. If no one were to sell their soul for a job and or keep convincing themselves they are right because its my job and enforce this crap, the world would be a better place for all. Try to imagine a day in a world where no one bothered or tried to bother anyone else. I have, and I find that is the way I should live and how great life and everyday can and should be.

Anonymous said...

While I understand the communities desire to keep the neighborhood from looking like a jungle from unkempt 'gardens', the fact that they have gone after a well kept yard is just petty, mean spirited control.

Anonymous said...

The real problem is that we've been crammed into densely packed grid 'neighborhoods', where we have to deal with the actions of some many people in our immediate vicinity. Agenda 21 is not a real estate agency!

Anonymous said...

have you ever seen "unruly" raspberries or blackberry bushes...perhaps you prefer the tast of beaver butt scum that is used as those berrys synthetic flavoring additives...? guns.................

LadyRavenhaire said...

This is why there is no freedom nor any democracy in the US and hasn't been since the '70's. People have been socially engineered to not be able to tolerate variances or have humane, Intellectual discussions. They only stop off the road to get breakfast at a Dunkin Donuts instead of a local diner on the road. Rather then discuss issues like fluoride & vaccines, they insist the other person is a loon rather than have an educated debate. They can't tolerate differences & being pushed around at their jobs, they in turn do the same to their neighbors & others to feel self-important.

Anonymous said...

My front yard is a forest of fruit trees that all bear subsequently. City has never said a word.

Anonymous said...

One of the first USA eco communities with wild and edible landscaping in the front yards was Village Homes Subdivision in Davis, CA. As for the assault this poses with Agenda 21 in any of its myriad forms or the attempt to link this man's yard to it is really nuts. I see smart growth in communities like Boulder with the community buying up all of the undeveloped land that could have been privately developed because the community did not want to grow that way and increase spending on services in an outer city ring and then trying to repond to roadway congestion in the inner core area. We all have the freedom to move to a community that does not practice any zoning but let me know how living next door to a pig farm or having one next door to a school intrudes on your "freedom". I suspect most of us prefer to work with our local governments to make good zoning happen. That said you can chalk up the contention caused by the garden to a general bureaucrat response to something they have not seen before...ban it. Usually a normal response until the local politician figures out they better fix the problem.

Anonymous said...

I don't agree with the zoning rules. That said, however, I understand why they have those sort of rules. If you don't want to be harrased by petty municipal bureaucrat tyrrants? Go live in some unincorporated rural area. And if necessary, put up a privacy fence, gate your driveway, get a mean dog and a shotgun and defend whats yours. When you live in town you are kind of stuck with their silly rules.

Anonymous said...

how would they loose value? his garden isn't physically affecting everyone else.. it's just like saying, your well being is destroying the value of the t-shirt I am wearing at this exact point in time. therefore you must change! ~ wouldn't you call my hypothetical claim absurd?

Stuntman Mike said...

I'm so glad to live in a city where this kind of thing is encouraged - there are so many people with gardens in all areas of their property - that's right Olympia Rocks!
What's with all the inhumanity? Everything that is good and natural is stomped on and vilified and the people who gladly help to stomp on your rights think they are doing good things (only following orders)...pathetic!

Anonymous said...

This is going on everywhere in the US and its disturbing. No neighbor complaints but actual neighbor support. What happened to no victim no crime. As long as there's no dead cars, couches and old tubs in the front yard then who cares.That's what these ordinances were originally for.Someones well tended garden does not negatively affect housing prices.Feeding grass is hugely wasteful, let the guy have his garden.Theres all the hubub over wasted resources and yet we feed and water grass. Does not compute.

Anonymous said...

Folks - google / youtube: GUERRILLA PLANTING!
-let us plant along roads, in school yards, in "public" parks... FREE WIKI-TREES, VEGIS.. =free food = ABUNDANCE to all = FREEDOM = SOVEREIGNTY.. and turn all our cities into FREE gardens
-create & use FREE STUFF at all levels = best weapon against their profit based system
-SHARE & GIFT as much as you can
FREE STUFF & FOOD ABUNDANCE can destroy their slave system

coptos100 said...

I grow veges and fruit in front and back gardens. A petty bureaucrat does this to me...I will inspect his property..and his bosses properties..on a daily basis...they get sick of me ..before I get sick of them...that's a promise...

Anonymous said...

still think you own your property!!!

Anonymous said...

If there's a "problem with visibility when backing out" the solution is very simple - reverse IN to your driveway. If you can't do this either learn to drive, or surrender your licence.

Anonymous said...

The only law that a sovereign live person has to obey is the constitution of the U.S., the 10 commandments, public health and safety laws. Code is not law.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

"My house is my castle, and your house is your castle. what you elect to do or not do in your castle, is none of my damn business."

Not with Imminent Domain it's not, brother! They can do what they want with YOUR property when they so choose. If you're lucky they'll compensate you with a reasonable amount but if they decide they want the property you thought belonged to you all these years because you paid for it there's really jack shit you can do about it.

It's just another lie used to perpetuate the illusion of affluence & personal responsibility. "Become a home owner/responsible adult, own your own property! Nothing's more important as an independent American adult than to buy and own your own property until WE (the government) decide to take it from you because you never fucking owned it in the first place, you morons."

This government's been murdering its own citizens for years now. Everything they've taught you to believe is bullshit, it's all a lie used to make you complacent and comfortable in maintaining what's left of this (thankfully) collapsing empire. It's time to get with the program folks.

Anonymous said...

Does talking about it really work? Does it matter? Were there other people in history that were also being forced to do things that they didn't want and that were bad for their health, like being told they couldn't have salt? What's the name of the tiny little indian feller with the cute round glasses? Maybe he could offer a clue about what to do.

Anonymous said...

Private owned property...lol
If you're forced at the barrel of a gun to pay property tax you never truly own your property.
You're a mere serf paying homage to the king for the privledge of living on his land.
Stop paying your property tax and see how long you own your 'private property'

-Flek

garages in Perth said...

I really think this is not really fair among the gardeners. He owns the property so he have the right to plant anything he like in there.

Anonymous said...

I guarantee that if some city official came and destroyed my garden that they would wake up to find theirs destroyed as well. They would change their tune if it happened to them a few times. They can only take away your freedoms if you let them. We all need to support our neighbors against this kind of tyranny.

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